Transport a Motorcycle

How to Safely Transport a Motorcycle on a Utility Trailer

I remember purchasing my first motorcycle at the tender age of 19. I thought I knew everything about motorcycle transport despite having never owned a bike before. Fortunately, I transported it back to my house in the back of an empty cargo van. Had I been transporting it on a trailer, I probably would have lost it.

What was the problem? I had no idea how to properly secure a motorcycle for transport. In my 19-year-old mind, resting the bike on its stand and then attaching it to either side of the van with rope was sufficient. I learned my setup was no good when I rounded that first corner.

Now in my late 50s, I am much more confident in my ability to secure a motorcycle for transport. I can trailer a bike and get it to its destination without nary a scratch. If you’re interested in knowing how, keep reading. I have done this enough times to have perfected it.

Loading the Bike

The first step is loading the bike onto the trailer. Under no circumstances should you attempt to drive it up a ramp in hopes of being able to stop in time. Motorcycles are inherently unstable; there’s too much risk involved. Rather, use either a double-wide ramp or two singles to walk the bike onto the trailer.

Once on the trailer, move it as far forward as possible. The idea is to have the front tire resting against the trailer edge. The bike should also be centered from side to side. Lean it on the stand to begin the tie down process.

Tie Down the Front First

To secure the bike to the trailer, you’re going to need ratchet or cam straps. Forget ropes. They aren’t going to do the trick. Bungee cords are completely out of the question. You could use chains, but they are overkill.

Some bike owners would never attempt to trailer a motorcycle with anything other than ratchet straps. I’m a big fan of cam straps. My preferred brand is Rollercam for tie down straps, thanks to a patented cam design that reduces friction and allows me to pull the straps as tightly as I need them with very little effort.

Whether you choose cam or ratchet straps, secure the front of the bike first. Start on the throttle side, attaching a strap to the frame and pulling it tightly enough to raise the bike off the stand. Attach a second strap to the stand side and pull it tightly. Ideally you want the bike to be as straight up as possible.

Tie Down the Back

With the front secured, you will move on to the back of the bike. Repeat the process beginning on the throttle side. It’s recommended that you attach your straps high on the frame so that as you pull them tight, you can compress the rear springs at least a little bit. A bit of compression will prevent the bike from bouncing around during transport.

Secure the Front Wheel

This final step is only necessary if your trailer doesn’t have a built-in front wheel chock. Grab one of your spare cam straps and wrap it around the front wheel between the spokes. Then thread the strap through the front of the trailer frame and tighten it down. This will prevent any lateral movement during transport.

Provided you properly anchor your cam or ratchet straps and pull them tightly, this particular setup will guarantee a safe journey from start to finish. Whatever you do, don’t take any chances with inferior tie downs or too few anchor points.

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