truck transporting two motorcycles

How to Properly Transport a Motorcycle

With riding season upon us, motorcycle riders can’t wait to swing a leg over, settle into the saddle, and hit the open road. However, sometimes riding isn’t an option, and we face trailering instead. Knowing how to properly transport a motorcycle can help you buy or sell a motorcycle, move a nonworking motorcycle, or take a trip to a rally that is far away. Just like many other things in riding, everyone has their preferences. We have stuck with the basics to create a guide that ensures safety for you and your bike.


How to Transport a Motorcycle on a Trailer

The process is essentially the same whether you are transporting a motorcycle on an open or enclosed trailer. You will hook the trailer to your towing vehicle, then load and secure the motorcycle.

Do not drive your bike into the trailer. Walk it in and secure the front tire in a wheel chock.


How to Strap Down a Motorcycle

Secure your bike with tie-down straps once your bike is on the trailer. You could use ratchet or cam buckle straps. Do not use bungee cords or anything that has stretch. Ratchet straps work well because you can easily tighten them down for a secure hold. However, this also presents a risk of overtightening. Cam buckle straps are harder to use, but you don’t run the risk of overtightening.

Motorcycle designs vary, but you want to choose anchor points that create a 45-degree angle when tight to the trailer. If your owner’s manual outlines the ideal tie-down points, follow this advice. However, if it doesn’t, stick with the most solid points of the bike. This would be areas like the handlebars, forks, and frame. Do not use parts that can break off as anchor points, such as mirrors, panniers, turn signals, or mufflers.

Gradually tighten the straps until the bike is secure from lateral movement. Gently test the bike for wiggling or shaking as you tighten.


How to Transport a Motorcycle on a Truck

Transporting a motorcycle in a truck bed is possible. However, you need the right truck and bike. A longer truck bed will make it easier to fit the motorcycle. The truck needs to be in good working condition with a suspension that can support the bike’s weight in the bed. Start by parking the truck on a flat, level surface. Uneven or slanted surfaces make loading and unloading more challenging. If possible, you could back up to a curb. This raises the ground level behind the truck, making it easier to load the motorcycle by reducing the ramp angle.


Load a Motorcycle with a Ramp

Only use a ramp specifically meant for truck bed loading. This reduces the risk of mistakes and damage. Check the maximum weight load of the ramp to ensure it can safely support the full weight of the bike. If you plan to sit on the bike while loading, add your body weight to the bike’s weight to determine the maximum load. A longer ramp reduces the angle, making it easier to load the bike and reducing the risk of bottoming out.

While having two people to load the motorcycle is best, this isn’t always possible. Look for a ramp with a stabilizing strap if you load the motorcycle by yourself. The best quality ramps also have a strap that secures the ramp to the truck. This prevents it from moving during the loading and unloading process.

Do not drive the motorcycle up the ramp. We have all seen chaotic viral videos on social media of someone attempting to ride a motorcycle into a truck bed. At best, you drive off the ramp and never make it into the truck bed. At worst, you make it into the truck bed, don’t stop in time, and drive into the truck’s cab.

When loading and unloading, do not stop midway. Commit to going all of the way on or off in one continuous and smooth movement. This does not mean you need to do it quickly. A slow and steady pace allows you to maintain control.


Secure the Motorcycle

Once the bike is in the truck bed, you will use tie-down straps to secure the bike. Tie down the bike in the same manner that you would if it were on a trailer. Using a chock in your truck bed will make loading easier and hold the bike more securely during transport.

How to Transport a Motorcycle without a Truck

One option for transporting without a truck or trailer is with a hitch carrier. Be careful with this method. Many aluminum carriers that you will find are meant for dirt bikes with low maximum weight capacities. A steel carrier will be heavier but will have the strength and durability to carry a heavier bike. However, even with a stronger hitch carrier, you are limited in the physical size of the bike you can carry with this method. You also need to check the maximum tongue weight of the vehicle you plan to use your hitch carrier on. You want to be well under this weight. Bumps and dips in the road will cause the hitch carrier to bounce, creating downforce that will increase the weight pressure on the tongue.


Tips to Make Transporting Easier

You may find it cumbersome and time-consuming the first time you transport your bike. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. With practice, you can quickly load and unload your motorcycle. These tips are not required but may help when transporting your motorcycle.

Reduce Tire Pressure
Consider reducing the tire pressure. This does not mean making your bike tires flat. Instead, you are slightly reducing the tire pressure to give the tires a bit more flex. This helps the tires absorb the road bumps, helping stabilize the bike. However, this method is only useful if you can reinflate the tires when you get to your destination.


Drain the Fuel Tank

Loading a motorcycle with an empty or nearly empty fuel tank reduces the bike’s overall weight. It also helps to stabilize the bike during the drive. Sloshing gasoline in the fuel tank can throw a surprising amount of weight.


Transporting a Harley Davidson

If you own a Harley Davidson, you need to check to see if your bike has “Transport Mode.” Follow the manufacturer’s directions for your specific model and year. Doing this lets the bike know that it isn’t getting stolen. That way, you don’t arrive at your destination with a dead battery.


Carefully Consider Tie Down Strap Placement

People tend to focus on the connection point of the tie-down strap and forget where the rest of the strap sits. This can result in unintended problems. The straps are typically made of sturdy nylon webbing. It isn’t soft or gentle. If this strap rests against a painted part of your bike, it can dull the paint from friction. If the strap rests against any lines, it can cause damage, such as your brake lines.


Cover Your Motorcycle

If you are transporting your motorcycle on an open trailer or in your truck bed, secure a cover over it. This will help keep it clean and protect it. Secure the cover so it doesn’t flap or trap air underneath it.


Check That Your Bike Is Insured

Before you start transporting, check your motorcycle insurance policy. Having coverage will ensure your bike stays protected during transport. Generally, an insurance policy will protect the bike when transported by trailer or truck bed. However, the policy will not protect the trailer hauling the motorcycle.

Coverage also requires loading and securing the motorcycle correctly. If your motorcycle gets damaged due to improper transport, your insurance company will deny the claim. For example, if you improperly use strap downs, which results in handlebar damage, the damage will not be covered.


Protect Your Motorcycle During Transport

Our team of experienced insurance professionals can help you protect your motorcycle. We take the time to understand you, your bike, and your riding habits. By understanding your insurance needs and budget, we create a plan that fits.

Request a quote for motorcycle insurance and protect your bike everywhere you ride.

This site and articles contained herein are provided for general informational purposes only and are not a substitute or intended as professional advice. Please be sure to refer to your owner’s manual or consult a mechanic for information specific to your motorcycle. The information contained on this site and articles contained herein are provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness and without any warranties of any kind whatsoever, express or implied. Rider Insurance Company and its affiliates (together, “Rider”) assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content of this site and articles contained herein. Any action taken upon this information is strictly at your own risk and Rider will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with your use of this site and articles. Additional terms and conditions apply and are available at

Plymouth Rock Assurance is a marketing name used by a group of separate companies that write and manage property and casualty insurance in multiple states. Motorcycle insurance in New Jersey and Pennsylvania is underwritten by Rider Insurance Company. Each company is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.