How to Transport a Motorcycle

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If you’ve just purchased a project motorcycle, chances are you’re going to need to tow it home.

Options for Motorcycle Transport

You’ve got some options when it comes to moving a motorcycle, the best ways tow a motorcycle include:

  • Towing a trailer.
  • Using a motorcycle carrier that mounts to your hitch.
  • Moving the bike in a van.
  • Moving the bike in the back of a truck with a ramp.
  • Renting a truck.
  • Hiring a motorcycle shipping company.

What you’ll need to tow a motorcycle if you do it yourself:

  • A hitch (for trailers and carriers).
  • Tie-down straps.
  • A wheel chock (for trailers and moving motorcycles upright in a van or truck bed).
  • A ramp.

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Loading Ramps

If you need to load your motorcycle into the back of your truck, save yourself the trouble and get a quality loading ramp.

Forget the jerry-rigged 2x4s and scrap wood, you’re just going to hurt yourself.

Before you pick your loading ramp, you’ll want to make sure:

  • It has a weight capacity that will accommodate your bike.
  • It will allow you to carry, move, and store it as necessary.
  • It’ll help make loading your bike safer and easier.

To load your motorcycle into the back of your truck:

  • Unfold your loading ramp and secure one end on your truck’s bed.
  • Check that the ramp is steady and will stay in place.
  • If there is not room for you to walk up the ramp with your bike, be sure there are steps along side you can use.
  • You can also use a hill or slope to make loading easier and reduce the angles of the ramp.
  • Make sure the angle between the ramp and the truck has enough clearance for the bottom of your bike.
  • Push the bike up the ramp steadily and secure it in a wheel chock and tie down straps.

A longer ramp that allows you to reduce the angle of the slope can also make things easier.

It’s always a good idea to have someone to help or spot you as you’re loading the bike into the truck.

Tie-Down Straps

If you’re going to be moving your motorcycle on a trailer, in a truck, or in a van, you’ve got to have a proper tie down system.

You need some that’s strong enough to secure and hold your motorcycle, and something that won’t damage the bike as you tighten it.

Wheel Chock

If you’ll be transporting your motorcycle in a trailer, a proper front wheel chock will make securing and traveling with your bike a whole lot easier and safer.

The best wheel chock depends if you’ll be using it in a trailer or if you’re locking for a chock for your garage.

Trailer chocks will definitely need some solid mounting points to keep it in place. Though chocks for the garage will benefit from that as well.

For a wheel chock for the trailer, it’s definitely a plus if it breaks down easy so you can get it out of the way when it’s not needed.

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Do You Need a Wheel Chock to Tow a Motorcycle?

A wheel chock secures the front wheel and forks of your motorcycle in pace while it’s on a trailer or upright in a van or truck bed.

The chock prevents the motorcycle from shifting around or falling over as you go over bumps and around corners.

While you can tow a motorcycle without a wheel chock, you can be more certain that the bike is properly secured and protected by using one.

How to Tie Down a Motorcycle

Securing your motorcycle with tie down straps in a crucial step no matter how you transport the bike.

To tie down a motorcycle, you’ll want to use strong, durable ratchet straps.

To tie down a motorcycle safely:

  • Secure the wheel chock in place.
  • Load the bike up the ramp and onto the trailer, truck, or van.
  • Push the front wheel into the chock to secure it.
  • Wrap a cloth or something protective where you plan on strapping to the bike.
  • Hook a ratchet strap to each side of the handlebars and secure them.
  • Hook a strap to each side of the frame towards the rear and secure it to the trailer.
  • Be sure to route and connect the straps to solid, structural points on the motorcycle.
  • Attach the straps to low points in the trailer.
  • Avoid compressing the shocks as you tighten the straps.
  • Double check that each strap is secure and tight.

You can place rags under any hooks your tie downs may use. Avoid strapping around cables or wires on your motorcycle.

Moving a Motorcycle in a Van

Depending on the bike, moving a motorcycle in a van (or even a minivan) is pretty easy.

If you’ve only got access to a minivan, it is possible to move the bike, you’ll need to:

  • Lower or remove all the seats.
  • Keep seat belt straps and other things secured and out of the way.
  • Angle the bike so it fits completely (you may need to put it on its side).
  • Empty and fluids before hand or put down a tarp to prevent stuff from leaking into the van.

Towing a Motorcycle with a Car

If the only vehicle you have is a car, you’re not totally out of options.

If you’re picking up a project bike that’s in pieces, you might even be able to jam it into the back of a sedan.

If you have a sedan with a hitch, you should be able to tow a trailer with most motorcycles just fine.

Refer to your car’s manual to see its maximum towing capacity, but most passenger cars have a towing capacity of anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds.

Remember, the towing weight will include both the trailer and the motorcycle.

For the most part, a passenger sedan should be able to safely tow all but the heaviest and largest of bikes.

To tow a motorcycle with a car, you’ll need:

  • A trailer hitch.
  • A utility trailer the weighs about 200 to 300 pounds or a hitch rack.
  • A wheel chock.
  • Tie down straps.

And if towing the motorcycle yourself is the best option, you can always compare the cost of shipping a motorcycle too.