Transporting To Your Ride Safely

The reason I bought a new truck was to haul my motorcycles to some of the great offroad spots in the country. I like having a way to get back home in case the bike is damaged during a dirt adventure. I chose a four wheel drive Tundra, but just about any brand would do the job. No matter what truck you pick, it ain’t good enough until you add some personal ‘adjustments’ so that it performs the tasks you have created for it.

The first modification of my truck was to install a stop bar in the front of the bed so that when we compressed the bike forks in strapping them down the pressure of the front wheels doesn’t cave in the front wall of the truck bed. I’ve seen the damage that some of my friends have done to their truck beds, so I decided to head it off right away.

The stop bar is a piece of 1-1/2” steel tubing bolted to the tie down eyes that come standard on the Toyota Tundra. Eye bolts are strategically placed in the center of the bar for strapping two bikes down. The outer straps are anchored to eye bolts in the standard anchor positions in the sides of the bed. When hauling just one bike, only the outer eyebolts are used.

Warning! I found the standard compression fitting anchors to be too flimsy to hold the bikes. Once the forks were compressed, just a little wiggling of the bikes caused the compression fittings to release. I removed the eye bolts that came with the anchors and installed 10 inch long eyebolts that go through the existing holes in the truck bed sides. They’re anchored with fender washers and stop nuts from below.

To keep the front wheels from shifting sideways, I installed three short pieces of 5” aluminum channel to capture the front wheels. They’re fastened with two 1/4-20 x 2” stove bolts and lock nuts. I made some 15° spacers to angle them to the wheels, but that is probably overkill.

Tiedown straps were shortened and slotted so that Velcro cable straps could be installed in the ends. Cut the straps to the desired length, then fuse the loose ends with a butane lighter or torch. Half inch slots were cut and fused with a soldering gun, near the end, so that the Velcro ties could be installed.

This was good enough for short hauls on good roads, but not stable enough for rough or emergency conditions I have noticed that on trucking my bikes on extended trips, or over really rough terrain, that they tend to shift around, even when they are strapped down by the handlebars. The first time I noticed it was on a 2000 mile haul over expressways. After about a thousand miles I noticed the bikes leaning over and the rear wheels had moved side-to-side. It was simple enough to reposition them halfway through the trip, so I didn’t think much more about it. When I started hauling them across some nasty dirt access roads that tossed the rear wheels in the air and shifted them around in a couple hundred yards I decided it was time to study this problem a little further. As a result of my research, I made some changes that anchor the bikes well enough to allow for some moderate jumps with the truck without the bikes moving around in their hobbles.
A complete set for two bikes was made up with color coded ties for ease of installation. Once the bike is strapped in, the ties are used to fasten loose ends so they don’t flop in the wind. The full compliment of straps for two bikes consists of two each on the handlebars, one on the outside of each bike to compress the rear shock, and another that goes between the bikes to keep them from moving side-to-side.

The last modification was to hold the tailgate partially closed. Since the bed is too short to allow the tail gate to close when the bikes are present, I opted to make a couple of adapters that would at east allow me to partially close the gate. This keeps the ramp and toolbox from drifting out on long trips.

The adapters are stock turnbuckles that I modified in shape so that the normal locking mechanism in the tail gate could grasp one end of it. The other end was heated and beaten into a hook that slips over the latch-eye on the bed.

The end result is a partially closed tailgate that looks a little safer than the wide open bed.


Questions? Comments? Something to add?

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