By Daryl Brunette
A dirt bike loading ramp is very bulky and heavy but important for loading everything you need in motocross. You can just use a wooden board thick enough to support the weight of your bike, or you can buy expensive aluminum ramps. But I (Daryl) wanted to build one and give it a personal touch, making it lighter and stronger.
Ten or so years ago I made a board that I used successfully as a bike ramp for five years, but it got stolen. I knew that with the right design and products, the new dirt bike loading ramp I planned to build would also be a success. The most important aspect of this project was making sure the board would be stiff enough to support a bike, with very little deflection. Our Technical Advisor Mike Barnard helped me with the project. As stiffness is highly dependent on thickness, we chose 2” thick pink foam insulation. We then cut and glued another small section of foam onto the larger piece to create a tab that hooks onto the tailgate and allows the bike to be loaded without causing the bottom of the board to lift off the ground.
In order to maximize the thickness and stiffness of the board, we used 2 layers of 737 Biaxial Glass Fabric. To make it look good and add a lot of additional stiffness, we finished it off with a layer of woven carbon fiber. These are the steps we followed:
- Wrap foam in fiberglass/epoxy
- Saturate all layers of fabric the width of the foam board on a well-waxed table top and place the sanded pink foam over it
- Let the epoxy cure overnight
- Apply epoxy to the next side and rotate the board 90°
- Repeat until all sides are done
- Fill in low areas with 105 WEST SYSTEM Resin/207 Special Clear Hardener (since clarity was paramount)
After building my loading board, I laminated some stickers onto the board to make it more appealing. During a trial run of loading a 230 lbs motocross bike, I found the surface was too slippery. To make the dirt bike loading ramp’s surface non-skid I took the following steps:
- Apply electrical tape over selected areas where I wanted to maintain the smooth finish
- Use a Scotch Brite® pad to abrade exposed epoxy
- Coat with 105/207 and sprinkle liberally with silica sand while epoxy is still wet
- Remove electrical tape after about 1 hour and allow to cure.