Here’s How To Properly Payload Carry a Motorcycle


Folks, aside from my wife, my children, and writing all day about cars, there is nothing I love more than motorcycles. They offer freedom, camaraderie, lifelong friendships, and they’re singularly the best form of antidepressants on the market. They can, however, be a pain to move—and I’m not talking about learning how to ride.

Just like cars, planes, and humans, motorcycles are subject to Earth’s laws of entropy. Parts break, transmissions seize, handlebars crack, and tires go flat. Furthermore, not all motorcycles are road legal, as is the case with the 2021 Honda CRF450RX in this article. Often, to get anywhere you can actually ride the dang thing, it needs to be transferred to a destination. 

(Disclosure: When Guides & Gear wanted to do a big series on motorcycle parts, riding methods, payload carrying, and a few other stories for two-wheeled lovers, Honda came through and sent us a 2021 Honda Ridgeline and CRF450RX to play with. Look for more stories soon.)

You can load it onto a trailer, but those are expensive and annoying to store and drive. Another option is to hire a tow truck, or if you have a truck, you could toss it into the bed and payload carry it to your destination. The latter is what we’ll be focusing on today, and we hope to have you slapping your two-wheeled pride and joy into the bed of your truck, strapping it down, and taking it there yourself.

The payload carrying a motorcycle can be intimidating. It not only involves your bike, it also includes ramping your motorcycle into the bed, strapping it down, and heading out onto the open road with 300-900 pounds in the bed of your truck. It doesn’t have to be tough, though, as the right guidance from your favorite Guides & Gear editors can make it a very simple process. Let’s start with safety considerations. 

Payload Carrying Motorcycle Basics

Estimated Time Needed: 10 minutes

Skill Level: Intermediate

Vehicle System: Truck bed

Safety Concerns for Payload Carrying a Motorcycle

Working with your vehicle(s), especially in this case, can be dangerous. Things can go very wrong, and when working with the bed of your truck and a heavy motorcycle, you have the real possibility of a 300-pound pointy motorcycle falling on top of you.

We’re going to go over how to protect against as much potential danger as we can, but you can’t escape all of it. So, here’s what you need to know so you don’t die, get maimed, or lose a finger and help you keep your jeans, shirt, and skin spotless — hopefully. 

  • Before you put on any safety clothing (gloves, moto-specific boots and jeans, etc.), take a second and collect everything you need, such as a ramp and ratchet straps, and place them where they can be easily accessed. Your ramp goes onto the tailgate of the truck, the straps laid out in its bed along the sides. 
  • After you’ve done that, take a second and breathe. There’s no reason you should be doing this when your heartbeat is channeling Travis Barker. A calm demeanor will help the process along. 
  • Grab your moto boots and jeans and put ’em on. If something goes wrong, they’ll add a level of protection. 
  • Ask a friend or family member for assistance. Two sets of hands are better than one, and in case something goes wrong, you have help to save your hide or get the bike off you.

Do I Need To Worry about Payload Capacity?

I’m glad you asked! Your truck’s payload capacity varies from truck to truck and is determined by a variety of engineering factors. Most new trucks, even the mid-size ones such as the Honda Ridgeline I used for this story, have payload capacities of more than 1,200 pounds. The Ridgeline here has a payload capacity of 1,500 plus some change.

As for motorcycles, they range in weight from a scant 251 pounds with the Honda CRF450RX I’m using for this guide to 370 pounds with my old Suzuki SV650. And that Harley-Davidson Road King? Well, that sucker is more than 820 pounds without you on it. (If you want to know more about payload, you can read What Is Payload Capacity? It’s yet another good read by your favorite Guides & Gear editors.)

Everything You’ll Need To Payload Carry Your Motorcycle

We’re not psychic nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to secure your motorcycle to the bed of your truck.

Tool List

Parts List

Like I said above, organizing your gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the ratchet straps. Drop the four regular straps, one at each corner of the truck bed. Set the two motorcycle fork ratchet straps at the front of the bed near the cab. 

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