How do you unload a motorcycle from a trailer?

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated July 10, 2023

Continuing our series of articles on basic bike handling tips, today we answer another simple question. Actually, the answer may seem simple, but things can and often do get tricky. So, here’s how do you unload a motorcycle from a trailer.

The optimal approach

Assuming you have the bike secured on the trailer, here’s what you’re going to need to unload it safely.

The ramp model choice is up to you, but it should be of appropriate length, width, and bearing capacity. Make sure it’s safely tied down to the back of the trailer before you do anything else.

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The extra pair of hands can be provided by just about anyone capable of holding the bike steady. This assistance is not strictly required, but it’s good to have someone around as a precaution. If you slip and fall, for instance, it’d be nice not to have the bike land on you.

Try to park your trailer on a slight backward slope so the motorcycle will slide down without a sudden drop. Once you’re all set up, here’s what you do:

  • First, lower the side stand.
  • Then unfasten the tie-downs, starting with the ones on the right
  • Stand on the left side of the bike as you begin to pull it down the ramp.
  • Use the front brake to control the speed of the descent, moving it down slowly.
  • Once it’s all the way down, set it on the side stand. 

And that’s it: all done! Simple, wasn’t it? But what if the circumstances were different? Maybe you couldn’t find anyone to spot you, or didn’t park properly? What if you don’t have a loading ramp available?

All of these are perfectly manageable. Here we’ll tackle just the big one.

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How do you unload a motorcycle from a trailer without a ramp?

Like so many other accessories, loading ramps have a way of disappearing just when you need them the most. Luckily, there’s plenty of substitutes you can use.

  • Existing incline: Trailers aren’t that high off the ground! You could pull up to a low hillside or an inclined driveway, and use that instead of a ramp.
  • Jury-rigging: In a pinch, you could improvise your own bike loading ramp. Depending on the motorcycle’s size and weight, a couple of wooden planks could work. Even some spare plywood might serve; anything that’ll carry your bike’s weight. 
  • Heavy lifting: As a measure of last resort, you could just lift your bike out of the trailer! You pick it up and lower it to the ground, what could go wrong? Well, plenty! Straining your back or dropping the bike are just the most common unwanted consequences. To avoid this, keep your back straight and use your hips to carry the weight, not your arms. And do not try this on your own! It’s one of those situations that we mentioned where you’d do well to have an extra pair of hands.

For more advice on managing motorcycles and their accessories, check out this article.