Best Motorcycle Hitch Carriers: Keep Your Bike Secure During Transit
Seamlessly haul your bike with these top motorcycle hitch carriers.
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON August 9, 2021
Hitting the open road with the freedom of your motorcycle is one of the most thrilling experiences out there. Of course, unless you’re exploring a small area, you need to haul your bike around. It can be a real chore, especially if you don’t have a solid way to move your motorcycle around. Thankfully, getting a motorcycle hitch carrier can make a world of difference. To cut through the noise and get you back to exploring, we’ve identified the best hitch carriers for any motorcycling style.
A resilient way to carry your motorcycle, this carrier connects to most standard hitches. Featuring anti-tilt technology, it can support up to 500 pounds.
- Heavy-duty construction
- Built by a reputable brand
- Powder-coated steel resists rust and corrosion
- Only works with Class III and Class IV hitches
- Exclusively fits tires less than 4.75 inches
Affordable and resilient, this motorcycle carrier can support an impressive 800 pounds. Attached to any standard hitch, this carrier is a great way to move your bike around.
- Comes at a friendly price point
- Works on any manual transmission bike or scooter
- Simplifies transportation
- Relies on a manual crank to make adjustments
- Only works with Class II and Class III hitches
Capable of supporting up to 500 pounds, this heavy-duty hitch is made out of heat-treated steel and comes with advanced anti-tilt locking. At over 75 inches long, it’s compatible with most motorcycles.
- Available at an accessible price point
- Includes a built-in ramp
- Features heavy-duty steel coated in rust-resistant powder
- Comes with a hitch pin
- Doesn’t include a wheel chock
- Ramp can be difficult to use
- Materials include cadmium and lead
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Benefits of Motorcycle Hitch Carriers
- Protect your truck and motorcycle. By storing your motorcycle on a hitch carrier, there is sufficient clearance between the vehicle and the bike. This prevents scratches and dings on both surfaces. Hitch carriers equipped with anti-tilt balancing features add stability to the motorcycle (even when the road gets bumpy).
- Easy to install. Unlike some accessories, motorcycle hitch carriers are almost effortless to install. Most come with the setup hardware, and rely on the tools you likely already have in your garage. Not only is the process quick, but you also get professional results without paying shop fees for setup.
- Road safety. Anytime you hit the asphalt, safety is the first priority. Considering the freeway speeds you can hit, having a truly secure way to tow your bike is essential. A high-grade motorcycle hitch carrier ensures that you and fellow drivers are safe on the road.
- Low-cost way to haul your motorbike. If you put the price tag of a trailer next to a hitch carrier, the difference is clear. If you don’t want to hook up a trailer or set it into a truck bed every time you take a ride, hitch carriers offer a lot of convenience. It’s affordable and easy to use—a dynamic pair if there ever was one.
- No paperwork or registration. Trailers require registration paperwork in order to be road-legal. On the other hand, a hitch carrier lets you get all the transport and storage benefits, without wasting a day in the DMV.
- Lets you travel lighter. Most carriers give you all the storage you could need for a motorcycle. Unless you’re pursuing it professionally, or need the extra room in the trailer, you can get all the same benefits with a hitch carrier (at a fraction of the cost).
Types of Motorcycle Hitch Carriers
Motorcycle hitch carriers made out of aluminum are popular for a couple of key reasons. For starters, aluminum comes cheaper and is lighter than other common metals. It is neither prone to rust or corrosion, making it a great candidate for the outdoors. However, this type of hitch carrier is only suited for light-duty motorbikes. You can find models that accommodate tires up to 5 inches wide, but the weight threshold is seldom higher than 130 pounds. Unless you have a compact bike or light-duty motocross setup, you’ll benefit from a different type.
Widely regarded as the best type of motorcycle hitch carrier, steel frames offer a tensile strength that aluminum just can’t beat. Sure, the metal is more vulnerable to rust due to the iron content. However, with a simple powder coating, the manufacturers nip that issue in the bud. Though these hitch carriers are heavier, they are also capable of supporting much more weight. Even the lowest end of this type can easily support 200 pounds. The strongest models can even support up to 800 pounds. This type costs more and is bulkier, but if you plan to use the carrier on even a moderately regular basis, it’s worth the extra cost.
This type of hitch carrier was born with the need to access a vehicle’s storage without having to remove the carrier every time. Tilting carriers move at an angle, letting you get to the back of your SUV. These tend to be bulkier, since lower-profile carriers let you access the trunk without the extra feature. However, for heavy-duty bikes, the tilt offers clear advantages. Though moving parts are more vulnerable to rust, with proper care, they last as long as the other types.
This company was founded in 1996 by Dan Diotte, who built motorcycle carriers for friends and acquaintances. The company distributes its products at powersports dealers, auto dealers, RV dealers, web dealers, and wholesale distributors. One recommended product is the MotoTote Sport Bike Motorcycle Carrier.
With an impressively diverse product line, Trackside focuses its efforts on outdoor enthusiasts. Geared towards motorcyclists specifically, it offers everything from ramps to towing gear. Though it’s a newer brand, it has quickly developed a reputation for quality amongst experienced bikers. A great example of its quality hitch carriers is the Trackside Motorcycle Carrier.
Motorcycle Hitch Carrier Pricing
- Under $100: If you’re looking in this price range, don’t set your sights high. You can find aluminum options and low-grade steel picks, but the quality is diminished. The added risk of warping, fit issues, and size make it worthwhile to invest a bit more upfront and avoid problems down the line.
- Between $100 and $200: For recreational riders, this is the sweet spot for motorcycle hitch carriers. There are models of every type in this price range, coming in all sizes and weight thresholds. The carrier won’t be perfect, but it will get the job done and, with care, will last.
- $200 and up: An investment in motorcycle transportation is exactly that: an upfront cost that pays off in value over time. Premium carriers are compatible with more hitch types, are more supportive, and are built to outlast lower-grade options. For a heavy-duty hitch carrier, expect to pay in this range, where the higher the price tag, the stronger and more advanced it is.
There are five classes of hitch receivers, differentiated by two things. The first is the type of vehicle holding the hitch and the other is load capacity. Class I hitches have a tongue weight of 300 pounds. Referring to the downward force exerted on the hitch ball of the vehicle, a Class I hitch could go on an SUV or truck. Conversely, higher-class hitches are meant for tongue capacity in the tons. These are only compatible with pickup trucks. Knowing the type of hitch you’re dealing with goes a long way to finding the best motorcycle carrier. The best options will be compatible with all five types, but the important thing is that the carrier works with your hitch.
The owner’s manual of your motorcycle will state the net weight of the ride, but it doesn’t include a tank of gas, transmission fluid, or accessories. Factor in the real weight of the motorcycle when deciding on your hitch carrier. The vast majority range between 300 and 800 pounds, but there are specialized options for heavier gear. Keep in mind that aluminum frames consistently support less weight than steel models. Also note that the more weight it supports, the more the carrier will cost. Aim for more than the weight of your bike, but not by too much.
Carrier Size and Structure
Weight is an extremely important measurement, but it doesn’t make the size and build of the carrier any less important. If your motorcycle is too long or the tires are too wide for a chock, then it won’t be a suitable pick. Look at the dimensions on the carrier and ensure that they exceed the size of your motorcycle. Be sure to take a gander at the distance it gives between the hitch and centerpoint of the carrier. Too close, you get paint scratches. Too far, you get wobbling. Generally, look for the smallest possible choice while still ensuring everything fits. It is the best way to balance stability with support.
- Bike Mass. A motorcycle bumper carrier can only carry so much weight. You need to determine how heavy your motorbike is before you purchase a motorcycle hitch carrier. If you have a lightweight dirt bike, a carrier with a 400-pound capacity may suffice. If you have a heavier machine, you will need a steel frame carrier that can handle more weight.
- Durability. The best motorcycle hitch carrier will be very stable and reliable. It will securely hold your motorcycle and minimize motion while you’re driving. It should also last a long time and include features that prevent your bike from moving, such as wheel cradles, tie-down straps, and other mechanisms.
- Ease of Use. A motorcycle rack for trailer hitches shouldn't be too difficult to install. The biggest problem is the weight of the carrier; it's much easier to install one that weighs under 40 pounds than one that is close to 100 pounds. Some manufacturers provide instructions that are easy to follow as well as all the necessary hardware to assemble the unit.
- Extras. One feature that's very helpful is a loading ramp. It can be very challenging to put a motorcycle on a carrier without a ramp. Another feature to look out for is a double bike carrier that can transport more than one motorcycle at a time. Other extras include anti-tilt locking devices and multiple tie-down spots.
Best Motorcycle Hitch Carriers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Many hitch carriers don’t include the mount, and the functional success relies on this component. Ensure that you are using the best fit for your ride so that you can more stably accommodate the hitch carrier.
- Look for a carrier that lets you tie down the motorcycle at many points to ensure stability on the road. It prevents damage to both the bike and the towing vehicle.
- Hitch carriers that include ramps are generally easier to use, where the longer the ramp, the easier it is to load and unload the bike. Some come with built-in ramps while others tack on the supply as a perk.
- Though most vehicles have an OEM two-inch square hitch receiver, others don’t include that component. The good news is that you can easily get one set up (provided your vehicle will support it).
- Consider the physical layout of the area surrounding your hitch before you pick a carrier. Will it get in the way of your spare tire or cause issues with your bumper? If you have a clear, open space, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to look at a motorcycle trailer.
- If you plan on going off-road with your vehicle, think twice about using a hitch carrier to transport your bike. Wobbling and shaking can damage the carrier as well as your motorcycle.
- Make sure your license plate is visible after you install a motorcycle carrier rack. You may need to purchase an extra license plate mount and affix it to the carrier itself.
- For added safety, consider installing LED lights on the back of the carrier so other drivers can see it better at night. Battery-powered lights work just fine and are easy to put on the carrier.
Q: What does tongue weight capacity mean?
The tongue weight capacity is the weight your vehicle can hold on the hitch. This information is included in your owner's manual. Another way to determine an approximate tongue weight capacity is by taking your car's total towing capacity and dividing it by 10.
Q: Are motorcycle hitch carriers safe?
They are just as safe as a trailer but offer more convenience. It's harder to maneuver a vehicle when you're hauling a trailer, and it's also more difficult to park. Some hitch carriers even allow you to transport two bikes just like a trailer. Just be sure to stay within the weight limits of the vehicle and the hitch.
Q: How do I know if a hitch carrier will work with my vehicle and motorcycle?
Check that the load rating of both your motorcycle and hitch carrier are within your vehicle's tongue weight. The carrier will come with information that describes the maximum weight it can hold.
Q: How do I install a motorcycle hitch trailer?
For most setups, you first need to connect the support brackets to the trailer hitch bar and put the carrier between them. Then place the anti-tilt device on the hitch. Next, place the rack on the hitch and connect the hitch pin. If it's included, mount the ramp. Make sure the carrier is stable before loading your bike.
After rounding up all the best motorcycle hitch carriers on the market, we’ve named the Trackside Motorcycle Carrier as our top pick. Not only does it have an impressive weight capacity, but it’s also designed resiliently and is compatible with most standard hitches. If you are looking to stick to a budget, consider the Portable Motorcycle Trailer Carrier, a cost-effective way to haul your motorcycle.