New to dirt biking or just want to learn how to transport a dirt bike more easily? Whether you’re just getting into this hobby or researching to find out the best vehicle setups, you’re in the right place!
In this article, I’ll show you the top ways to haul a dirt bike, the pros and cons of each option, and how to choose the best way for you based on your budget and preferences.
How many dirt bikes are you hauling?
The number of bikes you’re going to haul will limit the number of options you have. The more dirt bikes you need to transport, the bigger and more expensive of a towing rig or setup you’ll need.
Prefer to watch a video instead of reading? Check out my video on the top 5 ways to transport your dirt bike:
Using a truck to transport your dirt bike
A pick-up truck is simply built to haul things, and that’s why it’s always been one of the best ways to haul dirt bikes. Depending on what size truck you drive, you can fit 2-4 dirt bikes in it, along with gear crammed underneath or in the cabin.
A 5-speed Chevy S10 was one of the vehicles I learned to drive in, so naturally, I borrowed it from my dad when I wanted to go riding somewhere outside of our property. It worked well but loading it took some creativity or investing in some equipment to make it easier.
How do you get a dirt bike in a truck bed?
I’m short and not very strong, so I don’t trust myself to be able to reliably pick up my dirt bike with my bare hands and load it in the back of the truck. This would be very difficult if the truck was higher, especially after the end of a long day of riding or racing.
So, I did one of two things.
I either backed the truck up to the biggest hill or bump I could find. This made the tailgate closer to the ground, making it easier to load my full-size dirt bike.
After a while, we got a nice wide ramp (Amazon) that came with a tie strap to hook to the truck bed so it wouldn’t slide down. With a ramp, I didn’t need a hill or a 2nd person to help me load up.
Do you have to close the tailgate when transporting a dirt bike?
Honestly, I never closed the tailgate because the truck bed wasn’t long enough. So, no, you don’t have to close the tailgate when transporting a dirt bike as long as you know nothing will slide out.
With your dirt bike tied down to the front, your bike isn’t going to fall out. I had all of my gear and tools at the front of the bed – they rarely moved unless I floored it and dumped the clutch, but that’s easy to avoid.
How to strap a dirt bike down while transporting it
Just use some basic tie-downs – I like ones with a soft loop (Amazon) so they don’t scratch anything. With the bottom loop attached to the hook on the truck bed, simply strap the tie-downs to the handlebars and then evenly cinch them down so that the front forks are compressed and the bike won’t wobble.
Dirt Bike Trailer
Towing a trailer is one of the easiest ways to haul a dirt bike, but it has its pros and cons. It’s practical because you can pull a trailer with just about any vehicle with a hitch receiver.
You can choose between an open trailer or an enclosed trailer. The disadvantage is that it’s harder to drive with, and especially backup, with any kind of trailer.
You have to be aware that your total vehicle length is much longer, and that a trailer has its own tires, wiring, etc. This all needs to be checked before you use them so that it’s legal and safe.
Open trailer advantages
Transporting your dirt bike or multiple bikes on an open trailer is simpler for a few reasons. For one, they’re generally much cheaper vs an enclosed trailer.
It’s lighter than most enclosed trailers, which makes it easier to tow with any vehicle because it requires less power to accelerate and decelerate.
An open trailer has less wind resistance, making it easier to pull at highway speeds. This improves your gas mileage compared to an enclosed trailer.
It can also be easier to strap down your bikes and gear because you’re not restricted by physical walls, and there might be more spots to hook into, depending on your trailer setup.
Open trailer negatives
Besides having to tow it behind a vehicle, the biggest drawback is that everything is out in the open (just like a truck bed if you don’t have a tall topper). This means it can get wet and dirty from sitting out in a storm.
It’s also not as secure from theft. This alone might be a deal breaker for you.
Enclosed trailer advantages
The top two benefits of transporting your dirt bike inside an enclosed trailer are security and customization. If you’re going to pull a trailer, these reasons alone might be a deal closer.
Being able to lock up your bikes, gear, tools and stuff inside is a huge advantage compared to an open trailer or truck. Whether it’s due to potential theft or safe from the elements, it’s nice to park it inside.
You can also turn it into a mini toy hauler camper trailer. By installing modular beds, a kitchenette and other amenities, it could be very comfortable to go dirt bike camping.
Enclosed trailer disadvantages
There are two drawbacks to pulling an enclosed trailer vs an open trailer. One is that it’s harder to tow because of the weight and size.
It’s like driving with a sail attached to your vehicle at highway speeds, which usually kills your fuel economy/MPG. The taller and wider your trailer is, the worse MPG you’ll get.
The other major con is that they can be very expensive to purchase and build, especially if you get it fully customized.
Moto Van for dirt bikes
While box vans used to be popular for pro riders in the 90s, they weren’t practical for us regular people. Fortunately, there are many more van options today that are much more practical, functional, and comfortable.
From a Chevrolet Express van to a Mercedes box van, you can safely and securely transport your dirt bike(s) on a budget or in style in a van.
I really like my high-top Chevy Express because it has quite a bit of room, gets decent gas mileage on the highway for a big van, and everything can be locked up inside. It’s also easy to load a bike with a simple dirt bike ramp.
Don’t have a truck or van, and don’t want to tow a trailer? Many midsize and large SUV’s have a hitch that can transport a dirt bike with a hitch hauler (Amazon).
It’s simple a single or double rail that you load your dirt bike onto so that the bike sits sideways. You can either use a small ramp to load it or just pick each wheel up. Then just strap it with tie downs.
A hitch hauler is nice if you want to drive your car/SUV without a gas-guzzling truck, large van, or having to pull a trailer. They’re fairly inexpensive and easy enough to use by yourself.
Hitch hauler disadvantages
Your vehicle has to handle the tongue weight. Some cars can only accept the lower-class hitch receiver, or they simply don’t have a strong enough frame to handle a 250+ pound motorcycle.
The handlebars of your dirt bike can break the rear window glass if you don’t load your bike properly. Always make sure that your bike won’t rock back and hit the glass if you hit a big bump in the road.
Your tail lights can be difficult to see for people driving behind, so they may not see when you’re braking or turning – just something to be aware of when loading and transporting your dirt bike on a hitch carrier.
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to buy a quality motorcycle hitch carrier that can handle the weight, especially if it’s a double bike carrier. Having a good-fitting insert and sturdy setup helps the “wobbling” to a minimum.
Can you transport a dirt bike on a car?
I’ve seen pictures of people strapping their dirt bike onto the roof of their car, but this is just dumb. Not only is it dangerous for you and others, but it will scratch and dent your car.
If you’re ambitious and want to be safer, you can disassemble parts of your dirt bike and fit it inside your car, whether it be the trunk or removing a seat – this is for hardcore riders that have absolutely no other way to transport a motorcycle.
Practical ways to transport with a car
Some cars can have a hitch receiver installed, but it depends on the load rating – see your OEM manual for restrictions.
But if you can put a hitch on your car, you can tow a small trailer or insert a lightweight hitch hauler to transport your dirt bike.
What’s the best way to transport a dirt bike?
It really comes down to your budget, preferences, and what’s most practical. If you’re a new rider, I recommend just using whatever vehicle you have and spending as little as possible to get started.
This way you’ll be able to ride and understand what you like or don’t like about your current setup. You may find that it’s nice to just use what you have if you don’t get to ride often enough, or you may want a more dedicated rig for dirt biking if you end up riding a lot.
So, the 5 easiest ways to haul or transport your dirt bike are:
- Truck bed
- Open Trailer
- Enclosed trailer
- Hitch Hauler
How to get into dirt biking on a budget
Just using the vehicle you have can be the first step to getting into dirt biking for cheap. Now I want to share with you 5 simple tips that I’ve learned to save money while still having fun and staying safe. Click here to get started.