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  #1  
Old 7 Jan 2009
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Brittany Ferries, tie down advice

Hi all,

I am about to book a crossing with Brittany Ferries for mid July from either Plymouth - Roscoff or Poole - Cherbourg.

I have never taken my bike on a ferry before and when I have been on ferries with my car i have never paid any attention to the bike 'tie down' arrangements.

Both of these crossings are traditional type ferries (as opposed to fast cats) and are overnight crossings of about 8 hr duration.

Can anybody please give me advice on what tie down arrangement i can expect and any advice on the actual securing of the bike. Also does anybody leave anything on their bikes whilst the bike is on the ferry, such as a holdall strapped to the rack or seat. I would naturally take any valuables and my small tank bag to the deck with me but I wondered about the holdall.

Does anyone have any specific experience of these crossings?

Any advice will be very welcome, Thank you

Lee
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Old 7 Jan 2009
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I've used the Portsmouth-Le Havre crossing and one of the crew, a nice red haired french girl, strapped my bike down for me. If that's not the case on the other routes then just ask another biker if your not sure. Usually there are plenty of ratchet straps and even wheel chocks available. As for your gear, it will be fine on the bike. I've left my helmet on the bike before now and one guy left his boots on the car deck, although by the smell of them no-one was going to steal them! Take your valuables of course but generally stuff strapped to the bike will be fine.
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Old 7 Jan 2009
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Shocks

I've seen on a thread before that one thing to avoid is for the straps to be very tight indeed compressing the suspension. One guy's trailie had the fork seals blow. I'd take a strong cable tie to tie the front brake lever on with and a knife to remove it. Take everything with you. There's no way of knowing if the place is locked off or not. You'll probably have no problems.
You most certainly won't need any straps yourself. Linzi.
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewAdventurerLee View Post
Can anybody please give me advice on what tie down arrangement i can expect and any advice on the actual securing of the bike. Also does anybody leave anything on their bikes whilst the bike is on the ferry, such as a holdall strapped to the rack or seat. I would naturally take any valuables and my small tank bag to the deck with me but I wondered about the holdall.
I leave it in gear and use one ratchet strap across the seat using gloves to protect it and compressing the suspension slightly, then one on each of the bars, again compressing the front suspension slightly. I find there's usually enough extra webbing on the front straps to tie my front brake on. I use DFDS Ferries which have a mix of securing rings and cables on the deck to hook ratchet straps on to. DFDS customers are responsible for securing their own bikes but it's no big deal doing it yourself.

I do the same with my tankbag and I've never had any problems with anyone messing with the bike or luggage left on it.
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Stand?

Thanks for the replies, is the bike better on its main centre stand or the side stand.?

Lee
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by NewAdventurerLee View Post
Thanks for the replies, is the bike better on its main centre stand or the side stand.?

Lee
This could start a good one

I'll get in first. It depends on the stand. I tended to use the centre stand, in which case it has to be wide enough for the bike not to be able to topple over it and it has to be stable enough for the bike not to roll forwards. This is where wheel wedges are useful. For the side stand you need one that won't flip up if the bike moves half a degree, one that isn't so long the bike is past vertical the wrong way when the suspension is compressed and one that won't side along the deck until it fouls something and flips up.

I've found MZ's, BMW's (F's and R's) and Triumphs fine on the centre stand. My XT had a decent side stand, as did the Bonneville (although this was short enough for me to bungee it in the extended position to make sure). In probably a hundred North Sea and Channel crossings I've only seen three bikes with damage. Two were Harleys, one flipped the side stand, one went over the other way when the suspension compressed. The other was a Goldwing that rolled forwards off a short centre stand. I've seen a KTM with a flipped up sidestand, but the guy had roped it so securely to the ship it stood upright!

Carry a ratchet tie down, IMHO, some ferries resort to tatty blue rope when it suits them.

Andy

PS: Us sidecarists make the bar first: Just pop it in gear and think about
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Andy, look what you've gone and done........

My method. Put the bike on the side stand, in gear and with the front wheel chocked or wedged against a deck-fitting / bulkhead / post. If you can't wedge it, zip-tie the front brake.
All that should be needed now is to hold the bike down; one strap over the seat should do the trick or one from each side if you can't find a big enough rag/lump of cardboard to protect the seat. You don't need to wind it down really tight; perhaps about the same compression as if you were sat on the bike. Give the bike a firm wiggle and rock to satisfy yourself that it's secure then try to catch up the side-car riders/drivers in the bar. If they're proper mates, they'll have a cold one waiting for you.

Pay a bit of attention to what's around you though. It's all very well you making a superb job of securing your bike but if the bikes around you crash around, then you wasted your time. I have seen a few bikes damaged on ferries by other bikes coming loose.

I carry a couple of cam-buckle straps. They are great for all sorts of "get out of trouble" fixes and don't take up much space.
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Hey mate...
I must be one of the unlucky one.. cus i have had damage..Santandar to UK.. really rough crossing bike was on itside when i got up inthe AM.(only one of 10 bikes mind you..). The bike slid with in the strap (which was over the seat).

NOW I never let the crew strap my bike with out me watching and checking it.. they get pissed off when you undo everything they just did .. but they really dont care about the bike and I do.

Advice #1.. Try and position the bike so that it is facing (as much as possible in the direction you will be leaveing).. It is a real pain padding your bike around the next AM, ridding out is much faster. Cus ships decks are often slippery (flat steal plate) and people are in a rush to get out.

Side stand v. Centre stand: I go with neither. (so start with side stand and go from there). Being a ex-motocrosser I use the straps to secure the bike from both sides compressing the front forks (about 1/3 or the way). Getting some bike fully loaded on to thier centre stand is next to impossible, and on a flat steel plate deck it is impossible (maybe this is only true for my XT and my AT.. but my back will never forgive me).

I like these things
Motrax Handlebar Straps (Motorcycle Straps)). this is manily because over the seat can rip your seat to shreads way to easily no matter how big your "pad" is.


So I go 4 point restrant. Lock off the front brake (although i have a heavy duty velcro stap not a zip tie), Wedge it anyway possible! or better yet strap it to the bulk head. Leave in 1st gear. Use the above strap over the bars and tank and 2 straps to ratcheted down so forks have some play in them but are "fighting the staps" (like a said on my AT it is about a 1/3 compressed) and the bike is generally vertical but slightly favoring the sidestand side (you cant predict which way the ship will roll). I leave the side satnd "down" though it is not touching the deck). Then I use the rear frame mounts to do the same on the back but less so on the compression maybe I do it a couple of inches at most (actually about the amount it compresses when riding). So 4 points. I than shake the h*ll out of it to see if i can move it. If i feel that it would be good enough in the back of my ute (pickup truck for the yanks) with my dad driving (read madman). Then I lock all my bags. take all valuables. AND HELMET.. I have seen a bike fall and land on the helmet cracking it badly.. and that was game over for that rider.. he could not even leave the port...or at least lock the helmet to the bike like you know someone will steal it. I have seen (several times now) people leaving helmets on mirrors only to come back to find that the helmets have fallen off the bike in relatively calm seas.. and the helmets have been bashing/rolling around the hull for the entire night (which really means you should replace it).

okay enough rambleing
Cheers all
Xander
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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As previously mentioned, watch out for the gorilla who puts the ratchet strap over your seat and proceeds to try and pull your bike through the deck of the ferry I had this happen last year on the ferry to Ireland, this is the easy (for the ferry company) way to tie your bike down, not the correct way. I blame the folks that can't tie a knot (seen loads of them on the car deck on ferries) they get anyone to secure their bike because they can't, then when there is a problem (bikes gone over) they claim off the ferry company, then we end up with the fore mentioned Mr gorilla so that nobody claims
Bike in gear, side stand down 3 points of contact well spread out, as opposed to 2 with centre stand, you know it makes sense

I am going to Gibraltar on the bike this year, Mr gorilla won't get his greasy gloves near my bike


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  #10  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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Sidestands

My mates sidestand was fairly well bent by the aforementioned gorillas on an Irish ferry, though it felt best on the sidestand rather than centre.
There seemed to be a lot of nervous shiny bikers with my ancient battered XT near them.
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Looks like there a lots of different opinions on this one, has anybody got any photos of their bike tied down on the ferry?

Lee
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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I tend to agree with Xander - if there is enough space, a strap either side from the bars to lashing rings (like you would on a trailer) and the bike upright and in gear (or the front wheel against a bulkhead) works for me... however, if a strap did fail, then the bike would be over on it's side? (although you can always put a pair of secondary straps from each footpeg to floor to stop that happening...)

I really don't like it when some deck monkey (sorry chaps) throws a 3 inch wide ratchet strap over the seat and attempts to cut the bike in half either...

So, the other method I've used is to have the bike on the side stand, in gear, steering turned to the left (lock on) and just a single strap from the left hand bar to a lashing ring on the deck - it bloody works! However, for safety, a lighty tensioned second strap over the seat would be the braces to the belt...

One ferry (sea cat) I took to Morocco had a very neat arm with a padded U shape 'hand' that went over the seat - I was surprised but it was all that was needed to hold the bike upright for that short crossing... not every ferry is going to have that though of course.

xxx
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet) View Post
I tend to agree with Xander - if there is enough space, a strap either side from the bars to lashing rings (like you would on a trailer) xxx
Sometimes, you just don't have the room
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Old 9 Jan 2009
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I did Poole-Cherbourg with Brittany Ferries a couple of years ago, although the actual boat was a Condor Lines Fast Ferry on hire to Brittany. The crew were mega-efficient and attentive during loading and tie-down, probably the best service I have ever had on a ferry. As for leaving stuff on the bike general common-sense rules apply i.e. take cash, stat nav, etc. with you. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 10 Jan 2009
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I used the Portsmouth-Caen last year and there was a big wooden box full of ratchet ties and you did your own.

I always put my bike on side stand in gear. I was once told by a crewman on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry to use centre stand and after a bad crossing it rolled forward and fell over as did many other bikes, i could carry on with my trip as only the screen was broke, others weren't so lucky

cheers Dave
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