Bike Ramps and other loading tips

C5tor

Well-known member
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506
Location
San Ramon, CA
#1
Hey Guys, I posted most of this comment in another unrelated thread, but I'm curious about how others haul their Altas too. So, I'll post in this thread as well and expand a few items.

Some folks have posted about their moto-van builds and strapless tie-downs and similar. Those are way cool. What about us old-fashioned guys that haul our stuff in a truck, and use a ramp and tie-downs? What do you guys use? Lets hear about any loading tips or cool equipment that you guys use!

I love how convenient it is to use our electric bike power to load the bike and move it around. I've turned quite a few heads at the riding area by simply walking my bike (almost) silently up a ridiculously steep ramp like it was nothing. Makes you look like a superhero sometimes.

I used to have a lot of anxiety about loading my dirt bikes. Timing the sprint, building momentum, and then the awkward leap of faith at the end, hoping you had enough speed to make it to the top... The very thought of it would get me in a cold sweat imagining gruesome images of dropped bikes, broken hips, and all manner of viral YouTube bike-loading-fail videos. But just walking the bike up the ramp under its own power is very gratifying. Just one more reason I love this bike.

I used to use the traditional skinny bike ramp and a step. But that was precarious, awkward, and frankly stupid. Don't even get me started on folks that use a 2x4 and a lawn chair.

I then switched to a wider ramp from Harbor Freight. It is pretty nice and very convenient. This is nice for bikes and appliances and such. It worked quite well until I got a new (lifted) pickup. The bed on my new truck was a good foot higher than my old truck. At 6' long, the ramp became a bit too steep to load safely, at least in my opinion. (Remember, I'm an old geezer wimp.) But overall, this is a great ramp, and I'd still use it today if it was about a foot longer.

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I've since switched to a much longer and wider (and overall much safer) ramp, and it is simplicity itself. The new ramp is kinda bulky to move around, but it makes loading a carefree experience. Even if I'm tired or hurting, or the ramp is slick and the bike is muddy, using bike-power and a gentle, wide ramp makes life easier. In my youth, I wouldn't have worried about the niceties of loading the bike. I would have picked the damned bike up and chucked it in the truck if I had to. But with my advancing age and increasingly unreliable knees, I gotta worry about dumb ass stuff like this now!

Here is my new Black Widow tri-fold ramp: (7' 10" long by 54" wide) Very plush! (Well, as "plush" as a ramp can get, anyway.) Easy incline on my taller truck, excellent "cheese-grater" traction across the whole surface. As wide as my tailgate, so easy to load multiple bikes and generators, etc. without having to angle them at awkward directions. Really like this ramp so far. It obviously works well for ATVs, golf-carts, and appliances as well. I like the gentle incline. Easier on my knees. Super study (the ramp, not my knees!)


The only downside of the ramp is that it is bulky and harder to carry. It is easy to fold, but doesn't have a good place to grip without the ramp unfolding. I'm using these Highland Rampart Ramp carrying straps to make things easier on myself. Takes a minute to install them, but they give a nice secure lifting point and keeps the tri-fold ramp from unfolding. I got two of them for two handles. So far, so good.

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Another piece of equipment I like is my Bed Buddy tie-down rack, by CCR Sport. It mounts in the truck bed and serves a couple purposes. It gives you wheel chalks, so your wheels don't turn side to side. It gives you extra tie-down locations. And it strengthens the bed bulkhead so it doesn't flex when you tighten the straps. Overall, been very happy with this little device, and have used it for a couple years. Even moved it from my old truck to the new one.
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As far as tie-downs, I've used quite a few over the years. I like ratcheting tie-downs, but they can often be hard to work, and I often over-tighten the straps. I've been using these Pro-Taper tie-downs for the last year or so, and I really like them. I like the built in soft-ties. I like the carabiner clip so that it won't come unhooked. I like the built-in velcro straps so that I can secure the excess strap so they don't flap around. The swivel hook is nice in that it keeps the straps flat. It is also probably the weak point in the design, but I'm not putting hundreds of pounds of pressure on them so I think they are fine for my application. So far, they are my favorite tie-down that I have tried. They are a bit pricey at $30 per pair, but I'd rather spend a few more bucks on quality tie-downs than risk my $10k bike from falling out of my truck.

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Anyway, those are some of the things I use. What about you guys?
 

Redwolf

My dog thinks I'm cool
Likes
1,107
Location
Brinnon, Wa.
#2
My loading strategy for years was "it's better to be lucky than good"...

My equipment consisted of a 4ft tri-fold ramp with open center section to load into a 4x4 pickup. Nearly impossible to walk up at any pace, so I just rode the bike up.

Did I mention that it wasn't anchored in any way? Nope, just plop it against the tailgate and go! And the lucky bit? After 25 years doing it this way without incident, I decided to quit while I was ahead and bought new longer ramps and a motovan. The ramps even came complete with safety straps that I might someday figure out how to use...
 

Philip

Administrator
Staff member
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2,759
Location
Lake Havasu City, AZ
#3
I never owned a truck. First, I had a sedan with a bike trailer, then a Ram B-van, then a Honda Element (one bike fits inside, and the other on a bike trailer behind!). But a few years ago I was in Arizona with a dirt bike but without any of my personal vehicles. I rented a Ram 1500 truck. That was quite a learning curve how to load a bike into a truck! I had to buy an aluminum ramp and rely on the bike's momentum, friends, climbing on top of the bike stand, and not screwing things up and crashing! I am still not sure how you guys with trucks do it every day! No Tesla truck for me in the future. I will be waiting for a Tesla motovan!
 

leeo45

Geezer in denial
Likes
353
Location
Lake Hartwell, SC
#4
.... I am still not sure how you guys with trucks do it every day! No Tesla truck for me in the future. I will be waiting for a Tesla motovan!
I have a truck, however that's not where the bikes go. I have a trailer with a ramp door, wheel chocks, and toolboxes. I have a friend who snapped both bones in his lower leg loading a bike when he lost his balance and his leg got caught in a ladder-type ramp. I am waaay too old for something like that.

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F451

Well-known member
Likes
411
Location
Seattle
#5
Hey Guys, I posted most of this comment in another unrelated thread, but I'm curious about how others haul their Altas too. <snips>
Sounds like you've covered all the bases for a safe and affordable loading and tie down setup. I need to upgrade to those tie-downs with the swivels on them, keep forgetting to pick some up at my local shop. I love the built in soft-tie loops, super handy, give all kinds of attachment options and won't break anything if used with the slightest care when you locate them.

And yes, ladder type ramps are a trip to the ER with a nasty broken leg ticking time bomb IMO. No thanks and I cringe everytime I see someone using them.

I've been using pickup trucks for years, I use one of these Rubbermaid steps alongside my homemade 6.5' wood ramp, works great. I added grip-tape to the ramp when I got the Alta when I realized how easy it would be to use Map 1 to "drive" the bike up the ramp.

RubberMainStool-S.jpg

Being "old" (59), I tend to take it easy when loading and decided years ago that if the bike starts getting away from me I'm just letting it go. Once it gets past a certain point I wouldn't be able to stop it. So far no mishaps.

My loading technique is slow and steady, doing it one step at a time more or less. I try to get the front wheel up on the tailgate, then stop with the front brake, steady myself and the bike, take a step or two, and do a final push into the bed. Hard to explain, but I don't rely on momentum or speed, do it in steps.

I've been wanting a van for years but at our current place I really don't have room for a pickup and a van. Lately I've been thinking about selling my beloved 928 and getting an Astro, I'm pretty sure I could squeeze it in my garage where my 928 is. I'm not crazy about buying an older Astro but its the only van that fits my needs (size, utility, etc), and they're cheap and plentiful.

And I would sell the pickup and get a full sized van for moto but my kid has a damn horse so we need a tow vehicle for that thing. And I know the full sized vans can tow a small horse trailer too, but you really need a pickup for all the other crap you haul around with a horse. I think she has one more year of college, once she's done with college, I'm considering demanding that she buy a pickup truck if she wants to keep that damn horse, feel like I'm being held hostage to a pickup against my wishes. Did I mention damn horse yet? I think I need to go for a trail ride now to calm down. Lol.
 

F451

Well-known member
Likes
411
Location
Seattle
#6
Re lifted pickups, mine has a 2" or so lift and it makes a huge difference in loading a bike, its way harder then you would think. I've got it down so its no problem, but always look for a curb or some other mound, hill, or whatever to back up to to assist with loading. My old place, the driveway had a nice soft curved curb that I could position the rear wheels of truck against, was 5-6" lower then my driveway, really helped with loading.

Many parking areas at riding spots have mounds, berms, whatever for easier loading. They are not always obvious, but if you look around you can often find one.
 

F451

Well-known member
Likes
411
Location
Seattle
#8
Forgot to mention, that white Rubbermaid step above doubles as a bike stand, its the perfect height and surprisingly sturdy. My first one lasted for years before finally giving up the ghost and I didn't exactly treat it with kid gloves. Double duty stuff is the best.
 

C5tor

Well-known member
Likes
506
Location
San Ramon, CA
#10
And I would sell the pickup and get a full sized van for moto but my kid has a damn horse so we need a tow vehicle for that thing. And I know the full sized vans can tow a small horse trailer too, but you really need a pickup for all the other crap you haul around with a horse. I think she has one more year of college, once she's done with college, I'm considering demanding that she buy a pickup truck if she wants to keep that damn horse, feel like I'm being held hostage to a pickup against my wishes. Did I mention damn horse yet? I think I need to go for a trail ride now to calm down. Lol.
Horse? Isn't that an internal combustion conveyance? Tell her those things are causing global warming, and she needs to switch to electric.
 

evh1

Well-known member
Likes
106
Location
Montgomery, AL
#12
C5tor - I have one of these step ramps after using a 4 wheeler width ramp and it's so easy. I got the longer version for my 2" lifted truck and it's perfect. I did put grip tape on the treads and attached a piece of nylon netting under the riser portion to keep a foot from sliding thru and a leg getting abused, but have never even come close to needing it...a pound of prevention...I'm 59 and have begun to engage the 59 years of wisdom now. I even use it to load a KTM 790R into my pick up bed easy peasy!
 

VINSANITY

Well-known member
Likes
136
Location
Texas
#16
If you are interested in a trailer hitch option for hauling this one is a nice design - it’s steel but pretty light actually - bike can’t fall off because of the front tire holder. It doesn’t flop around in the hitch like some others.

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Likes
455
Location
Altoona, PA
#17
I use the same thing (Black Widow model - Amazon Link), yours looks a little more sturdy than mine. I like to keep my truck bed free for gear and so I can lock it up even with the bike loaded. The trick is to run straps from the front and back of the hauler straight into the bed to help with sway. It's really easy to load with the Alta, a little more difficult with ice bikes.
 

VINSANITY

Well-known member
Likes
136
Location
Texas
#19
I use the same thing (Black Widow model - Amazon Link), yours looks a little more sturdy than mine. I like to keep my truck bed free for gear and so I can lock it up even with the bike loaded. The trick is to run straps from the front and back of the hauler straight into the bed to help with sway. It's really easy to load with the Alta, a little more difficult with ice bikes.
I had the black widow previously and my bike somehow rolled off the back of the ramp on an off ramp - the rear tire was literally rolling on the ground- also had a parts bike - make sure to tie down the rear wheel really good
 

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