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Old 20 Apr 2003
MCP MCP is offline
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Location: Dominican Republic
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Securing Your Bike On Ferries?

We are planning on taking many ferry crossings during our trip through Europe begining in May. I really never gave it much
thought as I assumed the ferry companies would provide the securing systems for tying bikes down.

Now I'm thinking we should pack straps of some sort, and space is at a premium. What are your experiences?

Ferries Planned
Nice to Corsica
Italy o Greece
Greece to Turkey
France to UK
UK to Ireland
Ireland to Scotland
Scotland to Norway

Many thanks to replys.

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Old 21 Apr 2003
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Location: Gent, Belgium
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Hello Nanaimo (?),

we have taken a few ferries left and right in Europe.
Experiences were mixed : SOME ferries provide special attachment buckles in their floors, and heavy duty straps with... eh... I don't know how you call these, but they make a "crack-crack" sound and can be tied VERY tight -> the ones they use on trucks. These methods were used on ferries to and from the continent to the UK. The boatsmen secured the bikes in the presence of the bikers, and asked specifically if this was o.k. with the biker.
I PRESUME they will always do this on storm-prone journeys such as the North Sea.

All other ferries (Italy (Genova) to Tunesia and back / Italy (Venice) to Greece (Igoumenitsa) / Turkey (Cesme) to Italy (Ancona) / Finland (Helsinki) to Estonia (Tallinn)) didn't have ANYthing to secure bikes or a just few short bits of thick rope... To our frustration and surprise of course.

We (luckily) always have good and long straps with us - to tighten our luggage rolls and to tow a bike in case of breakdowns in the countryside.
We park the bikes on the left side (in the direction you enter the boat), close to metal bars which you find all over on the side walls of boats.
We then park the bikes on the sidestand and in first gear -> because --without special attachment buckles in the floor-- a bike is more stable on 3 "standing points" then on the 2 of the "double stand" (?) plus 1 front OR rear wheel -> the triangle is larger.
Then we attach our straps on 2 or rather 3 points : front, rear and middle of the bike, on different heights as to provide as much stability as possible, and to as wide as possible attachment possibilities in the side walls of the boats.
To protect the bikes from damage-through-rubbing (by the straps), we use a few newspapers (preferably yesterday's). We also add some sort of padding between the bike and the boat wall - another newspaper, or just a reasonable distance.
We also turn the mirrors inward - they tend to stick out more.

That has always worked fine, even with rough sea.

We also undo the straps before entering a harbor, for the boats can make a few rough movements when docking -> we then sit on our bikes, or move them away from the side a bit and hold them tight. Then we're ready for the inhaling the fumes of all the other vehicles starting their engines long before they can ride off :-)

Wish you healthy and undamaged crossings in Europe !

Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE's)
2nd overland from home to Northern India and back, April-October 2002
Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE\'s)
2nd overland from home to Northern India and back, April-October 2002
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Old 11 Nov 2003
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Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 943
There is a fairly detailed post that points out many problems with ferries, and includes pictures showing the best way to tie the bike down at this link:


The post also includes discussion of the pro's and con's of various ferry operators.

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Old 11 Nov 2003
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My, some people seem to go to a lot of trouble when taking their bike by ferry. I'm probably saying that as most of my experiences have been with P&O - Dover-to-Calais. I park up, put the bike on the side stand, leave her in neutral, the crewman puts a strop across and with the large pad over the saddle, ratchets the thing down. One thing I am careful about is that the metal ratchet mechanism can get uncomfortably close to the plastic panels on the bike but a gauntlet jammed between the two usually sorts that out. Touch wood, in 35 years of travelling with a bike across the Channel, my bikes have never received so much as a scratch.
I do once remember coming back on a rough crossing with my Citroen 2CV, renowned for having a poor hand brake, and the car was facing up a 1:8 ramp! So it was handbrake on, in gear, plus wooden blocks under the wheels. I could just imagine her crashing back and forwards during the trip and coming back to find damage everwhere. I worried needlessly.
The only time I was a bit concerned was this year on the SeaCat between Liverpool and Douglas, Isle of Man, where scores of bikes were parked inches apart, and they were lashed down with lengths of rope. My pal, who goes to the TT races every year, remembers the year the ferry crashed into the harbour wall at Douglas, and the company were faced with hefty claims as the bikes toppled over like dominoes.
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Old 23 Dec 2003
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I always carry at least 1 ratchet stap,never put it on the center stand and rachet towards the side stand, use your gloves to protect where the straps touch side panel ect. and leave it in gear and turn off your alarm
Have a good trip
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Old 23 Dec 2003
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Location: UK
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I've been on ferries from most ports in the UK and experiences are mixed (as said above). The assistance you get from the ferry men varies depending on how busy they are. Dover/Calais is probably the busiest service for bikes (lots of sports bikes through the summer) so they tend to be well organised and can tie a bike down in seconds (safely).

However other ports/ferries leave you to your own devices. For UK ferries you'll always have something to tie the bike to, though you can't rely on there being straps/ropes available (especially in summer when there's lots of bikes).

So if you're planning on taking a lot of ferries then get yourself a couple of ratchet straps (about £10) to make sure you're not scrabbling around in a panic and make a hastey job of securing your bike.

The investment in ratchet straps (and the weight) is well worth it when you can just hop off the bike and tie it down in a couple of minutes, then head off to get a coffee/. The alternative (I've experienced) is tangling up with some oily bits of rope and trying to remember how to tie secure knots while the ferry "clear the car deck" alarm is sounding.

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