If you own one, at some point you’ve probably had to figure out how to move a motorcycle onto a flatbed. Maybe it’s been due to a flat tire, a dead battery, running out of gas or merely transporting the motorcycle, but at some point you’ll probably run into having to load the bike onto a flatbed truck.
Things to Consider
There are all sorts of caveats that apply; for example, a 250cc dirt bike is much easier to load than a 1500cc touring motorcycle. Consider the height of the flatbed. Unless you’re a pro and you’ve got a fairly light weight bike and a low profile flatbed, moving the motorcycle onto a flatbed will be at least a two person job.
Choosing a Ramp
There are mechanisms that can facilitate this process. Guide rails, sub-assemblies, ramps, chocks, etc. But assuming that you don’t transport your bike on a regular basis, you will probably make do with some sort of makeshift ramp. The wider the better, as this may allow you to accompany the bike up the ramp. If you do need to move your motorcycle onto a flatbed on a semi-regular basis, then you might want to invest in an arched ramp. The advantage to this is that once at the top of the ramp, the arch facilitates rolling the motorcycle onto the flatbed. Make certain that whatever ramp you use is secure against the flatbed since you don’t want the ramp shifting during the loading process.
Roll the Flatbed on a Driveway
A helpful hint, if it’s possible, is to have the flatbed roll up partially onto a driveway. The decline of the driveway will drop the elevation on the flatbed, making the incline easier to navigate and move the motorcycle onto the flatbed. You might be tempted to get a ‘rolling’ start to gain momentum as you attempt to move the motorcycle onto the ramp and onto the flatbed. But this momentum also makes the bike more unstable. Try to gently rock the motorcycle back and forth and this will allow you to gain a minimal amount of momentum, while maintaining the stability of the bike.
Pull the Bike onto the Flatbed
The use of ratchet straps will be required to tie the bike down onto the flatbed, but it would be useful to affix these to the handlebars or the upper part of the front fork before moving the motorcycle. At some point one of the assistants could jump onto the flatbed and use the ratchet straps as leverage in a pulling motion. (Remember, it’s easier to ‘pull’ than to ‘push’.)
With regard to actually moving the motorcycle up the ramp, one person will need to control the handlebars and the hand brake. The other person should be on the opposite side of the bike to steady it and provide additional pushing effort.
This is the precarious part of the process, since the bike will be elevated a few feet from the ground. If you have a heavier bike it would be best to have a third person on the flatbed to receive the bike. Many touring motorcycles have fairings and hard shell saddlebags which will make the bike more difficult to maneuver.
Fasten the Bike to the Flatbed
Once the motorcycle is on the flatbed, use the ratchet straps to cinch it down. Four straps should do—one each for either side of the handle bars and one on each side of the frame. Ratchet it down tightly and remember that the shocks on the motorcycle will allow for some slack during the transport process, so the bike will be prone to loosen the straps unless it is securely fastened.
One last thing—given that the bike was probably in neutral to allow for loading onto the flatbed, remember to engage it into first gear, once on the flatbed. This will provide additional safety during the transport process. Happy riding!