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How to Load and Tie Down a Motorcycle in a Trailer


Loading up a motorcycle is always an exciting prospect, because it usually means there’s going to be a lot of fun at the other end of the trip. You might be headed to a rally, going off-roading or just traveling to a new part of the country to explore.

No matter the reason, safety should always be paramount, and this starts with properly loading your motorcycle onto a trailer. You’ll want to make sure that you do this in a safe and secure manner to ensure that it doesn’t shift or become unmoored during transit.

Fortunately, there are some specific tips that you can follow to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Read on to learn more about loading up your bike and hitting the road.

The Basics of Tie-Down Straps

Typically, the best way to secure a bike is through a series of tie-down straps. Make these operate with physics and not against it by ensuring they’re pulling the weight of the bike both down and forward. The bike should be pulled up against a chock toward the front of the trailer or the truck in which it’s being hauled. These tie-downs are typically available as two different types.

Ratchet straps have large metal buckle-type structures on them that allow you to feed a strap through and slowly click it to build up more and more tension. A cam buckle is your other option. With this option, the strap will pass through a spring-loaded buckle designed to use friction to keep the load in place. Either option works perfectly well for the purpose of securing a motorcycle.

It’s best to try this job with at least one helper, especially if it’s one of your first times. It can be an unfamiliar process and it’s good to have one other person there to jump in to prevent damage to the bike or injury to a person if it happens to tip over.

How to use soft loops when tying down a motorcycle
How to use soft loops when tying down a motorcycle

Where to Tie Down

The industry standard that you’ll most often see recommended is to have your bike secured with four different tie-downs – two each at the front and the back. If you have a big bike or just want some more peace of mind, use four at the front and two at the back. These tie-downs will ideally be coming from the four corners of the trailer at 45-degree angles to connect with the motorcycle.

Many trailers have prefabricated tie-down hooks that you can take advantage of. If your trailer does not have this feature, don’t worry – your truck sidebars can work just as well for securing the other end of your straps.

Safe loading tips when loading and tying down a motorcycle in a trailer
Safe loading tips when loading and tying down a motorcycle in a trailer

Tying Down the Motorcycle

Place the trailer on on level ground when you start, as unlevel or unpacked ground can give you a false impression of how weight is distributed, which can be a real problem once you hit the road. Your first step is to place the chock mentioned above. All the tie-downs in the world likely won’t be sufficient if the front wheel of the bike isn’t properly secured.

Next, secure the front left tie-down first before moving to the right front, and then on to the rear. Make sure that you’re attaching the straps at high points on the bike so that you’re reducing the chance of it toppling over while in transit. Your target strapping point should be the triple trees, the point where the front forks come together and link to the bike frame. Do NOT tie straps to your handlebars as this can easily damage the bike through the force exerted by both the straps and the journey itself.

The bike should be completely upright at this point in the process and the kickstand should not be sitting on the floor of the trailer. The straps need to be tied securely enough that they extend from the trailer to the bike at a 45-degree angle.

Checking Your Work

Now that the motorcycle is properly tied down, it’s time to double-check. Pull on each strap and make sure that the tension on each is level. Next, make sure that the kickstand is elevated and that all ratchets on straps are closed and secured. You can grab the handlebars and give the bike a shake; it shouldn’t move at all if you’ve done a proper job.

Tying down your motorcycle can take some practice and adjustments to get right, but it’s worth it. Your bike is an investment, so take good care of it and it’ll take good care of you on your next journey.

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