How to safely transport a Motorcycle:
Trailering... enclosed and open.
Tying the bike down, securing the bike.
© Copyright 2014, R. Fleischer
I claim NO copyright for quotations used in this article.
This article came about because previously I have made only general suggestions on transporting one or up to three motorcycles, in pickup trucks, on trailers, etc. An exchange occurred on the Airheads LIST on August 17th, 2013, and I thought the information was excellent, so I originally presented it all here. UNfortunately, some products are no longer available from the links provided, and links keep changing. I have done editing on this article's quoted material several times due to this. I have given-up on leaving the full quotations and hyperlinks. I will leave and edit what seems pertinent. Some of the original quotations were from Tom Cutter, and I have edited things so much that I can no longer ascribe any quotations from him.
How NOT to load your pickup truck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1L3OQSjgbc
"...Canyon Dancers will destroy heated handgrips in about 10 miles, they will ruin most regular grips in a 200-mile trip".
"You can now buy a modified Canyon Dancer set up. The old Canyon Dancer had to be placed "just right" to not harm the handlebar controls. The new style has plastic sleeves to protect handlebar controls."
Get GOOD tie-down straps. <chit-chat about warehouse stores and Ancra costs deleted by snowbum here>
Get one of these sets: Ancra Quad Pack Tiedown Red (that is two standard tie-downs and two racheting tie downs.)
Write your name on each buckle with a PERMANENT Marker Sharpie, because people will steal them (Sharpie marking will help, not prevent...).
DO NOT put the bike on the center or side stand for transport, EVER (unless on a ferry ship for a lake, stream, etc., crossing, where that is the best thing in many instances).
Purchase or make a front wheel chock to prevent the wheel from sliding sideways. You can make a simple one from 2x4s in an H-shape.
Make CERTAIN that your tie-down points are SOLID and can't come loose. Expanding ones that stick into the stake holes in pickups are notorious for popping out on bumps. D-ring tie-downs, heavy-duty types, work quite well with good straps.
Basic tie pattern is 45 degrees down, 45 degrees forward or back, 45 degrees out from the highest possible attachment point to the most solid lower attachment point. Viewed from above, there should always be pair of ties pulling in opposition to one another. Attach the buckle end of the tie-down to the lower attachment point. Sit on the bike & pull the tag end of the tie-down UP as you push DOWN on the shock or fork. Rock the bike LEFT to tighten the left side, rock it right to tighten the right side, etc. When you finish, rocking the bike should rock the truck or trailer, NOT the bike, or not much. Don't pull to suspension limits....the suspension needs to be able to work some, but you also don't want to have suspension movement disconnecting your ties. Some say to tie down the axle areas, and I am OK with that, provided that you can find a way to stabilize the bike. That's why I suggest using the suspension for safety in transporting, as well as not allowing forces on the bearings, which do increase when the tires are overcome by excessive axle tying. No end to controversy over this, I suppose.
Never let the straps stretch around or across any bodywork, saddlebags, etc. Don't tie around or hook onto wire harnesses or aluminum handlebars.
Use Soft Ties: Hampton Products 05729, & similar on painted or chromed surfaces, on the tie-down hooks, even if they are plastic coated.
Stop and check your load after a few miles.
If transporting in a open truck or trailer, you can use a cover if you go SLOW & stay off highways. Don't use a cover for Interstate speeds. If your cover is a plastic or cloth or woven nylon, ETC., type of tarp, the slightest flapping or movement is going to DESTROY YOUR PAINT!
Best to start with clean & dry motorcycle(s). Obtain a roll of approximately 5" wide & another of approximately 20" wide (or bit less) plastic film wrapping product. You can get these rolls of wrapping at Harbor Freight Co., or any office supply store. Obtain a large roll of the BEST QUALITY (3M for instance) Duct Tape. Do NOT skimp on the duct tape quality...cheap tapes do NOT stick well after exposure to weather, particularly if it is cold and damp; AND, cheap tapes just do NOT stick well from the vibration and oncoming air pressure, etc. Wrap the motorcycles individually, completely, with MANY overlapping layers, in all sorts of directions with the plastic film. When done with the wrapping, use the PREMIUM Duct Tape to go around the plastic wrap in numerous places.
Alternatively, go to a boat yard or marina and have them shrink wrap your bike(s) to prevent stone and water, sale, etc. damage. I LOVE this method!
Take the motorcycle key out of the ignition switch & attach it to your towing vehicle key ring, so that both arrive at the destination. If you leave the key in the motorcycle ignition switch and it is in the OFF position, it can bounce out of the switch if there is a fob with other keys.
01/29/2014: Begin to update the article for trailering, etc.
09/18/2014: Final release
04/22/2016: Update meta-codes, improve layout, fonts, clarify a few things, etc.
01/02/2017: Update metas, scripts, layout, fonts. Slight clarifications.
04/20/2017: Improve clarity of tying down.
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Last edit of THIS page: Thursday, April 20, 2017