LongBody Capacity, Design, and Development
No sooner had we announced the WideBody than the phone began to ring. About half the calls were for a motorcycle trailer to carry two large bikes—exactly what the WideBody was designed to do. But the other half wanted to carry three large bikes, one trike and one bike, two trikes, two Spyders, various hot rods, Slingshots and other three wheelers, assorted race cars, etc.
The bodies of our motorcycle trailers are made from scratch out of fiberglass. Unfortunately, before you can make fiberglass trailer tops, bodies, etc. you must have molds. And before you can build molds, you must have a full-scale 3-D model. The enormity of the task is comparable to building a clay model for the next generation of an automotive model.
Not only is the development process dependent on scarce skills, it also takes a long time, and ties up a lot of space and money. So much money that for a small company like ours it’s literally a “bet the farm” proposition. If it sells, everybody is happy. If it doesn’t, involuntary retirement is the logical outcome.
Those were the doubts we dealt with three or four years ago. Clearly there was significant demand for a larger motorcycle trailer. So after some rough and ready price sensitivity checks, we charged, or rather stumbled, ahead with periodic pauses to deal with spikes in the current demand for our smaller motorcycle trailers.
At that point we had never built a trailer with tandem axles and a flip top too long for a single pair of gas springs. So, we thought perhaps that rather than diving into the unknown, it made more sense to tip-toe in. We took a WideBody and stretched it three feet. Although we built a new 19 ft long aluminum chassis from scratch, we “patched” together the body and top. While the result had some cosmetic deficiencies, it was good enough for a one-off proof of concept unit.
The proof of concept unit is 19 ft long from the tip of the coupler up front to the back of the tailgate, 8.5 feet wide, with tandem 2500 lb. axles and two sets of gas springs to handle the longer top. We estimate the curb weight of a full molded model will be about 1800 lbs. which gives it well over 3000 lbs. of carrying capacity.
Final Result—the LongBody
After a few miles of road testing the proof of concept 19 ft unit, we declared a victory and dived deep into developing a 3-D model of a 4-place LongBody. Once we had completed the full scale 3-D fiberglass and gelcoat model, we took body, top and bedliner molds off the 3-D model and got them ready for production. Naturally, all the work was harder, took longer, and cost even more than our original estimates. And since we had to squeeze in the LongBody development around regular production, three years elapsed from proof of concept to the introduction of the LongBody to the market.
The final specs on the LongBody are as follows. It is 23 ft long from the tip of the coupler up front to the back of the tailgate, 8.5 feet wide externally and 80 inches between the wheel wells inside, with tandem 3500 lb. axles and two sets of gas springs to handle the longer top. Its curb weight is roughly 2600 lbs. which gives it well over 4400 lbs. of carrying capacity.
What About the 19 foot Proof of Concept Model?
Whether we develop molds for it depends on those phone calls described earlier. We suspect the price of the LongBody may make some people rethink just how much more space they really need—if so we expect there will be significant demand for the Widebody XL .