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. If you happen to be one of them, you need to know how to load a dirt bike into a truck correctly—and by yourself. By testing different loading methods and by practicing, you will be able to load your dirt bike into a truck quickly and securely.
You have several options for how to load a dirt bike into a truck and strap it for safe transportation. The most effective method is to use a dirt bike ramp and a center stand as a step when loading. And then 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. So here are our step-by-step instructions for how to load a dirt bike into a truck. We will also explain how to load multiple dirt bikes into a truck, how to load a dirt bike without a ramp, and how to unload a dirt bike from a pickup truck.
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Equipment for Loading a Dirt Bike Into a Truck
Knowing how to load a dirt bike into a truck by yourself is an important skill. Luckily, loading a dirt bike in a truck bed is fairly easy. And you will only need these three essential equipment:
- Dirt bike ramp for loading
- Center stand as a step
- Tie-downs or straps for secure strapping
For finalizing the loading of your dirt bike, we strongly recommend also 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
- Speed bleeders for front forks
- Exhaust plug for exhaust pipe protection
8 Steps for Loading a Dirt Bike Into a Truck
With a little practice, you will learn how to load a dirt bike into a truck in less than 5 minutes.
Loading the dirt bike into a truck bed involves 8 steps and you should be able to perform all of them by yourself. And why should you learn how to load a dirt bike by yourself? Because the truth is that you will most likely be loading your bike alone most of the times.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the steps involved in loading a dirt bike into a truck. We will also share our our tips and tricks for how to make the loading and unloading safe and easy.
Step 1: Prepare the Truck for Loading
Loading a dirt bike into a truck starts by finding the best available spot for the job.
Park your pickup truck in a nice level area or in a slight incline with the tailgate facing uphill. Backing up to a hill will make loading a dirt bike into a truck easier as the angle will not be as steep as on a flat ground. This way, you don’t need to use so much muscle when the gravity is doing part of the job. You can also find a low point in the ground and position the 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 even without a ramp. Backing up the truck against a loading dock makes loading and unloading of a dirt bike very easy and safe. You can also build or use a loading dock at your house to make it easier to load your bike into the truck.
Next, clear the truck bed so that you can 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 all equipment and tools. This way, you will make sure that you will have plenty of space for loading the dirt bike.
Finally, install the straps or tie-downs ready to the anchor points in the truck bed and leave the other ends somewhere where you can reach them quickly. This way, it will be much easier to strap down the dirt bike once it’s loaded when you don’t have to let go of the bike before securing it. In addition, you won’t risk tipping over the dirt bike and causing damage to your truck especially if you are only learning how to load a dirt bike into a truck.
Step 2: Place and Secure the Loading Ramp
Next, bring out the dirt bike loading ramp. Either a folding or a non-folding ramp will do just fine when you load your dirt bike into a truck. Just make sure that it is long enough so that the ramp will not be too steep.
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 that 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 dirt bike 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 a dirt bike. This can happen especially when the truck suspension moves under the load of the bike and also if you use brakes or engine while loading the dirt bike. So always remember to secure the ramp.
We personally have a curved ramp and it works great for loading a dirt bike into a truck. It has a perfect width and length and it conveniently fits under the dirt bike on the truck bed with the tailgate closed. You can find more dirt bike loading ramp recommendations in our post best ways for hauling a dirt bike.
Step 3: Position the Center Stand Next to the Loading Ramp
After the dirt bike loading ramp is positioned and secured, set the center stand next to it. Alternatively, you can use something similar and sturdy if you don’t have a dirt bike stand. It will serve as a step when you walk the dirt bike up the ramp.
The height and distance of the step 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 your dirt bike into the truck.
Typically, the center stand can be slightly further away from the tailgate. This way, you can comfortably push the dirt bike onto the truck bed. If you position the center stand too close, it will be more difficult to reach the handlebars when you step on the stand. It will also be much more difficult to push the dirt bike if you are too close to the truck. 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 dirt bike 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 dirt bike stands available is vast. Center stands may be made of different materials, such as these carbon steel and aluminum stands, and some may even have extra features. However, they all serve the exact same basic purpose and work well when you load a dirt bike into a truck. So you can’t really go wrong whichever you choose.
Step 4: Prepare the Dirt Bike for Loading
Next, 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 a dirt bike into a truck may need some initial motion. You can practice the process and the required force by slowly rocking the bike back and forth on the ramp.
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 while loading 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 into the truck, position the dirt bike in a desired configuration on the truck bed.
Many riders prefer loading their dirt bike straight into the truck so that the dirt bike is in the middle of the truck bed and the front tire is facing the center of the cab. When the dirt bike is positioned straight, you can 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. In this scenario, push the dirt bike on the truck bed with the front tire facing either corner of the truck bed, then align the rear tire to the opposite corner.
We recommend loading the dirt bike from corner to corner—and that’s exactly what we always do. This way, there is less pressure on the front forks compared to loading your dirt bike straight into the truck. In addition, you don’t have to leave the tailgate down since most full size trucks with 5.5-ft beds or longer can easily fit the dirt bike and tools with the tailgate closed.
No matter how you load your dirt bike into a truck and how you position it on the truck bed, make sure to tie it down in an upright position without using the side stand.
Step 7: Strap the Dirt Bike in the Truck
Next, take the loose ends of the straps you prepared earlier and separately secure them at the front end of the dirt bike.
If you loaded your dirt bike straight into the truck, you can strap the dirt bike from the handlebars or from the top of the triple tree directly to the corners of the truck bed. Whereas if you loaded your dirt bike from corner to corner, you can strap the dirt bike on both sides from the frame or foot pegs.
We also recommend using at least one strap at the back of the dirt bike. If you strap only the front fork of your dirt bike, 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 of the bike and then the rear one. The straps 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-downs or straps available for a secure strapping. You can also use soft loop straps to avoid scratching the paint or metal with metal hooks at 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 scratching and can use normal ratchet straps instead.
Tie-downs last a long time so invest into ones that are wider, durable, and easy-to-use. You can use ratchet straps, tie-downs with clips or carabiner hooks, or straps with soft loops, whichever is easiest for you to use for loading a dirt bike into a truck. We recommend straps with soft loops at the end for better mounting points on the dirt bike. Also, this way the paint or metal on your dirt bike doesn’t get scratched by metal hooks.
Step 8: Finalize the Loading
Securing the dirt bike usually means strapping it down from the handlebars or front forks. When you tighten the tie-downs, the front fork compresses and pushes the front fork springs in, while increasing the air pressure inside the suspension chamber. This in turn will cause fork seals to leak over time. To avoid this and to keep the suspension more protected during transport, you should install a fork saver and speed bleeders.
Always Use a Fork Saver
A fork saver is a block that you install on top of the front tire under the fender. It will limit the distance the front fork is able to move down and eliminates the air pressure or load on the spring. It will also make the dirt bike more stable for strapping down. We recommend this universal dirt bike fork saver by Polarbear. It’s sturdy and durable and comes in two colors: black and orange.
Install Speed Bleeders
Whereas the quick release fork bleeders make it easy to push out the excessive pressure without tools when the dirt bike is strapped down. They enable a push button style quick release of the excessive air buildup inside the front forks. And you want to get rid of this air build-up as it can quickly affect the suspension performance by slowing down the front forks and making the suspension feel harsh.
We have these fork bleeders by Motion Pro on our KTM and can highly recommend them. They allows a quick bleeding of the forks and have lasted already for several years without any issues. Please note that fork bleeders are make and model specific and check that the fork bleeders fit your bike.
Plug the Exhaust Pipe
Finally, you should plug the exhaust pipe when you load you dirt bike into a truck. The dust, rain, and other debris can easily make its way into the exhaust pipe while hauling your dirt bike and cause issues. We recommend buying a muffler exhaust plug set as these things tend to get lost and getting one with a keychain or a similar flag that reminds to remove the plug before starring the dirt bike. Also, you can use the same plug when you wash your dirt bike.
And that’s it! Now you know how to load a dirt bike into a truck!
Extra Tips for Loading a Dirt Bike Into a Truck
- Basically the longer the dirt bike loading ramp, the easier it is to load a dirt bike into a truck. The reason for this is that this way, the angle will be less steep and you need to use less muscle to push the bike up the ramp.
- A curved feature makes the hardest part of the loading easier—that is the end part. When the ramp is curved, the last push onto the truck bed will be easier to make.
- If you are loading a dirt bike in a lifted truck, try to find a low point, hollow area, or pit in the ground and position the rear wheels on the low point to lower the truck bed height. Also, using a long loading ramp makes it easier to load a dirt bike in a lifted truck.
- You can get a removable dirt bike wheel chock and attach it to a sturdy and big enough board, metal sheet, or something similar. When it’s time to transport your dirt bike, just put the board with the wheel chock on the truck bed and use it to stabilize the front wheel. This way, it will be easier to strap the dirt bike and the transporting your bike will also be safer.
- If you want a setup completely without tie-down straps, you can use a Lock-N-Load Moto Transport System on the truck bed. Just mount the low profile plate mounts into your truck and easily remove the system from the truck when not used.
How To Load Multiple Dirt Bikes into a Truck
When hauling multiple dirt bikes, loading the dirt bikes into a truck straight and side by side is usually the best solution. By carefully positioning, you can fit 2, 3, and even 4 dirt bikes in a truck.
How To Load 2 Dirt Bikes in a Truck
Loading 2 dirt bikes in a truck is basically as easy as loading only one bike. If you have two dirt bikes, you can load them straight into the truck so that both bikes are facing the cab on each side. When the dirt bikes are positioned straight, you can strap them down from the handlebars.
Here’s how you do it: Start by loading the first dirt bike and strapping it down with two straps from the handlebars like you would normally do. Then roll the second dirt bike up on the truck bed. Run the inner tie-down of the first bike through the gap above the front wheel and under the front fender. Next, put the straps on the second bike the same way.
Alternatively, you can load both dirt bikes in a truck with front wheels turned towards each other and touching in the middle and against the front of the bed. Then tie down the bikes and kick the back ends out towards the sides of the bed. Some riders say that this is a better way to load 2 dirt bikes in a truck. The reason is that this way you don’t have to compress the suspension as much. In addition, the dirt bikes don’t end up falling down during hauling.
How To Load 3 Dirt Bikes in a Truck
Having 3 dirt bikes in a truck bed is also a very common scenario. Luckily, it is still pretty easy to do load 3 dirt bikes in a truck. However, it might require a bit more practicing.
Start by placing three straps on each anchor points on the front right and left of the truck bed. Then load the first dirt bike on the right side of the truck.
Turn the front tire towards the middle of the truck bed just the few inches from the center of the truck. Make sure that the front tire is against the front of the bed. Next, take straps from right and left and attach them to the handlebars. Tighten the outside strap more than the inside strap so that the dirt bike is leaning outwards.
Once done, place the two remaining straps on the right side on top of the front wheel under the fender. This way, you can easily reach them when strapping the second and third bike.
Next, load the second dirt bike on the left side of the truck the same as you loaded and strapped the first bike. The strap on the right side goes through the gap above the front wheel and under the front fender of the first bike. Again, place the one remaining strap on the left side on top of the front wheel of the second bike where it’s easy to reach.
When the front tires of the first and second bike are turned towards the middle few inches apart, it leaves a cap for the front tire of the third bike. Finally, load the third bike in the middle as you normally would.
Alternatively, you can load the middle one facing backwards if you have 3 dirt bikes in a truck bed. This creates more space to strap down all 3 dirt bikes.
How To Load 4 Dirt Bikes in a Truck
Loading 4 dirt bikes in a truck might sound like an impossible job but it is still totally doable. However, you might need an extra pair of hands to get it done. Also, be prepared for the fact that you will probably end up scratching up some metal or plastic parts or decals.
When loading 4 dirt bikes in a truck, you should load two bikes facing the front and two bikes facing the rear. There are two ways to do it. In the first setup, all dirt bikes should be rotated so that the first one is forwards, second backwards, third forwards and fourth one backwards. This way, the handlebars won’t touch. In the second setup, the bikes on both sides face the front and the ones in the middle the rear.
In the first scenario, start by loading the first bike on one side. Load the bike straight and as far to the side as possible. Do not put any straps on until ALL bikes are loaded. Next, have someone hold the first bike. Then back the second bike up beside the first one and continue rotating the bikes forwards and backwards until you have all 4 dirt bikes in the truck. Now strap everything down.
In the second scenario, start by loading two first bikes on each side facing forward. Then have someone hold the bikes and lift the rear tires on the edges of the bed. Again, do not put any straps on until ALL bikes are loaded. Next, back the two last bikes in the middle. Once they are positioned properly, drop the rear tires of the two first bikes onto the truck bed. Finally, tie down all 4 dirt bikes in the truck.
And just like that, you have 4 full size dirt bikes in the back of a standard truck bed.
How To Load a Dirt Bike Without Ramp
A dirt bike ramp makes loading a dirt bike into a truck a simple task. However, there is a way to load a dirt bike without a ramp too. It’s great to have alternate options available and to know how to load a dirt bike into a truck without a ramp in case you forget to pack your loading ramp or do not have one at hand for some other reason.
Use a Hill or a Loading Dock for Loading
If you don’t have a dirt bike ramp available, the best trick you can do is to use the terrain around you to your advantage.
The height difference between an average truck bed and the ground isn’t really that big. So try to find a small incline or a small hill and back your truck up to it as close as possible. Ideally, the lowered tailgate should touch the hillside or be close enough to it. Then just ride your bike up the hill, hop off it and push the dirt bike into the truck. You may also need to pop the front wheel a few inches if the tailgate is not close enough. This is by far the easiest way to load a dirt bike into a truck without a ramp.
Another great way to load a dirt bike without a ramp is to use a loading dock. A loading dock can be made of basically anything, such as dirt, concrete, or logs. Just make sure that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the bike. In this scenario, back up the truck against the loading dock and simply push the bike into the truck.
Some riding spots even have a special loading/unloading area that can be used without a ramp. You can also build or use a loading dock at your house to make it easier to load your dirt bike into the truck.
Lift the Dirt Bike Into the Truck
If you don’t have a hill or a loading dock around, you can always put your muscles to work.
An average weight of a dirt bike is about 215 pounds (98kg). So it’s usually possible to lift a dirt bike into a truck one wheel at the time. Just remember to lift with your legs and not your back. And if a friend can help you, that’s even better.
Start by standing on the right side of the dirt bike and turning the handlebars to the left. This way, it will be easier to get the front tire into the truck bed. In addition, it will not roll out once in and you can also reach the brake lever if needed. Next, put your left hand on the right grip and grab the axle with your right hand. Then lift the front tire onto the truck bed. Finally, lift the dirt bike up until also the engine case or skid plate is resting in the truck bed.
To get the rest of the dirt bike into the truck, pick the dirt bike up by the rear axle or swingarm and push the back tire along with the rest of the bike onto the truck bed. Guide the front tire into a corner of the truck bed to keep the bike stable while holding the rear of the bike with your hand and jumping onto the truck bed. Finally, position the dirt bike as desired and strap the dirt bike down.
When loading a dirt bike into a truck by lifting, try to find a low point in the ground and position the rear wheels of the truck on the low point to lower the truck bed height. Anything that helps to decrease the height you’re going to have to lift will be helpful.
We don’t recommend lifting a dirt bike into a truck if you’re tired after a riding day or if you have health issues.
How To Unload a Dirt Bike From a Pickup Truck
Want to know how to unload a dirt bike from a pickup truck? Well, unloading a dirt bike from a truck bed is as easy as loading. It’s basically the loading process reversed so 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 from truck. 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 the bike 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 of a dirt bike:
- Cover the front brake so that you can easily slow down the dirt bike or stop it from rolling back.
- If covering the front brake is difficult or you cannot reach the brake lever, you can set the dirt bike on second or third gear and use the clutch to slow down the bike.
- You can take it slowly and one step at a time when you unload the dirt bike to make the unloading more stable.
When it’s time to load the dirt bike into a truck, you want to be over and done with it in just few minutes. This way, you can 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 and know how to load a dirt bike into a truck effortlessly, so just keep practicing. In no time, you will be able to load your dirt bike quickly and securely.
See you on the trails!
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Last updated: November 16, 2022