Seeking to transport your dirt bike from Point A to Point B without riding? While many people opt to use their tray, trailer or borrow a van, dirt bike hitch carriers are becoming increasingly popular.
Dirt bike hitch carriers provide the best bang-for-buck being small, light and affordable for those on the tightest of budgets. Not only that, but choose the right one and it’ll serve you for years to come!
Frontaer has done 20 hours of research to help you transport your dirt bike safely and securely. These are the best dirt bike hitch carriers for 2022:
1. Tilt-A-Rack 410/610 ACR Aluminum
For the most innovative design on this list, the Tilt-A-Rack is the best option around town. Available in two variants handling either 400lbs or 600lbs dirt bikes, these ramps integrate the ramp and the carrier itself into one easy to operate system.
The wheel chock is also adjustable and it handles dirt bikes of various sizes. It might be aluminum but it’s strong and durable, while being light enough to carry with one hand.
If you’re a serious rider, this is the one I’d be picking. Keep in mind, however, that this is on the premium side of the budget. All that innovation comes at a price, but it’s definitely worth every dime!
2. Ballards Dirt Bike Rack Carrier
You may not have seen Ballards products on the shelves, but in Australia, they’re famous for their innovation. Created by Geoff Ballard almost 40 years ago, his innovation continues today with his MX Store association.
His innovative dirt bike rack is designed for Australian vehicles and is reasonably priced. It has a steady support bar as a back-up and uses twist locks as opposed to any straps, eliminating the anxiety of your rachet straps ever letting go!
Unfortunately, these are hard to find in the United States. It doesn’t come with a ramp but does come with a ramp bracket where you can attach a 2×4 or equilavent, or purchase their own ramp.
3. Black Widow AMC-400 Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Rack
For the weekend track warrior, an aluminum rack is the way to go and the Black Widow AMC-400 is perfect. It’s easy to remove for daily commutes to and from work, while it’s less resistant to rusting over the years.
The ramp is shorter than most others, thereby increasing the ramp-angle when you’re loading/unloading, but it is designed for lighter dirt bikes after all.
We really do like this rack and it would’ve claimed the first position on this list if it weren’t for the lack of tiedown points.
4. VersaHaul VH-55 RO Dirt Bike Hitch Carrier
The VersaHaul VH-55-RO Hitch Carrier is a bit heavier than most other racks on this list. After all, it’s made from powder-coated steel and can hold a dirt bike up to 500-pounds.
What we like is the retractable tie-down bars which can slide in and out as needed to suit the width of your dirt bike. The front wheel chock will keep your dirt bike secure and prevent a lot of side sway while you’re cruising down the highway.
You can purchase this with a loading ramp. Additionally, you can still tow a trailer up to 3,000 pounds while you’re hauling your dirt bike around. The ramp also comes with reflectors, although no indicators or stop lights.
5. Black Widow MX-600X Steel Deluxe Motorcycle Hitch Carrier
Got a 450cc dirt bike and above? Then you’ll need something engineered to cater for the additional weight, and this Black Widow MX-600X is the perfect bit of gear. It’ll handle dirt bikes as well as street bikes.
A unique feature is the spacing pins on the racks. You can adjust these to be grouped closer together if you’re hauling smaller children’s dirt bikes, or keep them in the standard position for adult-sized bikes.
In addition, it comes with a ramp to make rolling your bike easy to do by yourself. There is a mounting bracket for the ramp too so you won’t need to store it elsewhere.
6. Ultimate MX104/106-BLK Hauler Steel Hitch Motorcycle Hitch Carrier
7. TMS T-NS-MRC001 Heavy Duty Motorcycle Dirt Bike Carrier
One of the more affordable options on this list is the TMS TN-S-MRC001 motorcycle carrier, despite being made of more expensive steel. Like most other steel hitch carriers, it can handle up to 500 pounds of weight.
I did find this ramp to be a little shorter and would not work well with an adventure motorcycle or dual sport. Regardless, it does suit most riders and the price is very reasonable.
This is our buyers guide specifically for dirt bike hitch carriers for 2022. We’re hoping you’ll find the right hitch carrier for your specific bike and ‘tow’ vehicle. It’s also wise to consider the terrain you’ll typically be encountering and how often you’ll use your rack.
There are two constraints when it comes to capacity:
- The capacity of your vehicle’s tongue weight, also known as hitch weight or tow ball capacity. This is completely different than towing capacity. You might have seen cars on the highway easily towing other cars of roughly the same weight. Their biggest bottleneck is the ‘down force’ of the trailer and in this case, it’ll be the weight of your rack + the weight of your dirt bike. You can find your maximum capacity from your vehicle’s handbook or tow bar supplier.
- The capacity of your dirt bike hitch rack. Some can handle up to 600-pounds to accommodate adventure motorcycles, while others are only rated to 400-pounds for lighter dirt bikes.
Where possible, I would recommend a larger tow vehicle (sedan, wagon or SUV) paired with the highest capacity hitch carrier you can afford. By doing this, you create more ‘margin for safety’ and will feel more confident while doing 70MPH down the highway.
Numerous tie-down points are a must when choosing any dirt bike hitch carrier, and we’ve cherry-picked those who considered these. You might not use every point available, but having a few points adds redundancy and convenience, especially as some points may be more difficult to reach while you’re trying to balance a dirt bike in the other hand.
Dirt bike hitch carriers are either made from aluminum or steel. The hard plastic bike racks for electric mountain bikes are typically unsuitable for hauling dirt bikes.
Aluminum is light and strong, and typically rust-free but they do have weight restrictions. Steel ramps on the other hand can handle more weight, are often powder-coated black (which looks awesome!) but are on the more expensive end of your budget.
It’s always wise to pay close attention to bad reviews and hitch carriers that have failed their owners. In many cases, they’ll be leaving 1-star reviews on Amazon and other marketplaces, paired with images and a story.
Fortunately, this typically only happens with cheap imports that you see on Amazon. We have intentionally avoided mentioning any of these on our list. For your $5,000 to $10,000 dirt bike, it deserves more than a $100 cheap rack you can find online.
It’s time to get into our frequently asked questions. If you do have any more to add, then please reach out to the Frontaer team and we’ll update this right away!
Are dirt bike hitch carriers safe to use?
Yes. Many owners have safely used dirt bike hitch carriers without a problem. Now, provided you stay within the safe limits of your vehicle, its relative tongue weight and the capacity of the hitch carrier, you’ll have years of worry-free haulin’.
For those a little nervous, I do recommend doing shorter trips and ‘trial runs’ on residential streets to become confident with your new hitch carrier before you head out on the highway. You should also practice reversing and braking to see how your host vehicle reacts differently.
It’s important to know that your dirt bike WILL have some slight bounce when you encounter bumpy ground or winding roads. Assuming you’ve strapped your dirt bike down properly, you shouldn’t be too concerned with mild movements in your rear vision mirror.
How do you strap a motorcycle to a tow hitch carrier?
All of the dirt bike hitch carriers on this list have numerous tie-down points welded in numerous points. You should always aim to use 4 straps when securing a dirt bike, regardless if it’s being used on a hitch carrier, truck tray, van or trailer.
Our best recommendation is to use ratchet straps and utilize 2 straps, 1 on either side of the handlebars. 2 additional straps can be used on each rear of the bike, either under the seat or strapped to the footpegs. Do not strap to the brake/clutch levers or any plastics as we’re only seeking solid objects that are unlikely to move.
Regardless of how tight you strap down your dirt bike, some suspension travel is expected. This can largely be prevented through the use of fork savers which effectively lock your suspension in a pre-determined position.
Is it legal to use a hitch carrier in all states?
Through our research, we have found motorcycle hitch carriers to be legal in all states and territories in the United States and Australia. However, generally speaking, you are restricted by the rating of the hitch AND the width of your vehicle.
You may also need to purchase up to 3 additional items. These include:
- Clip-on mirrors if your existing mirrors are obscured by the width of your vehicle.
- A duplicated and portable licence plate. Many states also require a rear licence or registration plate to be clearly seen at all times. This is best achieved by mounting an additional licence plate on the side of your dirt bike while it’s being hauled, or mounted to the lowest side of the rack. You can often purchase these through the department of motor transport in your local area.
- Portable indicators. Most states require no visual obstruction to your turn signals and may need to purchase clip-on indicators which simply plug into your trailer connector plug.
You can expect the cost of all 3 combined to be less than $200, and should last for many years.
Does using a hitch carrier affect my vehicle’s handling or warranty?
Yes. With an additional 400-pounds or more at the rear, your front tires and subsequent steering are expected to be a little lighter, with your headlights also pointing 5 to 10 degrees higher too. Most modern vehicles have headlight adjustments to compensate for this change in angle.
A common mistake is loading up the trunk with 600-pounds of gear, then mounting your dirt bike on the rear. This causes significant sagging on your car’s rear suspension (can be dangerous or even illegal!) and a decrease on your rear axle ground clearance too.
If possible, place as much heavy gear in the front or rear passenger seats of your car. This helps distribute your load more evenly. You can also put the heaviest people in the front two seats… 😉
What are some alternatives to hitch carriers?
Excellent alternatives include vans, trailers, truck/ute beds or simply riding (legally) to and from your local trails! That said, other alternatives are often costly and may not be easily able to be stored, particularly if you live in an apartment complex.
Do you recommend any double dirt bike hitch carriers?
No. While the Black Widow AMC-600-2 Double Dirt Bike Hitch Carrier is a popular product, it weighs too much on the hitch when fully loaded with 2 dirt bikes. This impacts your vehicle’s handling as the dirt bike situated furthest from the vehicle becomes quite erratic and bouncy on b-grade and c-grade quality roads. To haul more than 1 dirt bike, I recommend a van, pickup or a trailer.