A Guide to Motorcycle Ramps: Where Durability Meets Convenience
Getting your bike from one place to another isn’t always possible (or desired) by riding it. You’ll want it transported in a van, truck or ute. And the only safe and convenient way to get your bike in and out of the vehicle is by using a dedicated bike ramp. This will make it quick and easy when loading and unloading and helps avoid common injuries and potential damage.
Ramps are one of those bike accessories that you might not need often, but when the time comes, they’re indispensable. While dirt and motocross bikes are the ones that will see the most use, often with smaller, shorter and lighter ramps, bigger bikes also need a helping hand during transportation. And these things are just as important as basic bike tools to keep your motorcycle in the best possible condition.
The type of bike you ride is one of the main factors in selecting the motorcycle ramp you need. Another is whether you’ll be doing the whole process alone, or have the assistance of a mate or two. Other things to go by are ramp designs, materials, weight, durability and how much space they take up. With so many variables, getting what’s right might seem difficult, but here are a few points to consider before splashing your cash on the first ramp you see.
Tips on Choosing the Right Bike Ramp
Loading Height and Ramp Lengths
Not every vehicle will have the same loading height. Utes have tray and tub beds ranging between 800 and 900mm, or a fair distance off the ground, meaning you’ll need a longer ramp to do things civilly and with the least amount of effort. Going with vans is easier still, with typical loading heights ranging between 700 and 750mm. Generally, a 3 to 1 ratio in ramp height and vehicle loading height will get your bike safely onboard, so look for ramps that are at least 2 metres or longer. Bikes with longer wheelbases and lower ground clearance, like bigger tourers and cruisers will also need something longer. And the last thing to consider here is that longer ramps might not be suitable for use in all settings, such as tighter spaces.
Loading Capacity and Bike Weight
Listed loading capacities on the ramps themselves mean you’ll be taking into consideration the weight of the bike, as well as the rider if you plan to ride or push the bike up the ramp. Ramps in a larger capacity are more versatile in that they can get a variety of different bikes up the vehicle safely. How much weight the ramp can carry depends on things like the materials used, the design of the ramp (with longer, wider and non-folding ramps performing better), and whether there are provisions for the rider or loader. Also, take into account how the weight is distributed and handled along the length of the ramp. especially when loading heavier and bigger bikes. Standard 7-foot or 225 cm single-runner ramps can handle up to 340 kilos, or just enough for the majority of bikes.
Ramp Designs and Styles
Straight vs Arched
This is an area with a lot of variety. Ramps that are straight also mean ones that are longer. But a viable alternative is going with an arched motorcycle ramp, often halfway up the ramp, providing gentler angles and easier loading. Arched ramps are ideal for bikes with longer wheelbases and lower ground clearance as the less pronounced inclines keep parts like exhausts clear of the ramp surface.
Folding vs Non-Folding
Another major divide in motorbike ramp styles is between folding and non-folding ramps. Folding ramps are all about convenience since there are varieties that can fold in half (bi-fold) and tri-fold that either unfold length or width-wise. When you’re done loading or unloading the bike, these ramps take up little space. For instance, a 7 foot 225 cm trifold ramp squeezes into a manageable 74 cm in length when completely folded and will take up negligible space in a ute or van.
Non-folding ramps are often shorter, and not as widespread as their folding siblings, but still come as lightweight and durable options. They’re often reserved for smaller and lighter motorcycles, like smaller capacity (125 and 250cc) motocross bikes. And their smaller dimensions mean they’re easy to move around when not needed.
Ramp Surfaces – Rungs or Plates?
The majority of bike ramps are in the rung style. Rungs with the right spacing provide good traction for the tyres, while inherently being a lightweight design, often found in shorter ramps. Plates can come in different textured surfaces (serrated are popular) and move grip, traction and stability in loading higher. And they’re better at loading heavier bikes and are the only option when riding your bike up since the flat surface makes for smooth operation.
Materials and Weight
Ramps are either made of aluminium or steel. Aluminium is lightweight, doesn’t pick up rust and is durable enough to handle the weight of heavier motorcycles. Steel is even tougher, though adds some weight and needs coating to protect it from corrosion. Most ramp builders choose to work with aluminium, though steel ramps are also easy to find.
Lastly, what will matter most is the motorcycle that will be using the ramp. Whichever ramp you choose, one that gets your bike up onto the ute, trailer, van or truck safely and quickly and with the least hassle is one that you will also enjoy using.