Dirt Bike Tie-Down Straps
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Tie-down straps may sound kinky, but there's nothing kinky about a damaged dirt bike or pickup truck, not to mention the possibility of causing injury or an accident because you didn't secure your dirt bike properly. There are several options when it comes to dirt bike tie-down straps: soft straps, cam straps, ratchet straps, and locking straps. They're all readily available and come in a variety of lengths and strengths.
Soft tie-down straps:
No matter which tie-down straps you end up using to secure your dirt bike, the ones featuring soft tie-downs are much better than hooking a metal S-hook onto a metal handlebar. The soft tie-downs can be purchased separately or as part of the tie-down itself. The image below shows the soft tie-downs separately (black), as part of the tie-down strap (red), along with a regular S-hook tie-down without a soft strap (blue). The tie-downs have different size S-hooks for different weight ratings and if you're not using the soft straps, make sure the S-hook will fit around your bike's handlebars. When attaching the strap to the bike's handlebars, keep the straps away from any wires or cables so they don't get crushed. These Pro Taper tie-down straps on Amazon have the soft straps built into the strap, and if you already have the plain S-hook straps you can buy the soft tie-downs separately.
Ratchet tie-down straps:
Ratchet tie-down straps have been around for a long time and have some serious cranking power. They can definitely be used to tie down a dirt bike but given the size and weight of most dirt bikes, the ratchet tie-downs are almost overkill and they can be cumbersome to use. The other drawback is the 'spring factor' when releasing the ratchet strap from the dirt bike because there's no easy way to release the ratchet, so it's either tight or loose. The springing action is fine with ATVs or lawn mowers because they have four wheels, but a dirt bike might be harder to balance without someone there to help hold the bike when the ratchet is sprung. But if you have a big dual-sport adventure bike you may appreciate the extra cranking power and since the big bikes have kickstands, balancing the bike is a bit easier. This four pack of ratchet tie-down straps has very good ratings and many answered questions on Amazon.
Cam-lock tie-down straps:
Cam-lock tie-downs are easier to use than ratchet straps and have plenty of holding power. We've always used cam-lock tie-downs (see first image above) and haven't ever had a problem. Once the dirt bike is in place, simply pull each tie-down to remove most of the slack, then make sure each side is pulled to the same length so the bike isn't leaning one way or the other. Wrap the excess material around the taut part of the tie-down as an extra precaution against the cam coming loose when travelling on excessively bumpy roads, and to keep the ends from being shredded by the wind. Cam-lock tie-downs are the most widely available tie-downs and can be found at Lowe's, various hardware stores, Walmart, as well as Amazon, and are usually the least expensive of all the tie-down options. These Ancra cam-lock tie-downs on Amazon have been around for many years and are the ones pictured.
Locking tie-down straps:
LockStraps are cam type tie-downs with a carabiner at each end, a built-in combination lock and a thin steel cable inside the strapping material. Nothing is 100% foolproof, but thieves are opportunists and will always select the easiest and quickest target. The locking carabiner is an extra step and the steel cable requires small bolt cutters which might make the thieves move on to an easier target, so it can't hurt to have an extra layer of protection if you can't keep an eye on your bike for any extended period of time. The LockStraps locking tie-down (Amazon) might make your insurance company happy as well. They can also be used to secure gas cans, coolers, etc. A note when shopping - the LockStraps are usually sold separately, not two to a pack, so be sure to check when buying.