The Most Important Thing About Hauling Bicycles With Your Truck

It doesn’t matter if you’re racing a century or tackling the local trails, pickup trucks are an excellent way to transport bicycles. The bed’s also big enough to store tools, snacks, and everything else you might need for the ride. But if you don’t do it properly, your afternoon fun could turn into an expensive nightmare. And there’s one really important thing to keep in mind when hauling bikes with your truck.

Keeping Your Bikes Secure and Stable

Yakima Ford Ranger
Yakima Ford Ranger | Ford

Much like when hauling motorcycles with your truck, you don’t want your bikes to move around. Not only can this damage them, it could also damage the truck. Even worse, shifting weight affects your truck’s handling. It can lead to loss of control or make braking to a stop take longer.

Bicycles weigh less than motorcycles, meaning the equipment you’ll need will be less bulky. There are two general ways bikes can be secured in the bed of a pickup.

Strap Them in Place

Straps and tie-down hooks are key accessories for hauling motorcycles. And they’re also a good way to secure bicycles.

Because of the lower weight, bungee straps or soft cords are all you need. In fact, Velosurance actively discourages ratchet straps, as they actually make securing your bicycle more difficult.

Again, like with motorcycles, strap placement and tension are important. The goal is to make sure the bike won’t move around. Keeping the straps tight also prevents them from vibrating and loosening from the wind and rough pavement. Both the front of the bike and the rear should be secured. For the rear, Velosurance recommends an extra-long strap connected to the saddle.

However, straps are really only effective for a single bicycle. If someone’s thinking of buying a pickup for bike transport, they most likely have multiple bikes. That situation calls for the second bike-securing method.

Pickup Bike Racks

Like the motorcycle wheel chock, a bike rack helps keep bicycles upright and stable. However, unlike the wheel chock, a good bike rack can take the place of several straps.

As The Drive explains, bike racks generally fall into one of two categories. Some are adjustable and lock the front wheel in place. Others require you to remove the front wheel, and secure bikes by their front forks.

Mounting these racks into your truck depends on the individual brand. Some extend and grip the sides of your bed. Others offer model-specific fit, or can even attach to mounting holes built into the truck’s bed or bed liner. If you’re worried about damaging your truck when using racks, many brands also offer protective pads for the bed and tailgate. And if none of the commercial models are a good fit, it is possible to construct a bike rack yourself.

Other Helpful Bike Hauling Tips and Tools

Just as with motorcycle transport, knowing your pickup truck’s GVWR and payload capacities are vital. Overloading a truck can cause excessive wear on components, increase fuel consumption, and make your truck handle worse.

Bicycles may not weigh much compared to motorcycles, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on proper set-up. Make sure the truck is in Park, or has the parking brake on, before loading your bikes. Using a ramp isn’t strictly necessary, but it can be useful, as can using a nearby hill to guide the bikes in. And much like with motorcycle loading, having a buddy with you can help a lot.

Finally, although bike racks secure your bikes upright, they don’t necessarily increase security. Consider investing in a tailgate lock, and even potentially locking bikes to the rack itself.