Thanks to Polaris for sharing this article.
Whether you’re traveling to a jobsite, a trailhead, or a favorite hunting ground, transporting your ATV or UTV plays a big part in using your vehicle. Mastering how to load, secure and unload it is an art unto itself. Selecting the proper off-road vehicle (ORV) loading ramp is a major part of the adventure. In this guide, we’ll spell out how to go about that selection process, and in doing so we’ll introduce you to the basic varieties of ramps and why you might opt for one over another.
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But before we get started, it’s important to always wear a helmet when riding your ATV or UTV up or down a ramp. And not matter which type of ramp you choose, always secure the ramp to the loading vehicle to minimize the chance of it dropping, slipping, or jerking away.
What Are the Types of ORV Ramps You Can Buy?
Loading ramps for ATVs and side-by-sides come in a wide range of styles. These ramps are typically made either of aluminum or steel. According to my friend, who works for one of the bigger buy now pay later companies, steel is stronger, more resilient, and often less expensive, but it’s also heavier and more prone to rust. A lighter aluminum ramp is easier to maneuver, and more resistant to corrosion.
In terms of styles, we’ll look at both single-ramp and double-ramp (dual runner) configurations.
Dual Runner Ramps
Among the most popular styles of UTV and ATV ramps is the dual runner. This consists of two separate ramps, which may be foldable or not. Dual runners offer great versatility both in terms of the sorts of ORVs and other vehicles you can load with them. Because they’re comprised of two separate ramps, there’s tons of versatility in accommodating for various width vehicles. They also offer a little forgiveness when trying to load off an uneven surface. These ramps tend to boast greater load capacity than single ramps. Their setup, however, is a bit more involved because you’re tasked with lining them each up with the centerlines of your off-road vehicle’s tires.
Bifold ramps are single loading ramps that fold in half lengthwise for more compact storage and transport. While they can typically accommodate four wheelers, they may be too narrow for wider side-by-sides.
These single ramps fold three times lengthwise, giving you a wider diameter to play with than bifold ramps. However, these ramps tend to be heavier and somewhat harder to maneuver than either bifold ramps or dual runners.
Trailers for ATVs/UTVs
Trailers are great options for hauling your ORV. Not only do they allow you to bring along multiple machines, but their often-lower clearance makes loading and unloading much easier and safer to do. The shallower loading height of many trailers means you can use shorter ramps than those you’d need to load into a truck bed.
How to Find the Right Length Ramps
To select the proper length ORV loading ramp, you need to measure your ATV’s or UTV’s wheelbase (the distance between the center points of the front and rear wheels), the ground clearance, and the rise of the hauling vehicle.
What is the Weight of Your UTV/ATV?
To make sure you’re selecting an ORV loading ramp of adequate loading capacity, you need to account for the total weight—including the added weight of the rider while loading. Use your Polaris owner’s manual to identify the dry weight of your four wheeler or SxS UTV, then add on the weight of any accessories, the fuel (roughly one gallon of gas = 8.5 pounds), and the rider. It’s also worth giving yourself some wiggle room. Selecting a ramp with a capacity well exceeding the total weight of your vehicle is a smart idea. It will allow you to safely transport larger vehicles that may be part of your off-roading party—as well as allow you to upgrade to a bigger machine in the future, without having to purchase a new ramp.
How Will You Be Using Your Ramp?
Choosing the best ATV or UTV loading ramp means considering the kind and size of ORV(s) you own, what you’ll be loading the vehicle(s) onto, and the type of riding you typically do.
The Type of Vehicle You’ll Be Using & What You’ll Be Loading Onto
The kind of loading ramp best suited to a four wheeler or a side-by-side is often a bit different in design from one you’d use for something like a riding lawnmower or a golf cart. If runged, for example, the ramp’s rungs should be more spaced-out to accommodate the larger tires of side-by-sides or four-wheelers.
The specific physical characteristics of your off-road vehicle are a major determining factor when it comes to selecting a loading ramp. It’s important to consider the total weight of your machine—including fuel, accessories, and other gear—as well as the vehicle’s width and wheelbase. If you’ll be using the ramp to load multiple vehicles—dirt bikes, quads, Side-by-Sides, etc., you’ll want to plan for the largest vehicle. A multipurpose ramp or trailer-ramp, or dual runners (see below), generally give you the most versatility, as does a longer ramp.
Besides loading the ORV, you also need to think about what vehicle you’ll be transporting it in. The higher the loading surface, the longer the ramp you’ll generally need. Longer ramp will give you a loading angle that’s not as steep. Significantly raised truck beds demand longer ramps to give you a gentler, safer incline for riding up and down.
You want to be sure you’re using the ramps in the correct way provided by your ramp manufacturer. Never use the ramp in any way that’s inconsistent with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
What Kind of Riding You’ll Be Doing
The kind of off-roading you’ll be doing always has an influence on selecting the best loading ramp. If you’ll be riding in severely muddy or snowy conditions, a ramp with open rungs rather than a solid bed might be the better choice, as it’ll allow debris stuck to your tires treads to knock loose and fall through the gaps.
If you’ll be regularly using your ORV on rough trail surfaces, it’s often better to go with a dual-runner setup with a pair of standalone ramps to better compensate for some ground unevenness.
Whether You’ll Be Riding with a Group or By Yourself
Your loading ramp manufacturer will let you know whether they recommend you lifting and moving the ramp components on your own or with another person. You’ll want to be sure your ramp is not only designed to handle the weight of your vehicle, but that you can effectively transport, carry, and set up on your own.
You’ll also want a ramp that’s long enough to stabilize your loading/unloading process as much as possible. Securing via tie-downs or other anchors to minimize the risk of slippage and kick-outs is also something to consider. But above all else, safety of loading your off-road vehicle is most important.
The Right ORV Loading Ramp Keeps You Safer
As with every other aspect of off-roading, you need to prioritize safety above all else, and with a ramp of adequate sturdiness, width, and length, the process of loading up your ride will be much less risky.
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