As motorcycle enthusiasts we try to put as many miles in the saddle of our bikes as possible. Sometimes however, while we might hate to admit it, it's necessary to load a bike onto a trailer or into the back of a truck. A couple of reasons might be if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road or you're making a long cross-country road trip and need to be at your destination in a hurry and fresh. Whatever the reason, there are many ways to transport a bike from one destination to another.
One of our local shops, Eightball Rods and Choppers (eightballrodsandchoppers.com) in Placentia, California, had a dilemma. It had recently built a raked and stretched chopper with a super-long girder frontend, so long (more than 9 feet), it wouldn't fit into the bed of the shop's Chevy dually truck when the guys needed to haul it to shows and events. Aside from the chopper, Eightball also serves as somewhat of a pit crew, towing legendary motorcycle land-speed guru Wink Eller's 14-foot-long, 180-mph-plus sidecar rig up and down the course at events like Bonneville and El Mirage. Eightball solved its problem by picking up a hydraulic loading system from AmeriDeck.
Made in the USA, AmeriDeck offers several different loading systems to meet various applications and needs, but when it comes to transporting motorcycles, the company's most popular system is the SuperDeck III (MSRP $4,384). The SuperDeck III is essentially a two-piece system that consists of the lift arm frame with a hydraulic system, and the deck. A two-button remote control operates the system moving the deck from the bed to the flat ground. You simply roll your bike onto the deck, tie it down via any of the eight tie-down points, push the load button, and the hydraulic system does all the work for you.
The lift arm assembly is secured in the truck bed with four mounting points, then the power/ground cables are run along the under side of the truck and connected to the battery and a secure grounding point. The deck is made from top-grade commercial steel and features a diamond-plate surface for added traction and is covered in black powdercoat for durability. The SuperDeck III is designed to fit inside full-size truck beds, measures 58 inches wide, and is offered in 6-1/2-foot or 8-foot lengths (both with a 5-inch-long upward folding beavertail). The deck sits just above the wheel wells providing about 10 inches of secure storage space between the bed and underside of the deck. However, most important of all, the system features a 2,500-pound loading/unloading capacity-way more than you would ever need with a completely loaded bagger or trike. Once the system has been installed, it's a pretty quick and easy process to remove it from the bed of your truck. The lift arm and deck can be separated from each other by lowering the deck onto the ground and then simply removing the two quick disconnect pins that secure the two together. You just need to remove the four mounting bolts, disconnect the power cables, and remove the lift arm from the bed.
Aside from the standard equipment that comes with the SuperDeck III, AmeriDeck also offers other attachments, such as a high bulkhead kit, a van body (a secure cargo box), a dump bed, and a 12-inch-long deck extension with a 6-1/2-inch beavertail. To accommodate the length of the chopper and Wink's land speed bike, Eightball picked up the extension.
We were on hand when Eightball unboxed and installed the SuperDeck III, and while it looked pretty intimidating sitting there as a complete unit, it only took about an hour for the initial install. Once the SuperDeck III was operational, it was put to the test by loading the chopper. In a matter of seconds the deck was out of the bed and flat on the ground. The bike was then rolled onto the deck secured with a couple of tie-downs and then lifted into the bed; total time was less than three minutes. The addition of the extension made the system just long enough to handle the super-sized chopper.
We were pretty impressed with the system; it was really easy to use and definitely over-built-which helps with peace of mind when loading your baby. Loading/unloading a motorcycle of any weight or size is a one-man job that won't have you breaking your back or breaking a sweat. We could see how it could come in handy for many motorcycle owners. Some people just can't physically make the long ride to Sturgis on a motorcycle anymore, but they don't want to miss out on the spectacular riding in the Black Hills, this is a good solution for those who prefer or need to haul their bike(s). It's a great option for people who might have a bad back or just can't physically load a motorcycle into a truck bed. It also makes sense for those who own a motorcycle recovery business and are always having to push a broke down or wrecked bike up onto a trailer or up a ramp into the bed of a truck.
There were some downsides with the system, the biggest of which was the price. Unless you know you are going to get a ton of use out of the SuperDeck III, it's pretty hard to justify the $4,300 price tag. The other thing is it's pretty big, so while it is easy to install and reinstall (about 15 minutes once you've done the initial installation) you'll need a couple buddies to remove the lift arm from the truck and you'll need a place large enough to store the deck and lift arm. One thing we'd like to see is a wheel chock/dock, which would add just a bit more stability when loading and transporting a motorcycle.
As we mentioned before, the upside is the ease of use, quality construction, and even when you don't have a bike loaded, you can still use the bed of your truck to haul lumber, tires, or your wife's excess baggage.
(888) 311-0867 | powerdecks.com
Quality of Product *****
Ease of Installation ****
Ease of Use *****
Harley-Davidson Flux Boots
Easy On, Easy Off
Like they say, "Change can be a good thing," so a few months ago I began looking for a pair of black "motorcycle" boots to replace the tan work boots I had been basically living in. While cruising through one of the Harley boot catalog, I came across the Flux (MSRP $125) boot which looked to be a combination of work-style and motorcycle boot, so I ordered a pair to give them a shot.
The Flux is a mid height (above the ankle, below the calf) boot that is constructed of both full-grain leather and Cordura. It features eight large riveted eyelets and thick braided laces that make it easy to lace and cinch securely around your feet. At the bottom is an oil-resistant rubber outsole with a heel height of 1 1/2 inches. Inside is a full-length cushion sock lining and padded support around the top collar and tongue. The addition of a YKK zipper running from sole to collar on the medial side of the boot makes slipping the boots off at the end of the day a breeze.
When I first put the boots on, my initial thought was that they were very stiff from about the ankle up, and I felt like they restricted full movement of my foot. But as I wore them throughout the day, it occurred to me that they weren't overly stiff, it was just that the work boots I was used to didn't provide adequate ankle and upper support-especially the kind of support that's needed when trying to keep a 700-plus-pound motorcycle upright at a stop. I've found that sometimes boots can take a month or longer to break in and mold to my feet. My feet get sore and start throbbing so easily that I often don't have the time or patience to make it through the break-in period. With the Flux however, I found that from day one they provided plenty of cushion and my feet were comfortable even after extended stretches of standing around. With rugged traction on the soles, the boots dig into floorboards and especially footpegs and stay put. While the Harley literature rates the outsoles as good for abrasion resistance, best for slip-resistance, and best for oil-resistance amongst its other boots, I will say on one rainy ride I pulled up to a freshly laid paint strip at a stop sign and I felt my foot slide a little, which made me a bit nervous.
One of the best things I've come to like about these boots is the fact that they are both lace-up and zip-up. I'll pull the laces taut around my feet, tie them up in a double knot, and not have to retie them for at least a week. At night when I get home, I just unzip the side, slide my foot out and that's it. In the morning I simply reverse the process and I'm off to the garage.
I do have one complaint, and that's in the look/shape of the toe. When I first put the boots on, I immediately looked at the toe sticking out from my pant leg and thought it looked rather large and bulbous. I've come to get used to it, as it has provided plenty of breathing room and movement for my little pigs.
(888) 637-7001 | harley-davidsonfootwear.com
**Quality of Product *****