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There’s a local morning radio show that plays a special call-in feature before every major holiday, “Where Ya Going, Whatcha Taking?” Listeners phone in with colorful tales of mothers-in-law, great uncles and green bean casserole. But sometimes the “what you’re taking” part is much more complicated than holding a delicious raspberry fluff on your lap.
Say you are headed out for a weekend camping trip, helping your best friend move every one of his worldly possessions or picking up Grandma, who gets around best with the help of a power scooter. Whether you are trailering, loading into the bed of a pickup truck or have a handy hitch-mounted carrier, you need to secure the items being transported in the most safe, dependable way. What kind of tie down straps will best do the job?
First, understand there are much better options than using a length of rope or a bungee cord you dug out of the garage. Not using the proper equipment and techniques puts you, other motorists and your possessions at risk. You also need to consider the size of the job at hand and make sure you have straps that are the proper length, width and strength.
There are many lengths of tie downs available, from just a few feet to upwards of 40 feet for commercial trucking applications. The same holds true for strap width, typically ranging from one to four inches wide. Just remember that when it comes to tie downs, “more” is, generally speaking, better. In other words, better to be safe with heavier straps than sorry with tie downs that are not strong enough for the job.
Tie down straps come with two ratings to indicate overall strength. While the Break Strength rating tells you the minimum weight it would take to cause the strap to totally fail, it’s the Working Load rating that you really want to pay attention to. Working Load is the maximum amount of weight that a tie down can support with regular, day-to-day use and without damaging it. Working Load is calculated as 1/3 of the Break Strength.
Once you determine what you need for a tie down strap in terms of the length, width and load limit, you have more options to consider. The two main strap “styles” are Cam Buckle Straps and Ratchet Straps, and there are advantages to both.
Cam Straps are generally lighter-duty than Ratchet style and create tension through the metal teeth in the buckle to hold the strap taught. They are easy to tighten and release, an advantage for someone who may not have great hand strength or dexterity. However, if the load you are securing is a solid or dense item, such as a refrigerator or other appliance, it may be more challenging to get a Cam Strap tightened. Something like an ATV or dirt bike, however, that has “give” because of its suspension will be easier to get a secure hold with the Cam Strap style.
Ratchet Straps typically have a higher strength rating than Cam Straps and can create a tighter, more secure strap tension. However, they tend to be slightly more complicated to use and release, so they might not be ideal for all users. The Ratchet Straps also tend to be the more expensive option.
Beyond the strap styles of Cam and Ratchet, tie down straps have many different options available in terms of the hook end varieties. S hooks, J hooks, flat hooks, snap hooks and more all have advantages in particular applications; this discussion may be addressed in a future posting.
Finally, a note about overall quality. Be aware that there is a significant difference in the tie down straps available in the marketplace! The material of the strap itself, along with the quality of the metal used in the buckle and hook ends, can create significant differences in the tie down’s performance and length of life. Cheap, soft metal in a buckle will wear teeth down more quickly and lead to a strap slipping or loosening. Some ratchet handle styles are designed without an opening for an easy-to-grip handle, making them more difficult to use. Invest in a good quality set of tie down straps, and they should, with normal use, last indefinitely.
In addition to the many sizes, strap and hook end styles, there is a multitude of tie down accessories and specialized tie downs available. You can check some of them out here.
So with your quality tie down straps in hand — where are you headed next, and what are you taking?
Discount Ramps is proud to bring to you the JH07E Joe Hauler Hitch Mounted Motorcycle carrier! The motorcycle carrier will help you transport any type of motorcycle, up to 400 pounds, without having to pull a trailer behind you. Constructed from welded steel, this economy single hauler fits on any class III receiver or larger frame mounted 2″ hitch receivers and will have a 4 inch ramp to help you load your bike onto the carrier.
The track length on the carrier is 77 inches, the ramp length is 48 inches, and the rung spacing is 8 inches. The track spacing on the hitch carrier is 5.75 inches out back and tapers to 5 inches in the front. The whole unit only weighs fifty pounds, but can carry eight times its weight. To provide additional tie-down points and added strength, two 32 inch long bars are connected to the carrier and give you four points in which you can tie down your motorcycle and keep it safe when transporting. Optional wheel ties are offered for even more security. With the Joe Hauler Carrier, after a while with your bike on the hitch, you will not even know it is back there. With a durable welded steel construction, the Joe Hauler can withstand the wear and tear of the harsh demands of the open road. There is no assembly required, and as with all products sold, there is a three year warranty provided by the manufacturer.
Discount Ramps recommends that you check your vehicle’s hitch rating, as well as the suspension carrying capability of the vehicle you want to use. The JH07E carrier is designed to safely carry 400 pounds; most class III hitches are rated at 500 pounds. The JH07E will not work with class II or smaller receivers. Some vehicles may also require air shocks or heavier springs to stiffen up the suspension to prevent the sagging of the carrying vehicle. We also recommend that you check set up and hitch ratings before using this item with a 5th wheel trailer or camping trailer. We DO NOT recommend use with hitch extensions or scooters over 300 pounds due to rear weighted composition. The Joe Hauler will ONLY ship to commercial addresses.
Discount Ramps has just released the top 10 Summer Buys list of Summer 2009! As always, we have done our best to offer the highest quality products at the lowest possible discounted prices available anywhere. Many of our hottest selling products are well under 100$ before shipping and cost considerably less than anything offered by our competition. On our top 10 products of Summer 2009 list you will find a wide range of products such as bike racks, cargo carriers, pet ramps, pet barriers, atv ramps, cargo bars, motorcycle wheel chocks and many other products that allow our customers to load and haul many things — even pets!
For your convenience below you will find our top 10 summer buys of 2009!
(1 being the most popular)
- Dirt Bike Carrier – Model# AMC-400 - ONLY $129.99 + S/H
- Mobility Carrier w/Ramp – Model# SC500 - ONLY $289.99 + Free S/H
- Universal Cargo Bars – Model# TRCB-4460 – ONLY $39.99 + S/H
- Motorcycle Wheel Chock – Model# MC-CH-5.5 - ONLY $26.99 + S/H
- Pet / Dog Ramp – Model# DR-06 – ONLY $79.99 + S/H
- ATV Loading Ramps – Model# AFL-9012-2 - ONLY $99.99 + S/H
- Vehicle Pet Barrier – Model# PB-STD – ONLY $27.99 + S/H
- Hitch 2 Bicycle Rack – Model# HMBC-2 – ONLY $59.99 + S/H
- Bicycle Storage Hoist – Model# BL-7122 – ONLY $8.99 + S/H
- Hitch Cargo Basket – Model# HCB-4818 - ONLY $69.99 + S/H
As you can see many of these products require hitches in order to utilize them, and we have been selling a ton of hitches to help customers accommodate the wide variety of different cargo and bike carriers. It is advised to take a good look at the rear of your vehicle before ordering any of the hitch mounted products to verify what type of hitch you currently have on your vehicle which will make sure that you order the correct carrier, rack, or adapter. If you find that your vehicle does not currently have a hitch installed we recommend using our handy hitch selector system that will require that you enter a few details about your vehicle and then it will tell you the hitches that are available to fit your car or truck.
Discount Ramps would like to announce that there have been some improvements to one of our most popular motorcycle carriers, the SMC-600. Because of these changes we have changed the name to the SMC-600R so that our customers understand that this is the newest model and not the old model. The changes that have been made to the carrier were based on reviews from our staff along with our customers experience with the unit. The changes were done to the SMC-600 motorcycle carrier with extended longevity and durability in mind. We have found that by using a solid sub-structure on the SMC-600R it was able to offer quicker carrier assembly out of the box along with a stronger, more stout motorcycle carrier. Other than that there are no other specific changes to the carrier so the basic design and use remain the same as it always has. To see the SMC-600/SMC-600R in action check out the video below.
Also, note that the new sub-structure on the SMC-600R doesn’t mean that it is “ok” to load and haul rear engine mounted scooters that weigh over 300lbs. This unit is simply not designed for that purpose due to the weight distribution.
We encourage our customers to send us reviews on all of our products, but if you have a specific review of our SMC-600 motorcycle carrier or our new SMC-600R carrier please don’t hesitate to contact us.