+ Loading bikes into vans safely
Bought a new bike? Off to a trackday? Here’s how to transport your bike in safety
Is your van suitable? 1 If you’re hiring a van, ask them what type/size of van is suitable for transporting a bike. You should also double check that it has secure tie-down points at floor level. They need to be located at the front and middle on both sides of the van. If you’re moving a single bike you can secure it in the middle of the van, this will keep the bike away from the sides and reduce the risk of damage to both the bike and the van. Ramp it up 2 If you don’t have a bespoke bike ramp, a wooden scaffold board will do. Slowly walk the bike up the ramp – if possible ask a friend to help. If you’re more confident you can switch the engine on, engage first gear and gently let the bike’s power help you walk it up. If you’re loading a custom bike or cruiser, you should check you have clearance between the bottom of the bike and the top of the ramp. Perfect placement 3 If you’re loading a single bike, park it in the centre of the van with the front wheel up against the bulkhead. Put it on its sidestand then wrap a cable tie around the front brake lever, and put the bike in first gear. Place the webbing strap across the bars, adjusting the ends so that they protrude the same amount each side. Make sure the webbing doesn’t come into contact with the switchgear.
Rattle those ratchets 4 Attach ratchet straps to the front two tie-down points then hook the other ends to the bar strap’s loops. Take the slack out of the ratchet straps by pulling the loose ends taut through the ratchet mechanism then tighten up the straps equally, one side then the other. The bike needs to be tightened up with a slight lean on the sidestand side. Secure the rear 5 Now head to the rear of the bike. Find a secure point on the bike near or around the footrest hanger – an exposed section of frame or subframe is ideal (footrest hangars can bend). Loop the ratchet strap through this point, and back to the tie down. Tighten the straps equally, so the tension is the same on both sides of the bike. Tight but not too tight 6 Ideally both pairs of straps should be pulling the bike down and forward slightly so that it sits tightly against the van’s bulkhead. Finally, check the straps have the same tension at the front and adjust any slack out as necessary. You should be careful not to overtighten, as ratchet straps are very powerful and capable of bending brackets and subframes. Try it sideways 7 Alternatively, you can load a bike in a van and strap it to the side. This is also allows another bike to be fitted to the vacant side. One of the potential problems you need to be aware of is the handlebars damaging the side of the van. A bar will easily go through the thin plywood lining and dent the outer panel (which is an expensive mistake). Pad it out 8 Load the bike into the van and position it to one side, then turn the steering away from the panel it’s leaning against. Find a piece of foam or material that can be placed between the handlebar and panel. The padding from an old sofa cushion is perfect for this job, but any soft item will do, as long as it’s something that will spread out the pressure of the handlebar across a broader surface on the side of the van. Keep it upright 9 The bike needs to be tight against the side of the van, but make sure that the fairings, exhaust or swingarm aren’t in danger of being rubbed or damaged – again you can use foam. Most bikes can be strapped to the front corner of the van via the bottom or top yokes but check that no brake lines or electrical wires are likely to be pinched. The rear can be secured by either the subframe or a footrest hanger.
Few people know more about loading bikes than MCN’S Bruce Dunn
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