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Closing Your Tailgate with 2 Dirt Bikes in a Short Bed Truck

Can you have 2 dirt bikes in the tray of your truck or ute and still close the tailgate? Yes, it’s possible and we’ll show you how.

Yes, 2 bikes in 1 bed. And no, we’re not talking about long beds. For us, it’s just 6-foot beds.

Close the tailgate with single or twin dirt bikes

Curious if you can fit a dirt bike in a truck bed with your tailgate up? We know the answer:

Close the truck tailgate with single or twin dirt bikes

Yes – it’s possible to fit any most types of dirt bikes into a truck bed AND close the tailgate up. Fitment is guaranteed with 8-foot trays, however, it’s also quite possible with 6 and 5.5-foot trays, even with 2 dirt bikes.

It all comes down to both the dimensions and how you load up the bikes in the first place. If you’re shopping for the right truck or ute to haul your dirt bikes, then a measuring tape will come in handy at the dealership. Even better – bring your dirt bike with you for the most accuracy.

Dirt bike length

It’s always best that you measure your KTM, Yamaha, Honda or Suzuki.

Most 250cc to 450cc dirt bikes are 80 inches or 6.7 feet long from tyre to tyre. You can fit a single dirt bike in most 5 and a half foot truck beds by going diagonal.

Different trucks have slight variations. You may have to reduce your dirt bike tyre pressure slightly to properly close the tailgate.

Loading a truck with 2 dirt bikes on the back

The first thing you’ll want to do is put both bikes on to the tray.

Some people load one bike forwards and one bike backwards. From our experience, this adds little to no benefit. It’s simply much safer and easier to load a dirt bike going up and forwards into the tray.

This video does well to explain this concept:

So not only can you fit 2 dirt bikes into the back of a truck tray, but you can also bring your gear and loading ramp as well.

While this video doesn’t show it, we do recommend an additional tiedown strap over the rear tyres as a precaution. You may wish to pack your riding gear in the passenger seats or into a waterproof duffel bag so it doesn’t get wet while you’re going down the highway.

4 types of truck beds

There are 3 main types of truck beds. By knowing each truck bed, you’re able to properly ascertain which one can and can’t effectively get a dirt bike in the back with the tailgate up.

Compact (5 feet and less)

It’s essentially impossible to put the tailgate up with a compact truck bed. Australian utes are typical of this since they are much shorter than those in the United States.

Compact truck tray with dirt bike

Often, the beds are 4 to 5 feet long. Even if you do go diagonal, it ain’t going to fit. But remember, the tailgate on most trucks adds an additional 2-feet in most instances of usable space. Therefore you don’t really need to buy a dirt bike trailer to get your bikes around.

You can also overhang slightly as long as your rear tyre is firmly on the rear.

Of course, most kids dirt bikes will fit on any truck tray while still allowing the tailgate to go up. The exceptions are the 150cc and above bikes which require measuring first.

Short tray (5 to 6 feet)

Some adult dirt and trail bikes will fit inside a short tray with the tailgate up, but most won’t unfortunately. You really need 5.5 feet of space to have a fighting chance here.

It’s best to measure corner to corner diagonally. Remember that you’ll need to account for some additional width of your dirt bike tyre, as they won’t be able to touch the very corners. A 100mm margin (50mm for each corner) is a good idea.

Long tray bed (6 to 7 feet)

Most adult dirt bikes will be able to fit inside a long tray bed and allow the owner to raise their tail gate. In fact, you can often fit 2 dirt bikes though they will have a slight turn of the handlebars to do it properly.

In our experience, for absolute certainty, the long tray bed is the way to go. Enduro, trail and MX bikes can almost always fit inside long tray beds without needing to go diagonal. This means you can still see clearly out the rear vision mirror.

Super long tray (7 feet and above)

Now we’re on to the big raptors. These are the 7 feet and above category which guarantee that you’ll be able to bring 2 adult dirt bikes and have a closed tailgate.

Even better, you can go even further than this!

You can fit 3 dirt bikes in a truck or ute tray that is 7 feet or longer AND have room to lift up the tail gate. Often the dirt bike in the centre is put in rear-wards if it’s an adult bike, or forwards if it’s a kids MX bike.

Indeed for the serious dirt enthusiast, the best (albeit expensive) way to go is the super long trays. These are popular in the United States, Canada, Europe and occasionally you’ll find these in Australia.

Pro tips for loading

Never loaded a dirt bike into the back of your truck before? We’ve got some tips to help you.

  1. Have someone help you. Even if it’s your partner or kids, it’s always good to have someone strong enough to just hold the dirt bikes upright while you do everything else. After some practice, you can load up dirt bikes solo.
  2. Use your engine power. Yes – you can use your dirt bike throttle and power to get up the dirt bike ramp. It’s much easier than pushing 300lbs or metal up a ramp, especially after a hard day of riding the local trails and tracks. On the way down, use your front brake.
  3. Use quality tiedown straps. We’re not looking for anything cheap here. Go for high quality because the difference between expensive and cheap is only a few dollars. Your motorbikes are worth so much more than this so use 3 to 4 straps.
  4. Don’t forget your loading ramp. Nothing is worse than getting to your destination and forgetting your loading ramp. Riding your dirt bike directly off your tray is a terrible idea.
  5. Test your work. Once you’re done with the loading and the straps are on, you should shake your dirt bike side to side. Is there excessive movement? Then you need to put on more tension. Inherently, your dirt bikes will always have some mild movement because of the forks and tyre pressure, and this is OK.
Loading dirt bikes on to a truck tray solo
Image courtesy of Dirt Bike Channel

It’s always going to take some practice to do it properly especially on your own. If there are other dirt bike or trail bike riders nearby, you can always ask for a hand.

In summary

While it’s certainly possible to get dirt bikes into a tray and have the tailgate up, having a tailgate down still works fine. In fact, this is how most people transport their dirt bikes if they opt not to buy a trailer.

One thing to note is that you’ll have to definitely strap down any luggage like loading ramps and accessories if you can’t close the tailgate because of the dirt bike length. The last thing you’ll want is these items sliding around and falling out the tray while you’re going up a hill on the highway.

As with anything – safety first and enjoy the trails!

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