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Loading a dirt bike and hauling it to the riding spot is probably the most boring part of dirt bike riding. Many riders use a pickup truck for the task and it is essential to be able to load the dirt bike by yourself. By testing different loading methods and some practicing, you will be able to load the dirt bike quickly and securely.
You have several options on how to load the dirt bike into your pickup truck for hauling and how to strap down the dirt bike for safe transportation. The most effective method is to use a dirt bike ramp and a center stand as a step and strapping down the dirt bike to face the corners of the truck bed.
This has become our favorite loading method simply because it is so fast and efficient. Here are our step-by-step instructions for how to load your dirt bike on the bed of a pickup truck.
Equipment for Loading a Dirt Bike Safely
It’s fairly easy to load a dirt bike into a pickup truck and it only requires these three essential equipment:
- Motorcycle ramp for loading
- Center stand as a step
- Tie-down straps for secure strapping
For finalizing the loading, we also recommend these following optional equipment. This way, you can avoid damaging your dirt bike while hauling it to the riding location.
- Fork saver for suspension protection
- Exhaust plug for exhaust pipe protection
- Speed bleeders for front forks
Read also: How To Wash Your Dirt Bike
8 Steps for Loading a Dirt Bike Into a Truck Bed
With a little practice, you will be able to load your dirt bike into a pickup truck in less than 5 minutes.
Loading the dirt bike involves 8 steps and you should be able to perform all of them by yourself.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the steps. We will also share our our tips and tricks for how to make the loading and unloading safe and easy.
Step 1: Loading Preparations
Park your pickup truck in a level area or slight incline with the tailgate pointing at the incline. You can also find a low point in the ground and position rear wheels on the low point to lower the truck bed height.
Some riding spots may have a special on-off-loading area that can be used sometimes without a ramp. Backing up the truck against the loading block makes the loading and unloading very easy and safe.
Clear the truck bed to easily fit the dirt bike into the correct position. Especially if you are a beginner, it’s a good idea to clear the truck bed of other equipment and tools and to make sure you have plenty of space.
Install the straps or tie-downs ready into the truck bed anchor points and leave the other ends somewhere you can reach them quickly. This way, it will be much easier to strap down the dirt bike once loaded when you don’t have to let go of the dirt bike before securing it. In addition, you won’t risk tipping over the dirt bike and causing damage to your truck.
Step 2: Place and Secure the Loading Ramp
Bring out the motorcycle ramp. Either a folding or non-folding ramp will do just fine when you load your dirt bike.
Place the loading ramp to the center of the tailgate with its plate or finger ends on the edge of the tailgate. You can also place the ramp slightly to either side. For example, if you are walking next to the dirt bike on the left side, you can leave more space on that side for easier loading.
Make sure the ramp is stable and doesn’t wobble or move.
Then strap it down with a ratchet strap or similar underneath the tailgate. The easiest way is to strap the ramp from the tow hook or an attachment point and fixing the other end to the loading ramp so that it is as level as possible.
An unsecured ramp can easily slide away while loading, especially when the truck suspension moves under the load and also if you use brakes or engine while loading the dirt bike. So always remember to secure the ramp.
Here are couple of great options for a loading ramp. We have a curved ramp and it works great for loading a dirt bike into a pickup truck. It has a perfect width and length and it conveniently fits under the dirt bike on the truck bed with the tailgate closed.
Step 3: Position the Center Stand Next to the Loading Ramp
Next, set up the center stand next to the loading ramp. Alternatively, you can use something similar and sturdy. It will serve as a step when you walk the bike up the ramp.
The height and distance of the step up is important. You need to be able to reach the handlebars and cover the front brake while walking next to the dirt bike while loading and unloading.
Typically, the center stand can be slightly further away from the tailgate, so that you can comfortably push the dirt bike onto the truck bed. If you position the center stand too close, it is more difficult to reach the handlebars when you step on the stand and it’s also much more difficult to push the dirt bike if you are too close. Test and practice without the dirt bike first so that you will be able to make a fluent transition onto the truck bed.
Position the center stand on level ground and make sure it doesn’t wobble when stepped on and also when pushing the dirt bike onto the truck bed. This usually is best achieved by removing any debris under the stand and positioning it sideways for a more stable front and back direction of force.
The selection of center stands or moto stands available is vast. They may be made of different materials and have some extra features, however, they all serve the exact same basic purpose. So you can’t really go wrong whichever you choose.
Step 4: Prepare the Dirt Bike for Loading
Position the dirt bike about a bike length away from the ramp and set it in neutral. Stand on one side and hold the dirt bike by the handlebars.
Loading the dirt bike onto the truck bed may need some initial motion. You can practice the process and required force by slowly rocking the dirt bike on the ramp and back.
Step 5: Push the Dirt Bike onto the Truck Bed in One Motion
With some initial momentum, push the dirt bike onto the truck bed in one continuous motion while walking next to the ramp and using the center stand as a step.
Cover the front brake in case you want or need to pause or if the dirt bike wants to roll backwards while stepping on the center stand.
Step 6: Position the Dirt Bike on the Truck Bed
After loading the dirt bike, position the dirt bike in a desired configuration.
You can load the dirt bike straight and center and strap the dirt bike down from the front forks or handlebars.
Other methods include positioning the dirt bike from corner to corner on the truck bed and strapping it down from foot pegs or from the frame. This works well if you wish to close the tailgate, since most full size trucks with 5.5ft beds and longer easily fit the dirt bike and tools with the tailgate closed.
No matter how you position your dirt bike, secure it upright without using the side stand.
Step 7: Secure the Dirt Bike to the Truck Bed
Take the loose ends of the straps or tie-downs and separately secure them at the front end of the dirt bike. Also use at least one strap at the back of the dirt bike. If you strap only the front fork, the rear end can move very easily since the suspension has a lot of free play to move around.
Once you have attached all three straps, tighten them down. First tighten the left and right ones at the front and then the rear one. They don’t need to be as tight as possible but just enough to secure the dirt bike nice and snug. Finally, tie off the excess straps so that they don’t flap, slip, or get loose in the wind.
There are many different types of tie-down straps available for secure strapping. You can also use soft loop straps to avoid scratching the mounting points on your dirt bike. We usually strap our dirt bike from the foot pegs so we don’t have to worry about it and use normal ratchet straps instead.
Step 8: Finalize Loading
When you secure your dirt bike, it usually means strapping it down from the handlebars or front forks. This method puts pressure on the front forks and added air pressure inside the suspension chamber and can cause front fork oil leaks.
To avoid this and to keep suspension more protected during transport, install a fork saver and speed bleeders. The fork saver is installed on top of the front tire under the fender and it helps secure the dirt bike better. The speed bleeders also make it easy to push out the excessive pressure without tools when strapped down.
You should also plug the exhaust pipe. The dust, rain, and other debris can easily make its way into the exhaust pipe causing issues while hauling your dirt bike.
How To Unload the Dirt Bike From a Pickup Truck
Unloading the dirt bike from the pickup truck bed is as easy as loading. It’s basically the loading process reversed and the same configuration and setup works very well for unloading.
Start by placing and securing the loading ramp as instructed in step 2. Then position the center stand next to the loading ramp just like in step 3 so that it will be comfortable for you to step on it while unloading the dirt bike. If you have loaded any other items on the truck bed, remember to clear them at this point so that they are not on the way during unloading. Finally, remove the straps from your dirt bike while holding it in upright position.
Position your dirt bike on the truck bed so that it lines with the ramp. Hold the dirt bike by the handlebars and then just start moving the dirt bike down the ramp walking backwards next to the dirt bike and using the center stand as a step. Now you’ve got your dirt bike on the ground.
Here are few tips for safe unloading:
- Cover the front brake so you can easily slow or stop the dirt bike from rolling back.
- If covering the front brake is difficult or you cannot reach it, you can set the dirt bike on second or third gear and use the clutch to slow the bike down.
- You can slow down and take one step at a time to unload the dirt bike for more stable unloading.
Read also: Best Ways To Transport Your Dirt Bike
When it’s time to load the dirt bike onto the truck bed, you want to be over and done with it in just few minutes. This way, you head to the trails—or back home—as quickly as possible.
What you want is a well-trained routine that you can perform alone by yourself. It’s easy when you know what you’re doing so just keep practicing. In no time, you will be able to load your dirt bike quickly and securely.
See you at the trails!
Last updated: June 7, 2022