TIE YOUR MOTHER DOWN!
How to secure your machine in shed and van. Apologies to Queen fans.
apologies to Queen fans – but we often don’t secure our bikes properly – either in the workshop, on the bike lift or in the van. Here’s how to make sure you don’t make mistakes.
Whenever you work on a bike on a bike lift or bench, you should tie it down safely. everyone has a horror story about not doing so! Fortunately for me, my disaster was with my wife’s 675 street Triple, not a customer’s cherished classic (not that she saw it that way). The bike was on a cheap and nasty paddock stand a metre off the ground on a professional bike lift when the stand gave way. Because I had neglected to strap down the bike, it fell head first off the bench and landed upside down. I was on my own and I was stuck. somehow the shock blew the mains fuse on the bike bench so it wouldn’t go back down. I repaired it and dropped the bench down, getting the bike the right way up again. Being inverted caused the bike some problems. Cutting the story short, I had to get a new air filter and a tank respray! Learn from my mistake; tie your bike down and don’t buy cheap paddock stands. What if it had been my Z1300? Bike benches almost never have enough tie down points and if they do, they’re rarely in the right place. on my first bench, I used exhaust ‘U’ bolts from a car exhaust centre which were cheap and cheerful, much like the bench. They were a great improvement on no tie down points, but were very often in the way. When I discovered the Bike-it quick release tie down anchors I was very pleased and have installed them on every bench I have bought since. They’re great for vans and trailers as well, but more on that later. I have just replaced my first DIY bench for a new professional one that’s not been on the
market long. I tend to work on heavier bikes and the DIY ones really aren’t stable enough and don’t go up high enough for my ageing back. Even though this is a great bench it comes with no tie down points, so I have decided to fix four each side. The Bike-it anchors come as a pair with screws, nuts and washers. The deck on this new bench is made of pretty thick steel plate and underneath some of the anchor points, one can’t get a nut in, so drilling and tapping is the best way to go. I measured off from my other bench to decide tie down positions. Firstly mark out the position for the holes (they’re at 25mm centres). Before moving on, put the anchor base over the marking so that you can be sure that the hole positions are correct; remember ‘measure twice, cut once’. Centre punch the hole centres. If you’re cutting threads then drill the holes 5mm (tapping drill for M6) or 6mm if you’re going to use nuts on the back. I tapped them all and used nuts as lock nuts where possible. Use cutting fluid or paste on your drill as it will make it cut better and last longer. I use Rocol RTD which is available as paste in a tin or fluid in a bottle from good engineering suppliers. I tend to use the paste for drilling and tapping. I use the fluid on the lathe and milling machine. Always wear safety glasses when drilling! De-burr the holes. Tap the hole with an M6 tap. While you can buy taper, second taper as well as plug taps, I rarely ever use a taper tap. I would rather have a full set of good quality plug or bottoming taps than a cheap set with all the taper taps. Keep the tap at 90° to the work piece. It can help to get someone using an engineer’s square to help align the tap if you’re new to threading. Never force a tap, they’re very hard (if they’re any good) which means that they can snap if overloaded. Turn the tap clockwise for half to one turn and then backwards for a quarter to half-a-turn to break off the swarf. Always use a cutting fluid or paste and your cutting will be easier and the taps will last much longer. Once the holes are threaded, simply screw in the fasteners. I always use a dab of thread lock and seal. At this point if there is access underneath you can fit the nuts to the underside of the screws for added security and to also act to lock the threads, though this shouldn’t be necessary if you have used lock and seal. Once the base is secure and you have fitted all the anchors you want, then it is time to attach the quick release rings and give it a try. At this point I must warn you about the nasty cheap ratchet straps available at shows, markets, ebay etc; there’s a reason they’re cheap! Good quality straps have a plastic label sewn either end of the strap with the specification. At Biker’s Toolbox we only sell good quality safe straps; they may be more than a pound each, but they are safe. Years ago I nearly lost a 1977 Z1000A1 off the back of a trailer when a bargain £1 strap broke. Under no circumstances side load the anchor in the direction you slide in the detachable ring. This will put a load on the locking mechanism that it wasn’t designed for, which could cause it to break Having anchor points up and down the bench really helps depending on what you are doing. Once, with my old Z1300, I needed to take the forks out, so I tied the bike down at the back, pulling the front wheel off the ground this also helped secure the bike. I used a strap either side, attached to the grab rails, as this stops the bike moving about. If you use just one strap, it doesn’t stop the bike moving from side to side. With a bike as heavy as this old girl, I don’t want her moving around at all. When I come to actually take the front wheel out, I may need more clearance so I can use the ratchet straps to pull down the rear suspension to give me more clearance at the front, so that the
wheel clears the front mudguard. You’ll notice I place a square of aluminium chequer plate under the centre stand; this is not standard on any bike bench but gives more support. I drilled four holes in the plate, then drilled the bench M8 tapping side (6.8mm) tapped the threads in the holes, opened up the plate holes to 8mm, cut counter sinks in them and screwed the plate down with M8 countersunk head bolts. There is a huge weight placed on a fairly small surface area when hauling a big bike onto a centre stand, which doesn’t help the bench deck. The aluminium, being softer and with the help of the ridges, doesn’t allow the stand to slide around as much as it tends to on a painted deck. All of this comes from a very hard lesson learned. The moral of this story is learn from my mistake and make it secure!
Drilling the holes... Locking fluid is a must. Securing the anchor point. Preparing and tapping the threads. Always a wise investment. The tie-down in action. Holes drilled, threads inserted. Anchor point and tie down done!
Top notch and sturdy stuff. Inset: mark out twice drill once!
Bar tie downs are best. Safely sorted – the author’s mighty Z1300 Kawasaki. And quality ratchet straps. This Kawasaki ZRX1200 is safe and secure in the Vito van.