You have an ATV and you’re ready to explore the great outdoors with it. But the trail you’re eyeing is quite a distance from where you live, so you’ll need a way of getting the ATV there. You have a pickup truck, so transportation shouldn’t be a problem, right? Now, how do you get your ATV onto the bed of the truck for transport? You could ask a friend to help you lift it off the ground and onto the truck bed, but that only puts you both at risk of suffering from back injury.
Why not use a truck ramp instead? With the right loading ramp, you won’t have to bother anyone else with the task of loading the ATV onto your pickup truck. You can easily load it on your own. The ramp also makes the loading process a lot safer both for you and for your ATV. By doing away with the lifting, you save yourself from the risk of injuring your back; you also take away the risk of damaging the ATV, which can happen if it lands badly as you lift it onto the back of the truck.
Types of Truck Ramps
To make the most of your investment, you have to make sure you choose the ramp that best suits your needs and preferences. Towards that end, it pays for you to know what the different types of ramp are, and what their respective features are.
- Standard Ramps
This is a simple, non-foldable ramp. It is perhaps the easiest type of ramp to set up, since you simply have to secure it to your truck’s tailgate. The disadvantage is that it requires ample storage space, which means it isn’t as portable as other types of ramp. If you plan to use a standard ramp, therefore, you have to make sure there’s enough space on your truck bed for both the ATV and the ramp. It is also important to take exact measurements of the area where you plan to load the ATV so as to make sure you buy a ramp of the right length.
- Folding Ramps
As the name suggests, this type of ramp can be folded for storage. There are bi-fold ramps and tri-fold ramps. Whichever style of folding ramp you choose, it will take more time to set up than a standard ramp, since you’ll have to unfold it, secure it to the truck’s tailgate, and secure the joints as well. A folding ramp, however, is a lot easier to store on your truck bed for transport. The bi-fold ramp has the advantage of being easier to set up, but the tri-fold ramp is known to be a lot more portable.
- Collapsible Ramps
These are basically two or more separate ramps (also known as runners) secured together to form a wide ramp over which you can ride or guide your ATV for loading and unloading. The design is intended to provide more storage options. This type of ramp comes in both folding and non-folding varieties. Its biggest disadvantage, perhaps, is that it really takes time to set up.
- Extenders/Combination Ramps
These are multi-use ramps preferred by many people. They usually have large rungs and are directly attached to the tailgate hardware. It does take considerable time to set up and take down, but it is also the most versatile type of ramp. Other than a ramp for loading and unloading your ATV, it can also serve as a truck bed extender, useful for when you plan to load many items and the space in your truck bed falls short.
Loading Your ATV
Now that you know what types of ramp are available out there, you should be in a better position to choose the right ramp to serve your needs. Once you’ve chosen and purchased a ramp, you’ll be ready to go on that outdoor adventure you’ve been planning. You have to make sure, though, that your ATV is loaded properly to keep you safe from injury and the vehicle from damage of any sort. Here are a few tips to help you along:
- Make sure the ramp you choose is more than capable of holding not only the weight of your ATV, but your own weight as well. You’ll either be riding or guiding the vehicle up the ramp, so you and the ATV will be on the ramp at the same time, which is why the ramp should be able to hold your combined weight. It’s a good idea to weigh your ATV and yourself before buying a ramp and then make sure the ramp you get has a weight capacity that’s more than the resulting combined weight.
- Make sure the ground on which the ramp rests is even and perfectly flat to prevent shaking as you load the ATV. Too much movement could result in the ATV (and you) falling off the side of the ramp. Remember that the goal is to prevent damage to the vehicle and injury to you.
- Make sure the angle of the incline isn’t too steep. A steep incline also increases the risk of injury to you and damage to the ATV because it can cause the vehicle to fall over backwards as it nears the top of the incline, especially if you’re riding it and you happen to go too fast. You may want to take measurements with a tape measure before buying a ramp, so you’ll know what length of ramp to get in order to have an incline that’s just right for you.
- Secure the ramp by attaching all the safety straps and devices. Make sure the straps are snug. Straps that are too long can make the ramp sag or cause a gap between the edge of the ramp and your truck’s tailgate, which also poses a danger as your ATV approaches the top of the ramp.
- Be sure to load your ATV in first gear and to avoid jerky starts and stops while the ATV is on the ramp. You should also avoid riding the ATV up the ramp at high speed. That can cause the vehicle to buckle and fall off the ramp or ram into the back of your pickup truck.
- Wherever possible, use a winch to load your ATV, rather than riding it up the ramp. Using a winch is a much safer option because it allows you to stand clear of the ATV as it goes up the ramp. It also gives you better control over the precision and speed of loading. And in case something goes wrong during the loading or unloading process, you won’t have to worry about injury, since you’re standing at a safe distance. If you do choose to ride your ATV up the ramp, be sure to wear protective gear to reduce the risk of injury in case of accidents.
- As soon as the ATV is loaded onto the back of your pickup truck, set the parking brakes and then secure it to the truck bed by attaching the tie-down straps. Be sure to attach two straps in front and two at the back. The straps should be tight enough for the ATV not to move when you try to rock it. You should also secure any excess strap length so it doesn’t flap in the wind or drag. It may also be a good idea to cover your ATV so as to protect it from debris during transport.
Now you know why truck ramps are very useful pieces of equipment and how to use them properly. You can finally explore the great outdoors. Enjoy!