How to Tie Down a Harley to a Trailer

by David Machado
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trailer's suspension image by Diana Mastepanova from

Placing a motorcycle on a trailer is not difficult, but proper procedures and equipment must be used to prevent damage to the motorcycle and injury to the user. Techniques are similar, although trailer styles and types may vary, and individuals tend to develop their own methods. Once a technique is learned and understood, it can be done by one person in just a few minutes. Proper preparation of the trailer is a must.

Step 1

Check the trailer for permanent tie-down locations. Find two on the front and two on the back. Have permanent tie-down hooks professionally installed on the trailer if none exist.

Step 2

Place an adjustable ratcheting tie-down strap on each of the front mounts using the attached hooks. Adjust them so they are approximately long enough to reach the handlebars of the motorcycle. Place them where the ratcheting adjusters will be at the area of the handlebars and easily accessible to be tightened or loosened.

Step 3

Lay the straps where they can be easily reached but are not in the way of the motorcycle when it is rolled onto the trailer. Roll the motorcycle onto the trailer. Place the front tire against the front of the trailer or into the front wheel chock area if the trailer has one.

Step 4

Use the kickstand to hold the motorcycle up if you cannot reach the straps while holding the motorcycle. Place the hooks on both straps over the handlebars. Put one on each side without crossing them and without binding or pinching any cables. Tighten both straps using the ratcheting adjusters until the motorcycle will stand by itself without using the kickstand. Raise the kickstand.

Step 5

Place the chock behind the rear wheel and fasten it to the tire with its short strap. Place a tie-down strap hook on either rear side of the motorcycle to as high a point as possible. This is usually on the rear part of the frame behind the seat. Place the other end to the rear tie-down location on the trailer. Do the same thing to the other side of the rear of the motorcycle.

Step 6

Adjust the front straps one at a time until the front forks shorten or compress. Readjust the rear chock and rear tie-down straps until they are tight. Check that the motorcycle is not leaning in any direction. Adjust the straps as needed until the motorcycle is perfectly vertical and no straps are loose.

Step 7

Try to rock the motorcycle back and forth and push up and down on it until you are sure none of the straps are loosening themselves. Turn off the gas petcock and make sure the gas cap is on tight. Secure any long ends of the straps that are loose by tying them back onto themselves.

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