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Tying Down a Bike on a Ferry


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Since I may have to take a ferry for next year holidays, I am curious to know how to do it safely.

I have taken a ferry with a bike only once in my life and it was both a short hop and the crew did the tying down for me.


I have no idea what to expect, I am a catastrophe when it comes to knots and zero experience on the matter. :rofl:

All I know is that, if I go, I'll have to tie my RT down as to last over 10 hours... and praying the sea isn't too rough.


Any tip/real life experience/what to avoid (better with pictures) would be greatly appreciated.

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The one time I took a boat, the boat's chief helped a group of us park our bikes, and they had tie-downs for us to use. I'd suggest getting a couple of cheap ratcheting-type tie downs from a hardware store and stashing them in your bag. We put our bikes on their side-stands, and then fastened tie-downs to the front and rear of each bike on the same side as the side stand. If I knew we were going into rough seas, I'd think about adding another strap on the other side of the bike and I'd make sure to leave it in gear.


As far as knots go, if you ever have to use regular rope you should familiarize yourself with the power cinch. And don't crank the straps super tight; both ratcheting straps and ropes can bend/break your motorcycle if you get too enthusiastic.

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+1 on the power cinch. When it was taught to me it was referred to as a trucker's cinch. I've used it many times and it works well. In fact once you've mastered it (very simple to learn) there'll be other bikers lined up behind you on the ferry crossings looking for help.

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It would be best to use four straps, two on the front forks and two at the rear frame under the side cases. Make sure there is clearance for the side cases for any possible movement.


Leave the bike in gear, side stand down. Have a helper center the bike while working on the front fork opposite the side stand. Then do the other front side. This will take out any slack in the tranny by moving forward. You will want the straps outward of the front and back not just to each side.


Once the front is secure the rear is simple. Just be sure to either leave some room for the side cases or if possible remove them.


The link might help with pictures.




Good luck!

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Thanks a lot for the tips... however that knot looks really complicated, no chance I can even get close learning it, let alone remembering it. :P


I took the liberty of asking around other places the same question and I got a variety of replies (from stories of doom and gloom to "it's really easy, even my six year old could do it" ;) ) that has done anything but encouraging me.

Seems like I'll have to look for another vacationing option for next year... I don't really trust this whole tying business enough. :(

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OK, perhaps the guys have made this seem hard. I have tied mine on at least 30 ferrys in europe/alaska/canada and in washington state. It is no big deal.

Get a set of 4 straps that are shown in the pics. They should be about 20 euro's for the set. The ratcheting straps will cost probably another 60 euro's.


If this is a once in a life time trip, don't bother. If not it is stupid easy. Every ferry I've been on had tie down rings on the deck. Hook end hook to the strap as shown and the other to the tie down ring. No knots necessary. Leave it on the side stand. Repeat to tie down points on the bulkhead or wall to non sailors. Use the fork tubes as shown in front and any solid metal point in the rear.


Usually moto's are allowed to board first so you will have lots of time.


Enjoy your holiday!

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Every time I cross the English Channel I use only one tie-down - and i normally take the long crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre. The bike is put on the side-stand between two deck anchor points and left in 1st gear. I put a pad over the seat and the strap is run from one deck anchor to the other over the seat. Tighten the strap down well and all is good. If the weather is rough, I also strap the front brake on with a rubber band cut from an old inner tube.

I have made dozens of crossings in all sorts of weather like this without incident.



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Thanks again for the extra tips but decision's taken.

Too difficult and too much risk involved. Plenty of other places to see with only "regular" risk involved. :)

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