How Ratchet Tie-Down Straps Work

How Ratchet Tie-Down Straps Work

Written by Pierce Bryant
October 4, 2023

Ratchet Straps are an essential tool to have at your disposal if you find yourself constantly transporting large items. Some items that you may be needing to transport may include, but are not limited to: furniture, cars, ATVs, motorcycles, trees, and more. Ratchet straps, which are heavy duty straps generally made of polyester webbing, are extremely handy and easy to use for securing cargo that is being transported. By using ratchet straps, you are able to make sure the items that you have secured will not move around while they are being transported for a long or short period of time, somewhat similar to a large seatbelt.

There are a few things to consider while you are looking for a ratchet strap. Some of those things are the break strength, working load limit, and size. Once you have all of these things figured out and have your ratchet straps, then you will be ready to put it to use. You may be wondering not only how to use your straps, but also how they work.

 If you are someone who doesn't want to deal with threading ratchet straps and additional slack, we highly recommend our retractable ratchet straps!

The Webbing Material

The polyester webbing that most straps are made of is usually weather resistant and extremely strong, however, you may eventually experience some sort of wear with your strap. Once you notice any damage with your strap, it is important to either get it repaired or replaced so you are able to still use it effectively. If wear and tear is something that worries you when purchasing your straps, consider purchasing Rhino USA's Ratchet Tie-Down Straps, which come with an Unlimited Lifetime Warranty.

Break Strength and Load Limit

MUST READ: How To Release a Ratchet Strap

The breaking strength of your ratchet strap is the amount of weight and or stress that your strap can withstand before rupturing. This is an important factor to consider because using a strap with a low breaking strength for your needs will be ineffective. The working load limit is about ⅓ of the breaking strength of the strap. This accounts for the movement that happens during use. It is important to remember that the working load limit of the items that you are securing must be at least ½ of the total weight. For example, if you are moving something that is 6,000 lbs, your working load limit must be at least 3,000 lbs. Before you decide that is not necessary, this is enforced by the Department of Transportation and citations vary by each state.

Using Ratchet Tie-Down Straps

To use the ratchet strap you will first want to thread it with the adjustable end. You can do this by opening up the end of your ratchet strap by the release catch. Once you have done this your ratchet should be fully open with the wheels facing toward the ceiling. Then, get the strap and push it through the mandrel, or slot. After you have done this, the strap should overlap the strap that is on the other side and it should feel firm. The ratchet strap gets its name from the metal tension device, which is a ratchet. This tension device will help you secure your strap and your item firmly.

Featured Product: Rhino USA HD Ratchet Tie Down Straps


Now you are ready to place the strap hooks, or whatever end fittings are on your strap, to their secure location around the cargo. This may be in a groove in your vehicle or another designated spot for securing items. Once you have done this and your strap feels secure, begin to use the crank to tighten the strap as much as possible. Remember, when tightening your strap, it is important to tighten it efficiently. You do not want it too tight or not tight enough. Your item should feel extremely secure, but it should not be squeezed by the strap.

Once you are confident with your tightening skills, you are ready to lock the ratchet in place. You do this by closing the ratchet back. Your ratchet should make a clicking sound which will signify that your ratchet strap has finally locked into place.

Your ratchet should have a release tab that will easily release the lock and ratchet, then you will be able to retrieve the strap that you previously threaded. Then your strap is all ready to be folded and stored for your next haul.

It is important to store all your ratchet strap pieces together and in a dry place to maximize their lifespan. If you are missing a piece of your ratchet strap it is important to not try to use your strap because it could be potentially dangerous to you, others, or other vehicles.

tow strap vs recovery strapRatchet Strap FAQ's

Can I use ratchet tie down straps to secure a motorcycle or ATV?

If you own a set of ratchet strap or don't know how to tie down your motorcycle you may be asking this question. Yes, you can use ratchet tie down straps to secure a motorcycle or ATV. We recommend following these steps to ensure you secure your motorcycle or ATV safely and effectively:

  1. Ensure your straps are in good condition and have an adequate weight capacity.
  2. Position your motorcycle securely on the trailer or truck bed.
  3. Use soft loops or protective accessories to prevent any damage to your motorcycle's finish.
  4. Loop the tie down straps around your motorcycle and secure them to anchor points.
  5. Gradually tighten the straps using the ratcheting mechanism, applying even tension.
  6. Periodically check the straps during your journey to ensure they remain tight and secure.
  7. Secure any loose strap ends to prevent them from causing hazards on the road.

Using these 7 easy steps will prevent your motorcycle or ATV from moving around during transport and protect your vehicle's finish.

How to tie down a motorcycle with ratchet straps

Securing a motorcycle with ratchet straps is essential for safe transportation. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it properly:

To do this properly you will need a set of ratchet tie down straps (with adequate weight capacity) and soft loops or protective accessories (optional but recommended to prevent damage to your motorcycle).


  1. Position Your Motorcycle: Park your motorcycle on the trailer or truck bed, ensuring it is properly aligned and centered.

  2. Prepare Soft Loops (if used): If you're using soft loops, attach them to the motorcycle's handlebars, frame, or other sturdy parts. These loops will provide a secure and cushioned anchor point for the straps.

  3. Attach the Straps: Loop the ratchet tie down straps around your motorcycle. Pass them over the soft loops or, if not using soft loops, secure them around the handlebars or the frame near the front and rear.

  4. Anchor Points: Find suitable anchor points on your trailer or truck bed where you can attach the straps. Make sure to distribute the straps evenly to prevent imbalances.

  5. Ratchet Tight: Use the ratcheting mechanism on the straps to gradually tighten them. Begin with gentle tension and then increase it gradually. Apply even pressure on both straps to ensure that the motorcycle is secured evenly.

  6. Check and Recheck: Periodically check the straps during your journey to confirm that they remain tight and secure.

  7. Secure Loose Ends: After tightening the straps, secure any loose strap ends by tying them up or using Velcro straps.

  8. Final Inspection: Before hitting the road, do a final visual inspection to ensure that your motorcycle is securely fastened and that the straps and anchor points are in good condition.

And that's it! Your motorcycle should be securely fastened for transport simply using motorcycle ratchet tie down straps and soft loops!