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How To Tie The Bowline Knot

How To Tie The Bowline Knot (The Only Knot You’ll Ever Need)

This week I learned how to tie the bowline knot, often referred to as “the only knot you’ll ever need.” I was looking to learn how to tie this knot, or any knot, but sometimes in life, the best discoveries are made unintentionally. In this case, it was a motorcycle towing customer of mine who taught me. Here’s what happened and how to tie the bowline knot.

For those that aren’t my every day readers, I run a local motorcycle towing business called Motorcycle Towing Toronto. Last week a woman named Liane reached out to me, looking to move her Vespa LX150 from Toronto to Windsor, Ontario. She offered to pay me to strap down her Vespa in her U-Haul. Unfortunately, it’s my busiest time of year, and there was no way I could have been there on her moving day.

I came up with a solution: “Just swing by the shop and I’ll teach you to strap down a motorcycle, and you can do it yourself for free.” Problem solved, right? Wrong. Murphy’s Law dictates that if something could go wrong, it will.  The day before her ride over to me, Liane’s Vespa wouldn’t start. It was dead. I would have to come out to tow it for her anyway.

I ran through the process of strapping down her Vespa, explaining all of the little details that make for a successful motorcycle tow. We talked about when and how to use soft loops, ratchet strap covers, canyon dancers, and more. Liane seemed to really know her stuff, apparently she read up a lot on how to do this on the web.

When it came time to knot the loose end of the straps, I went from being the teacher, to getting schooled. It turned out that Liane had some decades of experience in the nautical world. She asked if she could knot the loose ends and showed me a knot that was faster, and stronger, than how I usually knotted my straps. The knot she used was called the bowline knot, though some have called it, “the most useful knot in the world.”

The bowline knot is ancient. Archaeologists have found it’s use dating all the way back to 2500-2600 BC, making this knot over 4,500 years old! That’s nuts! The fact that this knot is still used today in modern sailing is a testament to it’s staying power.

The beauty of the knot is that pulling it will only make it tighter, and even the high winds of the ocean can’t make the knot slip, despite how simple it is to make. If it’s good enough for the open sea, it’s good enough for highway speeds. Here’s how you do it:

 Bowline Step 1 - Make a rabbit hole

Bowline Step 1 – Make a rabbit hole


Bowline Step 2 - Bring the rabbit up through the rabbit hole

Bowline Step 2 – Bring the rabbit up through the rabbit hole


Bowline Step 3 - Run the rabbit behind the tree

Bowline Step 3 – Run the rabbit behind the tree


Bowline Step 4 - Run the rabbit back into his hole

Bowline Step 4 – Run the rabbit back into his hole


This knot is faster to do, faster to do undo, and more secure than my old knot. I definitely learned something new. I started out the teacher and ended up being schooled! Always be willing to teach and to learn something new, folks! Thank you Liane, for teaching me and good luck in Windsor!

If anyone’s looking for a motorcycle tow or for winter storage in Toronto, please check out Motorcycle Towing Toronto.

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?

One comment

  1. AVAST! You learn something new every day! My late Grandfather was a seaman and master of a river tug. He used to keep my kid brother and me entertained with a variety of rope tying tricks when we were small. Bowline was just one of many. Sheep Shank, Reef, Half Hitch, Clove Hitch, Figure 8, Hangman’s (with 13 turns!), Sheet Bend…… there’s a lot more, including some that were purely decorative. Hours of fun!

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