June 3 2011 by Jason Fogelson
Often, the simplest solution is the best one. If you own a pickup truck, you already own a great motorcycle transporter. A 2011 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited is 98.6" long (just over 8') and weighs 901 lbs. A compact pickup, like a Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier is capable of hauling a big bike, but you'd be better off with a full-size pickup like a Ford F150, Chevy Silverado or Toyota Tundra, equipped with a long bed.
A portable ramp will be very helpful in getting your bike into your pickup bed. Don't skimp here -- a cheapo ramp that collapses mid-load can spell disaster for your bike, your pickup and your health. You don't want 900 lbs of motorcycle crashing down on you from three feet in the air. Don't ask me how I know this, but I speak from personal experience. Ouch.
If you plan to transport your motorcycle in your pickup on a regular basis, you might want to consider investing in a wheel chock (like one of these from Pingle), and bolting or welding it into the floor of your pickup bed. A wheel chock is a simple device (usually) that secures your front wheel in an upright position. It keeps the fork from turning, and if the bike is properly strapped, it helps keep the bike standing. A good wheel chock makes motorcycle transportation safer and easier. You can also lock your bike to the wheel chock while it is in the pickup bed, discouraging opportunistic thieves. Of course, a skilled thief will steal your pickup and bike together, so be very careful about where you park.
I could write a whole article about the best way to strap down your motorcycle. Maybe I will write that article in the near future. Suffice it to say, once you load your motorcycle into your pickup bed, make sure that you strap it down securely and correctly. Invest in a good set of motorcycle tie down straps to avoid damaging your ride in transit.
Another option for motorcycle transportation is a motorcycle trailer. A trailer is a really good choice if you need to transport more than one bike at a time, as even a compact SUV is usually rated to tow 2,500 lbs or more. Motorcycle-specific trailers are available from many manufacturers, and most can be outfitted with wheel chocks and integrated ramps. High rollers may want to consider an enclosed trailer for their babies. An enclosed trailer can also become a rolling repair shop, outfitted with tool chests and bike lifts. The sky is the limit.
When time is the real issue, you may choose to ship your motorcycle ahead to a remote location so that you can fly in and start riding right away. There's a whole industry devoted to vehicle transportation, and some companies that specialize in motorcycle moving. The best companies offer door-to-door service. They'll come to your house to pick up your bike, and you will get to supervise as the driver loads and straps your bike onto a pallet. Once your bike is secure, it is secured in packing blankets and plastic wrap, ensuring that it will not get bumped or scratched in transport. When you arrive at your remote destination, a truck brings your bike, still wrapped on the pallet, and the transporter unloads and unwraps the bike for you. On my last coast-to-coast move, I shipped my Sportster this way, and I was extremely satisfied. My bike arrived without a dent or a scratch, exactly as it was loaded on the truck.
In the best of all worlds, we'd all be riding all the time, and we'd never have to transport our bikes. But getting your bike there safely means that you'll be able to ride and explore new roads and paths, and that's what it's all about.