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Published Oct. 7, 2021

Motorcycle trailers are expensive, take up plenty of space, and aren’t any fun to maneuver. This begs the question: Why not just get a motorcycle hitch carrier? These products are a fraction of the cost of a trailer and perform the same duty. They are also relatively easy to load by yourself. You’ll also have more space in your garage for, let’s say, another bike. 

There’s a motorcycle hitch carrier to suit practically any bike on the market, so I’ve created a guide to help you pick the right rack for your ride. I’ve also included a list of all the best motorcycle hitch carriers on the market and ranked them under a variety of categories.

Our Methodology 

To find the best motorcycle hitch carriers on the market, I evaluated dozens of them before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry.

I visited Revzilla to see what experts had to say and the Motorcycles subreddit to see what motorcyclists felt about hitch carriers. Some brands are well-established in this niche, and priority was given to those products. Lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were maximum load capacity, materials used, product dimensions, movement-stabilization features, the inclusion of ramp, extra features, price, and durability. Carriers weren’t considered if they weren’t durable and were prone to bending, even when loaded with a motorcycle under their rated weight capacity.

Best Motorcycle Hitch Carriers Reviews & Recommendation

The Black Widow MCC-500 Steel Motorcycle Carrier does exactly what you need it to, is reliable, and a good value for money. This model is made from powder-coated steel and has a maximum load capacity of 500 pounds. Included is a 45-inch ramp that can be mounted on either side of the track. It makes loading and unloading your bike relatively easy. When the ramp isn’t in use, you can store it on the carrier, so it’s not going to take up any extra space in your vehicle. This carrier is designed to work with 2-inch Class III and IV hitch receivers, and a 5/8-inch hitch pin and anti-rattle/anti-tilt device are included.

This model weighs just 62 pounds, making this carrier one of the lighter all-steel models on the market. The track is 75.75 inches long, so you’re never going to fall short. But it’s 6.86 inches wide and only suitable for motorcycles with tires that are 5 inches wide.

Specs
  • Brand: Black
  • Widow Model: MCC-500
  • Load capacity: 500 pounds
PROS

Good value

Steel construction

Ramp included

Weighs 62 pounds

CONS

Not recommended for use with tires that are wider than 5 inches

The Trackside Motorcycle Carrier is one of the most efficient ways to get your dirt bike to and from the track. This model is a fantastic value, especially when you consider that it features a powder-coated all-steel construction and has a maximum load capacity of 500 pounds. Included in the sale is a ramp that fits on either side of the carrier. This ramp could be more secure as it can fall off the track when loading or unloading your bike, but it attaches to the carrier when you’re on the move, so it won’t take up space in your truck.

Keeping things steady is an anti-tilt device, which should eliminate excessive movement while you’re driving. Another feature that keeps your bike secure is the wheel track carrier bolts, which your bike’s tires slot through. You can adjust these bolts to make them fit snugly on either side of the tire — a useful feature if you need to transport different bikes. This carrier is only suitable for use with Class III and IV trailer hitches. This track is best suited to motocross and small bikes with a maximum tire width of 4.75 inches.

Specs
  • Brand: Trackside
  • Model: NS-MRC001
  • Load capacity: 500 pounds
PROS

Fantastic value for money

500-pound weight capacity

All-steel construction

Ramp included

CONS

Not for wide tires

Ramp can be unstable

The VersaHaul Steel Motorcycle Carrier fulfills the requirements of what a motorcycle carrier should do and then takes things a step further. This model is made from powder-coated steel, which is durable and can support a maximum load of 500 pounds. It’s designed to work with 2-inch Class III and IV hitch receivers. The carrier is 71 ½ inches long, so you’ll have a hard time finding a bike with a wheelbase that it can’t manage. It can accommodate bikes with wheels up to 5 ½ inches wide, which is wider than some products on this list, but it’s still unsuitable for some bikes.

Included in the sale are four retractable tie-down bars and a wheel stop, so you can have faith that your bike’s not going anywhere once it’s secured. There are two reflectors located at the rear, which add an extra element of safety when driving at night. A built-in hitch at the end of the carrier enables you to tow an additional 3,000 pounds. Unfortunately, a ramp isn’t included in the sale, but you can choose to include a 60-inch ramp for extra. If you opt for the ramp, the entire unit weighs 82 pounds.

Specs
  • Brand: VersaHaul
  • Model: VH-55
  • Load capacity: 68 pounds (without ramp)
PROS

500-pound weight capacity

Four retractable tie-down bars

3,000-pound built-in hitch receiver

Weighs 68 pounds

CONS

Ramp costs extra

High price point

If you’re familiar with motorcycle hitch carriers, chances are you know the Joe Hauler Standard Single Hauler. This brand was a pioneer in the industry, to the point that some people still refer to motorcycle hitch carriers as Joe Haulers. As you’d expect with any brand that’s been in production for so long, the products are reliable, and the kinks have been worked out. This model comes with an industry-leading three-year warranty, so you know it’s built to last. The all-welded construction has a powder-coated black finish and a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. All this durability doesn’t come at the price of added weight, however, as this model is just 50 pounds. It’s not recommended for use with scooters that weigh more than 300 pounds due to their rear-weight bias.

One of this model’s standout features is that it’s suitable for motorcycles with tires up to 180 mm, meaning you’ll be able to carry a wider range of bikes compared to other carriers on the market. Even if you’re transporting a large bike, you can rest easy thanks to the front-wheel stop and four tie-down bars. This carrier will mount to any Class III 2-inch receiver, but you’ll need to buy a silent hitch pin separately to stop play in the hitch. You’ll also need to buy the ramp separately, but there’s a position to mount it on the track.

Specs
  • Brand: Joe Hauler
  • Model: JH01
  • Load capacity: 400 pounds
PROS

Three-year warranty 50-pound weight

Front-wheel stop

Four tie-down bars

For 180-mm tires

CONS

Expensive

Ramp not included

Most Heavy Duty

If you’re as likely to transport a Fireblade as you are a CRF 450, then the Goplus Motorcycle Carrier is for you. This model is made from alloy steel and tops the scales at 98 pounds, making it one of the heaviest models on the market. Its heavy-duty construction gives it a maximum load capacity of 600 pounds, so unless you want to haul some of the largest touring bikes in the world, this carrier will have you covered. It’s 79 inches long and mounts to your vehicle using a 2-inch receiver. The track has 7.5 inches of usable width, which is the widest on this list and makes this model suitable for bikes with tires up to 190 mm wide.

Although this carrier is great for large motorcycles, it’s just as capable if you need to bring your kid’s YZ 85 to the track, thanks to the wheel-chock cradle that works with an adjustable eight-hole design. There are also four tie-down loops, making it easy to secure your bike. A loading ramp is included in the sale, which is housed in the unit when you’re on the move. This is one of the heaviest carriers on this list, so bear that in mind when making your choice. The manufacturer recommends not exceeding 55 mph while the carrier is loaded.

Specs
  • Brand: Goplus
  • Model: AT4338+XIN
  • Load capacity: 600 pounds
PROS

600-pound weight capacity

Width of 7.5 inches

Adjustable eight-hole design

Four tie-down bars with loops

Front-wheel lock

CONS

98 pounds

For less than 55 mph

If you’re in the market for a lightweight carrier, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Black Widow Hitch-Mounted Aluminum Motorcycle Carrier. This model is made entirely from lightweight aluminum and weighs just 36.5 pounds, making it the lightest model on this list. This one is perfect for one-person operations, as it’s easy to lift and fit onto any 2-inch Class III or IV trailer hitch. Don’t be fooled into thinking it lacks strength due to its aluminum construction; it has a maximum load capacity of 400 pounds.

The carrier is 75 ¼ inches long and is 5 ½ inches wide, which combined with a space bar adapter, makes it suitable for full-sized motocross bikes and youth dirt bikes. A 47-inch ramp is included in the sale, which you can fit onto either the front or back of the unit while you’re on the move. You can also attach the ramp to either end of the track when you want to load or unload your bike. One downside to this model is that it only has two tie-down bars, whereas some other carriers have four.

Specs
  • Brand: Black Widow
  • Model: AMC-400
  • Load capacity: 400 pounds
PROS

Weighs 36.5 pounds

Self-storing ramp included

400-pound weight capacity

CONS

Just two tie-down bars

Our Verdict

I’ve chosen the Black Widow MCC-500 Steel Motorcycle Carrier as the best overall motorcycle hitch carrier. This model is perfectly suited to carrying motocross bikes and small to medium-sized motorcycles and is sold at a great price point. If you’re on a tight budget, check out the value option, the Trackside Motorcycle Carrier. This model is ideally suited to getting dirt bikes to and from the track and is fantastic value for money. 

If you have experience with either of these models or you think another carrier is superior, let us know in the comments.

What to Consider When Buying a Motorcycle Hitch Carrier

There are many motorcycle hitch carriers on the market, and subtle differences can make one perfect for you or totally unsuitable. I’ve created a buying guide to show you which features to look for and what you can expect to find for various prices. 

Motorcycle Hitch Carriers Key Features

Materials

For the construction of most hitch carriers, you’ll be faced with two options: aluminum or steel. Aluminum hitch carriers are much lighter than their steel counterparts, making them better suited to one-person operations as they’re easier to install and take off your vehicle and won’t rust. The downside to aluminum hitch carriers is that they usually have lower maximum load capacities. 

If you can manage the weight of a steel hitch carrier by yourself or can load your bikes with another person, then a steel model might be for you. These units offer better structural integrity and usually have higher weight capacities. Unlike aluminum racks, these models can be susceptible to rust, so might require more maintenance.

Load Capacity

You never want to exceed the product’s maximum load capacity, as it puts you, your vehicle, and your motorcycle at risk. Most motorcycle hitch carriers will have a maximum load capacity of between 400 and 600 pounds. So, you’ll need to consider your motorcycle’s weight plus its fluids and additional accessories.

Dimensions

The main dimensions you need to take into consideration are length and width of the track. The length is rarely a problem, as most motorcycle tracks accommodate the wheelbase of large bikes. The most important measurement to take note of is the track’s width, as this will determine if your motorcycle’s wheels fit into or sit on top of the carrier. If your bike’s wheels don’t slot into the carrier, there’s a much higher chance of them popping off if you go over a large bump. Some motorcycle hitch carriers accommodate tires up to 4.5 inches wide, others can fit tires up to 7.5 inches wide. Think about the width of the tires you’ll use with your carrier before making a decision.

Ramps

Some motorcycle hitch carriers have extra features that add extra costs. A ramp is an essential feature, unless you plan on physically lifting your motorcycle on and off the carrier. If you’re looking at a carrier that doesn’t include a ramp, factor the additional cost of the ramp (aluminum is best) into the overall price. 

Certain ramps are more stable than others, and if you’re transporting a heavy bike, it’s better to find a ramp that stays firmly in place when in use. You should also consider the length of the ramp if it’s included, as a longer ramp will have a gentler incline and make life easier when loading and unloading your bike.

Stabilization Features

The first time you hook your bike up to a carrier on the back of your vehicle can be nerve-racking, especially once you start driving and see it moving around in your rearview mirror. Look for carriers with an anti-tilt mechanism and an anti-rattle device. 

Look for features that keep your wheels in place, such as a front-wheel stop or lock, and adjustable bars built into the track so you can secure your front wheel. Some carriers will have tie-down bars with loops on the end that make securing your bike much easier. A carrier with a central tie-down bar is fine, but it’s easier to secure your bike if you get a carrier with front and rear bars too.

Extra Features

Some motorcycle hitch carriers have extra features that some riders will need but add to the cost. One to consider is whether you want a singular or two-bike carrier, as choosing a two-bike carrier raises the price considerably. Another notable feature is a hitch at the end of the carrier that enables you to tow a trailer and the motorcycle carrier. Some carriers also have reflectors to increase your carrier’s visibility at night.

Pricing 

For less than $200, you’ll find carriers that are suitable for motocross bikes and small motorcycles. These carriers sometimes have relatively low maximum weight capacities, but their main drawback is the width of their tracks, which are usually narrow. If you want wider tracks and a higher weight capacity, you’ll need to spend between $200 and $500. Even some of these models won’t have tracks wide enough for some motorcycle tires. Carriers that go for $500 or more usually have the widest tracks and are capable of accommodating bikes with rear tires up to 180-190 mm. You’ll also need to venture up to this price point if you want a two-bike carrier. 

FAQs 

Car Bibles answers all your burning questions.

Q: Are motorcycle hitch carriers safe?

A: As long as you secure your bike properly and stay within the limits of the carrier, your vehicle, and your hitch, you shouldn’t have any safety problems. 

Q: How do I know if a hitch carrier will work with my vehicle and motorcycle?

A: To know if a carrier will work with your motorcycle, you’ll need to ensure that the total weight of your bike is less than the maximum load capacity of the carrier and that the bike’s wheels don’t exceed the width of the carrier’s track. Then you’ll need to ensure your vehicle’s hitch class matches the hitch carrier’s and that you won’t exceed your vehicle’s maximum tongue weight rating.

Q: How do I fit a motorcycle hitch carrier?

A: You need to slot the rack’s bar into your hitch’s receiver, which usually needs to be 2 inches. Once you’ve fully pushed the bar in, you need to secure it using a hitch pin, which is usually included in the sale of most motorcycle hitch carriers.

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