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Motorcycle tow hitch, TMS800 800lb front wheel hauler

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by TwoManyXS1Bs, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    I've been wanting a crank-up or lever-up front wheel type bike tow/hauler for a long time. Circumstances have necessitated having my trucks serviced in town, which can mean leaving them at the shop for several days. I'd like to be able to haul my XS1B behind the truck, go to the shop, quickly unload the bike, uncouple the tow device, and toss it into the truck. Then I'm free to wander off while the truck(s) get serviced. Reverse the ordeal when picking up the truck(s).

    Doing all this solo, no helpers. I used to be able to load bikes into trailers, vans, and truck beds. But, that was back when TVs had vacuum tubes and rotary knobs. Hence the interest in the simpler front-wheel crank-up and lever-up bike haulers.

    Previous threads discussing various hitching, towing, trailering:




    So, took the plunge and acquired a TMS800 motorcycle tow hitch. A lever-up type rated at 800lbs.


    This thing gets mixed reviews, which I believe are largely from folks who can't figure out how to assemble it, since it comes without instructions, and the parts sheet is often missing. For anybody needing one, here's the parts sheet.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Jim likes this.
  2. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    These things are priced anywhere from $135 down to $70. I think some outfits are dumping them cheap because of a perceived design or manufacturing issue. Here's your chance to save some bucks. What I've seen out there is numerous professional marketing photos of the units assembled wrong, which would render them difficult or dangerous in use.

    This pic shows the lever arm installed upside-down, using wrong pivot hole.


    The unit won't work well, if at all, assembled thataway.

    The proper lever arm assembly:


    The little tab on the lever arm is meant to hold the lever handle upright in the transport configuration.


    A safety hitchpin is used to position the lever handle in one of two positions, for levering the unit, or for the storage position.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
    MaxPete, Jim, peanut and 1 other person like this.
  3. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    The unit comes with (4) camlock straps, again without instructions. These straps are fairly weak, and I wouldn't recommend using them as tie-downs. Some online pics show dangerous methods of strapping the front wheel to the tow hauler.

    Jim likes this.
  4. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    When I first assembled and cycled the unit, I noticed a lot of drag/friction in the mechanism. Sharp corners and rough surfaces on the square pipe slider. File the inner surfaces flat/smooth, chamfer the top and bottom inner edges.

    Jim likes this.
  5. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    The leveraging mechanism uses M10 bolts as pivots, and are quite sloppy. Yeah, this works, but I don't like having bolt threads as bearing surfaces. So, my fussiness dictated a change to shouldered 7/16" bolts. The holes are 7/16", or just a hair under. Just need to skim a 7/16" drillbit thru them if need be.

    These pivot bolts use locking nuts. On assembly, you run them down until they just start to tighten, then back off 1/4 to 1/2 turn. I think that some folks just fully tightened them, and wondered why things didn't move very well.

    I also don't like hitch attachments that hang way out there. So, drilled new 5/8" hitchpin holes 3" from the original holes.
    Jim likes this.
  6. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    The pivoting entry ramp is a sloppy fit. I figured that this could allow the front wheel to shift a bit during the first part of bike loading and lifting, before the diagonal tiedowns are attached. I'd rather the bike stay perfectly upright during this loading procedure. So, changed the supplied M12 bolt to a better-fitting 1/2" bolt, and added washers as shims to reduce the side-side play.


    Edit: All the pics I've seen show the longer end of the rocking entry ramp (with the 1/4" hole) to the outside. With this entry ramp installed backwards, that 1/4" hole lines up with a hole in the base tray. I chose to mount mine with the longer end to the inside, and have plans for using that 1/4" hole for mounting an anti-rocking lock mechanism.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Jim and gggGary like this.
  7. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    The lever handle is a 1" pipe. Made a 4.5" extension from phenolic, press-fit into the handle pipe, and repurposed an old throttle grip. Also, changed out the M10 pivot bolt for a 7/16" bolt.

    Jim likes this.
  8. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Assemble the thing and see how it works. Applied a thin smear of grease on all sliding and pivoting surfaces. Fit it up to the 2" receiver, check the hitchpin fit.

    Unit in the lowered position, lift handle in the active position.

    Sorry, really bad lighting, but I'm racing the clock.
    Jim likes this.
  9. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Lever the handle down, slider tray comes up, insert the top safety pin.


    Uncouple the handle's safety pin, swing it up to the travel position, reinsert its safety pin into the little tab's hole.


    The total tray travel is 7.5". Some web pics show it as less.
    Jim likes this.
  10. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    The front channel width is 5". My front tire is 3.5". A pair of 3/4" x 3.5" x 16" long oak planks should close up that gap and keep the front wheel centered.

    Chamfered entry edges, couple of 3/8" T-nuts, black paint.


    Bolted to the inside of the front channel.

    MaxPete and Jim like this.
  11. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Let's give it a try.

    The green slug ready for loading, tow unit in the lowered loading position.


    Roll the bike onto and over the rocking entry ramp, front tire just slides into the front channel, sandwiched between those (2) 3/4" planks.


    Amazing, the bike stays upright, and resists my attempts to lean it.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Jim likes this.
  12. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Now, lever it up. Insert the top safety pin.


    Amazing. The bike stays vertical, and still resists my attempts to lean it over. And, the effort to lever it up is quite reasonable.

    EDIT: The mechanism's lever ratio approaches infinity as the unit reaches the top of its travel, which means that the effort to *hold* it in the raised position is near effortless, easily held one-handed, freeing the other hand to insert the locking pin.

    The ground clearance is about 8". This is a very stable setup for the solo user. No need for extra hands to keep things from falling over.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    MaxPete, Jim and gggGary like this.
  13. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Swing the handle up to the transport position.

    I like to use quality old-school cambuckle tiedowns.


    Proper tiedown is triangulated, off to the sides, keeping as parallel to the forks as possible. A tiedown is tightened while pulling one side of the handlebar down, compressing the forks a bit. Alternate the tightening process on left and right side, the goal is to get the forks at least halfway compressed with the bike vertical.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    MaxPete and Jim like this.
  14. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Quick to load and unload. Stable. Weighs about 30lbs.

    My inspector signed it off.

    59Tebo, MaxPete, yamageddon and 2 others like this.
  15. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Addressing the issues of leaving the drivechain connected, and possible shiftlever movement engaging a gear.

    The bike is angled upward about 10°. The oil level in the transmission came up about 1.5". Hard to see, it's where the pencil is pointing.


    This rear tranny cutaway shows where this new, higher oil level would be.
    (Green line)


    During transport, the sprocket and the output shaft will be spinning. The only gears that will spin with the output shaft are the splined 4th and 5th. All other gears, and the mainshaft, will remain still.

    In a static scenario, the oil level won't reach the 4th and 5th gears. During transport, with sufficient jostling and hill climbing, the oil may splash about enuff to keep things lubricated.

    My shifter's neutral detent has sufficient retaining force to prevent the shifter from jumping out of neutral. I don't see shift lever jostling to be an issue, otherwise we would've heard about it by now, what with all the offroad activity done over the years.

    This *was* an issue, however, on the super-long, redesigned, swapped right-to-left shifters of the '70s AMF Sportsters...

    --- End of report ---
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Mailman, Jim, Travis and 8 others like this.
  16. peanut

    peanut XS650 enthusiast & inveterate tinkerer Top Contributor

    bluddy luverly solution 2M and an excellent report and review too.
    I love to read your articles ...they are so thorough and well thought through with all the relevant specs and links etc.
    I see your Producer approves too !

    i bought some steel box tube some years ago now with the intention of building a simple version but the missus changed her car to one without a towhitch so that was shelved.

    I was wondering how you were going to achieve triangulation at the front end as the kit obviously didn't come with any out-riggers . The suggested tie down arrangement of the manufacturers is ridiculous and as you say very dangerous. I suspect they are going cheap mainly because of this safety issue and non- cormformity with relevant legislation.
    MaxPete, Jim and TwoManyXS1Bs like this.
  17. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple

    2 Many,
    I have also been curious about these rigs as well. Good post!
    However, Is there not some concern that the rear wheel will tend to lift and slacken the tie down on the handle bars when going over a bump, like a large speed bump or railway crossing? Or are you relying on the compressed forks to maintain tension on the tie down strap? I would think that securing the wheel with the forks free to compress would be better. How about the bikes rear turn signals and brake light?
    TwoManyXS1Bs likes this.
  18. timbeck

    timbeck XS650 Junkie XS650.com Supporter

    Great write up as usual 2M. Well thought out mods.
    TwoManyXS1Bs likes this.
  19. I have used fixed ones for years and have towed full dressers and goldwings. I made mine out of 5" metal channel and made a small ramp to get the bike on the setup. I have used them to tow local and only once used one to go from Philly to Fl. but I disconnected the chain for that tow. Very handy and I have towed many guys off the highway that have broke down with my little elantra. I would pull up and say you need a tow and they would look at me like I was nuts until I hooked it up and got them off the roadway. Sold some to a couple of the tows because they had no truck just a car and liked the idea. I like this one but may only be light enough to tow small bikes. GOOD POST Twomany I like this.
    TwoManyXS1Bs and peanut like this.
  20. Just a final note I WANT ONE LOL and don't back up I have dented tanks in reverse
    TwoManyXS1Bs and gggGary like this.

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