Every person who spends time off-road on four wheels faces challenges when it comes to transporting the machine. Even if you ride on your own property, or have legal riding right out of your driveway, at some point it is likely your machine will need to be hauled somewhere. The ideal situation is to haul the same machine with the same truck or trailer every time. It is relatively easy to set up your hauling situation in that case.
The absolute best method for tying down a machine is to use specialized strap arrangements called wheel baskets or tire bonnets. These are specific arrangements of straps that go over each wheel. The straps are secured to the trailer deck behind the wheel, and ratcheted down to the deck on the other side of the wheel. It isn’t usually necessary on our machines, but the ratchet end can pass through an idler or roller, and the strap hook attaches out in front of the machine. This is almost required on low sports cars. The problem is that wheel baskets must have tie-down points directly in front of and behind each wheel. It is a very precise and specific setup.
We transport many types of machines. Our entire trailer deck would have to be tie-down points for this to work on every machine. Your next-best option is to too tie the machine pulling four ways. Our trailers have fairly tall rails, so when we have two machines on the trailer, we pull the front machine up against the front rail. We still tie the rear of the machine down.
These are our minimum requirements to feel safe hauling:
A. Heavy-duty straps with working load ratings well above what is actually required.
B. Tie-downs and axle straps with closed hooks so the straps can’t come off if they loosen for some reason.
C. Tie-down points that are attached to the truck or trailer and not merely to the wood deck.
If you carry your machine in a truck bed or enclosed trailer, you may have limited options for tie-down points or room to run tie-downs. Obviously, tie-down methods are more important on a flat-deck trailer than for one with tall sides or that is completely enclosed.
Now that UTVs are gaining in size and weight, many people are finding it counterproductive to carry them inside their existing toy hauler trailer, and they have opted for those racks from companies like Toy Up that allow you to drive a UTV up on top of your truck. Those pesky California 55-mph trailer towing speed limits don’t matter to a rack on a truck bed.
Other tie-down solutions range from wheel chocks to and every innovation in between. Whatever your choice of transport for taking your machine to the trails is, you are hauling weight, so caution should always be taken.
California provides the Dirt Wheels editors the ability to drive wide and fast machines. We can’t fit those in our truck beds, so we have an assortment of trailers. Karel relies on a trailer with a 24-foot-long deck. Collin employs a 16-foot-long trailer. Both trailers have front and side rails, and the 24-footer has a ramp gate. Since we utilize multiple machines, we can’t rely on fixed methods to tie machines down. We use ratcheting tie-downs of different styles and lengths to get the job done. Companies like Moose Utility, High Roller, ShockStrap, Mac’s Custom Tie-Downs and many more offer ratcheting versions that have a 1200-pound-or-more load limit. You don’t want to get a tie-down that can break at a lower rating for UTVs. They are heavy machines that all weigh more than 1100 pounds and require tie-downs stronger than ones to secure a sport quad. Four tie-downs on a UTV give you 4800 pounds of capacity. That is plenty for a machine to transport safely.
Tie the machine so that it is secure against vertical, forward, rearward and side-to-side movement. It may be tempting to use the winch cable to tie down a machine. You should not do that without straps as a backup. The planetary gears may strip. All tie-downs and anchor hardware should be labeled with a “WLL” (working load limit). Use the WLL number to find the load limit on the straps and hardware you choose. Make sure that you have more than enough capacity for safe hauling. While we are on the subject of safety, make sure that all of the equipment on your trailer or in your truck bed is secure. Tie-down or secure ramps, fuel containers, toolboxes, gear bags or other equipment.
These are a few, though certainly not all, of the suppliers of tie-downs and anchors. Note that local sources, like Home Depot, Harbor Freight Tool, Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Company, are all excellent sources.
TheATVSuperStore.com: Mighty Tite UTV tie-down system. All-metal tie-down system requires no tie straps.
ImmiOutdoors.com: Cargo buckle Retractable tie-down straps that stay attached to the truck or trailer.