Pick-up trucks are the perfect transportation choice for any biker. They’re sturdy, reliable, and have a large truck bed that’s spacious enough to fit, at least, a couple of bikes.
You’ve seen ads for fancy truck bed racks online, but do you really need one? Can you just lay your bike flat in your truck bed and call it a day?
What’s the best way to transport your bike in your truck?
Keep reading to find out!
Can You Lay a Bicycle on Its Side To Transport It in a Truck Bed?
Yes, though it’s not recommended.
Laying your bicycle on its side in a truck bed seems like an obvious solution, but most avid bikers recommend against it. However, it does have its perks and can be used if you’re in a pinch.
Let’s go over some of the most notable pros and cons of laying a bicycle on its side during transportation.
Let’s face it, there’s almost nothing easier than chucking your bikes in your truck bed. All you have to do is carefully lay them down, making sure their gears aren’t interlocked.
Then, when you arrive at your destination, you can just pull them out and start riding. You don’t even have to undo or unhook any straps!
You also don’t have to worry about installing racks, some of which must be permanently drilled into your truck.
This is the perfect solution if you’re in a rush and need to drive your bike short distances, as you run a higher risk of knocking your bike around in the trunk bed during long, windy drives.
Fits Several Bikes
While some racks can only hold a few bikes, laying them down in a truck bed allows you to transport several bikes simultaneously.
You’re not confined by how many slots the rack has, instead you can safely transport several bikes in your truck bed.
However, you must ensure that your bikes aren’t overlapping in a way that they’ll be damaged during the ride.
Your bike’s frame could get scratched from moving along the truck bed’s rough surface. Another bike’s gears or metal pedals could also scrape against the frame, scratching it further.
Although you can lay down mats or blankets on the floor to protect it, there’s no guarantee it won’t slide against the truck walls and be scratched that way.
While this won’t affect your riding experience, it does mean your once nice and new bike will look old and used, and you’ll have to pay for a fresh coat of paint or new decals.
Damage Delicate Components
A bikes’ drivetrain, gears, chains, and brakes are all quite fragile, and you must be mindful of them being scraped or damaged from sliding across your truck’s floor or from bumping into other bikes.
If not properly securely, your bike could also crash into the truck bed’s walls, damaging the components further. Your MTB could also scrape your truck bed, which could be expensive to repair.
So, you need to pay extra attention to how and where your bike is laid, and consider if you’ll be driving on bumpy roads which could knock your bike around.
There’s no getting around it: it’s all too common for people to get their bikes stolen out of their truck beds.
Whether you pulled over to grab something from the store or stopped at a red light, there’s always an opportunity for someone to snag your beloved bike.
So, bikes that are lying down in a truck and not locked to the truck’s hooks are at a particularly high risk of getting stolen.
Therefore, you must be careful to never leave your bikes unattended, because they may not be there when you return.
Which Side Should I Lay My Bike Down On?
You should lay your bike with the drivetrain facing up.
A bike’s drivetrain is very fragile and could break if face-down in the back of your truck. The chains could come out of place and certain components could be bent.
Additionally, fixing a drivetrain can be quite pricey, and the last thing you want is to arrive at your destination only to find your bike is too broken to use.
How Long Should I Lay My Bicycle on Its Side To Transport?
It’s best to only lay your bike on its side to transport it over short distances.
While you can transport a bike on its side over long distances, we recommend against it.
Your bike being knocked about in your truck bed for half an hour or so shouldn’t do much harm, but transporting it like that for several hours at a time could be risky.
The risk of your bike being damaged during transport increases exponentially if you haven’t properly strapped it down or are carrying several bikes at once.
So, if you’re planning a cross-country biking expedition, it’s best to invest some extra time and money into ensuring your bike is stored properly and safely.
How Should I Transport My Bike in a Truck?
There are several ways you can safely transport your bike in a truck.
Are you going on a long trip? If so, you may want to consider some alternative methods of storing your bike.
If done correctly, the solutions listed below will ensure your bike will not be busted or bent upon arrival. Also, none of them involve drilling permanent fixtures into your truck, so they won’t compromise your truck’s resale value.
There are also several options that don’t take up your entire truck bed, allowing you to carry other items.
Let’s learn about them!
Tailgate pads are an easy and efficient way to store and transport multiple bikes at a time.
The pad drapes over your trunk door and features several loops which help to fix it in place.
Some tailgate pads, like the YAKIMA Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad , feature six adjustable velcro loops to secure your bikes’ frames in place while the front wheels hang over the tailgate.
This is a great solution if your truck bed is on the shorter side since it doesn’t need to be long to accommodate the full length of the bike.
To learn more about tailgate pads and why they’re a great way to transport bikes in a pickup truck, watch the detailed review below!
Upright with Straps
If you’re looking for a budget solution to fancy bike racks, consider using bungee straps to secure your bike standing up. This way, your bike will be upright and less prone to being scratched during transport.
If you want to use this method of transportation, your truck bed must have hooks along the floor and walls. This will allow you to strap your MTB to your truck bed using bungee cords.
It’s best to do this with mountain bikes that have thicker wheels that can support themselves.
You can also fit several bikes into your truck this way and even secure them in place using a standard bike lock.
Simply wrap the bungee cord around your bike’s hub and hook it in place. You can use several cords to secure it in place if needed.
Any type of bungee cord will do, but we like the PRETEX 12 Bungee Cords with Hooks since they come in several different lengths.
Old Man Fat Bike on YouTube has a fantastic video demonstrating how anyone with a pickup truck can store their bikes this way for only a couple of dollars. Watch it below!
Upside Down with Straps
Another way you can secure your bike during transport is by placing it upside down and fastening it in place using straps, like the AUGO Ratchet Tie Down Straps . You can use these straps to tie the bike to the truck bed’s hooks and loops.
In order to do this, it’s best that your truck bed floor has metal hooks along it to tie the bike to with straps. This will ensure the bike doesn’t slide around. You will also need to remove your bike’s seat.
Once you’ve removed your bike’s seat, place the bike upside down.
Use two straps to tie the front and back of your bike to your truck bed. (See the video below for a more detailed explanation and demonstration).
Fasten them in place and ensure they’re tight. You may also want to tie the wheel and fork together to prevent it from spinning.
Watch the video below demonstrating how to transport a bike in a truck using straps following the steps above.
Bike Rack Clamps
Do you want a proper bike rack in the back of your truck that takes up no floor space and is easy to install and remove? If so, then consider getting a side bike rack.
This small, but mighty rack clips onto the side of your truck using hand-tightened clamps. You can then fasten your bike frame to them using adjustable straps.
This allows you to carry one bike on each side of your truck (two in total), leaving you plenty of bed space for other supplies.
There are several side bike rack clamps on the market, but we recommend the INNO RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack since the clamps are made of durable metal that is less prone to wear and tear.
Watch the video below to see how to use bike rack clamps on any pickup truck bed.
Wrapping Things Up
Can you lay a bike on its side to transport it in a truck? Yes.
Should you? No.
Whenever possible, it’s always better to transport bikes standing up to prevent their drives and gears from being damaged.
You don’t need to purchase a fancy and bulky bike rack for your truck. If you only have a couple of dollars to spare, some bungee cords or straps will do just fine at protecting your bikes during transport.
If you must carry your bike laying down in your truck, try to limit your driving time to under an hour and place mats or blankets on your truck bed floor.
What’s your experience transporting a bike in a truck bed? Do you have any additional tips for keeping bikes safe while being transported?
Let us know in the comments below!