RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
You have booked your first track day abroad. The adrenaline flows through your veins. Just a little while longer and you fly off to that magical foreign track. But crating your motorcycle for motorcycle transport. How does that work?
What to expect and what to watch out for? We’ve done it quite a few times now. So crating your motorcycle for motorcycle transport no longer holds secrets from us. We gladly share that knowledge with you, so you will go on your trip well prepared. And won’t hit any unexpected surprises.
When you book a track day abroad – Dutchies, think a bit further away than Belgium – you often bring your own motorcycle by crating your motorcycle for motorcycle transport by lorry. Ron and I often drive the van across borders, bringing a trailer to transport our bikes. But that’s something we do when we go to tracks like Ecuyers in France or Alcarras in Spain. When driving isn’t an option or you don’t have the means to do so, you have the option to let the organization of the event transport your bike by lorry or truck.
Table of Contents:
– No real crate, rather a steel frame to transport your bike
– Strapping your motorcycle for motorcycle transport
– Our golden tip to strap your bike
– The puzzle begins
– How high and wide can you go?
– Bring empty canisters
– Wrapping your bike for motorcycle transport
So you get ready to crate your motorcycle for motorcycle transport.You bring your bike to a certain location, often one week before the event. Metal or steel crates will be waiting for you. Don’t take this too literally. Those things can’t be compared to an actual crate to carry groceries or beer bottles.
Those steel crates consists of a steel bottom plate and four steel rectangular pipes. You ride your bike onto the bottom plate and strap it to the crate with lashing straps. The bottom plate often contains rings or holes to which you can attach the lashings. On every corner of the bottom plate, you put a steel rectangular pipe. This forms the crate. In the end, another crate will be put on top of yours, resting on the steel pipes. The upper crate won’t have those pipes, since it doesn’t have to carry another crate.
One organization works with crates that fit one bike, the other one will work with crates that fit two bikes in one crate.
To crate your bike for motorcycle transport, you have to strap it to the bottom plate of the crate. This is done with lashing straps. You often have to bring your own, so don’t forget to get those. Still forgot to take them with you? Just stop somewhere and get some at a gas station. Although you have probably strapped your bike to a trailer with some lashing straps as well, so forgetting to bring some will hardly ever happen. Bring at least two straps, or better 3 to 4 to be sure your bike won’t go anywhere.
You can strap your motorcycle at the lowest point of the front forks or somewhere or attach the lashing strap somewhere at the subframe. Want to add some stability at the front? Then strap the front wheel to the bottom plate as well. Up next is the back of the bike. You can attach the strap to the swing arm.
We’ve got a golden tip to strap your motorcycle to the bottom plate of the crate to keep it safe and steady for motorcycle transport. Get yourself a piece of threaded rod of steel, two eye nuts and two steel washers. Possibly also a piece of plastic hose through which the treaded rod fits.
In the middle of your motorcycle is the hollow center axle shaft. Insert the threaded rod of steel through this hollow axle and mark a spot on the rod as wide as your bike. Keep some margin, so saw off the threaded rod slightly wider than the length of your center axle. When you’ve sawn the rod to proper length, put that piece through the plastic hose. This hose serves to protect your axle from scratches.
Stick the threaded rod with plastic hose around it through the center axle of your bike and attach a steel washer to both ends (again to protect against chafing) and add an eye nut to both sides. Tighten it hand-tight against your motorcycle and voila! Your new favourite tool for rating your motorcycle is ready.
This homemade tool gives you the possibility to strap your bike to the bottom plate of the crate in the middle of your motorcycle. This means you don’t have to tie lashing straps to the vulnerable front forks or close to brake calipers. We love this little thing. Incidentally, it also works great if you want to secure your motorcycle on a trailer.
The most important thing is on your crate; your bike. And then the puzzle begins. You might think on forehand; “How on earth am I going to fit all that stuff in just one crate?!” But don’t be fooled. A whole damn lot fits in one crate. It’s just a matter of puzzling for a while.
For example, you can fit a spare tire over your windscreen to protect that screen a bit. And one on top of the tail fairing. Fit a pair of rims with rain tires on the side, leaning against your bike. Also pack your paddock stands, tire warmers, canisters and toolbox. Don’t forget some spare parts if you’ve got any. And bring a folding chair. And your motorcycle suist, boots, helmet and gloves? They fit in there as well.
Is it your first time crating your motorcycle for motorcycle transport? And not sure how to fix it all? Just as for help. There is a whole group of riders packing there stuff on days like there. They are happy to help. Or get yourself a cup of coffee and secretly watch how they do it. You will get the hang of it, we promise.
While you are busy puzzling and piling up all your stuff, it might happen that you are a bit too enthusiastic. And your pile of stuff gets too high. Want to be sure your crate doesn’t exceed the limit in height and width? Put the steel pipes in place on each corner of the crate after you’ve put your bike on the bottom plate. And then start to add stuff to the crate. Everything that exceeds the height of these pipes is piled up too high. Want to be really sure nothing gets damaged? Then keep your stuff a bit below that height.
Do you have a double bubble windscreen on your race bike? And a big, fat and powerful 1000cc bike? Then this windscreen might just exceed that height limit. In this case you have to unscrew the windscreen and add it to the crate separately. Do you think “Nah, it won’t be that close, will it?” then taking that risk is fully your own choice. But know that a plastic windscreen has got nothing on a steel crate that lands on top of it.
In terms of width, again the steel pipes on the corners of the crate indicate the limit. So keep your stuff within that limit. Are your clip-ons mounted in a pretty wide stance? And did you have to strap your bike to a double bike crate? Then the outer clip-on might extend begon that limit of the steel pipes. This often isn’t a problem, since the front end of your bike will be next to the rear end of another bike. Want to be sure it is no problem? Ask the one in charge of loading the bikes into the lorry. He of she will know.
Some organizations offer to rent canisters on location, so you don’t have to bring your own. This saves space in your crate. When the organization doesn’t offer this option, you do have to bring your own. Then do the motorcycle transport guys a favour and take empty ones with you. In worst case scenarios, a lorry loaded with motorcycles will be a true fire party already. No need to add extra petrol to it. Same goes for your bike. Don’t fill up before you crate it.
Did you complete the puzzle? Is everything on the crate and within the boundaries? Then you keep all that stuff together with transparant plastic foil. One organization provides this for you, another will require you to bring your own. Our tip: bring some foil with you just to be sure. Get a big, industrial transparant foil. Or with a colour, that’s fine too. But the transparant foil is standard and most common.
So you start wrapping your motorcycle for motorcycle transport. Ensure you’ve got every inch covered. You go around in circles to ensure everything stays in place. Rather add a bit too much than a bit too little. Of course, you don’t have to exaggerate and add the whole role. Just make sure it all becomes a sturdy whole.
Use your common sense. Don’t forget to wrap over your stuff as well, so it is closed with foil on the top. In case they have to unload all the crates in rainy conditions, your stuff won’t get all soaked if you’ve wrapped the foil over the top of your stuff. Are you done wrapping and did you bring your own roll? Stick the roll somewhere underneath your stuff so you’ve got some for the way home.
Because after the event you have to pack and wrap all your stuff again. So, you’ve completed it all. Your bike is crated and your stuff properly packed for motorcycle transport. The transport guys load the bikes into one or more lorries using a forklift truck. The lorries leave for the location abroad a few days before the event. This way they will be able to unload in time too.
Crating your motorcycle for motorcycle transport is ideal when you can’t take the bike with you yourself. Or when the circuit is too far away to drive there on your own. Or just can’t be bothered to do so. And crating your bike for motorcycle transport isn’t such a big deal. It is a bit of a puzzle, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. You get more and more efficient. Once everything is in the steel crate, you wrap all your stuff with plastic foil. This way, everything will stay in its place and arrive at the track safe and sound.