Before you can hit the trails and enjoy the riding day, you first have to transport your dirt bike to the riding spot. Knowing all tips and tricks for hauling a dirt bike makes this mandatory part easier and more fun.
By far the most popular way to transport a dirt bike is to use a pickup truck. Other practical methods include hauling your dirt bike with a hitch carrier, trailer, or dirt bike van. You will need a ramp to load the dirt bike and tie-down straps or a moto transport system to secure it.
Now, let’s dive in to the world of dirt bike hauling and explore in detail all of the different ways to transport your dirt bike.
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Transport Your Dirt Bike With a Pickup Truck
Pickup trucks are one of the most popular ways to transport your dirt bike to the trails. They make loading and unloading your dirt bike fairly easy and they can also fit a lot of the riding gear and tools.
When you are hauling a dirt bike with a truck, you can use the cab for storing riding gear and other clothes indoors away from the weather elements. Whereas you can store boots or other dirty items on the bed of the truck along with the dirt bike. Some riders use large plastic containers for easier gear loading and unloading.
The truck bed size defines how to load the dirt bike on the truck bed. If you are hauling or transporting only one dirt bike, you have plenty of options for loading, positioning, and strapping down the dirt bike on the truck bed.
Before you can transport your dirt bike to the riding location, you first need to get it into the back of the truck. There are several ways how to load a dirt bike into a pickup truck.
Many riders prefer loading the dirt bike straight in the middle of the bed, front tire facing the center of the cab. In this configuration, you can strap the dirt bike down from the handlebars or from the top of the triple tree directly to the corners of the truck bed.
Alternative methods include loading the dirt bike on the truck bed from corner to corner. Especially with smaller truck beds, 5.5 feet and shorter, this enables you to close the tail gate. In this scenario, push the dirt bike on the truck bed with the front tire facing either corner of the truck bed, then align the rear tire to the opposite corner. Finally, strap down the dirt bike on both sides from the frame or foot pegs.
When hauling multiple dirt bikes with a truck, usually loading the dirt bikes side by side works the best. If you have three dirt bikes, load the middle one facing backwards. This creates more space to strap down all dirt bikes.
Make sure to check out our step-by-step instructions for how to load a dirt bike into a truck. After reading our instructions, you will be able to load your dirt bike alone by yourself quickly and securely in just few minutes.
Use a Hitch Carrier When Hauling Your Dirt Bike
Dirt bike hitch carriers are an alternative and affordable way to transport your dirt bike. They connect to the hitch receiver on the car and run parallel to the back of the vehicle. They can carry one or two dirt bikes depending on the capacity of the hitch carrier and your car. As an added bonus, it can simply be removed when you’re not using it and hauling a dirt bike.
Loading and unloading is typically easier with a hitch carrier than with a pickup truck. Firstly, you can use a shorter and narrower ramp that is easier to fit into your car. Secondly, a hitch carrier is on a much lower level than a truck bed so pushing the dirt bike up the ramp will be less hard. However, you need to be extra careful with tying down the dirt bike. You need to tie the dirt bike from each handlebar down to the bottom of the carrier and attach additional straps to the front and rear wheels.
Some hitch carriers are very flimsy and can move around a lot when hauling a dirt bike. We have seen only few models that are sturdy enough to carry dirt bikes well without moving or hanging too low causing issues.
We only recommend using a hitch carrier temporarily and with only one dirt bike. Dirt bike hitch carriers tend to move and cause dragging issues with many smaller cars. It’s also very easy to ding or scratch your car while loading and unloading.
It’s good to remember that trailer hitches will block tail lights and are not road legal without using external tail lights. Another thing to remember is to check your car’s hauling capacity. The weight is far behind the rear axle and can easily touch the ground, especially if the receiver hitch assembly allows any play or movement and will cause issues.
Our choices for hitch carriers for hauling a dirt bike are those made by Black Widow. This brand tends to do well in tests year after year and their hitch carriers are lightweight, easy to handle, and very durable. If you need a hitch carrier for hauling one dirt bike, go with the Black Widow AMC-400 Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier. And if you are hauling two dirt bikes, get the Black Widow AMC-600-2 Aluminum Double Motorcycle Carrier.
Move Your Dirt Bike With a Trailer
A trailer is probably the second most common way to transport a dirt bike. It’s very practical for hauling a dirt bike because you can pull a trailer basically with any car with a hitch receiver.
Trailers come in all forms and sizes and typically they all make transporting a dirt bike very easy and safe. Whether you are planning to use a flatbed or utility-type trailer, specific motorcycle trailer, or an enclosed trailer for hauling your dirt bike, they all are a good choice for a secure transportation.
Trailers will make loading and unloading as well as strapping down the dirt bike easy and they work well in most configurations. Trailers typically have several anchor and tie-down points and it’s easy to add more of those if needed. The lower height of the trailer makes the loading process simple and also helps with loading heavier items such as tools and gas.
Tools, gas, oils, and other chemicals are also easier to transport with a trailer. In addition, it will be easier to avoid fumes building up inside enclosed spaces. All in all, you will be able to fit more gear, equipment, and tools in a trailer so it’s a good option for hauling a dirt bike if you tend to travel heavy.
Storing a trailer can be an issue for some riders. So consider the size and storing options if you are on the market to buy one for hauling your dirt bike.
When you transport your dirt bike on a trailer, you need to pay attention to weight distribution. If there is too much weight at the back of the trailer, it will make the car and trailer sway back and forth while driving. Whereas if there is too much weight at the front of the trailer, it will make the front end of the car rise up and possibly affecting the brakes and steering.
When buying a trailer, make sure to leave enough space for extra bike, gas cans or for toolboxes and other gear. The North Star Trailer Sportstar II is a great option for trailers.
Open Dirt Bike Trailers
Open dirt bike trailers are the most affordable and easiest options for hauling one or multiple dirt bikes.
Since open dirt bike trailers do not have any physical walls, they do not block your view when driving and there is also less wind resistance making them easier to tow in high speeds. This also makes them a more fuel efficient option for hauling a dirt bike. If you transport several dirt bikes, it can be easier to strap them down in an open trailer due to the non-restricted open construction.
When it comes to downsides, open trailers do not offer as much protection as enclosed trailers. This means that unsecured items can fall off during transportation. An open trailer along with its cargo will also be exposed to weather conditions and can get wet and dirty. In addition, it is not as secure from theft as an enclosed trailer.
An open utility-type trailer is a very common trailer option for hauling a dirt bike. As they come with a flatbed, you will be able to transport multiple dirt bikes with it if needed. This type of trailers have a short railing around the front and side and usually a ramp door attached to the back of the trailer. You can also customize it better for transporting dirt bikes, for example, by adding a wheel chock.
Then there are dirt bike specific open trailers that are designed to transport dirt bikes. These come with one or more dirt bike channels depending on how many bikes they can carry. Some have a fully open bottom, whereas others include a mesh floor that provides extra stepping space when loading and unloading. There are also foldable trailers that are a convenient option for hauling singe dirt bikes.
If you choose an open trailer for hauling your dirt bike, keep in mind that they are not secure from theft as it can be easy to steal a dirt bike and other valuable gear from the bed of a trailer. We recommend getting a sturdy chain or cable and a padlock and chain your bike into your trailer to prevent any unwanted surprises.
Enclosed Dirt Bike Trailers
An enclosed dirt bike trailer offers more security compared to an open trailer when you transport your dirt bike.
It keeps your dirt bike and other gear safe from weather and debris and intact during hauling. You will also be able to lock up your dirt bike, gear, and tools inside to keep them safe from weather and potential theft once parked. Needless to say, it also gives you much more storage space for all your gear compared to an open trailer.
Another great thing is that you can turn an enclosed trailer into a mini camper. Just by installing a modular bed, it would be very comfortable to go out and camp during a ride weekend. An enclosed trailer can also be used as a garage, which is handy especially on a race day.
Enclosed trailers come with couple of disadvantages compared to open trailers. Firstly, they are harder to tow because of their weight and size and the drag they create due to their closed construction. This increases the fuel consumption of an already expensive hauling option. Driving and parking with an enclosed trailer can also be more difficult because it blocks the rear view and you need to rely only on the side mirrors.
Secondly, enclosed trailers are more expensive. And if you want it fully customized to your liking, that will push the price tag even higher. All in all, an enclosed trailer is not the cheapest option for hauling a dirt bike but it still has its perks.
Haul Your Dirt Bike With a Dirt Bike Van
The ever popular dirt bike van is a great choice for hauling a dirt bike for the more serious riders that spend a lot of time trailside and traveling to new riding spots.
A dirt bike van is basically a regular van that has been converted and customized to transport dirt bikes. Almost all vans can fit at least one dirt bike, while most can fit two dirt bikes as well as all your riding gear and other equipment.
Many dirt bike vans also include a built-in kitchen, living quarters, and a toilet. This way, the dirt bike van can be used both for transporting a dirt bike and also for rewinding after the ride day. A dirt bike van is a great way to combine trail riding with camping and allows you to do it with only one vehicle setup.
Dirt bike vans are extremely popular method for hauling a dirt bike also amongst racers. The reason for this is that they offer plenty of space and security for the dirt bike and all the gear along with a place to rest.
Loading and unloading is also easy with the typically lower loading height. Dirt bike vans also have a dedicated space for the dirt bike and a predesigned method for strapping the bike down when you transport your dirt bike. A common way to secure the dirt bike during transportation is to use a wheel chock for the front tire and then straps to tie down the dirt bike or a tie-down system that clamps to the foot pegs.
Top three commonly used dirt bike vans are built on Mercedes Sprinter, Ram Promaster, and Ford Transit cargo vans. They are all great options for hauling a dirt bike.
Essential Accessories for Hauling a Dirt Bike
There are a few specific equipment that you will absolutely need no matter which way you decide to transport your dirt bike. These must-have items allow you to securely load, unload, and strap down the dirt bike for easy transportation.
One of the most important items you will need for hauling a dirt bike is a loading ramp. It allows you to efficiently and safely load and unload your dirt bike into your pickup truck, hitch carrier, trailer, or dirt bike van.
There are many different kind of loading ramps available but they all serve the exact same purpose. An ideal ramp should be lightweight so that it will be easy for you to handle. In addition, you should be able to easily store it after loading or unloading your dirt bike.
When it comes to the design, a longer ramp will have a less steep incline and it will thus be easier to walk the dirt bike up. In addition, longer ramps can usually be folded in half for easier storage and transportation.
Pickup truck beds are typically fairly high so loading and unloading requires a longer ramp such as the Fly Racing Curved Folding Ramp. Whereas with a hitch carrier, trailer, and dirt bike van you can usually get away with using a shorter ramp, such as the Fly Racing Curved Ramp. Narrow ramps that only fit the dirt bike tire are popular for hitch carriers and trailers. This Fly Racing Ramp is a great narrow ramp.
Especially if you are a beginner, you should invest into a good, wide, and taller foldable ramp. The length helps with the loading ramp angle once in place and the width with not missing the ramp. You can also fold it for transportation. We recommend getting the Fly Racing Curved Folding Ramp. It’s made of aluminum so it’s light but strong and the curve makes loading and unloading a breeze. Fly Racing ramps are well built and reasonably priced compared to other ramps.
Some wider loading ramps, such as this Fly Racing Folding Ramp, or ATV ramps can also work well, if you want to walk along side with the dirt bike. You can also use the center stand or similar to place next to the ramp as a step up.
Tie-Downs or Straps
Just like a loading ramp, tie-downs are also a must-have item when you want to transport your dirt bike. They keep your dirt bike in upright and steady position during transportation and ensure that your dirt bike doesn’t move around or get damaged while you’re driving and hauling your dirt bike.
Be sure to always secure your dirt bike before you hit the road. This way, you don’t have to worry about your dirt bike moving around if you hit a pothole or need to make a sudden swerve. If your dirt bike is loose during transport, this also poses a safety risk both you and other drivers.
You will need a minimum of two good, strong tie-downs for strapping down your dirt bike for a secure hauling. You can use ratchet straps, tie-downs with clips, or straps with soft loops, whichever is easiest for you to use.
Tie-downs last a long time so invest into ones that are wider, durable, and easy-to-use. We recommend straps with soft loops at the end for better mounting points on the dirt bike. Also, this way the paint or metal on your dirt bike doesn’t get scratched by metal hooks.
Our dirt bike tie-downs are these KTM Soft Tie Downs with Hooks. Or if you prefer tie-downs with clip hooks, choose these KTM Soft Tie Downs with Ratchet Clip Hooks instead. Both of these KTM tie-downs are strong, easy to use, and durable. And if KTM is not your thing, you can find these high-quality and heavy duty Rhino USA Motorcycle Tie Down Straps in several colors to match your dirt bike and gear.
A fork saver is used when you strap the dirt bike down from the triple tree area or from the handlebars for transportation. It protects the fork springs and seals during hauling and keeps the suspension from being compromised.
When you apply pressure and tighten the tie-downs, the front fork compresses. This in turn pushes the front fork springs in, while increasing the air pressure inside the fork chambers at the same time. This will cause fork seals to leak over time. Quick release fork bleeders will help quickly bleed the overpressure but the spring will still be loaded.
A fork saver is a block that you install to the front forks between the front tire and the fender. It will limit the distance the front fork is able to move down and eliminates the air pressure or load on the spring. It will also make the dirt bike more stable for strapping down.
Both the fork saver and the fork bleeders are must-have items for hauling a dirt bike. And we personally wouldn’t transport a dirt bike without them. We recommend this universal Dirt Bike Fork Saver from Polarbear. It’s sturdy and durable and comes in two colors: black and orange. We have these Motion Pro Micro Fork Bleeders on our KTM and can highly recommend them. They allows a quick bleeding of the forks and have lasted already for several years without any issues. Please note that fork bleeders are make and model specific and check that the fork bleeders fit your bike before purchasing.
A wheel chock or a similar transport system is something that you will need if you transport your dirt bike with a trailer or a dirt bike van.
A wheel chock prevents the front wheel of your dirt bike from moving forward or backward during hauling. It also anchors it in place so that it doesn’t move from side to side once you tie your dirt bike down. Most wheel chocks require tying down from the handlebars or from the front tire.
You can choose from the basic version, such as this Pit Posse Chrome Wheel Chock, that only comes with a wheel holder and completely relies on using tie-downs for strapping down the dirt bike. Then there are wheel chocks that also feature a wheel strap that locks your wheel in place. This way, the bike can stand free while you are securing it down with the tie-downs, which is quite handy if you’re loading the bike by yourself. If this is what your’e looking for, we recommend getting this Lock N Load Dirt Bike Wheel Chock System.
Another popular method for securing the dirt bike is to use a tie-down system that clamps to the foot pegs. It eliminates the need for tie-downs and thus doesn’t put any pressure on the fork springs and seals during hauling. It also takes less space so you can transport more dirt bikes and riding gear. The Risk Racing Lock-N-Load Strapless System is a very popular solution among dirt bike riders for this purpose.
Comparison of Different Transportation Methods
Choosing how to transport your dirt bike may not be as easy as it first seems. All people have different opinions about the best way for hauling a dirt bike. But you need to decide what’s the best way for you and this depends on your personal criteria.
Do you need to transport more than one dirt bike? Do you need extra space for all the gear? Are you planning to go camping also? What is your budget? These are just few questions you need to figure out.
We gathered the five most common transportation methods in the table below together with their key features. It will highlight the differences between the different transportation methods and hopefully help the decision-making process.
All of these transportation methods have been proven to be good so you cannot really go wrong with any of them. And you can always upgrade your dirt bike hauling setup anytime if the current one is not working for you anymore.
|Exposed to weather||Extra space for gear||Increased security for the bike||Can fit more bikes||Loading ramp required||Tie-downs required||Fork savers required||Wheel chock required||Can be built into a camper||Affordable|
|Dirt bike van||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
There are several ways to transport your dirt bike safely to the riding location. Whether you choose to use a pickup truck, hitch carrier, trailer, or dirt bike van for hauling a dirt bike, you will also need a ramp to load the dirt bike and tie-downs or a transport system to secure it.
Using a pickup truck is a popular dirt bike hauling method just because it’s so simple and easy. A hitch carrier you can install into any car with a hitch receiver and simply remove it whenever not in use. On the other hand, an enclosed trailer or a dirt bike van will offer better protection from weather and debris as well as from thieves.
When choosing what to use for hauling your dirt bike, consider whether protection or convenience is more important to you, how many dirt bikes you need to transport, and how much space you need for other gear. Then set your budget and start shopping!
- How to load a dirt bike into a truck
- How to wash a dirt bike: best tips and techniques
- What are fork bleeders and why you need them?
- How to clean leaking fork seals on a dirt bike
- The best trail dirt bike in 2023
Last updated: November 11, 2022