Road Trip Outfitting: The Moto Transporter
I've had this idea about making a hitch-mounted carrier for my Honda MiniTrail CT-70 minibike for more than a decade.
I've owned a Honda CT-70 for as long as I can remember I had one to scoot around Boulder, Colorado when I lived there back in the 90s. I currently keep one at my loft in downtown Dallas for short runs around Deep Ellum.
Branded in the U.S. as the "Mini-Trail," the CT-70 was manufactured by Honda and imported to the United States from 1969-1982 and again from 1991-1994. With fat little tires, low gear ratios and a short wheel base, the CT-70 was designed for off-road use, but its headlight, taillight and blinkers also make it street legal.
The MiniTrail is compact, fuel-efficient, and capable of crossing most types of terrain. They're a blast to have when exploring the outdoors but they're also well suited to the urban concrete jungle with its myriad curbs, pot holes, constant road construction and limited parking.
In addition, there have been other occasions when I've thought having a MiniTrail would be handy For example, I've often wanted it on fishing trips to Colorado when the fire road I'm driving on turns into a four-wheel-drive road. (Ellie, my all-wheel-drive '05 Element, just isn't designed to conquer high-clearance roads.)
Another situation is camping at National Park campgrounds, where trips to the restrooms, showers, fee station, firewood stand or general store would otherwise require something between a trivial drive and time-consuming walk.
With my epic road trip only weeks away, I was resolved to make the Moto Transporter a reality. The dual-sport design and ultra-compact size makes the MiniTrail a practical candidate for carrying on the rear bumper of my Honda Element, especially while road-tripping.
I had a set of wheel brackets that were given to me by a gentleman who sold me his MiniTrail more than 10 years ago. The brackets were not designed for the unusually small diameter of the CT-70 wheels, but I felt I could make them work with good design and a little creativity.
The design is simple. A t-bar inserts into the trailer hitch with the two wheel brackets mounted to the crossmember, The t-bar was simple enough to source but the wheel carriers needed a little love before being bolted to the crossbar.
I had the wheel carriers sandblasted and powder-coated in red by Powder and Protective Coatings of Dallas. They also powder-coated a CT cargo rack that I had for years but had never installed. The rack came with a chrome finish that just didn't work with my chrome-less 1991 CT. The result was fantastic, the cost was reasonable,, and the red turned out perfect.
With the parts finished in a matching red,. it was time to assemble the Moto Transporter. I designed the t-bar to minimize how far the motorcycle would extend off the back. This limits the mechanical advantage, or moment, exerted as leverage through the hitch from the weight of the bike.
The CT-70's dimensions and weight distribution dictate that the wheel brackets need to be offset to align the CT's center of mass as close to the hitch receiver as possible. Aligning center-mass to hitch receiver limits any torsional force exerted through the hitch.
Not knowing the CT's exact fore-aft center of mass, I decided to use the kickstand mount as a point of reference for this purpose. I didn't want the the minibike extending beyond the Element's body on either side nor did I want the offset to make the entire assembly to look aesthetically unbalanced..
In the end, I arrived at an offset that seemed like an acceptable compromise. With the position determined, I drilled the holes and attached the brackets to the t-bar with Grade-8 bolts and nylock nuts.
The result looked fantastic and it worked like a charm. I loaded up the CT-70 and drove around town to test it out. My initial thought was that the Element's rear suspension may need springs and struts with a higher spring rating to properly carry the substantial extra load, but road trip will be undertaken with the current equipment.
The Elemefalia Moto Transporter, Model EMT-1, is complete with no time to spare.. We depart for California on Saturday, just two days from now.
Check back for updates on the EMT-1's performance as it's road=tested over the ensuing 6k miles.