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ROK Straps For The Win
Defining what are tie down straps can get pretty vague, pretty fast. Heck, a simple length of rope fits the bill but then that could be a three, four or eight strand twist versus braid. For motorcycle use, not only is it likely the wrong tool, it's a time consuming rabbit hole in learning how tie down straps work.
“A good set of tie down straps can secure camping gear, dry bags, even temporarily loose motorcycle plastics.”
Finding the right tie down strap for a specific motorcycle packing scenario means taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly while we observe and analyze the spatial geometry of what that dry bag full of camping gear is tryin' to hug. In short, it means standing there and staring. Eventually, we find that semblance of a capitalistic "eureka!" and it's off to the nearest box store.
In my case, the dry bag in question has plastic D-rings and robust stitching that I know I can ruin if I set my mind to it. And I did. Womp womp ... victory. The short of it is I bought a pair of Titan industrial straps (great product) only to find the stitching at my D-rings would soon fail, regardless of the Titan's rubber elasticity. Pro tip: if the D-rings and stitching are intended for a shoulder strap, they aren't likely engineered to tow boulders out of a ditch.
Choosing Tie Down Straps
Again, the Titan straps are a worthy expense but for my use, ROK straps are the better option. I've known about them for some time but because I rarely camp off the bike, my need for 'em got mentally tucked away with whichever dust collecting brain cells can differentiate the words "perimeter" and "parameter". As luck would have it, not only did it take a mere three fellow riders to convince me I needed a set, the third, namely podcast interview Johanna Noble, gave me a pair.
ROK tie down straps are built around two gentle, nylon loop-lock connections. Opposite the loops are cinching male/female clips to connect both between mounting points. One of the two soft straps are elastic to provide user specified flexibility. Their simple usage makes motorcycle camping much less bothersome. Instead of worrying about the paint on my plastics or passenger grab bars, I'm able to ride full spirit through any and all twisties.
Titan tie down straps aren't to be ignored, however. The contents of my dry bag stand to benefit from their design. A recent trip through southwest Colorado employed what TRO dubs a "super clover" whereby riders camp one night, return to base (hotel), repeat three times. This arrangement means while yes, camping equipment is required, the cookware and other items are left behind. Titan industrial tie down straps are perfect for this variable change of luggage contents, shaping my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad/pillow, stakes, gloves, mallet and whisk into a form that covers nothing more than my pillion seat.
Mounting Points For Tie Down Straps
This is what inspired my purchase(s) from the get go. I always want to haul whatever's needed without disturbing my ergonomics or the already fatigued paint on my motorcycle. The aim is to be safe, comfortable and stylin' to boot.
Before my initial Titan buy, there I am staring at my beloved R1200RS until I can't see it anymore. ADV guru and fellow podcast host Tim Clarke brings out a pair of basic nylon cinch straps, suggesting I use the passenger pegs. This would rub the side plastics, so my response is to continue staring blankly while my co-council walks away smirking.
My hypnosis achieves nothing. With everything else in place, I'm growing tense but I know what I'm after. I want my dry bag to be secured from both sides to the passenger grab bars, gently compressed against the backrest on my topcase.
All I need is the right tie down straps for this exact setup.
For your own bike, consider the above. Taking time to observe all possibilities before pulling funds will keep "baby" looking good while insuring your kit makes it to the next destination. Comfortably unscathed is the only way to go and that takes a certain coordination of peripheral vision and focused scrutiny. Always measure thrice and cut gooder. Better that than letting loose cargo ricochet off your cohorts.
"Other" Tie Down Straps
Rachet, cinch, bungee, net, compress ... the verbs for methods go on and on. Our choices depend on shape, position and application in a marketplace full of formulaic solutions. Let's look at task dependent product variations that stand out.
If all we need to secure is a helmet for our passenger, these are simple enough. They "shoelace" over the top and visor areas snuggly for easy pillion placement. Once we arrive at their rescue and unveil the anti-noggin-floggin', the rope can be tucked into a jacket pocket.
Carabiner Bungee Cords
For obscurely shaped objects or even that which is packed within that which must be packed, caribungees show a lot of promise. The pros are that bungee cords are forgiving, so we can wrap them in various patterns to suit whatever they're flexing around. The cons stem from the very same flexibility, as misuse might allow large items to shift.
The weird thing about cargo nets is they can be used not only for their intended "over the top, stay put" purpose but also to solve minor, bizarre technical difficulties. Travis Burleson once discovered his left (soft) saddlebag was falling apart. One of his two cargo nets was free to use (the other was holding his dry bag in place), jacketing the luggage securely for the latter half of a long distance motorcycle tour.
4-way Flat Bungee Cords
These are a lazy person's Weapon X. Have thing? Put this on thing, then wrap the bungee cords around whatever and bolster using plastic, steel-core hooks. Yes, this could lead to a visual spider web in plasticized rubber and nylon and yes, it may allow whatever they're wrestling to dance a little. With that, they're likely safer for use with internal organization.
Coming full circle, the most simple and robust comparison product are lashing straps. Find 'em at just about any hardware store and note their weight/strength rating. Minus any of the clip, half bungee and soft strap features my newly favored ROK straps boast, these can (at the very least) go around a block of whatever, secure it to whatever and tighten to whatever keeps things stowed.
Locking It All Down
The journey to find those "perfect" tie down straps for motorcycle packing can be a winding road. As with any great sport touring venture, the clear victor is worth the coin. ROK straps are an ideal blend of strength, flexibility and ease of use.
They're a testament to the power of simplicity, with a straightforward design that's incredibly effective. Nylon loop-lock connections provide a secure hold while elastic straps offer just the right amount of give. This combination allows for a snug fit that can adapt to a variety of load sizes and shapes.
And the cinching clips make installation a breeze, saving precious time and energy for the ride ahead without compromising safety. Alternatives might prove catastrophic. I give you "Exhibit A" ...
What truly sets the ROK straps apart is their gentle touch. Unlike other tie down straps that can cause damage to our bike's paint or plastics, the ROK straps are kind to our ride. They hold our gear firmly in place without leaving a mark, allowing us to focus on the road, not on potential scratches or scuffs.
If you're in the market for tie down straps, give ROK straps a shot. They're a small investment that can make a big difference in your motorcycle packing experience. Being able to ride with confidence, knowing your gear is secure and your bike is safe, is a well known win for any sport touring motorcycle enthusiast.
Be it live goldfish, a miniature motorcycle that looks like it's being ridden by a live goldfish or a small refrigerator full of even smaller refrigerators, we need a way to keep our cargo stable during the ride. What solutions have you devised? What do prefer about each and why? Your input is invited. Leave a comment!