All ratchet tie-downs are...
All ratchet tie-downs are not created equal. It is pretty easy to spot the high-quality ratchets from the cheap ones. Remember, this is critical to ensure that your bike stays tied down properly. Notice the small size of the cheap import products on the left; all of the higher-quality units (M&R, Rite-Tie, Pingel, Lockitt and Mac's) have larger and more durable ratchets.
Another new design is the Sport Chock from Baxley Trailer Co. It uses a trick front-wheel cup that actually grips the front tire as the bike is rolled into it, making the chock simultaneously act as a front wheel stand. The manufacturer suggests that only one pair of rear straps (pulling the bike forward into the chock) is necessary when this stand is bolted in a truck or trailer. At first we doubted their claim, but after seeing the stand in person it does appear very stable. We would still suggest using both front and rear ties just in case. The best part of this chock is that it eases one-person bike loading. Once mounted on the trailer floor, the bike is held up when you drive into it. Then you can walk around and attach the straps without fear of the bike tipping over. At $205, it is easily the most expensive and largest stand here.
Tying down a motorcycle in a truck bed can cause problems due to the bike's weight being concentrated on a small portion of the bed railing where the front tire is lodged against it. The force of a bike's weight, coupled with the loads generated while braking, are enough to crumple the walls of a typical truck bed. A solution to this dilemma is the Bed-Buddy by CCR Sport. When mounted to the top bed rail of a pickup truck, the Bed-Buddy reinforces the bed rail while simultaneously acting as a wheel chock. The Bed-Buddy also has tie-down attachments, so you know the angle of attachment is correct. This is a good option for truck drivers at $139.95.
This graph shows the amount...
This graph shows the amount of slippage for each tie-down strap during our "creep" test. Test 1 shows the percentage of creep after more than one hour and test 2 shows the percentage after wetting the strap for one hour.
Another issue that goes along with trailering your bike is security. We continually hear about trailers being broken into, and the contents (or the entire trailer) stolen. While it may be impossible to stop a determined thief, there are some basic precautions that can be taken.
In order to prevent easy entry into the trailer, use a high-quality lock with a shrouded shackle. Experts in the lock industry say locks are most commonly defeated by bolt cutters. The new shrouded shackle locks make bolt cutters useless because the cutter jaws cannot get access to the shackle. Several companies on the market produce shrouded locks, so you should be able to find one locally.
Obviously, hardened shackles are a must. High-security locks can usually be rekeyed, meaning you can have one key fit all three of the locks typically required for an enclosed trailer, one for the side door and two for the ramp door.
In order to prevent the trailer itself from being stolen, there are several antitheft products available. When connected to the tow vehicle, the use of a coupler lock can add a great deal of difficulty for potential thieves by preventing access to the trailer-hitch latch for coupling or uncoupling the trailer. Many products are available from suppliers like Hitches4less.com. The Fulton coupler lock ($9-$30) is a popular example. Hidden Hitch also offers a nice unit ($10-$32) that can be key-matched with the receiver lock, preventing you from having to carry extra keys. Locking the receiver draw bar to the vehicle is another antitheft method.
When the trailer is not in use, preventing access to the ball receiver of the trailer can prevent tow-away theft. We tried a lock from Fulton called the Gorilla Guard ($38). It uses a metal pin that protrudes into the ball-receiver area of the trailer hitch, thus blocking access to the tongue of the trailer.
Another common trick is to use a typical high-security chain and lock through the wheels to prevent the trailer from being pulled. Any high-security chain and lock that can fit through the wheel spokes should suffice. But if you are really serious about theft protection, the ultimate option appears to be the wheel boot by Alpha Lock (similar to those used by police departments to lock your car down when you don't pay your tickets). Plus, the boots are fairly economical at $140 each.