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Master These Six Safe Loading Tips for Motorcycles


Do a quick search on YouTube for “motorcycle loading fails” and you’ll find literally hundreds upon hundreds of videos. People have done some dumb, dangerous stuff trying to load their bikes! And while it’s funny to watch the aftermath of some of these loading tactics gone wrong, the reality is, incorrectly loading a bike is extremely dangerous.

Luckily, loading a motorcycle into a pickup truck or trailer isn’t hard! In fact, with the right ramp and some forethought to safety, it’s a whole lot easier than YouTube makes it out to be. Here are six safety tips to master that’ll make your load simple and safe, and keep you out of a motorcycle loading fails compilation video.

Use an appropriately-rated ramp

Ramps come with weight ratings, dictating what they can support. The bulkier your bike, the sturdier the ramp you’ll need. Don’t try to load your beefy 1,000 lb. touring motorcycle using a lightweight ramp that only supports 750 lbs. max! Check weight ratings first.

Next, consider the style of ramp. Do you need a short or long lead-up? What’s the clearance on your bike and do you need an arched ramp vs. a straight one? Choose a ramp that not only accommodates your bike’s weight, but also its build.

Finally, look at ramp dimensions, including width. Trying to load with a ramp that’s too wide or too narrow for your bike or your transport vehicle is a recipe for disaster.

Always, always, always secure the ramp

Motorcycle loading ramps need to be secured to the loading surface—that means the tailgate or bed of your truck, or the lip of a trailer. Even if the ramp seems sturdy thanks to rubberized grips or broad weight distribution, always tie it down. All it takes is one slip of the throttle or shaky movement to shift the ramp off the loading surface, leaving you and your bike sprawled on the ground. Tie it down!

Use the ramp as it's intended

Different ramps allow for different loading styles. Always use the ramp in the way it’s intended. For example, a broad 38” W ramp might support easy drive-up loading. It offers you enough room to stretch out your legs and gently walk the bike up the ramp as you give it some gas. But this might not be the case for a 12” W ramp! Without room to stretch out your legs, riding up this type of ramp is a balancing act waiting to go wrong. Here, the safe solution is to get off the bike and load from the side.

Review the loading instructions for your ramp before using it, to learn what’s appropriate (and safe). Don’t deviate from these instructions of you could risk your safety—or cause damage to your bike or vehicle.

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Safe Loading Tips Infographic

Use two people whenever possible

Even for ramps that support single-person loading, it’s always best to have two people supervising a load. In some cases, more hands make less work—someone guides the bike up the ramp while the other person pushes it. In other scenarios, it’s just good to have someone to double-check your tie-downs or stand by in case there’s a problem.

Used appropriately, most motorcycle loading ramps only need a single person to get the job done. Having another person standing by is just a convenience in case anything goes wrong.

Use chocks and tie-downs to secure your bike

Once your bike is in the bed of a pickup or back of a trailer, secure it. The simplest solution is to use cam buckles or weight-rated tie-down straps. Find anchor points on your bike and secure them to the truck or trailer to prevent any movement. Distribute the tie-downs to keep the bike’s center of gravity low and stable.

For transporting multiple bikes (motocross or dirk bikes, usually), chocks can be a good investment. Bed-mounted chocks offer a dock for tires to prevent unnecessary movement, and often come with tie-down points that further secure the bike(s). The less opportunity for movement, the less chance there is for your motorcycle to wriggle free or rock around during transport.

Check and double-check everything

It’s easy to miss little details. You can do something 1,000 times and still make a mistake on try 1,001. Make a mental checklist and abide by it when loading your motorcycle. Check that your ramp is secured to the loading surface. Test the tie-downs after you secure your bike. Check and double-check everything, even if you know it’s right. It may seem tedious, but it’s worth it for peace of mind.

Always remember that a motorcycle is a vehicle—which means it has the potential to cause great harm when used in an unsafe manner. Trying to gun it up a ramp into a pickup bed or use a makeshift ramp to load it into a trailer is a recipe for disaster. Get the right ramp, take the safest approach and always follow loading best practices. There are plenty of “loading fails” on YouTube—you don’t need to add your own to the mix.

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