Bushtec Entourage Trailer Review

[This Bushtec Entourage Trailer review was originally published in the November 2010 issue of Rider magazine]

Bushtec TrailerTowing a trailer with a motorcycle is not something you want to undertake lightly. There’s lots to learn about tongue weight, proper loading and hitching, tire and wheel bearing care, etc., not to mention how to ride your new three-track vehicle combo safely and reverse it and the trailer without jackknifing.

I can tell you from numerous experiences with other Bushtec trailers in addition to this new Entourage, though, that the company’s unique hitch system and Air-Ride suspension take a lot of the worry and fuss out of the equation, allowing you to more fully enjoy the benefits of all that additional cargo space.

The Entourage was designed for riders who want a lower profile stance, smoother ride and a stylish art-deco look. With 22 cubic feet of storage it’s Bushtec’s second smallest trailer by 3-4 cubic feet, but still has a GVWR of 350 pounds like other models, allowing for up to 210 pounds of cargo (in­cluding popular optional accessories like the cooler and tongue stand). This sleek model with its curved lid and optional full fender skirts is constructed of fiberglass and can be ordered in standard white or black polyurethane paint, or color-matched to your bike in gorgeous single or two-tone clear-coat, candy pearl tri-coat and even custom painted. As such, putting Bushtec’s traditional spoiler and luggage rack on it would be like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa, though I think the snug-fitting optional stone protector bra only enhances the look. If you don’t like the black vinyl bra, it’s also available in a clear version.

All Bushtec trailers come with lightweight, 16-inch, 8-spoke mag wheels (with forged aluminum or powdercoated wheels as options) and heavy-duty 6-ply “run-flat” capable tires. In addition to the teardrop LED tail- and brake­­­­-lights there’s an LED license plate light and side marker lights that really help enhance its appearance and conspi­cuity. The 36- x 23- x 16-inch interior is fully carpeted, and our test unit was equipped with optional document and large storage pouches inside as well as that handy cooler with a nice zippered vinyl cover. The optional retractable tongue stand allows the trailer (and cooler) to sit level off the bike, but the tongue comes with a built-in loop for chaining it up that also serves as a prop, so you don’t have to lay the tongue on the ground and possibly get the swivel hitch dirty.

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This last feature sets Bushtec’s trailers apart, as the company’s heim-joint coupler with its 360-degree swivel allows completely independent movement of the bike and trailer. This is not only safer, as there’s less likelihood of the trailer ever putting the bike down than with a standard hitch should a wheel leave the ground. It also reduces, even eliminates, inputs into the bike from the trailer when it hits bumps and such. The ride is so smooth, in fact, it’s easy to forget the trailer is back there, even on bumpy roads.

Another unique feature of Bushtec’s is the Air-Ride, comprising independent A-arm suspension with air-adjustable shocks and an anti-sway bar. Once properly inflated for the load, it helps prevent swaying and absorbs bumps better than a lot of motorcycles—Bushtec’s famous demo, in fact, is to lift the back of an unladen trailer off the ground a couple feet and drop it. The landing is always dramatically uneventful—there’s no bounce at all.

To test the Entourage I pulled no punches. We had Bushtec’s unobtrusive hitch and wiring installed on our staff Gold Wing GL1500 by a Bushtec dealer. After putting about 50 psi in the shocks to start, I filled the trailer with four large boxes—208 pounds—of paper from our warehouse (there’s still no shortage of paper around here). That maximum load is disregarding the weight of the accessories, so you shouldn’t try this yourself—that’s why you pay me. Sort of.

Anyway, it ended up taking about 75 psi to get the wheel camber properly straight up and down, or neutral, with the load inside, though the shocks will take up to 150 psi according to the very thorough owner’s manual. After checking that the tongue weight (46.5 pounds) was within 10-15 percent of the GVW (350 pounds) with a bathroom scale, I plopped the trailer’s swivel coupler onto the hitch, secured it with the special barrel lock and safety chain and connected the wiring. Then I roared off in search of speed bumps, rain grooves, twisty roads and steep driveways, dragging the Wing’s footpegs, swerving and panic stopping and generally subjecting the rig to more mayhem than most riders ever will. Finally I took it for a long high-speed ride on the freeway.

Other than its shapely style giving it slightly more overhang in back than some other Bushtecs—you’ll want to take it easy on flat-to-inclined road and driveway transitions and vice versa—the bike and trailer were unruffled and pulled beautifully. In fact, the only thing I noticed was how badly our Wing needs steering head bearing and brake service, among several maintenance aspects you’ll want to pay more attention to when towing a trailer. For the Entourage’s part, though, it did its job smoothly and efficiently—the lid even raises and closes easily with gas-charged struts and a soft-close latch and lock. Load it up with all of your camping gear and go!

Bushtec trailers are built in its 50,000 square-foot factory in Jacksboro, Tennessee, and come with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and limited lifetime chassis warranty. Base price for the Entourage is $3,495; as equipped in the photo it would retail for $4,719 plus the special paint, which starts at $699. Hitches range from $399-$599.

For more information: Bushtec Performance Sport Trailers, 180 Mt. Paran Road, Jacksboro, Tennessee 37757; (423) 562-9900

 

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