May 1999 -- A story by our good friend,
Chris Connelly . . .
Bike in a Box
Last time you were at a motorcycle dealership, did you
notice the brand new bikes still in crates? How do they get in there? Are there crate
As you know, Chris and Erin have been planing a trip around the world. Their first stop
is Casablanca, Morocco. How are those bikes going to get from New York to Morocco? Very
simple, pack them in boxes and off they go -- or is it?
Chris had sent one of his famous massive e-mails asking if anyone had a pickup truck.
This is where I made my first mistake. I answered, "Yes, I have a truck, what do you
have in mind?" Chris explained that he
needed to crate 2 motorcycles, and I agreed to help. Did I need my head examined? Now keep
in mind I worked for a BMW motorcycle dealership and have uncrated many bikes -- how hard
could it be to put one back in?
The first thing you need is a friendly BMW dealership that is willing to give you some
old crates and let you use their facility. Lindner BMW in New Canaan, Connecticut did just
that and were extremely helpful.
We arrived at Lindner around 9:30AM, one Chevy S-10 pick up truck, one U-Haul trailer,
and two bikes (R100GS/PD, F650). We removed from each bike the windshield and battery, and
left approximately one gallon of gas in each tank.
We started with the PD, rolling the bike onto the crate bottom and removing the front
wheel. Lucky for us Lindner just bought this sling kind of hoist that raised the front end
of the bike, this made it easy to remove the front wheel. We reattached the axial and
lowered it into the (modified) groove provided in the crate. This made the front of the
bike low enough so the crate top could fit. We then strapped the bike down to the crate
bottom using the same straps the new bikes came with. The best place to strap the front
end is around the lower triple tree. In the rear we strapped to the Jessie bag mounts,
which is as sturdy as the sub frame -- I would not recommend this place if the bag mounts
were BMW stock. When strapping the bikes you want to compress the shocks as much as possible so that any sudden jolts to the crate
will not loosen the straps by the shock compressing and rebounding. We used the
"one-person stands on the bike while the other pulls the strap at the count-of-three
method." It looked great, and the bike was free-standing in the crate bottom.
Then we framed in the batteries using 1x2 pieces of wood and straps. One battery was
placed in front of the front axial and the other battery was placed behind the front axial
and strapped to the crate bottom. The front wheel was strapped to the side of the F650 at
the engine protection bar and the passenger foot peg plate using large zip ties. Each bike
had a top case, which we strapped to the seat and the saddlebags stayed where they were on
Now it was time to nail the sides to the crate. We nailed five 1x2x42 cross pieces
across the top joining the two sides and finished by nailing the particleboard top, front,
and a back. That was one bike, the R100GS/PD.
On the F650 we tried a short cut by not removing the front wheel. Everything looked great until the sides had to go on. The bike was not
low enough by about an inch and a half. After playing (for an hour) with pieces of wood to
build up the sides of the crate, we surrendered to the fact that the front wheel would
have to come off (and attached to the side of bike). This set us back a bit but it had to
Both bikes were now secure. Thanks to Scott and Adam of Lindner and their forklift, the
bikes went into the pick-up and the trailer with relative ease.
It was about 8:00 PM, and the three of us were stuffed into the cab of the pick up with riding gear and two
crated bikes behind us. We were finally off to Lufthansa Cargo at JKF Airport (The
bikes will fly on Royal Air Maroc, who leases cargo space from Lufthansa at the airport).
After a brief stop for food, we arrived at JFK about 10:30PM where Chris good friend
Jens (Lufthansa employee) was waiting for us. Then we unloaded the bikes, and the paper
Tired, sore, sunburn and glad that the day was over, a sense of accomplishment was felt
by all of us knowing that each "Bike in a Box" was safe for the first leg of
their Ultimate Journey.