Welcome to our guide on the best dirt bike and motorcycle hitch carrier in 2020.
There will be occasions where you want to transport your bike from A-B without riding. Perhaps riding isn’t possible; you may be heading to a race, out into the mountains or simply need to take your bike for a service or repair. You still want to get you and the bike there safely.
There are many options for transporting your dirt bike, such as trailers or a flatbed, but these can be costly options. A hitch carrier can be a safe and cost-effective solution for regular transport of your dirt bike.
A hitch carrier connects to the back of your car, SUV, pickup or van and there are some outstanding products available. When choosing a hitch carrier, it has to be right for you and your specific needs. Your bike’s weight and dimensions, the vehicle you intend to use for transporting and how far you intend on traveling are all considerations.
Your safety is paramount, as is preventing damage to your bike and vehicle. A suitable hitch carrier ensures your bike stays put, avoiding potential danger to other road users while en route to your destination.
In this article, we’ll include the following:
- What is a dirt bike hitch carrier
- What to look out for when buying a hitch carrier
- Why choose a hitch carrier over a trailer
- Top five dirt bike hitch carriers
- Frequently asked questions on hitch carriers
With some careful considerations and research, it is possible to find a relatively inexpensive hitch carrier that’s perfect for you.
Read on, and you’ll be transporting your bike safely and efficiently in no time.
What is a Dirt Bike Hitch Carrier?
Dirt bike hitch carriers attach to most large vehicles by using a 2″ factory-installed receiver on the back (optionally, the front) of your vehicle. A hitch carrier suspends your bike in an elevated position. This allows you to haul your bike to a destination of your choice without the need for towing. If your vehicle has a 2″ hitch receiver, then you should have no problem finding a suitable hitch carrier.
Ensuring the hitch on your vehicle is up to the job is the first essential step. Transporting a dirt bike is a heavy-duty task and requires a class III or IV hitch. Generally, these allow carriage of items weighing 350-1000lbs.
What to look out for when buying a motorcycle hitch carrier
Each hitch carrier has a specific weight capacity, so it is essential to know the weight of the bike you’ll be transporting.
The next consideration is the ‘tongue weight’ of your vehicle, which is not the same as towing weight. The hitch capacity is usually around 10% of the towing weight limit. For example, if your vehicle’s towing limit is 2000lbs, then your tongue weight limit will be around 200-500lbs. A smaller vehicle may not be appropriate for the job.
Dirt bike hitch carriers can be cumbersome and obscure things on the back of your vehicle such as number plates and taillights, which can cause obvious problems. There may also be spare wheels or spoilers attached to your vehicle, in which case a hitch carrier may not be a viable option. In some instances, a trailer may be more suitable.
Some hitch carriers racks can hold two bikes, but double the weight means double the load and impacts on your tongue weight allowance.
Another consideration is the terrain you’ll be transporting the bike along. Driving offroad or on bumpier terrain will impact the movement of the bike, the hitch carrier and the hitch load to your vehicle. All that extra movement can cause damage over time and lead to breakage.
You should always check your underside and factory receiver before deciding if a hitch is right for you. Check it is the right size. Check for rust and erosion around the area of the factory receiver, which could lead to your bike falling from the hitch carrier, as well as long-term damage to your host vehicle. These issues could be more costly than buying a trailer.
A feature to look out for and added stability are decent ‘tie-down spots’. These are welded loops where you add ties such as short bungee cord or straps and stabilize the bike into position. Some recommend using grip tape or sandpaper where the wheels meet the carrier, to prevent further sliding.
If you are concerned about safety, you could buy a hitch carrier with a far greater load capacity than the weight of your bike for added peace of mind.
Exercise caution when thinking about your vehicle’s suspension. Can your vehicle cope with the extra weight of a carrier and dirt bike, or will it need an upgrade?
Hitch carriers at the top-end of the price range include added features like sway protection, front-wheel chocks and in-built anti-rattle devices to make for a smoother ride during transit.
Why choose a hitch carrier over a trailer?
Choosing a hitch carrier over a trailer has many advantages. Firstly it allows your vehicle to be more maneuverable, as there is no cumbersome trailer towing behind. Hitch carriers mean a considerable reduction in your vehicle footprint
There are other problems associated with trailers; they can be less stable and get blown sideways in strong wind or other extreme weather conditions. Trailers can be precarious when traveling and lead to more accidents. These risks reduce when using a hitch carrier. Put the necessary checks in place to ensure your vehicle is suitable and choose one that is right for your car and bike.
Other benefits of a hitch carrier include removing the need to mess around with straps, simply rolling your bike on to a hitch carrier is quicker than fiddling with trailer straps. Features like added wheel chocks and wing nuts can hold the bike firmly in place on a hitch carrier.
Hitch carriers are more cost-effective with less initial outlay and depreciation than a trailer. They take up less space in your garage and can be easier to store. Trailers require tire replacements. It is therefore easy to see why a hitch carrier could offer a better option for you, over a trailer.
Top 5 Dirt Bike and Motorcycle Hitch Carriers
So you’ve decided that a hitch carrier is your preferred weapon of choice when carting your beloved bike(s) from A-B and back again.
Now it’s time to decide on an option that suits your needs. Our top-five product review considers a range of options to get you thinking.
1. Black Widow AMC-400 Hitch-Mounted Aluminium Dirt Bike Carrier
We like the Black Widow AMC-400 because it is lightweight, durable and easy to manoeuvre. The bike can be loaded from both sides, thanks to the interchangeable ramp. The ramp is self-storing within the carrier, meaning time saved.
It ships with an anti-rattle bracket that sits near the hitch to prevent wobble. A spacer for smaller or youth bikes comes with it too, handy if you intend to carry a few bikes. The AMC-400 is reasonably priced and is easy to assemble.
Some points to consider are that aluminum is softer than steel and so may dink and scratch more easily. The material is also uncoated, which means less protection from the elements. While it may be lightweight; this wolf in sheep’s clothing is strong enough to carry up to 400lbs. It is suitable for class III and IV hitches and boasts integrated tie-down spots for further stability.
- Track Length: 75 1/4 “
- Ramp Length: 47″
- Track Width: 5 1/2″
- Ramp Width: 5 1/2″
- Max Capacity: 400lbs
- Product Weight: 36.5lbs
2. Black Widow SMC-600R Steel Deluxe Motorcycle Hitch Carrier
If you’re looking for heavy-duty hitch carrier, then the Black Widow SMC-600R is the daddy. Capable of carrying up to 600lbs, this hitch carrier ships with loads of extras.
It’s well built, manufactured from heavy gauge steel and a lightweight aluminum track and caters for a range of bikes from dirt bikes, scooters and sports bikes with wheels up to 7 1/2″ wide.
The extra-long loading ramp of 72″ means its more straightforward to load heavy bikes from the road level. Once onboard, a seven-position adjustable wheel chock secures the bike in place which you check against your wheel and adjust if necessary.
The Black Widow anti-rattle device ensures the bike has less wobble while transporting. An included 5/8″ hitch pin secures the carrier to a 2″ class III and IV hitch receiver. The loading ramp stores safely on the carrier with wing nuts, when not in use.
When loading a heavier bike, you may notice your vehicle becomes springier during transit, and air shocks could be a worthy consideration here.
Overall this is a solid piece of kit, just beware that it is also cumbersome. Some users reported fitting their own lightweight 12″ wheels in the tie-down tubes to help manoeuvre between garage and vehicle when not in use.
- Track Length: 78 3/4 “
- Ramp Length: 72″
- Track Width: 8″
- Ramp Width: 7 1/2″
- Max Capacity: 600lbs
- Product Weight: 97lbs
3. Black Widow AMC-600-2 Double Dirt Bike Hitch Carrier
When riding with a friend or family member, you may have a requirement to transport two smaller bikes at the same time. The Black Widow AMC-600-2 allows for this by having double ramps. Now you can travel with two bikes simultaneously side-by-side. The AMC 600 is still compatible with 2″ hitch receivers of class III and IV.
The 600 model is for lighter-weight motocross, enduro, and off-road bikes. This high-strength aluminum carrier enables you to carry two bikes with a maximum load of 600lbs.
The integrated ramp can work either side of the carrier, meaning your bikes can be loaded and unloaded forwards and backwards. An anti-rattle device installs near the hitch, preventing wobble and tilt during transit.
*Caution is advised with this product, some reviews state that nearing the 600lb mark would be almost impossible as some ‘sag’ is inevitable. One said that with a 500lb load the hitch began to bend!
Always check tongue weight allowance and that the hitch is up to it, before purchase and installation.
It seems overall that the product may be more suited to larger vehicles such as pickups and SUVs, which naturally have more ground clearance. When traveling long distances, take care with the supplied wing nuts which hold the ramp in place. You may wish to upgrade to something more heavy-duty. This product seems to be great for short journeys on made-up roads, but maybe not so for bumpy/offroad terrain.
- Track Length: 75 “
- Ramp Length: 45 1/2″
- Track Width: 5 1/2″
- Ramp Width: 5 5/8″
- Max Capacity: 600lbs*
- Product Weight: 69lbs
4. Tilt-a-Rack 410/610 ACR Aluminum Tilting Dirt Bike Carriers
If you’re looking for an innovative all-in-one design, then the Tilt-A-Rack could be for you. Available in 400lbs or 600lbs capacity, the ramp integrates into the carrier making loading and unloading easier as the ramp simply slides out when tilted.
Once loaded, your dirt bike(s) secure with an adjustable wheel chock. The Tilt-a-rack can accommodate bikes of various sizes. High-grade aluminum material means this strong and sturdy while also lightweight. Take care when choosing or working with aluminium products, as they may be prone to scratching and denting.
The system does include a handy pinch bolt to reduce overall wobble and integrated tie-down points to help secure your bike in place. Both Tilt-A-Rack options are suitable for 2″ class III and IV receivers.
The technology used in the Tilt-A-Rack does mean a higher price tag, and this sits at the premium end of the budget scale.
While it is easy to assemble, we recommend two people for added safety. When tilting the ramp and inserting the required bolts and straps in place, someone else will be needed to hold your bike. The same is true when unloading the bike.
The weight capacity options mean this ramp will accommodate bikes of all sizes, and the carrier has enough room for most tire widths. An excellent choice for something a bit different and could save you valuable time and space if you have a helper.
- Overall Track / Ramp Length: 72″
- Overall Track / Ramp Width: 6″
- Max Capacity: 400lbs
- Product Weight: 60lbs
- Overall Track / Ramp Length: 84″
- Overall Track / Ramp Width: 8″
- Max Capacity: 600lbs
- Product Weight: 70lbs
5. Ultimate MX 104/106-BLK Hauler Steel Hitch Motorcycle Hitch Carrier
Last but certainly not least is the Ultimate MX hydraulic hauler. This product offers something a bit different with a hydraulically operated platform.
Hydraulics eliminates the need for pushing (and balancing) your bike up and down a ramp. Zero heavy lifting is required. It avoids potential bike spillage, and it means one person can load and unload with ease. We recommend this system for anyone who spends time riding alone, as it dramatically reduces the chance of injury in a remote place.
To load your dirt bike, simply wheel your bike into position over the platform and once it meets the bike, insert anchor bolts through the bike’s footpegs to secure with a wing nut. Polyurethane side rails protect the heavy-duty powder-coated steel frame.
Once elevated, an integrated tie-down hook allows straps to secure the handlebars, preventing them from turning during your journey. Insert the unique threaded safety pin into the carriers linkage, and you’re good to go.
With the Ultimate MX, you can say goodbye to a messy web of straps (though you can, of course, use straps for extra peace of mind).
Users report that it is excellent for pickups as it allows access to truck beds while attached. It even doubles as a motorbike stand to allow for maintenance while in the field.
The Ultimate MX is less cumbersome than other carriers listed, coming in at just 21″x 12″x 12″.
At 59lbs it’s relatively light and is suitable for 2″ class III and IV receivers.
It ships with an anti-wobble device for the hitch and its close carrying position means far less strain on your vehicle and reduced side-to-side sway comes more naturally during transit.
Two models are available with or without gas can rack. The USA made Ultimate MX ships with a 1-year warranty and is suitable for loads up to 375lbs. Again this model comes in at the premium end of the budget range.
Caution: Do not use with 5th wheel vehicles and camping trailers, nor is it suitable for hitch adapters and extensions.
106-BLK / 104-BLK
- Dimensions: 21″ x 12″ x 12″
- Max Capacity: 375lbs
- Product Weight: 57lbs
Dirt Bike Hitch Carrier FAQs
Are Hitch Carriers Safe?
Yes, hitch carriers are safe so long as you stay within the limits of your vehicle, the tongue weight and your bike are suitable for the maximum capacity of the carrier. Always do thorough research on your item, contact suppliers, read reviews and watch videos. When it arrives, fit properly and test thoroughly on trial trips near your home or garage, before taking on any actual trips.
How Do You Strap a Bike to a Hitch Carrier?
Most hitch carriers will have inbuilt tie-down spots, which are welded loops in the carrier enabling you to add clips, hooks and straps. We suggest ratchet straps will ensure any straps are tight, which also allowing for incremental tightening.
Then, you should place any straps around critical locations, to the front and back of the bike such as the handlebars. Be mindful not to attach to moving parts such as throttle and brakes, just on solid bars. On the back of the bike, some suggest tying to footpegs or other sturdy, substantial areas.
Repeat the process for both sides of the bike and carrier to secure into position.
With regular use, straps can rub plastics and graphics, so you may wish to put some felt behind the strap where it connects with the bike.
For extra security, you can then find ways to use additional straps to tie to the vehicle such a roof rack or locations on the inside of a pickup bed. Always be careful not to over tighten straps, as while it needs to be secure, avoid over tension. There is a handy video of the installation here.
So there we have it. There are lots of options when selecting a dirt bike hitch carrier to suit your needs. By matching the right product to your vehicle, they can be excellent for saving space, time and money, to get you and your bikes safely from A-B.
If you are looking for a great loading ramp for your truck, make sure to read our ultimate guide to dirt bike loading ramps.
We’ll be back with more motocross advice soon, but in the meantime have fun out there