How to Tie Down a Motorcycle Properly on a Trailer With a Chock

How to Tie Down a Motorcycle

We all know that if we were to choose between riding the motorcycle to our destination and transporting it in a trailer, we would always pick the former. But, sometimes, we don't have a choice. All seasoned riders will confirm that not all rides are smooth sailing. Sometimes your motorcycle can break down in the middle of the road, forcing you to carry it on a trailer.

Or you could be relocating with your entire family to another town. In such situations, you will be forced to transport the bike in a trailer. Therefore, every bike owner has to learn how to tie down a motorcycle safely.

After all, the most crucial part of transporting your bike safely is tying it down properly. Besides keeping your bike safe during the trip, tying it down properly is also crucial for the protection of other drivers. So if you want to learn how to tie down your bike, please read on…

What Equipment Will You Need?

Learning how to trailer a motorcycle is not as hard as it seems. But, the first thing you need to do is understand the process of securing your motorcycle. So, make sure you talk to people with experience in transporting bikes. Talking to these individuals is one of the best ways to gain some insights and great advice on how to transport a bike. It can also save you from making some rookie mistakes and prevent damages or injuries.

Here's an example of one such person giving you a demo on what to do.

Anyways, here are a few things that you will need to tie down your motorcycle safely.

A Trailer

Numerous trailers are specifically designed for transporting a certain brand or model of motorcycle. So depending on the type of bike you will be carrying and the weather condition, make sure you get a trailer that is specifically designed for your bike. You can also rent a trailer with a dropdown ramp.

A Specialized Motorcycle Ramp

Loading and offloading a motorcycle into a trailer can be quite challenging, especially if you don't have a ramp. Remember, some motorcycles are quite heavy, and lifting them onto a vehicle can be quite dangerous for everyone involved. So look for a specialized motorcycle ramp that can support the weight and size of your bike.

Tie-Down Straps

You will need three straps for securing your bike properly. The straps should be attached to the corners of the trailer or vehicle that you'll be using for transportation. By connecting your motorcycle to the corners of your trailer, you will be able to make sure that it won't wiggle while in transit. So, look for some heavy-duty straps that can help you secure your bike properly.

Tie-down straps are available in two options: cam buckle or ratchet. The cam buckle uses the friction created as the strap passes through its spring-loaded buckle to hold the high-quality strap. The Ratchet strap functions in a similar manner, but with a ratchet buckle to tighten the straps progressively. Luckily, both straps can allow you to secure your motorcycle and even increase tension on the suspension to prevent shock loading.

Shock loading occurs when the trailer hits bumps on the road forcing your motorcycle's suspension to compress. When the bike's suspension compresses, your strap goes slack, but when the suspensions rebound, your straps snap taut again.

Wheel Chock

A wheel chock serves as a slot for your bike's front wheel while it's in transit. Make sure you get the right size and then bolt it to the floor of the trailer or vehicle. A chock will help keep the front tire straight and also hold the bike steadily. Look for a wheel chock with pre-made holes for bolting it onto the trailer at the local automotive store or online. If you don't want to install it permanently, you can tie it down using the ratchet strap.

How to Trailer a Motorcycle

Pick a Trailer That Suits Your Needs

One of the best methods for transporting a motorcycle is on a trailer. And that is because there are many types of motorcycle trailers in the market specifically designed for certain types of bikes. So, the first thing you should do is pick a trailer that suits your needs. The right trailer should be big enough to accommodate all your bikes or your huge bike.

You can rent a well-maintained 5' x 9' trailer with a fold-down ramp that is ideal for carrying at least two bikes. It's also ideal to have some tie-down rings on the front corners.

Get a Corresponding Ramp

Measure your bike's ground clearance and wheelbase to ensure that your ramp is big enough for your bike. Look for a ramp that is strong enough to support your motorcycle. The ground clearance is measured from the lowest point of the bike, halfway between the rear and front tires to the ground. The wheelbase is measured from the center of the rear wheel to the center of the front wheel. Use these measurements to determine the size and type of ramp that you will get for your bike.

Get the Right Trailer Permits

The law varies from one jurisdiction to the other. Therefore, it's always a great idea to investigate which permits and licenses you will need for the trip. Most rental firms offer a temporary insurance policy that covers their equipment only. So, check with your insurance company and confirm if the rental company insurance will be sufficient.

Make Sure You Have the Right Vehicle

To tow a trailer that weighs about a ton, you will require a rear wheeled vehicle rated to tow over two thousand pounds. Some of the best options are Chevy Caprice and Crown Victoria. Remember, the hitches are normally rated based on a trailer's tongue weight. Therefore, you will require an appropriate hitch that matches your trailer.

Attach Your Wheel Chock at the Back of Your Trailer

The wheel chock is designed to keep your bike's front wheel straight while on transit. Start by positioning the chock at the center of the back of the trailer's bed and then bolt it down. Some motorcycle trailers have attachment holes in place for the chock, which you can use to screw the chock in place.

If it doesn't have holes, you can install the chock temporarily in the same position. All you have to do is place it in the right position and then lock it down using a ratchet strap. The straps can keep both your bike and the chock secure.

Load the Bike Into the Trailer With a Ramp

Using a specialized ramp that can support your bike's weight and size, load the motorcycle into the trailer. If the ramp is attached to the trailer, you can lower it, and if not, you can attach your ramp to the trailer. And with the help of a family member or pal, push the bike gently into the trailer. Make sure you don't let go of the bike at any given point as it will tip over.

Don't ever use a wooden ramp when loading your bike into the trailer. And if you are carrying it in your pickup, make sure you remove the tailgate before attaching the ramp. And that is because most tailgates can't handle the weight of a bike.

Position the Front Wheel in the Wheel Chock

Roll your bike to the back of your trailer and allow the front tire to rest on the chock. Most chocks have a unique mechanism that clicks when the front wheel enters fully. When your chock produces the clicking click, it means that the motorcycle is in the right position. Don't lower the bike's kickstand; in fact, you can take it out temporarily. And if that's not an option, you can raise the kickstand before you tie the bike down.

Here's How to Tie Down a Motorcycle

Once you get the right trailer and vehicle for towing it, the next step is securing your bike on the trailer. Remember, with the right equipment, and technique your bike and all the other drivers on the road will be safe.

Our pal from Boats Bikes and Bivouacs breaks it down for us: 

1. Ensure That the Bike Is Upright 

Before you start strapping your bike onto the trailer, you should ensure that it is upright and parked correctly. Remember, the best wheel chock should be able to hold the bike in place and upright. With a reliable wheel chock, you can secure your motorcycle alone. And the good thing about it is that it is available and affordable in any local automobile shop.

2. Tie One End of Your Buckle/Ratchet Strap to One Side of the Trailer Directly in Line With Your Bike's Front Wheel.

From either side of the bike, tie your strap to the trailer's body, ensuring it is in line with the front wheel. Remember, to tie the ratchet strap to a hook right next to the wheel chock. And pull on it to ensure that it is secure.

Luckily, some trailers have designated tie-down spots. Look for the loops or hooks that indicate the tie-down spot. If your motorcycle trailer doesn't have tie-down spots, you can tie your strap to the sidebar.

3. Secure the Front Part of the Motorcycle

Start by looping your strap around the bike's cross brace that is designated for tying the straps. And then run it through the ratchet strap and tighten it using a ratchet. Stop cranking the ratchet when you feel that it's taut enough.

Repeat the same procedure with the other side of the front wheel and ensure it's safely secured. Once both sides of the front wheel are tied, try rocking the bike back-and-forth to ensure that it is equally taut.

4. Secure the Rear Wheel

There are two ways to secure the rear part of the motorcycle. You can either use a single strap to secure the tire or use two straps.

Single-Strap Method

Once the front wheel is done, you can move to the rear one and line up your strap as you did with the front wheels. And then tie the strap to one side of the trailer, making sure that it is well secured. Pull the strap towards the rear tire and loop it with one rotation and pull it towards the other side of the bike.

Attach your strap to the opposite side of the trailer, and then loop it through your ratchet. Crank it until it is taut enough. Finally, tie down the loose straps.

Two-Straps Method

The one-strap method of tying down the bike works with smaller bikes. But, when transporting a bigger bike, you will need two straps. You can attach the straps to the sides of the trailer and then loop then around the bike's carrier. And then tighten it using a ratchet.

Repeat the same procedure on the other side, and you are good to go.

Things to Avoid When Transporting a Bike

  • Don't ever use your bike's rear bag guards as an attachment point. And that is because you might end up pulling them off under pressure.
  • Don't go for the cheapest straps in the market. The price of repairing the motorcycle once it gets damaged outweighs the cost of straps. Plus, cheaper ratchet straps can endanger the lives of every driver on the road.
  • When tying the front wheel, make sure the straps are not attached to the shock absorbers. This will damage your bike's shock absorbers and at the same time prevent.
  • Never use a weak ramp when loading your bike into the trailer. And that is because motorcycles are quite heavy, and if the ramp breaks, it might get damaged. A weak ramp means that your bike can topple over and injure either you or your partner.
  • Don't stop pushing the bike halfway up your ramp, and make sure you don't slip while loading the bike into the trailers.
  • Lastly, make sure your bike can wiggle a little bit from side-to-side. This will protect your bike from damages while on transit.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of owning a motorcycle is the thrill of riding it to your destinations or just having fun with other enthusiasts. However, there are times when riding is not an option, like when you're transporting your bike for repairs or moving to another residence. So you as a bike owner really do need to learn how to trailer a motorcycle. 

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