Use them, even if you
might not be convinced of their safety value.
Arguments have been made that safety chains don’t provide overall safety
for motorcycle trailers but they are required by law in most states in the USA
and provinces in Canada on the grounds of safety.
Test them. Part of your trailer
inspection should be a drop test. Hook
up the safety chains but not the hitch.
Then drop the tongue so that the full tongue weight impacts on the
chains. The chains must hold. Don’t use light duty spring clips for
fastening the chains to the hitch rings.
Keep the slack out of the chains.
Snug the chain up as close as will still allow the trailer to turn close
to 90 degrees to each side.
Safety chains keep
the bike and trailer together. They will
keep your expensive trailer and its contents from bumping down the mountainside
by itself, self destructing and perhaps taking out a car or another biker.
If your chains are
too long and you have a disconnect, there is the chance the tongue may dig into
the roadway or hit your rear tire when you apply the brakes. A close inspection of your hitch will give
you a feel for the likelihood of that happening.
Specific safety chain
requirements are controlled by each state and province. But when chains are
required they must meet SAE Standard J684 and you must use two chains crossed
under the hitch. Each chain must
have a breaking strength higher than the GVWR of the trailer. California and all Canadian provinces require
positive locking clasps on the safety chains.
In other words, this means no ‘S’ hooks on the ends of the chains and
absolutely no dog chains, plastic chains or wire clips.
Use quick links to attach
safety chains to motorcycle. They are
available in many sizes to match your chains.
When you hook up the
chains, cross them under the hitch so that if the coupling comes apart, the
tongue of the trailer will rest on the chains and not dig into the
roadway. Also, make sure that the chains
are short enough to prevent the trailer tongue from contacting the rear wheel.