How to Use ATV Ramps

The best way to get heavy equipment into the bed of your truck. 

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Loading heavy equipment like an ATV onto a vehicle is challenging and dangerous. It's also necessary if you ever want to use the heavy weekend toys somewhere outside of your neighborhood. You'll need the right ramps and some flat ground to get everything loaded up safely and efficiently. 

Safety

It shouldn't be a surprise that loading a 500-pound ATV onto two pieces of extruded metal can be dangerous. To minimize the danger, stay safe with some easy-to-follow steps.

  • Get everything secure before driving an ATV onto the ramps.
  • Keep the ramps centered and balanced on the truck or trailer.
  • Buy the right ATV ramps for the height of your vehicle. The incline of the ramps should be as shallow as possible.
  • Don't exceed the maximum weight capacity of the ramps. Most high-quality ramps can handle an average ATV, but make sure everything is under that limit. Some aluminum ramps, for example, don't have as high of a weight capacity as others. The best ATV ramps will have no problem with heavier off-road four-wheelers or golf carts.

Things You'll Need

In terms of ingredients, loading an ATV is an easy recipe.

  • Loading Ramp(s): The ramps need to support the weight of the ATV. You can use a single ramp or a pair of dual-runners, bi-fold, tri-fold, or otherwise heavy-duty ramps for the best results.
  • Loading Vehicle: You’ll need a truck, van, or trailer with enough space to fit the ATV.
  • ATV: The equipment to be loaded.
  • Safety Straps: The straps will keep the ramp(s) secure to the pickup truck or trailer when loading the ATV/UTV, dirt bike, or other equipment.

Preparation

You can save yourself a headache by getting everything ready and positioned before securing the ATV ramps. 

  1. Park the loading vehicle (truck, trailer, van, etc.) onto a flat surface. It's important to keep the vehicle and ramps as level as possible.
  2. Move the ATV to the rear of the vehicle, leaving room for the ramps. This will allow you to get the right spacing between the ramps ahead of time. 
  3. If you have folding ramps, unfold them.
 A Honda Talon 1000R on the showroom floor.
gettyimages

Pay attention to how heavy the vehicle you want to load is to avoid overloading the ramps.

Using ATV Ramps

Unless you like the look of your ATV flipped upside down while you look on in tears, safe use is important when loading it. Getting an ATV loaded up onto a vehicle or trailer requires the right positioning, securing, and use of the ramps.

Position the Ramps

The proper ramp position will help support the full weight of the ATV as it is loaded.

  1. Place the ramp onto the edge of the loading vehicle. Most ramps have simple tabs on the edge to hold the plate top in place.
    • On curved ramps, make sure the arch is pointing up. With straight loading ramps, keep the tabs pointing up.
    • Tri-fold ramps will give you the most surface area between the side rails on the edge of the ramp.
  2. Position the ramps to match the spacing of the ATV tires. If you positioned the ATV in the rear ahead of time, try to match the ramps with the wheel spacing.
    • You can position the ATV loading ramp so the front tires are close to the ramps, if necessary.
    • If you are loading something other than an ATV, like a lawnmower, the principle remains the same: Get the right spacing between the ramps.

Secure the Ramps

Since most ramps simply sit on the edge of a truck or trailer, it's important to tighten them down. This will prevent the ramps from falling and the ATV from crashing.

  1. Run a safety or ratchet strap through a rung on a ramp. Aim for one of the first few rungs closest to the vehicle since a shorter strap length will help keep things stable. 
    • If you have a basic hook-and-loop strap, loop the hook through at the ramp so it remains attached to the ramp.
    • For D-ring straps, secure the ramp end by wrapping the D-ring around the rung and clamping onto the strap on the other side.
    • If the ramp has a center rail, wrap the strap around that instead of a rung.
  2. Secure the strap to the loading vehicle. You should only fasten the strap to a metal area on the vehicle: built-in hooks or somewhere on the frame.
    • Repeat the same fastening steps as before. 
  3. Remove any slack from the strap. Once the ends are tied, increase the tension in the straps to remove any slack. This will help keep the ramps stable.
    • Unless you have a ratchet strap, you may need to tighten the straps before finishing the previous step.
  4. Make sure the straps can't move. There should be a balance between the straps and the ramps. Neither should be able to move out of place.
  5. Repeat the previous steps for the other ramp(s)

Load the ATV

Once you've spent the time to position and secure the ramps, the main event has arrived.

  1. Drive the ATV to the base of the ramps. Make sure the wheels line up perfectly with the ramps. 
    • If the ramps aren't aligned, undo the straps and reposition them.
  2. Move the ATV onto the ramps and drive up slowly. Avoid starting and stopping on the ramps if possible. A continuous motion will prevent the ATV from flipping over. 
  3. Secure the ATV into place. Using other straps or cables, get the ATV tied down into position. 
    • Check each strap.

Remove the Ramps

If you successfully get the ATV loaded and secured, the last step is the most obvious: Remove the ramps so they don't drag behind.

  1. Remove the straps from the ramps. Keep them somewhere on the loading vehicle for the return trip.
  2. Remove the ramps. Store them underneath the ATV to take them along.

Tips

  • Check the ground clearance of the loading vehicle before you buy a pair of ramps. This will help you determine how long the ramps need to be.
  • Avoid driving up the ramps quickly. Extra speed puts more force on the ramps, increasing the chance of damage to the ramps or the vehicles. 
  • Park the loading vehicle in a lower position, like a dip, to reduce the angle of the ramps.
  • Lightweight options like aluminum trifold ramps and heavy-duty aluminum dual-runner ramps offer a great balance between strength and weight. Make sure the ramp system uses quality aluminum so it doesn't buckle under the load.

FAQ

Q. Are folding ramps safe?

A. In general, yes. Most folding ramps have reinforced hinges so they can handle the weight. Compared to rigid ramps, however, you may find folding ramps have lower weight capacities. 

Q. How long should my ramps be?

A. This depends on the height of the vehicle. Generally, longer ramps are better. A ramp between 7 to 9 feet long is typically good enough for most vehicles. 

Q. What kind of straps should I use?

A. Ratchet straps offer the most convenience since they are easy to tighten. Anything with D-rings will also add an extra layer of security.

Q. Can I load an ATV on my own?

A. Technically, yes, but it's very dangerous to do so. It's better to have someone else to act as a spotter.

Q. How can I take my ramps along for the ride?

A. Most ramps will fit underneath an ATV in the truck bed or trailer. Folding ramps are the most convenient since they take up less space.

Q. Does the ramp design matter much?

A. Most ladder-like ramps with rungs are good enough. Some ramps, however, have different surface designs for better traction.