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The Plain Jim Method of Tie-Down Bike Transport

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For many of us, getting the first bike home can be a trial. Below, I describe the method I used to get my first bike home on the truck, when I didn’t have the skills yet to ride it. The Plain Jim Method of Tie-Down Bike Transport.

  • First, go to the bike shop and get tie-downs. (I got four, but I only wound up needing two. For larger bikes – say, over 1000cc – you’ll probably need four.) Get decent, ratcheting tie-downs.
  • Then, obtain a truck or trailer that has places to which you can attach the tie-downs that are on or near the floor, and angled slightly to the side and forward of the place where the bike will be (see the picture below). You’re going to run the bike up against the front wall of the truck or trailer (for brevity, I’m going to presume it’s a truck), and you’ll want to the tie downs to both balance the bike and pull it hard against that front wall (a tall, steady chock that cradles the front wheel will also work; see the picture).
  • Run the bike up against the front wall, and put it on the sidestand. Run a tie-down from the left front fork or handlebar to the left-front attachment point in the truck. Tighten the tie-down so it is taut, but not tight. (You will probably want to wrap the front fork or handlebar with rags to protect the finish. There are also a number of commercial products that will protect the bike.)
  • Now run another tie-down from the right front fork or handlebar to the right-front attachment point in the truck. Sock this one up tight, so that the bike rises off of the sidestand. You want to do two things:
    1. You want to compress the front forks about halfway, and
    2. You want to press the bike HARD against the front wall of the truck.
  • At this point, raise the sidestand.
bike transport bike chock This image shows the tie-down going from the left front fork to the tie-down location in the left front. The tie down is apparently already in place on the other side, as the bike is straight up.
  • If you’ve done this right, the bike isn’t going anywhere. You can run tie-downs off the back of the bike the same way, if you like (they will help to stabilize the rear), but you might not need to if the roads you are traveling are reasonably well paved and graded (although for a longer trip, or a larger bike, additional tie-downs would probably be a good idea). I had to have my 700cc bike towed twice for repair; one driver used rear tie-downs and the other didn’t. (I heard of one woman who used six tie-downs for a transport… but she’s probably a “suspenders-and-a-belt” kind of dame!)
  • Get in the truck, and go drive over a curb, or some road-kill or something so that the bed joggles. Pull over and check the tie-downs. If they’re still tight, go ahead and drive away. If they’ve loosened, tighten ’em up, and pull over every so often to check ’em. If they’re REALLY loose… use different tie-downs.

When you get to your destination,

  • PUT DOWN THE SIDESTAND!
  • If you have used rear tie-downs, loosen them first.
  • Then, slowly loosen the right-side tie-down. The bike will lean over onto its sidestand on the left.
  • Then loosen the left-side tie-down. The bike is now free. You’ll probably want to have somebody help you get it down the ramp, but other than that, you should be home-free.

Note that some fully-faired bikes may not allow you to run tie-downs as I’ve described. In that case, it’s probably best to use one set of tie-downs to pull the bike forward into the front wall or chock, and then to use another set to depress the forks.

Disclaimer text here: Please note that these instructions are offered for information only, and that your results may vary!

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