How to Use Motorcycle Tie-Downs the Right Way

Tip #289 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

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We bet as many motorcycles are damaged by bad tie-down jobs as are crashed on the road. It’s a tragedy that never needs to happen. Here’s all you need to know.

STEP 1 Hook the motorcycle tie-downs to the handlebar or (better) the upper or lower triple clamp. The triple clamp anchor point is easier if you use a pair of nylon loops (soft ties). Loop the soft tie around the clamp first, load the bike, then attach the tie-down hook. Attach the other end of the tie-down hook to the anchor point in the truck bed.

STEP 2 Put the bike on its sidestand and tighten the left tie-down. It doesn't need to be drum-tight yet—just remove the slack.

STEP 3 Push the bike over to the right side. With the left tie-down already snug, the front suspension will be compressed. This spring force is what's going to keep everything snug and in place. When the bike is upright, snug down the right tie-down.

STEP 4 Keep the bike straight up and down, not leaned over to either side, and don't pull the tie-downs too tautly; compress only about half the travel in the front suspension.

STEP 5 To keep the rear end of the bike from bouncing around, take a second pair of tie-downs and run them from an anchor point in the bed, around the rear wheel, and over to an anchor on the right side. All you're trying to control is lateral movement here.

Be sure to use quality motorcycle tie-downs with thick webbing, strong hooks, and aggressive spring buckles. The ratcheting types are overkill for bikes. Two pair will give you four anchor points—a really bombproof setup.