With my purchase of the Zero SR electric motorcycle in the Spring of 2018 (see previous blog posting for more on this), the big decision was how was I going to transport it to Florida, so that I could enjoy cruising around the area where we stay in our RV for the Winter? We tow our car and wanted to continue doing so. The option of using a trailer was out, since we have no place to store it when not using it. Our coach is a rear engine diesel with a 15,000lb (6,800Kg) hitch and based on the weight of the bike I calculated that with a reasonable weight carrier it could safely hold the bike. We did not want to trust it to a ‘roll on’, side accessed ramp, mounted across the back of the coach, since the hitch height was about 24” (61cm) and with a motorcycle weighing in at slightly less than 500 pounds (227kg), if I stumbled while rolling it up onto the ramp, the weight of the bike would overpower both me and my wife. Safety was the order of the day!
Initially, I contacted Blue Ox, since I have sold some of their carriers over the years. Unfortunately, they no longer sell anything like that and the existing stock had been cleared.
I began to search for other lift type carriers that use electric or hydraulic assist and realized that all required a 12 Volt battery connection with a large gauge wire running from the battery compartment to the carrier. On our coach, the batteries are mounted in a compartment on the passenger side just ahead of the rear wheels. To find a suitable passage for that heavy cable to the rear and out to the carrier, would be a challenge. Many recommend the hydraulic system however there have been many examples of those carrying high-pressure fluid in the lines, blowing a line, spreading fluid all over everything within range. Electrical units have their challenges with safely protecting live wires to power the electric (starter) motor.
Before going any further, I should mention that there is a formula that allows one to calculate the additional load on the rear axle. It takes into account the weights of the bike and the carrier, along with the existing hitch end to axle and the additional carrier center distance, as compared to the Coach Wheelbase.
That formula is: A x B divided by C
= Additional Weight on Rear Axle in pounds (Lb.)
= Weight of Scooter or Motorcycle
(Zero=500 lbs) + Weight of lift
(i.e. Komo (330 lbs)
(278") + Rear Axle to Existing Receiver
(126") + Distance from receiver to center of new carrier
When all the various weights and dimensions are entered in the formula, I will know the actual effective weight the bike/carrier combination puts on the rear axle of our coach.
For our American Coach, Allegiance 40X, a single axle coach, the formula produced the following:
Additional Weight on Rear Axle is 1,295.76 or rounded to 1,300 lbs (590Kg), (650 lb. (295kg) per side, 325 (134 kg) per tire).
While there is a subsequent reduction of weight off the front axle, my experience after carrier installation and driving the coach has shown that it less than the effect of a full, versus partly full fuel tank, if that tank is mounted in the front of the coach chassis (as ours is).
The search continued as I added these requirements: that the carrier/lift had to be found within a reasonable distance of our home and preferably have factory installation available. The latter item was important since our existing hitch receiver was bolted to our coach’s frame and it would require a knowledgeable installer to fabricate something that would fit and not need to go through the rear cap’s fibreglass panel. I was looking for a good used one or a reasonably priced new one, available to be purchased in Canadian Currency. I came across one that seemed to fit the bill in all respects. Since it was used, the price was lower than a new one. It was made by KOMO Creation http://komocreation.com/en/
based in a small town in the Province of Quebec roughly half way between Montreal and Quebec City. The carrier was attached to the rear of the coach with two heavy duty receivers (hidden behind the black mount in the area of the yellow
boxes in photo) and included a provision to safely tow a vehicle up to 5,000 pounds (mount is highlighted by red
arrow). The version I found had been mounted on a gas-powered RV on a Ford Chassis and it had been factory installed by KOMO. Apparently, the coach’s previous owner had carried a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on it and the current owner did not need it, since he did not have a motorcycle. It had a provision so that the carrier could be swung out on a support mounted on one side so that access could be gained to the diesel’s rear access area. The truly unique feature of this carrier/lift was that it did not require any electrical connection to the RV! It was powered by a professional grade electric drill! Connect a drill to the gearbox mounted on the right side, put the drill into the high torque, slower speed mode and the motorcycle was raised up to the travel position. Remove the drill, then at our destination, reattach, reverse the drill direction and the carrier is slowly lowered with the motorcycle on it, to the ground.
I negotiated a purchase price and arranged to travel to pick it up about 300km (180 miles) from my home. Afterwards, I arranged to have it installed at the factory, when we were on a planned vacation trip to Quebec in the late summer. The challenge was to have the RV, Tow Car and motorcycle all there at the same time. To get the motorcycle there, I needed a trailer and my wife would lead me in the RV with our tow car.
The search was on for a suitable trailer that I could use and leave in Quebec as our vacation proceeded after the carrier installation. I learned that all rental motorcycle trailers, were only
available as a two-way rental (that is, I had to rent and return it to the same location). Neither my wife or I liked that arrangement, since she would have to lead or follow the RV over the whole vacation. There had to be a better way!
Back to the internet to check out our options. I decided that we might need a small motorcycle trailer, the smaller the better, that I could use for this trip and possibly use, along with my son, when we needed to move our bikes without riding them. After a few weeks of investigation, I found what looked like the perfect solution. It was a Trailer in a Bag
It seemed to be the ideal solution, since the bike could be loaded onto the trailer and hauled to the destination, then the trailer could be disassembled and loaded into the bag, then placed in the hatch of the tow vehicle. With the bike loaded on the newly installed carrier, the tow car could be towed behind with the Trailer in a Bag
in the back of it.
As I was contemplating buying one, I checked a used items website late one evening and amazingly one was just loaded on it. I called in the evening and made an appointment to see it early the next morning. I decided to buy it after seeing it and I loaded it into the rear of the car. It needed to be cleaned and painted and I noticed that one of the trailer wheels was not turning freely. I refurbished it, replaced the defective bearing and upgraded the tow lights to sealed LED units.
With the carrier loaded into the basement of the RV, the motorcycle on the Trailer in a Bag
, the tow vehicle ready to drive we headed off to Komo Creation’s
headquarters in Quebec. On the day of our appointment, they made some measurements and determined that, with the coach fully aired up on its suspension, the rear access gate would be able to be opened to access the items in the engine area with the carrier lowered to the ground. That would mean that the need for the part that swung out the carrier from the coach, would not be needed. This significantly reduced the weight of the carrier and simplified the installation. It is noteworthy that the portion of the carrier that goes across the back of the coach can be removed by removing four bolts and lifting the carrier off its mounting brackets. While they have two dolly wheels to allow it to be rolled away, on our coach the clearances were so tight that if the wheels were installed I would not have been able to open the access door.
They raised the coach up on industrial hoists so that they could safely work underneath it and fabricate each individual part to custom fit the coach. The two side mounts were welded onto brackets that were bolted into the same holes that held the existing hitch receiver. The carrier I had purchased was nine years old and they proceeded to update many of the components. The 2-1/2 inch (6.35 cm) mounts that the carrier is fitted into are solid metal and they fit into two, 3 inch (7.6 cm) metal tubing receivers, attached to each coach frame members. All of the new metal tubing was sandblasted using steel grit, then fully finished at a neighbouring facility in a process known as Enviro-Coat. The inside surfaces are as smooth as the exterior surfaces and fully painted! Every fresh cut of the steel used was fully finished before assembly and after assembly ensuring a long lasting rust free installation.
One significant change on the newer carriers is that the track assembly is now made from lighter weight aluminum and has a much narrower track surface which is fully usable. Our existing one is steel with holes punched throughout its surface and a rubber (tire like) material is installed on the central wheel track. We retained the original. The tiedown ratchet assemblies were mounted on newly installed arms that widen the base of the triangle used to secure the motorcycle. This adds to the security of the tie downs. Another change was the installation of a new tow vehicle mount that, rather than being secured to the bottom of the track (as on the original), it was now attached to the carrier RV mount. It also has a 3 inch (7.6 cm) metal tubing receiver that accepts a 2-1/2 inch (6.35 cm) receiver extension tube which will accept the standard 2” (5cm) tow bar. The extension tube has its own safety chains with self-locking hooks, an anti rattle clamp and a safety cable mounting plate for the safety cables from the towed vehicle. (This receiver extension mounts in front of the coach’s existing receiver).
The only drawback is that this new receiver extension must be removed before the carrier central track can be lowered.
After about four (4) hours the carrier was installed, then the coach was lowered to the ground. We drove the bike onto the carrier ramp and secured the tie down straps and the handlebar clamp. The bike was a secure as if it was part of the RV itself. With my small power drill, I raised it up into the drive position. Everything worked as planned.
We travelled around Quebec visiting Levis, Quebec City and toured the area on our way back to home in Ontario. Subsequently I repainted the black areas, installed LED taillights
to the replace the original incandescent ones. After having the ramp completely repainted by a professional shop in an aluminum colour, I wired the lights facing the rear on the carrier's track to operate when the cable extension (now part of this assembly) was plugged into the RV 7 pin socket. It provided all the functions needed for the tow car to a socket mounted on the rear face of the carrier ramp. The towed vehicle cable extension can be easily plugged into this socket. Everything worked as planned and it draws attention from others when they see me using a portable hand drill to raise and lower the motorcycle. The Trailer in a Bag
is neatly stowed inside our home for the winter, ready to move either of our bikes behind our vehicles should the need arise.
The Canadian Manufacturer is Komo Creation Inc, 2610 chemin Emilien Laforest, Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, (Drummondville) QC, J1Z 2J3 819-478-3872, http://komocreation.com/en/ email: firstname.lastname@example.org Since the family speaks French, it may be necessary to leave a message with your name and phone number and request a call back from Serge Comeau,
If you do decide to purchase one, I'm sure you will be as impressed with it as were are. Komo Creation Inc. make a number of other products to carry and protect bicycles, handicap and regular scooters, in addition to a number of options to carry motorcycles.