One of the aspects of dirt bike riding is the transporting of your bike to and from your riding location. While the transportation itself may be okay, the actual loading and unloading of your bike from your truck have the potential to be problematic.
The safest way to load and unload your dirt bike from your truck is with a ramp. With the bike in neutral and your hand on the front brake, run the bike up the ramp. With your left hand, roll the back wheel to push the bike forward in small increments, releasing and engaging the brake as necessary. Carefully climb onto the tailgate and push the bike completely onto the truck.
We have all seen the videos online where people have got the loading and unloading of their dirt bike wrong, resulting in the bike falling off the side of the ramp or some other such disaster.
Follow the steps detailed here to load and unload your bike safely with a ramp to be sure you won’t become the subject of another online blooper video! We also offer some advice on alternative methods and some tips to ease the loading and unloading process.
Using a Ramp To Safely Load Your Dirt Bike On Your Truck
There are many different techniques for loading dirt bikes onto a truck with a ramp, but we have found that the steps detailed below have proven to be both easy and safe. There will, however, be a few challenges, even with the ramp process that we propose, depending on specific criteria regarding your bike size, your truck size, and your physical height.
We will offer some tips at the end of the process to help you to overcome some of these difficulties and make the loading and unloading process as simple and painless as possible!
Fortunately, off-road motorcycles are generally much lighter in weight than on-road motorcycles. This aspect of the dirt bike will count in your favor as you go through the loading and unloading process!
To load your bike onto your truck with a ramp, follow the 7 basic steps below and you will have your bike loaded in no time!
- Park your truck on a downward-facing slope if possible. Even a slight downward slope will help get some momentum as you push your dirt bike.
- Stand on the right-hand side of the bike. This will give you easy access to the front brake, which you will use in this loading method.
- With the bike in neutral and your right hand on the front brake lever and your left hand on the left handle grip, run the bike up the ramp.
- When the front wheel is up on the tailgate your truck, engage the front brake with your right hand. This will prevent the bike from rolling back down the ramp.
- Using your left hand, roll the back wheel forward, releasing and engaging the front brake as needed to control the bike and move it up the ramp in small increments.
- Once the back wheel is near the top of the ramp, almost on the tailgate, keep the front brakes engaged while you carefully step up onto the tailgate of your truck. It can be a little tricky to complete this step while balancing the bike, but if you take it slow and steady, you should be fine!
- Once you are up on the tailgate, it is an easy matter to release the brake and roll the bike forward completely onto the load bed of the truck.
Bonus Dirt Bike Loading Tips
As we mentioned earlier, you may encounter some complications loading your dirt bike onto your truck if your bike is tall, your truck tailgate is high, or you are a person of short stature. Here are some bonus dirt bike loading tips to help you overcome these issues.
- Many dirt bikes do not have a kickstand, or if it comes standard with a kickstand, riders often remove them. The reason for this is that a side-kickstand can catch on the track in tight corners, or boulders or other debris on the off-road track. For this reason, most riders will have a separate bike stand, which they will use to park their bike when they are not out on the track. You can use the bike stand as a step to climb up onto the tailgate of your truck. This solves the height issues mentioned earlier.
- Have a second person lend a hand in the loading process to balance the bike, particularly while you climb onto the tailgate.
- Use a second ramp—place two ramps side by side. Run the bike up one ramp, while you run up the second ramp alongside the bike. This streamlines the whole loading process and makes it easier as it cuts out several of the steps in the process.
Using A Ramp to Unload Your Dirt Bike From Your Truck
Unloading your bike from your truck using a ramp is relatively straightforward and pretty much performing the loading steps in reverse order, with a few differences!
- It is not necessary to park your truck on a slope; in fact, it would be easier to unload your dirt bike on flat, level ground.
- Climb up onto the bed of your truck and position yourself on the right-hand side of your bike where you can easily reach and control the front brake.
- Make sure your bike is in neutral. Slowly back the bike up to line the rear wheel up with the ramp. Once the rear wheel is off the tailgate and on the ramp and the engine is positioned over the tailgate, hold the bike in position with the front brake.
- Balance the bike and step off the tailgate, or onto your bike stand which you can use as a step. Carefully roll the bike back, controlling the motion of the bike with the front brake.
- Watch the front wheel to make sure it is lining up correctly with the ramp.
- When both wheels are on the ramp, gently ease the bike down the ramp, controlling the descent with the front brakes.
This process will allow you to unload your bike from your pickup truck safely. While you can perform the unloading process singlehandedly, it is always helpful. It adds an extra measure of safety if you can have a second person assist you with the unloading.
Check out this video from Rocky Mountain ATV MC for more on how to load/unload a dirt bike.
Dirt Bike Loading Methods To Avoid!
Most of these poor dirt bike loading techniques can be avoided with the application of some common sense to the situation. Inexperience may also lead to these poor choices in loading methods.
- Do not try and ride your dirt bike up the ramp and onto the load bed of your pickup truck. This is particularly dangerous if you have a narrow ramp or a single ramp. Should the bike stall on the ramp or you did not gain enough momentum to get up the ramp, there is nowhere to put your foot down. In this situation, you and the bike will fall off the side of the ramp, and in all likelihood, the bike falling on top of you! This has the potential for serious injury to you and the bike!
- Do not try to wheelie the front wheel up onto the tailgate of your truck! Even if you manage to get the front wheel onto the tailgate, the momentum of the bike will slam the engine pan into the edge of the tailgate. This sudden dead stop can launch you forward into the handlebars, throw you off backward or to the side, with the bike landing on top of you!
What Are The Best Ramps For Loading And Unloading A Dirt Bike?
The type of ramp you use to load or unload your bike can make an enormous difference to both the safety and ease with which the loading and unloading process can be undertaken. If you are just starting out in off-road riding and the process of transporting your bike, you should take care to select the best ramp for the job of loading your bike.
- The best ramp to load your dirt bike is a wide ramp where you can safely and comfortably walk up the ramp next to your dirt bike. A ramp of this design would be the optimal choice concerning ease and safety.
- Two single ramps will work similarly to a wide ramp. Position the two ramps next to each other, allowing enough space to push the bike up one ramp while you traverse the second ramp next to your bike. With this method, there is still the situation of misplacing a foot or losing your balance and stepping off the ramp, but if sufficient care is taken, this method is still practical.
- A single ramp is the method we described above to load and unload your dirt bike. This method requires even more care to be taken with the process, as you will need to pause the loading process while you step up onto the tailgate of the truck. This process can be made easier by employing the use of your bike stand as a step to get onto the tailgate.
When looking for a ramp, make sure you inspect the mechanism for securing the ramp to the tailgate of your pickup. It needs to be robust and secure, with no chance of being dislodged during the loading or unloading process!
Do not try and use a plank, piece of board, or any other type of makeshift ramp for the loading process. Using these makeshift ramps is courting disaster, as they can slip off the tailgate or crack and break with the weight of the bike causing you, your bike, and your truck some severe damage!
How To Secure Your Dirt Bike On Your Truck
The method you use to secure your bike on the back of your pickup truck will be dependent on the size of the load bed of your truck and how many dirt bikes you transport at a time. With multiple dirt bikes, the best method is to purchase purpose-built stands for each bike. The wheels are secured into these stands, and the handlebars secured to the track with straps.
This method will require the bikes to be loaded straight on the back of the truck, and you will not be able to angle them. The load bed of your truck will need to be big enough to accommodate the bikes loaded in this fashion.
If the load bed of your truck does not fit your dirt bike when it is loaded straight on, you may need to angle the bike from one corner of the load bed to the opposite corner. In this instance, you won’t be able to use a stand in the back, and the preferred method is to strap the bike down with tie-downs that put tension on the left and right handlebars to secure the bike.
Most trucks come standard with eyebolt securing points at the front and back of the load bed. If your truck does not have these secure points, you will need to get some installed.
Flat straps are the best tie-downs to use, rather than ropes or another cordage. The material that these straps are made from is quite coarse, and the friction of tying them down can rub the paint off the handlebars or scratch the finish. For this reason, many tie-downs com with soft straps that you can use to wrap around the handlebars and then connect the hooks to the soft strap. This will protect the finish on your bike from abrasions. If your tie-downs did not come with soft-straps, you could purchase them separately.
Tie-down straps come with various securing mechanisms, from carabiners to hooks, buckles, and ratchets. The better, recommended connections are a carabiner on one side with a hook on the other end of the strap and a buckle in the middle. Carabiners are great because they form a closed loop and cannot slip off the eye-bolt on your truck. A minimum of two such straps will be required to secure your bike on the truck.
Connect the carabiner to one eye-bolt on the truck. Connect the hook end to the soft-strap around one handlebar. Use the buckle in the middle to tension the strap and hold the bike in place. Secure the second strap similarly to the other handlebar, making sure the straps are providing tension in opposite directions to each other.
Ratchet style tie-down straps are not recommended because it is very easy to inadvertently put too much tension on the straps and cause damage to your bike.
Whichever method you use to tie down your handlebars, care needs to be taken not to compress the front forks too much. This can cause unnecessary wear and damage to the seals and springs in the forks. A handy device called a fork protector had been manufactured to protect your front forks from being compressed too much during transport.
It is a shaped piece of tough, durable plastic that fits between the front tire and the mudguard. This device provides a rigid structure that prevents the front forks from being compressed too much when you tension the tie-down straps.
With some trucks that have a particularly short load bed, you may not be able to close the tailgate of your truck. In this instance, you will need a cargo net style strapping that fits across the back of the load bed where your tailgate should be. This will allow you to pack fuels and other goods in the back of your truck with your bike and not have them fall out the back during your trip!
And there you have it, how to load and unload a dirt bike from your truck SAFELY! Get that dirt bike onto your truck and…
Happy dirt biking!