3 Vehicle combination towing | GTAMotorcycle.com

3 Vehicle combination towing

JTR

Well-known member
So in the next week or so I will be picking up my new Avenger 27DBS travel trailer, and because I didn't want to go the extra expensive mile and get a toy hauler, I have to think about other means of bringing my bike on longer journeys. With a bit of searching around, I found that 3 vehicle combinations upto 23m(75.5') are legal in Ontario and most provinces. That shouldn't be an issue, as my truck is just under 18.6' and the trailer from tongue to bumper is 32.9', leaving a 24' margin for an added trailer.

Does anybody have experience towing a 3 vehicle combo? Tips, tricks or warnings? Any other solutions that people here might have experience with would also be appreciated. I'm sure there are means that could mount the bike directly to the trailer, and that would make for much easier towing and especially reversing the rig, but the idea of having a hitch on there available for a boat or other toys is also still a temptation.
 

boyoboy

Well-known member
So in the next week or so I will be picking up my new Avenger 27DBS travel trailer, and because I didn't want to go the extra expensive mile and get a toy hauler, I have to think about other means of bringing my bike on longer journeys. With a bit of searching around, I found that 3 vehicle combinations upto 23m(75.5') are legal in Ontario and most provinces. That shouldn't be an issue, as my truck is just under 18.6' and the trailer from tongue to bumper is 32.9', leaving a 24' margin for an added trailer.

Does anybody have experience towing a 3 vehicle combo? Tips, tricks or warnings? Any other solutions that people here might have experience with would also be appreciated. I'm sure there are means that could mount the bike directly to the trailer, and that would make for much easier towing and especially reversing the rig, but the idea of having a hitch on there available for a boat or other toys is also still a temptation.
knew someone who did this with a camper and his boat. don't put the heavy load on the tail! drove a b train for the first time last month lol.
you can back them up w difficulty but I suggest you try do avoid this. avoid. and yup, legal.

EDIT. just had a funny feeling about weight..did I get this backwards? I better call someone and check. yup ok, lighter trailer on the tail....as the weight of a heavy load on the tail may push the lighter trailer sideways under heavy braking.
 
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GreyGhost

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Does someone make a good version of the trailer hitch bike carrier? I am thinking along the lines of a platform on the back of the travel trailer with a ramp to load the bike. People seem to have good luck with the standard version that mounts in a hitch, but hitches are not designed for all of the ugly forces that they impose. The platform could have a receiver to take a hitch (although keep in mind tongue weight on that hitch has a lot of leverage over the trailer so I wouldn't pull something heavy).

I would be concerned about the double trailer where the back trailer was substantially lighter and smaller than the front trailer. It could start dancing around back there and be hard to control. A secondary problem is you may need a camera on the back of the first trailer so you can monitor the tires and bearings as the rear trailer may not be visible.
 

sircastic

Well-known member
Moderator
Site Supporter
So in the next week or so I will be picking up my new Avenger 27DBS travel trailer, and because I didn't want to go the extra expensive mile and get a toy hauler, I have to think about other means of bringing my bike on longer journeys. With a bit of searching around, I found that 3 vehicle combinations upto 23m(75.5') are legal in Ontario and most provinces. That shouldn't be an issue, as my truck is just under 18.6' and the trailer from tongue to bumper is 32.9', leaving a 24' margin for an added trailer.

Does anybody have experience towing a 3 vehicle combo? Tips, tricks or warnings? Any other solutions that people here might have experience with would also be appreciated. I'm sure there are means that could mount the bike directly to the trailer, and that would make for much easier towing and especially reversing the rig, but the idea of having a hitch on there available for a boat or other toys is also still a temptation.
I've done a lot of towing over the years, everything from a single snowmobile trailer to a loaded 9800 lbs toyhauler. This idea scares me, I wouldn't do it. The inability to see the rear trailer and how it's behaving behind the travel trailer would drive me nuts.

I have seen welded platforms on the back of travel trailers used for hauling race bikes and such, I think this would be a better option.

Also, I think if you were caught in a situation where you had to reverse the three vehicle combo you'd be in for a world of frustration.
 

boyoboy

Well-known member
I've done a lot of towing over the years, everything from a single snowmobile trailer to a loaded 9800 lbs toyhauler. This idea scares me, I wouldn't do it. The inability to see the rear trailer and how it's behaving behind the travel trailer would drive me nuts.

I have seen welded platforms on the back of travel trailers used for hauling race bikes and such, I think this would be a better option.

Also, I think if you were caught in a situation where you had to reverse the three vehicle combo you'd be in for a world of frustration.
world of frustration lol. yeah it is difficult but not impossible to back up. I tried it out a few times in an open area but not in a real world situation on the road. someone posted earlier about a cam facing the last trailer..sounds like a good idea.
I would do it with a cam.
 
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kiwi

Well-known member
So in the next week or so I will be picking up my new Avenger 27DBS travel trailer, and because I didn't want to go the extra expensive mile and get a toy hauler, I have to think about other means of bringing my bike on longer journeys. With a bit of searching around, I found that 3 vehicle combinations upto 23m(75.5') are legal in Ontario and most provinces. That shouldn't be an issue, as my truck is just under 18.6' and the trailer from tongue to bumper is 32.9', leaving a 24' margin for an added trailer.

Does anybody have experience towing a 3 vehicle combo? Tips, tricks or warnings? Any other solutions that people here might have experience with would also be appreciated. I'm sure there are means that could mount the bike directly to the trailer, and that would make for much easier towing and especially reversing the rig, but the idea of having a hitch on there available for a boat or other toys is also still a temptation.

would this be easier? https://www.overbiltlifts.com/electric-lift/




 

Brian P

Well-known member
Moderator
Site Supporter
Pay attention to the tongue weight if you are going to hang something off the back of the trailer. Lots of those travel trailers are pretty flimsy underneath, too.

I gather that you are planning to tow this with your F150. Bike in the truck bed, then. Only minor nuisances are having to unhitch the trailer to get the bike in or out, and modern pickup trucks are all way too high and you'll probably need a helper to get it in or out.
 

JavaFan

gringo diablo
Site Supporter
I've done a lot of towing over the years, everything from a single snowmobile trailer to a loaded 9800 lbs toyhauler. This idea scares me, I wouldn't do it. The inability to see the rear trailer and how it's behaving behind the travel trailer would drive me nuts.

definitely my first concern, would massively suck
especially with a bike back there
to arrive at your destination and it's messed up, or gone
suppose a camera setup could be arranged

I have seen welded platforms on the back of travel trailers used for hauling race bikes and such, I think this would be a better option.

Also, I think if you were caught in a situation where you had to reverse the three vehicle combo you'd be in for a world of frustration.
yes, plan well ahead before pulling in anywhere, to avoid backing

and lots of options to carry a bike on the back of the travel trailer
where you know it's been properly secured, and is gonna stay with you

and like Brian says, weigh the tongue with the bike on there
can probably shift trailer contents to the front and get a good ratio
 

nakkers

Well-known member
Site Supporter
My father-in-law tows a 5th wheel along with covered utility trailer. The hitch is custom build. The 5th wheel is a tandem axel and believe it to be 26' or so. Plus the utility trailer is another 12' and I'm not sure the distance between for the hitch and tongue etc.

Tows with a Chev 3/4 ton 4x4 quad cab and makes for a long set up. He can reverse it but, avoids it whenever possible. They are familiar with the places they travel to as some place can be a little tricky even with a 5th wheel. Believe he drops the utility trailer at the visitor parking or open area before entering the grounds, sets up the 5th wheel and then returns for the utility trailer. I think they have to pay extra for the 2nd trailer too depending on the park etc.

Make enough trips down the 401 towards Ottawa and you'll see just about every kind of set up imaginable. Legal? Who knows?


Don't have a pic of my in-laws set up but, saw something like this last week that I thought was interesting......

 
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GreyGhost

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Don't have a pic of my in-laws set up but, saw something like this last week that I thought was interesting......

I like that one assuming that tire is happy with the load and speed. You probably need to hinge the platform though to prevent it from lifting the trailer axles in a dip.

EDIT:
Found it. I don't think it works for the OP.
https://www.discountramps.com/swivel-wheel-trailer/p/SW-58/
"Swivelwheel trailers are not recommended for use behind fifth wheel trailers less than 30' in length and 10,000 lbs (dry weight);"
 
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JTR

Well-known member
I already have a wireless rearview cam on the truck(amazing for lining up the hitch btw), it's wired to turn on with the reverse light. I'm probably going to get a second one for the trailer anyway, could wire it to the marker lights so that it's always on whenever the tow rig is connected and running. I have seen some of the ones that mount the bike directly to the trailer, main concern with that is adding half a tonne of bumper weight which could stress the trailer's suspension and offset the balance, pulling the tongue up from the ball. Forgot to mention that it is tongue and ball, rather than fifth wheel. I'm figuring that a well balanced utility or motorcycle trailer should impose very little tongue weight onto the bumper of the travel trailer, even if it's a 12' with 2 bikes and a half cord of wood in there. Ok might need a beefier truck, maybe just the one bike for now lol.

The travel trailer weighs 6000lbs, so a small 1/2-3/4 tonne trailer behind definitely should not cause the tail to wag the dog. Reversing was definitely a huge consideration, the plan for that is to have a good quality tongue jack with a pneumatic tire on it, so that should I get into a tight spot, I can simply uncouple and manipulate it by hand.

Truly wish I could have gone with the fifth wheel toy hauler, but that trailer was $127,832 on sale for $87,499, this one was $35,995 on sale for $24,995. lol the toy hauler had a bed on a motorized platform and benches on the walls that fold together into another bed in the garage, huge kitchen, fireplace, every bell and whistle I wouldn't have imagined it could have. But my Lotto Max ticket didn't pan out. The one I got is very nicely appointed though.
 

PrivatePilot

Ironus Butticus
Site Supporter
This is something I'm well educated about, being in the trucking industry as well as having pulled recreational doubles as well. Here was my setup circa 2012 - our 5th wheel trailer with our Jetskis behind. We towed it quite extensively across much of the east coast, where it was legal..and that's where it gets technical.



First issue, you need a full class A licence (Not even a Class AR, or the new A-Restricted is valid) to pull any more than 1 trailer. Some basic info on the restrictions and allowances here. If you want to get into the nitty gritty, look at the MTO website for the details - you will find that the only class of licence that specifically mentions multiple trailers is the full class A, while being specifically mentioned as *not* legal in the AR, and subsequently, all other classes of licences as well were the term "trailer" (not pluralized) is clearly mentioned.

Further to that, the lead trailer must be a 5th wheel trailer. A ball-hitch trailer, or even a gooseneck is not legal....so all the tag (ball hitch) trailers you see on the road with another trailer behind them are 100% illegal.

The second trailer must have all required lights (fully operational), and if legally required to or so equipped, must also have functioning brakes. It must also be plated as it is considered a completely separate vehicle.

Several of the more common issues with RV double trailers are:

- Tongue weight issues, as mentioned. 300# of tongue weight (for example) hanging off the back of a travel trailer is 300# less on the tongue of the lead trailer..which can (and often does in poorly lashed up setups) result in stability issues.

- Stability. See above. RV's have their axles typically in the middle of the trailer vs (if you look) near the back in a commercial tractor trailer unit typically used for double towing. Axles in the middle work better for distributing the weight in an RV setup, but make the trailer inherently less stable and add in a lot of tail swing while cornering, as well as just normal driving. Both decrease stability. In an RV double the biggest reason for requiring the lead trailer to be a 5th wheel is that 5th wheel trailers are vastly more stable to begin with because of their geometry, so it makes it "workable", if still often not ideal.

- Hitches. Almost every travel trailer out there was not designed to have a hitch installed on the back along with all the structural issues that goes along with double towing. Many RV manufacturers now have specific wording that voids the warranty on the unit if double towing causes structural damage. Frame issues can happen, and in extreme cases (typically large boats behind a TT) the extreme flexing of the body of the lead trailer (again, they are not built for this) can cause exterior damage to fibreglass (popping seams are most common) as well as interior issues such as cabinetry coming loose, etc.||

- Legality. Further to the bit on that below (keep reading), where it IS legal can vary a lot...so in Ontario, if you fulfil all the above requirements, it is legal. The same can not be said for other provinces and US states - some it is legal, some it is most certainly not. If you end up in somewhere where it's not, you will be forced to disconnect the combination and tow each trailer separately to it's destination.

- Weight issues....to keep a very long story short, a half ton isn't up to the rigors of double towing.

As for the legality, a lot was left to slide in the decades past, but the OPP (and most other provincial and state law enforcement agencies) are now cracking down on it. The class AR (A Restricted) was introduced a few years ago to help combat people who were operating large RV's outside of their licence class restrictions, but double trailers were specifically restricted as they were considered something that was best left to professionals. I know a lot of people still do it anyways, but there is a fine for it (operating a vehicle not authorized) and you will be forced to split the trailers on the roadside and tow them independently to their destination, or have a buddy come and pick up the second trailer. There is also possible insurance ramifications if you are in an accident since you are effectively operating a class of vehicle you are not legal to operate.

In short, unless you have a full Class A licence, there's no way to be legal.

And yes, you can backup double trailers. I learned to do it with Super-B trains back when I started driving commercially. Once you learn it (it's all mind over matter) it's actually reasonably easy. ;)
 
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boyoboy

Well-known member
This is something I'm well educated about, being in the trucking industry as well as having pulled recreational doubles as well. Here was my setup circa 2012 - our 5th wheel trailer with our Jetskis behind. We towed it quite extensively across much of the east coast, where it was legal..and that's where it gets technical.



First issue, you need a full class A licence (Not even a Class AR, or the new A-Restricted is valid) to pull any more than 1 trailer. Some basic info on the restrictions and allowances here. If you want to get into the nitty gritty, look at the MTO website for the details - you will find that the only class of licence that specifically mentions multiple trailers is the full class A, while being specifically mentioned as *not* legal in the AR, and subsequently, all other classes of licences as well were the term "trailer" (not pluralized) is clearly mentioned.

Further to that, the lead trailer must be a 5th wheel trailer. A ball-hitch trailer, or even a gooseneck is not legal....so all the tag (ball hitch) trailers you see on the road with another trailer behind them are 100% illegal.

The second trailer must have all required lights (fully operational), and if legally required to or so equipped, must also have functioning brakes. It must also be plated as it is considered a completely separate vehicle.

Several of the more common issues with RV double trailers are:

- Tongue weight issues, as mentioned. 300# of tongue weight (for example) hanging off the back of a travel trailer is 300# less on the tongue of the lead trailer..which can (and often does in poorly lashed up setups) result in stability issues.

- Stability. See above. RV's have their axles typically in the middle of the trailer vs (if you look) near the back in a commercial tractor trailer unit typically used for double towing. Axles in the middle work better for distributing the weight in an RV setup, but make the trailer inherently less stable and add in a lot of tail swing while cornering, as well as just normal driving. Both decrease stability. In an RV double the biggest reason for requiring the lead trailer to be a 5th wheel is that 5th wheel trailers are vastly more stable to begin with because of their geometry, so it makes it "workable", if still often not ideal.

- Hitches. Almost every travel trailer out there was not designed to have a hitch installed on the back along with all the structural issues that goes along with double towing. Many RV manufacturers now have specific wording that voids the warranty on the unit if double towing causes structural damage. Frame issues can happen, and in extreme cases (typically large boats behind a TT) the extreme flexing of the body of the lead trailer (again, they are not built for this) can cause exterior damage to fibreglass (popping seams are most common) as well as interior issues such as cabinetry coming loose, etc.||

- Legality. Further to the bit on that below (keep reading), where it IS legal can vary a lot...so in Ontario, if you fulfil all the above requirements, it is legal. The same can not be said for other provinces and US states - some it is legal, some it is most certainly not. If you end up in somewhere where it's not, you will be forced to disconnect the combination and tow each trailer separately to it's destination.

- Weight issues....to keep a very long story short, a half ton isn't up to the rigors of double towing.

As for the legality, a lot was left to slide in the decades past, but the OPP (and most other provincial and state law enforcement agencies) are now cracking down on it. The class AR (A Restricted) was introduced a few years ago to help combat people who were operating large RV's outside of their licence class restrictions, but double trailers were specifically restricted as they were considered something that was best left to professionals. I know a lot of people still do it anyways, but there is a fine for it (operating a vehicle not authorized) and you will be forced to split the trailers on the roadside and tow them independently to their destination, or have a buddy come and pick up the second trailer. There is also possible insurance ramifications if you are in an accident since you are effectively operating a class of vehicle you are not legal to operate.

In short, unless you have a full Class A licence, there's no way to be legal.

And yes, you can backup double trailers. I learned to do it with Super-B trains back when I started driving commercially. Once you learn it (it's all mind over matter) it's actually reasonably easy. ;)
very informative; and surprising, as I thought this was legal to do. ty for the corrections. disclaimer-don't believe anything I wrote about double, er triple towing. I am a knucklehead.
 

PrivatePilot

Ironus Butticus
Site Supporter
very informative; and surprising, as I thought this was legal to do. ty for the corrections. disclaimer-don't believe anything I wrote about double, er triple towing. I am a knucklehead.
No worries, and unfortunately there is a TON of misinformation out there. Simply googling the issue will yield all sorts of forum posts and even some web pages stating that it's perfectly legal with a class G, that both trailers can be tag, etc etc etc.

I used to go back and forth to Madoc every day as part of my daily run and saw people getting pulled over for this very issue - the MTO or OPP would often setup in Havelock and catch the happy-campers coming through. If you ever see a boat or other small trailer sitting on the side of the shoulder somewhere but don't see any apparent reason like a blown tire, it's usually a result of this as well...and the offender was forced to split the trailers right then and there.

Unfortunately because of the amount of misinformation out there, and those who are happy to believe it vs calling the MTO directly and getting the facts, a lot of people do find out the hard way that they're not on the right side of the law. :)
 

Mad Mike

Well-known member
So in the next week or so I will be picking up my new Avenger 27DBS travel trailer, and because I didn't want to go the extra expensive mile and get a toy hauler, I have to think about other means of bringing my bike on longer journeys. With a bit of searching around, I found that 3 vehicle combinations upto 23m(75.5') are legal in Ontario and most provinces. That shouldn't be an issue, as my truck is just under 18.6' and the trailer from tongue to bumper is 32.9', leaving a 24' margin for an added trailer.

Does anybody have experience towing a 3 vehicle combo? Tips, tricks or warnings? Any other solutions that people here might have experience with would also be appreciated. I'm sure there are means that could mount the bike directly to the trailer, and that would make for much easier towing and especially reversing the rig, but the idea of having a hitch on there available for a boat or other toys is also still a temptation.
I'm guessing having a simple motorcycle carrier fabricated for the arse end of your trailer would be cheaper and safer than the b-train route. I remember riding with in my buddy's tow truck dragging a pickup+boat -- scary.
 

Mad Mike

Well-known member
I don't think the regs are as tough as PrivatePilot suggests. Double tow requires all the basics of a single tow plus a few things:

1) The tow vehicle must be registered as a commercial vehicle - white plates on a pickup are OK.
2) Total length of towing and towed vehicles must not exceed 23m/75'
3) GVRW of towed vehicles cannot exceed 4600kg and towed vehicles may not have air brakes

The MOT does not require 5th wheel hookups. An A licence is required only when a towed combo exceeds 4600kg.
 

caboose56

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Lots of regulations are not enforced.

After I bought my last F250 (but before I went to pick it up) a friend told me there is a max weight for a G class license (approx 10,000lbs combined IIRC) and that is combined weight, not just towed weight.

RVs and campers seem to circumvent a lot of these regs.. but since then I’ve noticed of vehicles out of compliance.

New diesel trucks being so heavy means that if they’re towing basically anything they need a yellow inspection sticker. A diesel pickup towing 2000lbs is over weight if it doesn’t have a yellow sticker.

I was a bit over 10,000lbs... avoided the 401 to try and go unnoticed.

 

crankcall

Well-known member
Site Supporter
having seen possibly hundreds of these combos in my travel years, I'd put a ton of energy into fabbing a rear carrier, possibly a toungue carrier if your not a 5th wheel, or ramp in pickup box setup.

there are valid reasons these things aren't legal in all provinces and states.
 

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