Why Bungee Cords and Motorcycles Don’t Mix
When I was in my late teens and early 20s, my only vehicle was a 1977 Honda CB550 Four motorcycle. I managed to get my hands on old milk crate I strapped to the back of the bike with a bungee cord. It became my primary means of carrying cargo. But if I knew then what I know now, I never would have done what I did.
I have since learned that bungee cords and motorcycles don’t go together very well. In the nearly 40 years since I sold that motorcycle, I have witnessed other bike owners suffer tragic consequences by mixing bungee cords and motorcycles. It is just not worth it. There are more effective tiedown products that don’t pose nearly the same danger.
Tension and Two Hooks
It goes without saying that you are familiar with bungee cords. You know that they are little more than elastic bands with hooks on either end. They rely on tension to remain taught and secure. But the same principle that provides the tension also becomes an older bungee cord’s weak point.
A bungee cord will last a long time if you take care of it. But over time, it loses its tension due to being continually stretched. So the more often you use it, the tighter you need to pull it to keep it secure. This can ultimately lead to catastrophic failure.
I have witnessed more than one incident involving a bungee cord snapping under load. I’ve also seen hooks bend from the stress they are under. On the back of a motorcycle, a failing bungee cord can strike the rider, get caught up in the rear wheel, or fly off the bike and hit a pedestrian or cyclist.
Getting Caught in the Wheel
The worst possible scenario for a failing bungee cord is it swinging down and getting caught in the rear wheel. That is guaranteed to throw the biker. Not only does he have bike damage to worry about, but he also has to worry about the potential for injuries. In traffic, he could even be killed.
A bungee cord seems so harmless when it’s not in use. But under a load, a bungee cord becomes a destructive device. Taking your chances by mixing bungee cords and a motorcycle just isn’t worth it.
There Are Better Solutions
Rope isn’t much better for tying things down on the back of a motorcycle. It is certainly better than a bungee cord, but rope is difficult to keep secure. Highway speeds are enough to loosen a load tied down by rope unless you make the extra effort to tie it down really well.
Perhaps the best tiedown is a cam strap. According to the folks behind Rollercam tie down straps, a well-designed cam strap with a stainless-steel buckle keeps cargo secure for an entire journey. And because the design has physics working in its favor, you can get a load on the back of a motorcycle extremely tight with very little effort.
A similar option is the cinch strap. It works on the same principle as a cam strap except that it’s missing the one important piece that gives the cam strap its physics advantage. Nonetheless, cinch straps are an excellent replacement for bungee cords and rope.
There is a lot more I could write about motorcycles and cargo securement. The point is that bungee cords should be the last option for tying down cargo. If I could turn back the clock to my biker days, I would not make the same mistake a second time. It would be cam or cinch straps for me.