You know the drill—humping 700 pounds of V-twin magic u […]
You know the drill—humping 700 pounds of V-twin magic up a narrow aluminum ramp, gingerly easing ’er into the truck, and strapping the whole enchilada down for a 60-mile haul. Everyone has to do it sooner or later, and we wondered if there was an unofficial bible for this thankless gig. We polled colleagues and our test-fleet manager (who wrangles a half-dozen bikes on a slow day) for the scoop. Everyone has their preferences, but we distilled ’em down to a few basics.
Transporting A Car Basics
Job One is the security of the bike; you don't want your Precious budging after she's strapped. The best tools for that job are a series of motorcycle tie-downs attached to the bike to pull it down and forward in the tow vehicle (preferably against a chock).
Tie-down straps come in two flavors: ratchet or cam buckle. Cam buckles use friction created by the strap as it passes through a spring-loaded, cam-shaped buckle to hold the strap in place. Ratchet straps operate in much the same manner, but with a ratchet buckle to progressively tighten the strap. Both allow you to secure the bike yourself and bump up tension on the suspension to reduce shock loading.
Shock loading occurs when the vehicle hauling your bike hits a bump in the road, causing the bike’s suspension to compress. When the suspension compresses, the straps go slack, but as it rebounds, the tie-downs snap taut again—which can eventually loosen or break them. The more you load the suspension during tie-down, the less it will compress during towing. Some folks claim that ratchet straps are more effective at maximizing compression, but our shop manager says he’s comfortable with the cams because they’re easier to work with.
Transporting A car With Tie-Downs
How you tie down your bike depends greatly on the model you own, but everyone agrees on using either the frame or a solidly mounted part on the frame as an attachment point. Two ties at the front and two on either side are adequate for most streetbikes, but if you’re paranoid, six ratchet tie-downs—four in front and two at the back—will offer max security, even for a Boss Hoss.