Keep your ATV or UTV secure on your trailer
Unless you have pristine sand dunes, scenic mountain trails, or vast open wilderness at your back door, as well as a dealership that offers pick-up and delivery, you’re going to need to trailer your ATV or UTV at some point. I’m going to take a moment to compose myself because I’m betting there is at least one of you out there that has all that. For the rest of us, we have to trailer our machines, and that is going to call for the use of ratchet tie down straps.
Ratchet tie down straps are really the only secure way to safely transport a machine on a trailer, or even in a truck bed. Yes, there are some products out there that do the same thing with a slightly different function, such as wheel chocks, etc., but for the most part, the vast majority of riders out across this wide world use ratchet tie down straps. Ratchet straps secure the machine by tightening it down and loading up the suspension, using the rebounding force against the machine to help hold it snug and secure.
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1. Editor’s Choice: Rhino USA
We’ve tested, used and abused a lot of quality ratchet tie down straps and really like the Rhino USA Tie Down Kit. It comes with four 1.6-inch wide tie downs that are eight feet long. These straps have a 5,208-pound breaking strength and a wide-padded handle on the ratchet mechanism. The ATV tie down system comes with four soft-loop straps for securing the machine and a convenient carry bag. The company is a small, family-owned business and the products are made in the USA. The family are off-roaders, too, so you know these straps will work. They also stand behind their product with a lifetime warranty. Good stuff!
2. Budget Option: AUGO
For less than $20, the AUGO ratchet tie down straps kit features four 15-foot ratchet straps with a 1,500-pound breaking force and two bungee cords. The ATV and UTV tie downs have coated S hooks to prevent scratching, and what AUGO says is a unique molding technology that “ensures that the handles never fall off and our equipment is completely secure.”
3. Best Big UTV Strap: Trekassy
With the trend of big, multi-passenger UTVs going strong in the market, you need a way to secure these monsters to the trailer and have peace of mind that it isn’t going anywhere. The Trekassy wheel net tie down kit is designed to securely hold even full size trucks down to a trailer, so your UTV will be no trouble whatsoever. The UTV tie down system comes with four solid ratchets with snap hooks, four 12-foot tire straps, four 36-inch soft axle straps, and a carry bag. The tire straps/wheel nets are non-abrasive and will fit any size wheel and will hold your UTV tight to the trailer. These aren’t the cheapest UTV tie downs, but are up for just about any task.
4. Longer Straps: Strapright
The Strapright heavyweight ratchet tie down straps kit is designed to hold larger loads thanks to its four 20-foot by 1-inch straps with a 1,700-pound breaking force. Features include high tensile steel core hooks with rubber coating, steel ratchet mechanism, rubber handle and release, and storage bag.
5. Commercial: Erickson
If you are willing to make some modifications to your trailer, the Erickson commercial ATV strap tie-down kit is worthy of consideration. This ATV tie down system includes two ratchet straps (six feet long, two inches wide) and four E-track powder-coated wheel chocks. Those wheel chocks need to be bolted to the bed of your trailer, but when that is done you have a completely secure set up. The chocks go in front and back of both rear wheels and will fit tires up to 30 inches in diameter. Once the chocks are installed, you can drive over them when loading and unloading. Used together, this kit is able to support a vehicle up to 1500 pounds, so it can conceivably be used for some UTVs.
What is the Best Way to Use Ratchet Tie Down Straps
I am always amazed when I learn a new trick, especially when it comes to securing a load on a trailer. When it comes to using ratchet straps, I have picked up a few tricks along the way. You always want to start out by having your machine centered on the trailer, with the majority of the weight forward of the rear-most trailer axle. If you’re hauling two machines, make sure the weight is even side-to-side. This will help balance the load going down the road and help you avoid the death-wobble.
When possible, I like to hook the ratchet mechanism end to the trailer. The strap end then hooks to the machine. One of the best ways to secure the strap to the machine is by using a soft loop. This keeps the metal hook from scratching the machine, and it gives me a solid point to secure the strap to. If you are securing the machine from the handlebars on an ATV, use soft loops and secure it from the base, near the bar mount. Never use the ends, as it can damage controls, grips, or worse, come loose. The front of the frame works best for both ATVs and UTVs. Always use a strap on each side and try to make the force applied even, to keep the machine level. At the rear of the machine, I have found that the trailer hitch area, or the rear-most exposed part of the frame, is the best place to secure it. Again, coming from both sides to even the load.
A tip I picked up from long-haul truckers is to give the ratchet tie down straps a twist before you tighten them down. The most common point of failure comes when the strap wears against a surface and breaks, or comes loose. Having that twist causes the strap to move with the wind and greatly reduces the amount of force the wind exerts on the strap, reducing fatigue on the strap, and on the anchor points. Sounds crazy, but ever since I was told this, I haven’t lost a tie down!
How Can I Make My Ratchet Straps Last Longer?
I’m as guilty of it as anyone. You get to where you’re going, and you take off the ratchet tie down straps, and you just chuck them into a pile into the back of the truck. Not really the best way to take care of things. It gets worse when you do it when it’s raining or snowing, and the straps get put away wet. Do yourself a favor, and take a few minutes to roll them up and put them away right. If it’s wet, make sure you stretch them out and dry them fully.
A shot of WD-40 on the ratchet mechanism will save you so much grief, too. When they start to stick, and you know what I mean, spray some good penetrating oil into the ratchet and slowly work it for a few minutes. I always like to use WD-40 because it is naturally based, made from mostly fish oil, do it won’t hurt anything it gets on, except maybe a nice, clean shirt. Don’t ask me how I know this.
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