How to Load a Motorcycle Using a Ramp? | Citizenshipper

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated July 1, 2024

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Using a ramp to load your motorcycle shouldn’t be an uphill struggle. Loading ramps are widely available at home centers and auto stores and often come attached to a van or truck. They seem simple to use: Unfurl or affix ramp, walk motorcycle up ramp, stow ramp. One two three. How hard can it be? Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and some ways are a lot safer than others – both for you and your motorcycle. While we all understand the general idea of ramp use, there are several tips and warnings to know before putting one to use. 

Also, if you don’t have a ramp, you may be wary of the cost of one. But a ramp itself is simple, only its use can be tricky, so it is possible to build your own with two sturdy lengths of lumber and a few tools. 

This guide, then, contains everything you need to know about loading a motorcycle into a van with a ramp, what to look out for, and how to make your own. Let’s start with how to make one.

How Do I Make a Motorcycle Loading Ramp?

Making a simple or heavy duty motorcycle ramp is straightforward with the right tools and skills, but prone to failure without them. If you lack experience with a sawhorse or access to high-quality lumber, it is recommended you purchase a ramp for the job. There can’t be many things worse for a motorcycle owner than a ramp slipping or snapping at the vital moment when it’s needed most. If you are confident in your DIY abilities, however, follow these instructions to build your own motorcycle ramp.

You will need:

  • A 2-inch x 8-inch x 8-foot piece of lumber
  • An electric drill with a 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 5/16-inch x 2.25-inch carriage bolts
  • Washers
  • Lock nuts
  • 0.25-inch x 1.25-inch self-tapping screws
  • A pencil
  • An adjustable wrench

Once you’ve acquired these materials, here’s how to make a simple, heavy duty ramp.

  1. Place the cut length of lumber in the position in which it will be used, i.e. on the notched end of the ramp plate. Use a pencil through the mounting holes to draw marks on the lumber.
  2. Drill through the lumber at those points using a 3/8-inch drill bit. Test the finished product against the ramp plate to ensure the holes are in the right position.
  3. Drive 5/16-inch x 2.25-inch carriage bolts through the mounting holes and use a hammer to make sure they are fully seated.
  4. Flip the lumber the other way up.
  5. Put your washers and lock nuts on the exposed carriage bolts. Tighten with an adjustable wrench (clockwise).
  6. Put the end result into position on the pickup bed or tailgate. The lip of the ramp should sit on the supporting surface.
  7. Screw 0.25-inch x 1.25-inch self-tapping screws through the holes in the ramp plate’s lip into the tailgate (or other mounting surface). If you have a bit driver, employ it on your electric drill. Be very careful with this step: those screws are used to hold the ramp in place and must be absolutely sturdy.
  8. If you need a pair of ramps (for a four-wheeled vehicle or to load several motorcycle at once,) repeat the instructions above.

Tips and Tricks

The loading process itself is a delicate operation. No matter how professional and secure your ramp, this stage is fraught with potential failure. To avoid all that, make sure you abide by these tips and tricks for before and during the load to guarantee the safety of your motorcycle.

  • Rest your ramp on an even surface. Making sure the motorcycle doesn’t tip on its ascent is priority one. You can make certain of this by parking the truck or van on concrete or tarmac, or using a spirit level. Loading from grass or dirt is not recommended unless necessary.
  • Back up your van or truck to a hill or ditch when possible. This will make your bike’s ascent easier to manage, since gravity will do some of the work for you. Motorcycles are heavy, so an incline can be a big help during loading.
  • Enlist a friend (or two) to help. This is a case of the more the merrier. One friend to balance the motorcycle on the other side of the ramp as you load will prevent any tipping. A third friend in the truckbed or standing on the tailgate to pull the motorcycle into place is also a useful aid during the most finicky moment at the top of the ramp.
  • Stow the ramp securely in the truckbed or van interior so you have it available when it’s time to unload. It should be secured as tightly as the motorcycle itself. If the ramp comes loose, it may do damage to your motorcycle even when great care has been taken to keep the latter secure.

How Do You Load a Motorcycle Without a Ramp?

With no ramp, the distance from the ground to the truckbed or van interior is the obstacle to keep in mind. Reducing that distance, thereby reducing how far you need to lift the motorcycle, is the key to loading a motorcycle without a ramp. The simplest method is to find a hill/driveway/grocery store loading dock that the staff will allow you to briefly use. You can then back your truck up to it and then ride your bike straight into the transit vehicle. Otherwise, you can use a block or high sidewalk of some kind to minimise the height you will need to lift the motorcycle to be level with the bed of the truck or van.

A harder method is to grip the motorcycle by its axles and brute-force it up and in. Top marks for manliness, but there’s a lot more risk involved. The smart move is to make, purchase or rent a ramp, that will help with not just loading but unloading at your destination. Perhaps you’re thinking: I don’t own a ramp and I’d rather not buy one or build one. In which case, your best bet (and the safest and simplest option all round) is to to engage a trusted motorcycle shipping service to do the risky work for you.

Shipping Motorcycles

CitizenShipper’s trusted drivers have transported hundreds of motorcycle in the last year alone. Many drivers who specialize in motorcycle shipping are motorcycle pros themselves, with years of on-hand experience moving every make and model of two-wheeler from A to B safely and securely. Many customers have remarked on the peace of mind that comes from using an experienced transporter over the riskiness of loading a heavy and expensive motorcycle up a self-made ramp. And your wallet doesn’t have to suffer as a result.

CitizenShipper has created a competitive online marketplace that puts you in the saddle. Competition drives down quotes without sacrificing quality of service, and you get first choice of which quotes you accept and which drivers you employ. You are able to contact drivers directly and learn what experience and equipment they bring to the job. (Mostly these will be listed on the driver’s profile.)

Simply post your shipment and any relevant details about the job itself – make & model, destination, origin and dates – then sit back and relax.

Within minutes you’ll be receiving quotes from some of the safest and most reliable transporters in the industry. Simply post your shipment and let the market do the rest.