atv loaded in truck bed

How To Load [And Unload] An ATV Into a Truck Without A Ramp

Getting your ATV from point A to point B, without riding there, is just about as important as making sure your quad has gas, but how do you go about loading your ATV into your truck if you don’t have a ramp?  

Well to be honest, it would be much easier, not to mention safer, if you had a ramp but that’s not to say that you can’t load your quad into the bed of your truck in a safe manner.  I’ll share with you how to load and unload your quad properly, i’ll also show you what NOT to do and then give you an alternative method in case you don’t like the manual version. If you want to check out my previous post where I share the safest way to get your quad into your truck, it’s extremely thorough.

Loading Your ATV Into Your Truck

Before you start prepping anything, just keep in mind that you might get a bit dirty from any grease, oil, mud, dirt or sand that could rub off on you while attempting to get your quad onto your truck bed.  You’re going to be attempting to pick up a machine that’s several hundred pounds in weight and while you probably won’t be wearing your favorite get-up, you also don’t want to wear anything too loose. I’d recommend wearing an older pair of jeans and t-shirt or even any ATV gear you normally wear while riding.

Now that that’s out of the way, position your truck in the most convenient place.  If it’s on your driveway then make sure you are driving up the slope when you park it.  You’ll find that it’s easier to work with a quad that is ascending rather than descending.

Once you’ve got your truck parked then roll your ATV right up to the back of the truck.  Remember to put the door of the bed down or you’ll have one hell of a time trying to get your ATV to clear that!  Align your ATV so that the front wheels will fit directly in the middle of the bed without having to maneuver the wheels much (if anything at all).  It’s much easier to align the wheels and then simply push the ATV in rather than trying to reposition it while it’s unevenly sitting on the bed of the truck.

Make sure to put your quad in first gear then shut the gas and key off.  If you have a friend who can help you then this would be a good time to grab him/her.  Have them hold and push down weight on the rear grab bars while you pick up the front end of the quad and point the nose to the sky.  You want the quad to end up completely vertical.

If you don’t have a friend around to help out then one thing you can do is stick a couple of bricks or paver blocks behind the rear tires so they don’t creep back any.  It’s easiest to lift up the nose when the back wheels are as locked from rolling back as possible. Using a pair of gloves will help your hands from getting torn up and blistered.

Quickly put the quad back into neutral then carefully roll the quad forward towards your truck by only the two rear wheels.  Don’t let it fall back down. Use the rear grab bars by stepping on them so that the nose of the quad doesn’t let gravity pull it back down.  Once the bottom of the frame is about 1-2 feet away from the truck bed, then push the nose of the quad until it falls nicely into place.

Now the real heavy lifting starts!

CAUTION: make sure to use proper lifting techniques.  You are about to lift a lot of weight and the last thing you want to do is throw out your back or injure yourself in any way.

Using your legs, squat down behind the ATV and with your hands firmly grabbing a solid part of the frame lift the rear end of the quad up while pushing the machine forward until the rear wheels clear the tailgate.  You might find yourself trying to reposition your grip “under” the ATV until you get the rear wheels on the truck bed, but under no circumstances should you ever actually get under the quad, that’s way too dangerous!

Park your quad and tie it down with straps.  Congrats, you’ve successfully loaded your ATV onto your truck without a ramp, but now you’ve also got to learn to get it off.


Unloading Your ATV

Unloading your ATV is somewhat similar to loading it onto the bed, but you don’t exert as much strength and you skip a step or two.

Take the straps off and put the quad in neutral.  Lower the tailgate and pull the quad towards you using the rear grab bars but pull it only until the rear wheels touch the end of the tailgate then stop.  

You’re going to want to do this next step relatively quickly so read and pay attention.  

Lift and hold the tail of the quad suspended in the air until the front tires reach the tailgate and then with a swift jerk pull the ATV all the way out so that the front of the quad will clear the tailgate without hitting anything on the way down.  You’ll just let the entire quad fall to the ground, but don’t worry, it’s only a few feet above ground so it won’t do anything to your quad.

You’ve now successfully unloaded your quad without a ramp.

What NOT To Do When (un)Loading Your Quad From Your Truck

It goes without saying that some people will try some pretty ridiculous ways to get their ATV mounted to the bed of their truck.  I’m sure that some people do it for the laughs but others do it because they don’t know any better.

Here are some methods to definitely NOT try out for yourself:

Wheelies – for a newbie rider, riding the right way is hard enough, but doing a wheelie takes even more practice and experience.  Don’t take it another step further by trying to wheelie the front of your quad onto your truck bed. Getting both aligned just right is harder than it looks and in many cases you’ll just end up damaging either your quad or your car.  Not worth it.

Help – ok, so what I mean is you don’t want to be directly standing in the path of the ATV, whether it’s turned on or off, it’s just bad practice.  So if you’re helping to get the quad on the truck bed, don’t stand in the truck bed while someone else tries to mount their ATV in there.  The last thing you want is to get your knees caught between the quad and the truck!  No one has told me, but i’m sure it more than tickles!

The Dismount – you might think this is the slickest idea you’ve had yet, but this is the one to get you injured most.  Don’t ride off the bed of your truck anticipating to land on all 4 wheels. It usually doesn’t end up like that and your chances are high that you’ll end up with your ATV right on top of you.

Alternative Methods

Physically lifting your ATV into your truck isn’t the only way to get it on there, and there are definitely safer ways.  Using a ramp is safer because you’re doing it under a more controlled environment, the ramps are built of solid aluminum that won’t bend or give in, and most importantly, your back won’t give out.

When using a ramp, you can either drive your ATV up the ramp into the bed or you can use a winch (if you have one available) that is tied to the truck and winch the ATV up with a slow and controlled speed.  Either way, you aren’t jerking or lifting the ATV into position.
Using a ramp is a safer route to go and can be done easily with just one person whereas it’s always nice to get a little help from a friend when you are lifting the quad right into your truck.  For more info, check out my previous blog post or read more about the ramp I use.

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