ABR’s resident expert of all things two-wheeled answers your questions


Hi Dave,

I’m planning a trip over the water from Plymouth to Santander in Spain then back through France via the tunnel to the UK. It will be my first trip off UK shores and I’m a bit unsure about bike loading on the ferry and tunnel. What will I expect and will I need to bring straps to secure?



Everyone has the same doubts the first time they take their bike abroad, Graham, so let’s see if we can banish them. We have covered this subject in the past, but it’s a good time to repeat the advice as so many have similar plans to look forward to at this time of year.

Your route into Spain will be with Brittany Ferries who are one of the best ferry companies to travel with. Upon boarding, the crew will give exact instructions on where to park your bike. A warning here, there are usually a lot of bikes and they will park you quite tight in the hold.

Before you go, make sure you have a bag packed with what you’ll need during the crossing. This saves time after securing your bike and means you’ll have less to carry up the endless flight of steps to your cabin.

When it’s time to disembark most of the bikers unstrap their own bikes. It’s very easy to do but if you’re not comfortable attempting it then a member of the crew will help you out. Then it’s time to get ready for the organised chaos of many bikes all trying to get off at the same time, everyone wants to be out in the Spanish sun!

The tunnel is much easier. Again, follow the staff’s instructions upon boarding the train. There is no strapping needed as it’s surprisingly smooth when moving.

Just park at a 45-degree angle, pop the bike on its side stand and leave it in gear, then stand and look at it for the next thirty minutes as there is nothing else to see or do. Time to read your copy of ABR mag?

Have a great trip mate, it’s far less complicated than you think!

A crew member will then place a cushion on your bike seat and put a substantial ratchet strap across it, keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t overtighten and damage the seat. I find it best to park the bike on the side stand for this, the tripod effect that’s created is very stable, and that’s what you’ll want to prevent your pride and joy from toppling over on rough seas.

For extra security add a ratchet strap of your own from the nearside of the bike to the floor strapping point, this will stop the bike from sliding under the main strap if the crossing gets a little rough.

Got something to ask Dave?

Send in your bike-related questions to [email protected] and if we publish yours you’ll get a free subscription to ABR!