There’s no worse feeling than discovering after a long trip that your motorcycle was damaged in transit. Either that or the van or truck has been scraped, bashed and dented by the improperly secured cargo. It’s enough to make a Hell’s Angel cry.
The worst part of all is that it’s entirely preventable. A correctly harnessed motorcycle can handle anything the road throws it’s way. It will remain in static condition unless the van or truck itself comes to harm. In short, if you vehicle survives it, your motorcycle should too.
Fortunately there are clear best practice guidelines to securing motorcycles in moving trucks or vans, handed down by experts to stop the worst befalling anyone else. This guide aims to walk you through how to load and tie down your motorcycle so that it will arrive in the same condition that it left, and the truck and anything inside will incur no damage either.
If you’re needing to relocate your motorcycle for a vacation, moving house, to sell it, to buy it or to bring it to an event, make sure you closely abide by the following advice.
First things first. Before you come to tie down the motorcycle, there are a few things to make the process of loading it a lot less risky. Your best friends for this procedure are a good ramp and a good, well, friend.
If you don’t own a ramp and none came with the truck or van you’re using, you may prefer to build your own. Full instructions for building a ramp from scratch can be found here. In brief, you’ll need some DIY equipment, some lumber and confidence in your woodworking abilities.
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If you have a ramp, here’s what you need to remember. Keep the ramp on a level surface – tarmac or concrete preferably – so there is a minimal risk of the motorcycle tipping on its ascent.
It can help to position the truck (or van) and ramp on a sloping surface, so that gravity will supplement the force needed to push a motorcycle up the incline. If you have a larger or heavier than average motorcycle, this is a useful tip.
It is recommended that you do not try to lift the motorcycle on yourself, whether it’s large or small. Don’t be a hero! If you are forced to attempt this, try to have the motorcycle on a platform higher than street level, akin to a loading dock, to reduce the height you will need to lift the motorcycle.
A little support goes a long way, and a friend, neighbor or family member will be great assistance during this. The more the merrier. One to hold the motorcycle on the other side of the ramp, to prevent it tipping one way or the other, and another to greet the motorcycle as it enters the truckbed, is the ideal number. If this isn’t possible, don’t worry. Follow the previous steps and you should be fine.
So now your motorcycle is in the truckbed or van interior. What now?
It is much easier to secure the motorcycle if you have a friend to hold it upright as you do. If you don’t have anyone else handy, use the kickstand – but remember to flick it up before you drive off, otherwise the kickstand can gouge a hole in the truckbed or van floor.
Avail yourself of two tie-down straps. You can purchase them at any hardware store, home center and most garages. Tie one end of the strap to the side of the truck bed or van interior in line with the front tire. (It doesn’t matter which side you tie down first.) Next tie the end of one strap to the trailer body. Then tighten the knot to keep it secure. Most trucks will have special tie-down points for this purpose. Look for hooks or loops on the bed/floor before you begin.
Loop one strap around either of the front suspension tubes. Start with the one on the same side that you tied the first strap. Loop around the tube, taking care not to loop around the shock absorber. The shock absorber is not strong enough to restrain your motorcycle.
Then tighten the ratchet! Make sure it is as tight as it will go without damaging your motorcycle. Repeat the same procedure on the other side of your motorcycle. They should be taut enough that the motorcycle cannot fall over. Don’t be afraid to give it an experimental push to make sure of this.
If you’re concerned the straps may damage the bodywork, simply slip a cloth or garment between the strap and the part in question. This will protect the bodywork without sacrificing the tightness of the straps.
When tying down the rear of the motorcycle, you can loop around the rear tyre to make absolutely sure the motorcycle will not roll in transit.
Now you’re ready to begin!
3. Tips and tricks
A few helpful tips and tricks to ensure the safe arrival or your motorcycle and you:
- Drain as much fluid from the motorcycle as you can before loading. This will cause less centripetal force to be applied to your motorcycle as well as mitigating the risk of leaks.
- Speaking of leaks, just in case one occurs it can be helpful to lay down a cloth or rag under the motorcycle to catch any drips. This has two benefits: It should prevent any stains on the truck bed, and, if the motorcycle is travelling in an enclosed space with the driver, it will help soak up anything that might cause toxic fumes.
- A wheel chock will also help your front tyre from turning side to side.
- Try not to rest the rear motorcycle tyre against the tailgate if you can help it. There’s always the risk that the tailgate will pop open!
4. An even easier method
If you want an even better guarantee of your motorcycle’s safety, it’s wise to rely on a professional.
Citizenshipper has hundreds of vetted and experienced motorcycle transporters waiting to hear about your shipment and offer a quote. Because CitizenShipper is an online marketplace to link customers with transporters, prices are driven down by competition and you need not expect a hefty quote. You are also free to pick and choose which transporter you want, and able to contact them to find out everything you wish to know about their equipment and their knowhow.
So why wait? Post your shipment for free on CitizenShipper and find out very quickly what options you have. Remember to mention your motorcycle make and model, destination, origin and time frame, and let the marketplace do the rest.
CitizenShipper is a two-sided marketplace for hard-to-ship items such as dogs, cats, motorcycles, boats, cars, and more. CitizenShipper puts you in touch with experienced, background-verified, and user-rated transporters. A quality experience — quick, safe, and affordable!