There will always be an occasion that will require you to load your bike onto a trailer or truck bed for transport. Like any other task that requires tying down a heavy load to prevent shifting while in transit, there is a right way and a wrong way to securely fasten a motorcycle. Although truck beds and trailers can require different methods and products, there are some basics that apply to both and can help you avoid accidentally damaging your bike.
Tie-down straps are a vital tool for securing a bike for transport-their ease of use and ability to tighten and handle a heavy strain make them indispensable for this task. Tie-downs fall into two basic categories based on buckle type. The standard "cam buckle" uses the friction created by the strap as it passes around a knurled, spring-loaded, cam-shaped buckle to hold the strap in place. The main advantage of the cam-type tie-down is it only requires a single action that is quickly accomplished to securely fasten your bike, and you can usually tighten the strap while seated on the bike. The disadvantage is that you cannot create as much tension as with a ratchet-type tie-down. A ratchet buckle uses a small ratcheting gear and lever to progressively tighten the strap, and its leverage advantage over the strap's tension allows you to fasten the bike more securely. It is possible to use too much tension with a ratchet-type tie-down, however, so care must be taken, and it requires a bit more effort to complete the tightening job than a cam-type tie-down.
The angle of attachment for...
The angle of attachment for tie-downs is important in order to ensure that maximum leverage is achieved so that the motorcycle won't move or shift during transport. At least 10-15 degrees from vertical is minimum for safety, but 50-65 degrees is preferred.
Each strap manufacturer has different recommendations on what type of product fits each application. For bikes ranging from 400 to 750 pounds, M&R Products suggests using two pairs of straps with a combined 1200-pound strength rating; one pair securing the front of the bike with another in the rear. Ancra similarly suggests using two pairs of its cam buckle tie-downs for bikes between 500 and 1000 pounds, while Wright's Custom Products suggests that any bike more than 400 pounds requires ratchet tie-downs in the front with cam buckle straps in the rear.
Regardless, all agree on one critical factor: The front wheel must be immobilized in some way. If not secured in place, the front wheel can twist during transit, causing the tension to vary on either side, resulting in an unstable load. The most common product for this job is a wheel chock. A chock prevents both twisting and forward movement of the front wheel, while also providing a leverage point for tie-downs. Make sure the chock is wide enough to fit over your front tire. It should also be test-fitted to check for enough clearance to the brake rotors; otherwise, brake damage could result.
There are many different types...
There are many different types of wheel chocks. The most expensive is the Baxley Sport Chock that allows you to to load the bike by yourself.
Tie-down manufacturers stress that the rear of the bike must also be strapped down because in the event of sudden braking or in an accident, an unsecured bike can pivot over the front end and cause severe injury or damage.
When tying down the front end of the bike, a common question is, "How far do I compress the forks to ensure the bike is stable?" Scott Mackie of Mackie Enterprises Inc. advises that a bike should be pulled down until the forks are compressed to approximately half of their available travel. This will ensure that the bike is stable without putting unnecessary stress on the springs or fork seals. If you have air-assisted forks, it's a good idea to release the air pressure.
The Mac Wedge chock claims...
The Mac Wedge chock claims to offer better stability over low-profile chocks because it extends above the centerline of the wheel, and its wedge design allows a wide variety of wheels to fit without damage to the rotors.
It is also important to remember that when tying down your bike, the higher the attachment point the better, because it offers more leverage. Each bike is different, so look around and find the location that offers a solid tie-down point. Avoid fairing brackets or other fragile/flexible components, and instead look for locations that offer a rigid mount like a triple clamp in the front or a subframe in the rear. The use of soft tie extensions can make this easier, and prevent you from scratching bodywork or parts with the S-hooks found on most tie-down straps.