How to tie down a bike

courtesy of: Me (JeF4y)

Recently there has been much discussion regarding "how to correctly haul a bike". This is MY method. I find it the best for me. You may not. I welcome your pictures and methods though and together we can create quite a comprehensive guide. Email me here

In the last 2 1/2 years, (sadly) I've hauled my F4 more miles than I've ridden it, and have not had any problems (other than some strap wear which was during the "learning process"). My basic thoughts are that I want the bike completely stable but without mashing the suspension. Here's how I reach this goal.

Step 1 was to create a "rail" system to prevent the bike from moving front/back, and to prevent the tires from sliding side to side. This also gets the bike centered (or wherever you want) in the trailer every time without thinking.

How it's made:
Items needed: 2 8' 1x3 pieces of wood, 2 1/2 - 3" screws, simple hand tools (tape measure, saw, drill, screwdriver etc).

The result should look like this:

Okay, now you can test it by pushing your bike into the chock. If you have the bike straight enough, you may even be able to let it balance by itself. I've left mine sit in this with nothing tied down for about 10 mins, but I wouldn't recommend doing it as any slight breeze could knock it down.

The whole point of this contraption is to push the bike into it, pop the front tire over the rear end of the chock and the front tire will then drop down into it, keeping the bike from moving forward/back. The rails that run the entire length of the bike keep the bike from sliding side to side.

Now go and screw this down to the deck of your trailer, preferrably in the center, but if you make multiple chocks, you can evenly distribute them across the bed of your trailer.

Note, this thing can be bought in metal from a few sources, but that takes time and money. This takes about 10 minutes and costs about $5.00. Plus, this design has the added "rear" chock for the front tire.

Now you'll need something to tie the bike down to. A trip to the local farm and fleet type store will be adequate in supplying 4 "D" ring tie-downs. The ones I bought were from Tractor Supply Co (because Lowe's didn't carry them at the time) and cost about $2.00 each. They have a weight rating of like 1000lbs. A bit of overkill, but they were the smallest I could find.

When measuring where to place the rings, it's probably easiest to get the bike in the trailer and have straps handy. For the front, my F4 requires the rings to be 45"-46" apart (center to center). Any farther apart and the straps will pull on the body sides. Any closer together and they'll rub on the front fender such as the white spot in the picture below.

The small white rub in the curve where the fender goes around the fork

For the rear, just use the same width as you do on the front (45"-46"), and place them BEHIND where the passenger pegs will be when the bike is in the trailer.

To fasten them to the trailer, try to hit a metal part or some sort of support. If you *must* simply fasten them to the 3/4" plywood deck, I'd recommend using bolts with washers for the extra support.

Securing the bike..
Okay, now you've got the rail/chock built, it's secured inside the trailer, you've got the tie downs in place and fastened to the deck of the trailer, you've wheeled your bike in and all's well. Now what?? Let's strap the sucker down.

Here is where my method gets interesting. I use what I term a "closed loop system" for fastening. This simply means that the straps and hooks become a continuous loop where the hooks CAN'T come off. This is crucial in my opinion as it allows the bike to be tied down securely without having to crank the straps down, and without having to worry about the hooks coming off if the bike shifts.

How'd I do it?
When I picked up the straps (I use wal-mart el-cheapo kind), I also picked up 4 large "Quick-Links". These are closeable chain pieces. The straps I bought are 6' long, 1" wide and have a tensile strength of like 500lbs ea. In retrospect, I'd recommend longer straps for the front as once you do the loop, the strap is barely long enough, but it works.

Don't lose me here!
Use the Quick-Link and go through the CLOSED end of the hooks and attach to the trailer tie downs like such:

To fasten the front, get the bike into the chock, reach the strap up into the front and go over the lower tripple clamp. BE CAREFUL to make sure you're not going over any brake lines or electrical wires, this is a NO NO! You want to be on the clamp ONLY (get the point? Good!). Bring the strap back down and tighten.

Your "Closed Loop System" should look like this:

Tying down the rear end, I use the loop provided by the passanger pegs.

DON'T OVER-TIGHTEN ANYTHING!! It's NOT necessary!! Just get the straps so the bike is up straight and it can't "jump" out of the chock should you hit a massive bump. The bike should move up and down on the suspension and should be able to move side-side. There should be no forward/backword movement at all.

Shopping list:

Truly you should be able to buy everything needed at Home Depot or other large home improvement store, but I opt for Wal-Mart on a few things as they have good prices. All in all, it should cost about $30 and take about 30 minutes to complete.

Other noteworthy ideas/suggestions: