60 Seconds or Less: Motorcycle Loading and Unloading on a Trailer or Truck

Motorcycle Loading and Unloading on a Trailer or Truck

The act of loading or unloading a motorcycle normally takes less than 60 seconds.  Motorcycle loading is a critical exposure with inherent risks that are far different than riding.  It requires different skills, knowledge and the right equipment.


Reality Check:  Serious vehicle damage, injury and even death can and does happen in the act of loading and unloading a motorcycle on a pick-up truck or a motorcycle trailer.  It happens fast!  Even professional riders have had mishaps when unloading and loading motorcycles.

If you haven’t already seen it, take a peek at the Top 10 Motorcycle Loading Fails video below before you continue reading.

A good laugh every now and then is great!  But (yes I’m going to be a buzzkill) when you’re done laughing, remember there is nothing funny about dropping your bike or getting hurt.  Loading and unloading a motorcycle is safe when done correctly.

Know the Science:  It’s easy to forget the huge effect on stability and balance when the bike is moving.  The gyroscopic effect of the wheels and the drivetrain are powerful forces that tend to keep the motorcycle upright.  It’s actually quite difficult to knock a moving motorbike over.  When pushing a motorcycle up a ramp, you are balancing dead weight.  You lose all balance stability from gyroscopic forces.  You have zero help with the bike balance.  Translation:  Loading a motorcycle is more difficult and physically challenging than riding a motorcycle.  It takes a different skill set than just riding.

Lessons of Experience (this is not a scientifically proven study, it’s observations from experience):  Loss of balance and dropping the motorcycle in the loading and unloading process tops the list.  A 900 pound cruiser cannot be held up by any single human once it gets past the tipping point.  The steeper the loading ramp angle combined with increased weight of a bike mathematically makes the balancing act more difficult.  One foot slip can prove to be a disaster.  Be sure of your footing!  A leather sole on a wet metal deck does not make for positive footing.  A slippery ramp almost guarantees a dropped motorcycle.  Only use loading ramps that are secured to the trailer or truck so it can’t slide sideways.  Please don’t let us see you using a wooden plank.  Spend a little cash and get the right equipment!

Take the Knowledgeable and Common Sense Approach:  If something feels dangerous or makes you uncomfortable, STOP and get help.  You’re probably right; listen to your instincts.  Always use a spotter, maybe two, depending on your strength and the weight of the motorcycle.  Read owner’s manuals for your trailer and/or your loading ramp.  Practice with YOUR bike and YOUR trailer, YOUR truck and YOUR ramp with two spotters.  Learn with that safety net and know how your own equipment works.  There are an infinite number of variables on bikes, people, motorcycle trailers and ramps.  Know your bike and equipment.  Know that motorcycle loading and unloading has a risk.  Bad things can happen in a matter of seconds.  They are avoidable.

Don’t take anything for granted.  We want to see you out there riding and not on that YouTube motorcycle loading fail video.  Be safe!

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