Folding Motorcycle Trailer
"Rocket" Folding Motorcycle Trailer Review
| Owner Comments (Below)
Diamond C Motorcycle Trailer Review |
Flatbed Motorcycle Cargo Trailer
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
I've learned a lot about motorcycle trailers since
purchasing this Rocket Fold-Up trailer, no doubt about
I hadn't anticipated a couple of semesters at the
webBikeWorld College of Motorcycle Trailers, but that's about the way it turned out.
Well, maybe not college actually, but certainly the
School of Hard Knocks.
One thing I did learn is that after all is said and
done, there's nothing at all wrong with a flatbed
trailer and, in fact, I now realize that a flatbed is
probably the most versatile and least expensive
motorcycle trailer types around. Let me restate
that: as far as I'm concerned, a flatbed is the only way
to go. That's just my opinion; feel free to
disagree if you wish.
A flatbed has nearly unlimited options for attaching tie-down
straps, wheel chocks and other accessories and gadgets
and it also makes for a stable platform for both the
motorcycle (or motorcycles) and the person doing the
I had our flatbed trailer nicely
configured with the
Bike-Grab front wheel
chock (review), a pair
of quick release
Buckles (review) and the
Tyre Down (review) rear
tire holder and I could easily load up a big bike like
the Tiger all by myself in less than 3 minutes without
breaking a sweat.
And don't forget the extra bonus -- a flatbed trailer
also has many uses around the old homestead, like
hauling the riding lawnmower for repair, carrying leaves
and brush to the dumps, helping to move the
brother-in-law...uh, scratch that, maybe that last one
isn't such a bonus after all...
Its 13" diameter wheels were shod with
super-heavy-duty tires that could hold a ton.
Literally. As far as I can tell, the only disadvantage of a
flatbed (and the only reason I sold ours) is its size.
I just didn't have a place to store the big guy.
So the idea of a buying a folding
motorcycle trailer to save a bit of space in the
backyard may sound intriguing -- it did to me anyway. I was taken by the idea without
really thinking logically about it. But that's me
-- thinking with the heart and not the brain!
The Rocket Folding
I looked at several folding trailers
prior to settling on the Rocket, but I see now through
the miracle of hindsight that a folding motorcycle
trailer really doesn't save all that much space. Think
about it -- it's not like the thing is going to fold
down to the
size of a six-pack or anything.
Sure, a folded trailer may ultimately have a
smaller footprint than a flatbed, but when assembled,
any folding motorcycle trailer that's sturdy
enough to safely carry a motorcycle is going to have to
be a fairly big guy to begin with, folded or not. Think about
And yes, I've seen some of those really tiny
foldable motorcycle trailers; there's even one that fits
in a bag. After trailering a few bikes for more
than a few miles on different trailers, I'm not sure I would trust
one of the real tiny versions
to carry a bike down the driveway, much less across
My feeling is that a motorcycle
trailer must at least have 13" or greater diameter
wheels. Those miniscule 10" donuts
rotating at about 4 times the speed of sound just don't
cut it with 600 pounds of bike at 70MPH. At least
not for me.
But most motorcycle owners don't get a
chance to own and compare different trailer types, which
means that they normally don't have enough data and experience
about the subject to make an informed decision.
I'm no different. I didn't realize how much I
would miss the flatbed until it was gone.
That's why we're here, to spend the
time and crunch the numbers and report back to you so
that you don't make the same mistakes.
To Fold or Not?
I was first attracted to the Rocket
Fold-Up Motorcycle Trailer because it's made from
aluminum, it's foldable, it has 13" wheels and, in a
unique twist, it can be configured to transport on a
Class 4 hitch without touching the ground. That's
right -- the entire trailer can be carried on the hitch
itself; see the photos below.
As it turns out, although that feature makes for interesting
copy in the marketing brochure, in reality I'm now unconvinced that it
provides a meaningful advantage for me. Notice I said for me
-- I'm fully open to the probability that there's some
advantage that I'm missing.
I did carry the
trailer home mounted on the hitch, but it was more of a
novelty than anything else. I guess it saves some
wear and tear on the tires and bearings, but it's also a
relatively dangerous way to carry the Rocket fold-up;
besides all that weight out over the rear of the
vehicle, the brake and tail lights on our 2006 Explorer
are blocked when the trailer is carried in this
position, as you can see in this photo:
The dealer's recollection of the Rocket
design story goes something like this: the designer was upset
that a hotel was charging him extra for a vehicle with a
trailer when parked overnight, so he designed the
fold-up trailer so that it could be transported on the
In reality, the thing bounces around so
much when it's mounted on the hitch that I had to strap
it down to keep things steady, because the entire weight
of the trailer rotates back and forth on the single
focused point of the weight, which is at the hitch.
The aluminum square tubing seems strong, but not that
Another lesson that was learned with
this particular folding trailer relates to the spare
tire. Rocket offers the spare tire as an option,
but unlike the rest of the clever folding design, the
spare is mounted on a welded-on aluminum fabrication and
it completely changes the balance and the weight of the
trailer and my ability to assemble the pieces.
If you look at the photos of the Rocket
folding motorcycle trailer on their website, you'll
notice that they don't show the optional spare tire.
If I had to do it over, I would only order the spare as
a separate item and keep it in the back of the tow
vehicle, rather than having it semi-permanently mounted
to the trailer itself.
I think this is good advice for any
motorcycle trailer; if you can afford the space in the
trunk, the pickup bed or the back of the SUV, I think
you're better off keeping the spare separate. It
helps avoid theft, keeps the spare out of the weather
and helps prevent oxidation. And it probably will
change the balance of the trailer for the better, in
addition to saving some wear and tear on the bearings
due to the extra weight.
On this Rocket trailer, the weight of
the semi-permanently mounted spare has an affect on the
way the trailer is assembled. Rocket provided a
pretty awful set of assembly instructions, which are
just a series of small photos printed in color on what
appears to be an inexpensive printer. No text or
narrative -- just photos.
Assembling the Rocket
The photos show the trailer being
assembled without the spare tire, but we found that the
assembly becomes much more complex and difficult with
the spare tire in place. The spare and its
mounting assembly add a lot of weight to the front
section, so it was difficult to follow the directions
because we couldn't lift the heavy assembly as directed.
Thus, we've had to create our own assembly and
The problem is that we haven't been able
to develop a consistent routine, and it takes much, much
longer than I anticipated to fold it up or unfold it for
transport. I've also found it to be a two-person
job, especially with the weight of the spare tire.
I took dozens of photos of
all the different stages of assembly and disassembly,
but believe it or not, I haven't yet been able to piece
together a logical flow of illustrations that would make
any sense for this article. The lesson here is
that if you're looking to purchase a folding motorcycle
trailer, make sure you fully understand the
instructions, what's involved in putting it together and
try it a couple of times before you buy.
In the end, the Rocket folding trailer
isn't all that much smaller when it's folded up, so my
mistake was thinking that this was an advantage for me.
Another disappointment with the Rocket
fold-up is that after it's assembled, the weight of the motorcycle is
basically carried on two stainless steel pins.
The two red arrows in the photo above
are pointing to the pins that hold the front of the
trailer on the left (which includes the mounted spare
tire) to the bulk of the trailer on the right. The
extrusion with the Rocket Trailer logo on it bridges the
two assemblies. The two square aluminum tubes that
slide into the front and rear of this extrusion can just
be seen in the photo.
The weight of the bike is carried by
these two pins, and most of the weight is situated
directly over this section. Pins are also used
underneath the floor of the trailer and in other places
to hold the pieces together. Small stainless steel
pin" type cotter pins are provided, but they seem
loose and one of them fell out as we were assembling the
trailer for the first time.
I don't believe the hair pin cotter pins
are safe enough for assembly and transport of this
trailer, and I'll have to purchase either some type of
locking cotter pin or use a circle cotter pin or lynch
pin instead, hoping that they will stay in place.
I also would feel much better if there
were four pins, two in front and two in the rear,
holding the front and rear sections of the trailer
together through the extrusion. I'm not the
designer, but I see no reason why this couldn't have
been part of the design. Yes, maybe the two are
calculated to work, but there's nothing wrong with
Another issue with the extrusion is that
the holes for placement of the pins are 2" apart.
The tire stop, which can just be seen behind the front
tire, is also movable but can only be moved in 2"
increments instead of, for example, 1", which would have
provided more fine tuning for the range of placement for
the tire stop. We could not find a location for
the stop that felt secure for the 17" front tire on the
Ducati, which is a standard sportbike size.
The green arrow in the photo above
points to the slide-out side stand floor. It
rotates towards the front of the trailer but we found
that it is not nearly robust enough to hold the bike, so
two people are also needed when loading the bike, one to
hold it and the other to fasten the tie-downs.
This photo (above) shows the bike finally loaded on the
trailer. I've since installed a pair of
Buckles (review) on the front crossbar. This
bar is designed for one end of the tie-downs, but I wish
it was either triangulated back to the trailer or
perhaps two pieces of tubing were used, which I think
would provide more support for both the trailer and the
I used the fantastic
Tyre Down (review) rear tire holder to hold the rear
of the bike (see photo below), and this system seems to
work well with this bike and the Rocket fold-up trailer.
But maybe I'm too conservative; it all works, but the
bike just doesn't feel anywhere near as steady when it's
loaded on this trailer as it did on the flatbed.
Following is a sampling of photos showing the
assembly of the Rocket fold-up trailer. As I
mentioned earlier, I've sort of given up on trying to
piece together the exact sequence of assembly, mostly
because after several tries I haven't been able to
completely figure it out for myself.
As you can probably tell, our experience with this
trailer wasn't as we expected. But it's a combination of my not thinking
through exactly what outcomes I was looking for in a
trailer and what I believe is a quirky design.
I'm now not really sure if I can see the advantages of a folding
motorcycle trailer for our needs. I should have tried assembling and
disassembling this trailer before I bought it and I don't
like the way the pins and cotter pins hold everything
together and I didn't realize the problems that the
mounted spare would create. This is a lesson for
anyone considering a folding trailer.
With regards to this particular design, it's my
understanding that Rocket has been manufacturing this
trailer for some time, but I would suggest that several
features seem in need of improvement. I first
guessed that perhaps this particular trailer was a
prototype, and I was surprised to learn that it's been
in regular production.
As of this writing,
It definitely needs a better set of instructions, and
the instructions should also be made available on the
Rocket website so potential owners can see what's
involved in assembly and disassembly.
I would like to see more and bigger diameter pins
holding it together; the cotter pins definitely need
improvement; the design of the spare tire assembly also
needs improvement (it should be easily removable to
reduce the weight of the front assembly, making it
easier to lift); the side stand flooring doesn't work
for me and I think that overall the trailer could use a
bit of structural redesign to see if it could be made
The spreader bars in front that hold the front tie downs
should be more robust and should be designed so the tie
downs can hold the bike at a variety of angles; I don't
like using the handlebars to hold a motorcycle on a
trailer. And while they're at it, how about
partnering with a front wheel chock manufacturer and
incorporating one into the design of the trailer in a
way that will both hold the bike steady and allow one
person to load and tie down the bike?
I think one of the most important pieces of advice I can
give, based on our experience, is this: before you
order a folding trailer, make sure you first try to
assemble it to see how long it takes and how many people
are required. You should also then determine how
long it takes to load the bike and the complexities
Remember to try and tie down the bike
and determine many people are required for that
operation also. Finally, it's a good idea to tow
the bike on the trailer at a variety of speeds and over
different surfaces to understand how the trailer
As I mentioned above, I could hitch up the flatbed
trailer to the tow vehicle, load the big 1998 Triumph
Tiger and tie it down very securely by myself in less
than 3 minutes with very little effort. The
Bike-Grab front wheel chock, a pair
of quick release
Buckles (review) and the
Tyre Down (review) rear wheel holder make all the
difference in the world, and any trailer I buy in the
future will have to accommodate those products because
they simply make trailering a motorcycle so much easier
Folding motorcycle trailer
manufacturers, are you listening? You owe it to
yourself and your customers to investigate these
products and incorporate them or something like them
into your trailer.
We've been accused of being too harsh on the Rocket
trailer, but I would disagree. I think the criticism should be
directed at the designers of this trailer. We
wrote to the manufacturer with our concerns but never
received a reply, so we don't know if the trailer has
been redesigned or revised since this review was posted
in October of 2006.
I am only relaying our experiences and our opinions on
this product, manufactured in 2006, for the benefit of
our visitors. If you have experience with one of
these trailers and you don't agree with our opinion,
that's fine with me. I feel confident that this
review will provide lots of good information and insight
for prospective trailer owners to consider when
selecting a trailer. I wish I had this information
before we made our purchase.
I'd like to hear from any folding motorcycle trailer
owners and especially from Rocket fold-up trailer
owners; please send your comments to
the address below.
I finally removed the spare tire carrier from the Rocket
trailer, then assembled the trailer and have not folded
it up again since. It's actually rather small when
its assembled, especially compared to the flatbed
trailer. I took the spare tire off the holder and
simply throw it in the back of the truck when we're
using the Rocket trailer for towing.
When it's kept in its assembled state, obviously the
issues with folding and unfolding are no longer valid.
There's still the issue of the small pins holding the
rail together; I wouldn't tow anything much heavier than
the GT1000 shown in the photos. But when the bike
is finally loaded -- which still takes two people -- and
everything is carefully checked and ready to go, the
Rocket trailer delivers a smooth and satisfactory
I think the biggest problem I had was one of
expectations. The ability to fold the trailer in
this case turned out to be much less important than my
personal safety and security comfort level. Once I
got over the fact that folding the Rocket trailer was
way more trouble than it was worth, and removed the
spare tire holder that created a weight imbalance
problem that made assembly and disassembly a real chore,
I'm pleased with the results.
However, there is still the fact that the main selling
point of this trailer -- the folding ability -- had to
be disregarded by me in order to finally gain this
Review: Folding Motorcycle Trailer
Retail Price: $1,595.00 base price
|Colors: Aluminum (powder coating
Motorcycle Trailers Page Review
Date: October 2006. Revised: July 2007.
Note: For informational use only. All material and
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►Your Comments and
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From "G.M.": "I just came across your story about the Rocket
Folding Motorcycle Trailer and I found it to be quite interesting. I was
recently at the Honda Hoot in TN and one of the Trike riders had a Rocket
trailer for his trike that folded. He swore by it, I’m the Canadian dealer
fro Stinger trailer and I had a hard time even remotely convincing him that
there would be another compact trailer out there that would handle his trike.
Not all folding trailers are as user unfriendly and most are a
lot smaller than the one you purchased. I don’t know if you know about the
Stinger Trailer and
how it operates, stores etc but to lump all folding trailers in the same bag (no
pun intended) is just plain unjust.
There are many people out there that
don’t have adequate space available to store large flat bed trailers or the
money to pay for storage at the local public storage facility or a friend or
family member that would allow storage of a flat bed trailer.
There is a need for compact folding trailers, fair is fair, if
you don’t like one don’t lump them all together, there are good ones out there
you just made the wrong choice."
From "T.B.": "Let me start by saying that I really enjoy your site and
your reviews. I have found several pieces of great information that I used
everyday while riding, i.e. earplugs, Formotion clocks, etc.
I must say that in your second pic in the folding trailer
article that I am quite surprised you even purchased that thing given the axle
lay out. You're carrying 500lb or so on some cantilever tubing? That
alone with the funky channel aft of the bike's front wheel would have sent me
running, esp for that price.
Quite a while before I had a cycle, I purchased a trailer
identical to (this
one), except it was purchased at a store called Fred Meyer. Yeah, it
has some dinky rims, but the thing moves quite a load and I have not had a
problem at 70mph or so. It has also shuttled my 2000 Kawasaki ZR-7.
At that load, it didn't even wince. A friend is purchasing one to haul a
coupe dirt bikes and his 999 and a Aprilia for track days.
With the applied 3/4in plywood deck and some 2x4 reinforced
3/4in plywood sides that are 2ft tall, I have hauled two cubic yards of bark
mulch. This load pushes the limits but has been done several times with
All told, this trailer cost about $320 plus registration and
folds into an approximate 5.25ft x 2.25ft footprint including sides. I can
have it ready to haul in about 30min including the connections to the car.
It fits, folded, in my 20ft x 20ft, two car garage with two cars, my cycle, a
full size fridge that has been converted to a keggerator, a chest freezer, and a
whole host of shelving and other junk. I'd love to send you a pic or two.
I don't have un-realistic expectations of my trailer, but I
would trust it to easily haul your beautiful Duc cross-country. That is
something I cannot say for the trailer you reviewed. Also, the Harbor
Freight link above will get you to other trailers with larger rims and higher
capacities for not much more money.
Considering your situation with the reviewed trailer, the
Harbour Freight verity might make a great counter point."