How to Load a Motorcycle Onto a Truck
February 5, 2013 - San Diego, CA
Whether you ride street or dirt, there may always be a moment where your bike needs to take a ride in the bed of a truck. For off-road motorcycle riders, the occurrence is often, as truck beds tend to be the most popular way to get your bike to riding spots. Street bikes, however, tend to spend more time on the road rather than in the back of a truck, unless you happen to be either really unlucky or taking on a serious project bike. But, either way, if you ever need to load your motorcycle into the bed of a truck, there are a few tips and tricks you'll want to know or you might end up as one of these guys:
First, get the right motorcycle ramp. Different ramps have different weight loads. An off-road motorcycle ramp like the Matrix M8 Folding Ramp probably shouldn't be used to load a Honda Goldwing onto a truck. From there, avoid things like bottoming out on the high center of a street bike by investing in a motorcycle ramp that is curved at the top.
Another good thing to pay attention to when buying a motorcycle ramp is where the ramp meets the tail gate. Many ramps have rubber at the end to help stabilize it on the tail gate. Otherwise, a metal ramp resting on a metal tail gate can slide or move as you guide your bike up onto it. Ramps that cover the entire length of the truck bed are also less likely to move and, for heavier bikes, think of getting a wider ramp as well. If none of these are options, get a few extra motorcycle tie downs and attach them to the truck's bumper or rear tie down points to stabilize the ramp.
Before you start loading your motorcycle into the truck bed, have your motorcycle tie downs set up. If you wait to set them up when your motorcycle is already in the truck bed, trying to set them up while balancing your motorcycle upright can complicate things, especially if we're talking about a dirt bike that doesn't have a kick stand. Even with a street bike that has a decent kick stand, the bed of the truck may be uneven or slick. Set up the tie downs when you have both hands free and don't need to concentrate on not dropping your bike. Make sure that the tie down spots are secure and can handle the weight of your bike. Also, get soft straps or straps with coated or soft hooks that won't damage your motorcycle.
Decide whether it will be easier for you to ride or walk your motorcycle up the ramp and onto the truck bed. Walking it up is easier with lighter motorcycle such a dirt bike, especially with the help of a step stool. Set up the stool at the tail gate, next to the ramp. Keep the engine off but put your bike into first gear, pull in the clutch and grab your motorcycle's grips. Start a few feet back from where the ramp starts. Get some momentum by quickly walking next to your bike while guiding it forward and then up onto the ramp by the grips. As the bike gets higher onto the motorcycle ramp, so will its center of gravity, making it harder to keep stable. To avoid losing balance, step up onto the stool while walking your bike up the ramp. This will also make getting into the truck's bed easier once your bike gets to the top of the ramp.
If you'll be riding your motorcycle up the ramp, first make sure that the bottom of your bike will clear the spot where the ramp meets the tail gate. Be sure to start far enough back to get enough momentum. Get a little speed before you hit the ramp and coast up it instead of trying to power up it.
In any case, a friend is always a good resource. Pay them in beer and pizza to stand by and be an extra pair of hands in case anything goes wrong.
Once the motorcycle is up in the bed of the truck, make sure that it is completely vertical and then secure it using the tie downs. Compressing the front forks will help stabilize the bike as you're driving. An easy way to do this is to sit on your motorcycle as you tighten each of the tie down straps. Your body weight should be just enough to tighten up the suspension. Just be sure to keep the tie downs as even as possible to distribute the pressure.
With all of that said and done, you should be good to go. Of course, drive carefully and take turns at a moderate pace to keep from causing any unnecessary issues.