You might not need a motorcycle ramp very often but when you do need one, they’re invaluable.
Whether you’re carting a classic to the MOT station, picking up a new bike or going on a trackday, a good sturdy ramp is a far better, safer and less stressful way to get a motorbike into a van than using an old plank.
We think the best ramps are the folding type – they’re more compact, taking up less space in the garage and easy to stick in the back of a van.
Some ramps have raised edges to stop the front wheel dropping off, which is a nice to have, especially if you’re loading a bike on your own. Other ramps are full width, meaning you can confidently ride your bike into a van or walk up the ramp with it.
It’s always a good idea to make sure the ramp is secure before loading or unloading your motorbike. If the ramp slips = bike down.
You can use straps or bungee cords to keep the ramp in place but it’s far better to just use common sense. If your ramp has rubber-coated ‘fingers’ on the end, these will grip onto the van. You want to make sure they’re all the way in and not perched on the edge or it might slip when under load.
Lightweight, durable, easy to store
For under £40, this aluminium ramp is foldable and lightweight, just what you need when you’re carting it around. Featuring a soft-tipped, arched design for greater load-bearing capacity and a reduction in abrasion between your ride and the ramp, you get greater traction to make it easy to load.
Raised edges to keep your bike on track
The Qtech ramp is £49.95 and made from durable, rust-resistant aluminium. With a maximum capacity of 340kg, the lightweight, folding frame can handle almost anything. With a length of 230cm, this can be folded in half for a more compact storage option. Slight arch minimises the risk of you grinding out your belly pan too.
Heavy-duty ramp, safety straps included
At £330, The Black Widow MkII is a 3-part ramp kit that allows you to load your bike while riding up the ramp. Arched for greater clearance and with a combined capacity of 680kg, there’s not much this ramp couldn’t handle. There’s even a solid plate-style lip rest for a grip on your tailgate. For quick and easy storage, just fold in half and Bob’s your uncle. If you don’t want to ride up it (and I don’t blame you) the width means you can walk up it with your bike, plus you can use it in 3 parts at its full width or just use a single-part as a thinner, more portable option.
How to load a motorbike into a van
Ideally loading a motorcycle int a van is a two-person job but if you’re confident, you can do it on your own.
I’ve loaded tens of bikes into vans on my own over the years and only once had an issue. Just my luck the issue was with a brand new Panigale and a very wet ramp. Luckily, I didn’t drop it but boy was I close.
In pairs one of you with push and guide the bike from the front just as you would push it into your garage. The person at the rear is there to push, hold and support. You’ll push the bike in, ideally in one smooth action and as the lead pusher transitioning into the van that’s when the person at the rear will hold the bike steady to allow that transition to happen.
If you are on your own, don’t be afraid to ask a random member of the public to help you by supporting the rear. If you do lose your balance, just having them support the bike for half a second will allow you to regain your balance and get control of the bike.
Loading a motorcycle up a ramp, step-by-step:
- Make sure the van is empty with no hazards like straps or jerry cans laying around.
- Ensure the ramp is secured in place. You don’t need to tie the ramp down just make sure it is well seated.
- Make sure the bike’s tyres are well inflated.
- Line the bike up well, dead straight, directly behind the ramp. Take your time getting this bit right.
- I always have the engine off and the bike in neutral but if you’re on your own and a first-timer, using the clutch as an emergency ‘let-off’ brake can be useful.
- Walk the bike to the base of the ramp and gently roll the front wheel a few inches up the ramp. Ensure you’re happy with this process.
- If there are two of you, great. One at the front pushing and guiding, the other holding the tailpiece and ideally the second person will be positioned on the other side of the bike to the first.
- The lead pusher is guiding it in with the confidence that the pusher at the rear is there to support when they make the transition into the van.
- Once you get going, commit to pushing the bike in. The first person should focus on hitting the ramp dead square with the front wheel, the rest of the bike will follow.
- I’ve only ever seen bikes get dropped when the person at the front backs out halfway up the ramp but the rear helper is there to minimise the risk here.
- Once you’re in, let the clutch out or use the front brake. It doesn’t matter if you bounce into the van’s bulkhead – far better that then to roll back out of the van.
How to roll a motorbike out of a van
Easy with two of you but slightly harder when solo. The most important thing is to position the bike in the van as close to the centre of the van as possible to allow you clear room to get out. The straighter the bike and ramp the easier it will be.
Cut corners here and you’ll have a bit of a wrestle on your hands if it doesn’t go smoothly.
- Secure the ramp, make sure it’s centred in the van and dead straight. Make sure you have at least five metres of clear space behind the van.
- Check the bike is free to move – no disc locks, ratchet straps or anything else that might stop it freewheeling.
- Line the bike up totally in line with the ramp.
- Get the bike in first gear – you’re going to use the clutch to control the bike on the way down.
- Clutch in and roll the bike back until the rear wheel is just over the lip of the ramp and the bike’s weight is ready to do the rest.
- Carefully step down out of the van, still holding the bike.
- Pull the clutch in to get the bike rolling and control its descent.
- Once you get rolling you should look to get the bike out in one fluid motion.
- You can slow the bike right down on the ramp but it’s best not to stop it or else you’ll be left holding a lot of weight. Possibly you’ll get caught off balance.
The first few times you load a motorbike into a van, you’ll find it a pretty stressful experience. But with practice, you’ll figure out that the faster and smoother you do it, the easier it is.
Make sure the bike's tyres are well inflated. Flat tyres make it almost impossible to get a bike up a ramp.
Having the bike in gear might cause a little bit of drag but if you slip during the transition into the van, you can let the clutch out and the bike should stay fairly well put. If you're relying on the front brake, you might lose grip of the lever and the bike will head back to where it came from.
You can push a bike up a ramp on a gravel drive but it helps to sweep the gravel a bit thinner where the wheels are going to run but it's as important to make sure the patch you're going to be pushing on isn't too deep either, especially at the point where you're going to hop into the van.
I would recommend only pushing the bike up the ramp but if you use the engine you have to be confident you know what you're doing. Definitely secure the ramp with a strap if you're using the bike's power to get it into the van or you'll all too easily spit the ramp once the rear wheel is on (it often happens as you hop into the van as you'll no doubt release the clutch a bit) leaving you momentarily dangling in mid-air with a bike balancing on its bellypan on your van's tailgate. I've been there, it's not pretty.
If you do get halfway up and you really aren't going to make it, don't try and hold the bike mid-ramp, let it roll back and go with it. Have confidence it will make it back down. There's no way you'll support a bike up high mid-ramp on your own.
If you're renting a van, make sure it has tie down points in the van. Ideally put the front wheen on the van's bulkhead and leave the bike in first gear, steering to the left. Then tie the bike down through the top yoke to the front left corner of the van, then use a bungee cord or gaffa tape to apply the front brake and you're set.
Motorcycle Ramp FAQs
Why can’t I use a plank?
You can but it’s a risk. I have only ever used a scaffold plank when I didn’t have a ramp handy. It was quite a thick one but it still bowed when the bike was on it. This bowing made life really difficult, causing the ramp to get ‘steeper’ and subsequently it was hard to push the bike up. There is also the risk that a plank of wood will break; a 250kg motorcycle is quite some weight.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this motorcycle ramps review: