So you’ve got a bike all ready to move, and the trailer’s all set up. But what’s that? Not a wheel chock in sight! Not one that’ll fit, anyway! Whether an owner or a transporter, you may have found yourself in this sort of situation before. So then what? Call the whole thing off? Or is it possible to tie down a motorcycle without chocks?
CitizenShipper deals with veteran motorcycle movers on a regular basis. We’ll relate their advice on the matter in a moment, but let’s cover the basics first. What exactly are wheel chocks and what do they do?
What’s the purpose of wheel chocks?
A wheel chock is a wedge made of plastic, rubber, wood, or other sturdy material. Positioned against the wheels, one to either side, it keeps the vehicle in place. Just like a car’s hand brake, a chock’s purpose is to prevent accidental lateral movement. This is useful when the vehicle is parked, when it needs to be lifted, or when it’s in transport.
Chocks come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the height of the wheel and the slope of the surface. Some include ice cleats and other accessories so they can be wedged more securely.
Now, there’s no doubt that wheel chocks come in handy. But are they actually necessary? As in required by law? Aren’t there alternate ways to secure a motorcycle if you can’t get your hands on the right type of chock?
The answer is… well, yes and now. Wheel chock use is mandatory in certain circumstances. In others, you’re supposed to use common sense and adjudicate your situation. When the required size/type of chock isn’t available, you look for a different solution to securing the vehicle.
Alternatives to wheel chocks
All right, so how do you tie down a motorcycle without a chock, then?
The first thing you need to take care of is keeping the front wheel from turning. The chocks normally do this by fitting snugly against both the rubber and the road. Without one, you may be able to improvise with almost any piece of wood or plastic. Even a brick might do in a pinch! These improvised tools won’t fit perfectly, but you can compensate by wrapping and wedging in towels. It’s up to you to judge how well fixed the wheel is before you move to the tie-down.
Keep this in mind, though: any improvised restraint might work great for one motorcycle, but not for another. Depending on the bike’s size and weight, there will be more or less momentum to compensate for. If unsure about your choice, please consult an expert!
Finally, let’s talk about tying down the bike. The tension on straps will be greater without the chocks, and that’s what you must make up for:
- Use soft straps on the bike itself, then loop each of those to a ratchet strap.
- Compress your shocks a little, so the straps won’t disengage if you hit a bump in the road.
- Choose your anchor points carefully; two at the front, two at the back, one to a side.
- Don’t leave any slack in the straps. Tighten them until the bike stands perfectly still.
- Take the trailer around the block for a test drive, then check if anything needs tightening.
And that’s it! Compared to tying down a motorcycle with wheel chocks, there’s not too much difference. With an improvised wedge in place, and compensating for the slightly increased tension in the straps, you’ll do fine.