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Before you can hit the trails and enjoy the riding day, you first have to transport your dirt bike to the riding spot.
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 moto 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 and explore all of the different ways to transport your dirt bike in detail.
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.
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 haul or transport 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. 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. Strap down on both sides from the frame or foot pegs.
With multiple dirt bikes, 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 all dirt bikes down.
Make sure to check out our step-by-step instructions for how to load a dirt bike into a pickup 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 to Transport Your 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.
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, the 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 another straps to the front and rear wheels.
Some hitch carriers are very flimsy and can move around a lot. 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 the hitch carrier temporarily and with only one dirt bike. They 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.
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 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, 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 easier to transport with a trailer. It will also 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 if you tend to travel heavy.
Storing the trailer can be an issue for some riders, so consider the size and storing options if you are on the market to buy one.
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.
Open Dirt Bike Trailers
Open dirt bike trailers are the most affordable and easiest options for transporting one or multiple dirt bikes.
Since they 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 more fuel efficient. 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 transporting 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 singe dirt bikes.
If you choose an open trailer, 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 transportation. 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 created due to their closed construction. This increases the fuel consumption of an already expensive 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 it you want it fully customized, that will push the price tag even higher.
Transport Your Dirt Bike With a Moto Van
The ever popular moto van is a great choice for the more serious riders that spend a lot of time trailside and traveling to new riding spots.
A moto 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 moto vans also include a built-in kitchen, living quarters, and a toilet. This way, the moto van can be used both for transporting a dirt bike and also for rewinding after the ride day. A moto van is a great way to combine trail riding with camping and allows you to do it with only one vehicle setup.
Moto vans are extremely popular also amongst racers as 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. Moto vans also have a dedicated space for the dirt bike and a predesigned method for strapping it 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 moto vans are built on Mercedes Sprinter, Ram Promaster, and Ford Transit cargo vans.
Essential Accessories for Transporting 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 need is a loading ramp. It allows you to efficiently and safely load and unload your dirt bike from your pickup truck, hitch carrier, trailer, or moto 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 it and you should also be able to easily store it after loading or unloading your dirt bike.
A longer ramp will have a less steep incline and it will thus be easier to walk the dirt bike up. 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. Whereas with a hitch carrier, trailer, and moto van you can usually get away with using a shorter ramp. Narrow ramps that only fit the dirt bike tire are popular for hitch carriers and trailers.
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.
Some wider loading ramps 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.
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 need a minimum of two good, strong tie-downs. 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 of your dirt bike doesn’t get scratched by metal hooks.
A fork saver is used when you strap the dirt bike down from the triple tree area or from the handlebars. It protects the fork springs and seals during transport and keeps the suspension from being compromised.
When you apply pressure and tighten the tie-downs, the front fork compresses. This 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. Speed 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.
A wheel chock or a similar transport system is something that you need if you transfer your dirt bike with a trailer or a moto van.
A wheel chock prevents the front wheel of your dirt bike from moving forward or backward during transportation and 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.
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 transport. It also takes less space so you can transport more dirt bikes and riding gear.
Comparison of Different Transportation Methods
|Exposed to weather||Extra space for gear||Increased security for the bike||Loading ramp required||Tie-downs required||Fork savers required||Wheel chock required||Can be built into a camper||Affordable|
There are several ways to transport a dirt bike safely to the riding location. Whether you choose to use a pickup truck, hitch carrier, trailer, or moto van for transportation, 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 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 moto van will offer better protection from weather and debris as well as from thieves.
When choosing what to use to transport 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!
Last updated: June 13, 2022