Feb 2007 Safety Thoughts

Securing Your Bike for Trailering

By Dave Hansen, Safety Officer


Daytona is just around the corner.  Some of us may have plans to escape this cold weather, so this month Id like to discuss safely securing your bike inside the trailer.

Before putting the bike in the trailer, take a couple minutes to get the trailer ready to strap down the bike -

         Park the trailer in an area that you can keep the bike tires dry while moving it into position for loading

         Lay out the tie-downs to their respective anchors in the trailer & pull out enough slack

         If required (they generally are) attach easy ties to the front frame, forks or handlebars of the bike, making sure not to pinch or damage the brake line(s) or cables

         Make sure the front tire chock is properly secure & positioned

         If you use a ramp, get a couple friends to help you push the bike into the trailer

         If you have a door ramp you can ride the bike into the trailer just be careful not to hit your head when entering the trailer

Once the bike is in position in the trailer -

         Put down the side stand & make sure the bike is in gear, engine off

         Connect the left front tie down & remove the slack

         Connect the right front tie down & remove the slack

         Put the side stand up (the 2 front tie downs will keep the bike upright)

         Incrementally tighten both the front tie downs to compress the front suspension @ 3/5 to 2/3 of its' travel

         Attach rear tie downs & remove the slack

         Attach a tie down (or 2) to secure the bike to the front of the chock (to prevent forward/backward motion) & tighten it down snug

         Snug down the rear tie downs to unsure the rear tire wont move sideways

         Make sure the bike is in neutral for traveling

That's it for loading the bike. Unloading is just a matter of reversing the sequence, but here's a couple more tips that you'll need to know -

         Use ratchet tie downs, especially for the front

         Add a set of friction tie downs to the front as well (that's a combination of a ratchet tie down & a friction tie down on both the left & right sides in front)

         When loading, connect the friction tie downs first (this allows the bike to be secured quickly when loading), then you can take your time with the ratchet tie downs to get them connected & tightened down properly

         Don't forget to tighten down those friction tie downs after tightening the ratchet tie downs

When unloading the bike, leave the front tie downs for last -

         Make sure your front friction tie downs are tight

         Loosen the right front ratchet tie down (the bike will be held in place by the friction tie down)

         Loosen the left front ratchet tie down

         Make sure the bike's in gear & the side stand is down

         Incrementally loosen the right front friction tie down (the bike will be held up by the side stand)

         Incrementally loosen the left front friction tie down

         Disconnect all tie downs

         Straddle the bike

         Make sure the bike is in neutral

         Put up the side stand

         Back the bike slowly out of the trailer, controlling your movement with the front brake

On a personal note, I used to use 6 tie down points in my trailer -

         2 are set wide in front of the front axle

o         Each gets a friction tie down (quick connects to keep bike up while securing properly, double insurance in case a ratchet tie down breaks, can be loosened in a controlled manner to prevent violent whiplash effect of releasing the compressed front suspension all at once)

o         Each gets a ratchet tie down (provides secure tie down without loosening during the trip, but is too difficult to release slowly)

         2 are set narrow, in line with, but slightly in front of the rear guards

o         Each gets a ratchet tie down (prevents the forward/backward movement that loosens tie downs & causes the bike to shift during accels & decels)

o         Note - H-D secures new bikes for shipment with ratchet tie downs to the frame below the engine to the shipping pallet - this provides a secure method of attachment that really works well

         2 are set wide back of the bike

o         Each gets a friction tie down (not really needed, but can help to prevent side to side shift of the back of the bike during travel)   These tie downs are attached directly to my rear tire/wheel assembly

Now, Ive switched my wheel chock to a newer product called the Condor Wheel Chock. This is a superb product that can hold the motorcycle upright without tie straps.  This makes 1 person loading a cinch.  Just ride the bike into the chock system, shut down & step off.  The bike remains upright, allowing you to then secure the tie downs at your leisure.  I now use only 4 tie downs with this new wheel chock.

Finally, almost all trailering horror stories Ive heard over the years involves the bike tipping over because the rear tire moved sideways far enough to allow the top-angled tie-downs to get loose & the bike falls sideways.  Attaching some blocks to the floor on either side of the rear tire will prevent this movement

While your trailer may be set up differently, I hope this provides some insight & useful tips that will make your trailering experience a safe experience. 

Ride Safe!