If you've recently purchased your first motorcycle, you've probably already taken it out for a few trips around town. However, if you're planning to take your motorcycle on longer trips, you may be considering investing in a trailer to help you avoid riding it in bad weather or to allow your family to accompany you to your destination. When is the purchase of a trailer a good idea, and when should you rent instead? What should you consider when buying a trailer? Read on for some tips and tricks of motorcycle trailer ownership. 

When is a motorcycle trailer a good investment?

There are two primary types of motorcycle trailer -- open and enclosed. Open trailers require you to drive your motorcycle up a ramp and tightly secure it to metal supports around the perimeter of the trailer but don't protect your motorcycle against the elements. Enclosed trailers also have a loading ramp, but are fully enclosed and may include space for additional cargo storage. Because of their greater size, weight, and convenience, enclosed motorcycle trailers tend to be more expensive than open ones. However, these trailers do provide some additional protection against everything from inclement weather to theft. 

Many equipment and moving rental companies will allow the rental of a motorcycle trailer for a relatively low cost. Therefore, whether purchasing your own motorcycle trailer is a wise investment largely depends upon the number (and type) of rentals you'd require over the course of the trailer loan term. For example, if you're planning to use a trailer 3 days per year, and can rent a trailer for $100 per day, purchasing a trailer for $10,000 doesn't make much financial sense. It would take you nearly 30 years of saved rental fees to recoup your initial investment.

On the other hand, if you're planning to frequently use your trailer to haul motorcycles and other equipment and have adequate storage or parking space for a trailer, it may be worthwhile to purchase and avoid the hassle and cost of rental. By purchasing a trailer, you'll be able to ensure that you can take off with your motorcycle at a moment's notice, without coordinating schedules and waiting in line for a suitable rental to become available.

What should you consider when shopping for a trailer? 

Your primary consideration when trailer shopping should be the towing capabilities of your vehicle. A trailer won't do much good without something that can tow it safely, and depending upon its horsepower and cargo weight rating, your current vehicle may not be up to the task. While you don't necessarily need a full-sized truck or SUV to haul a motorcycle trailer, if you live in a hilly area, it may not be best to test the towing limits of your smaller vehicle.

Before browsing available trailers, review the towing manual for your specific year, make, and model, Remember not to get too excited if the gross weight of the trailer you've been eyeing is far lower than your vehicle's towing limit -- depending upon the weight of your motorcycle with a full tank of gas, even a light trailer may wind up being too heavy for your vehicle. Look at your motorcycle's manual for an accurate indication of vehicle weight so that you can establish your true towing limits. 

You'll also want to evaluate the dimensions of your storage space. If you're planning to store the trailer in an enclosed garage, be sure it's not too tall or wide to fit through the doorway safely. If you'll need to park the trailer in your driveway instead, you'll want to invest in a vinyl or canvas cover to help protect the trailer's finish from scratches and debris.

Keep these tips in mind as you check out enclosed motorcycle trailer sales, and you'll find the right trailer for your needs.