Choosing a Hitch Mounted Motorcycle Carrier

Efficiently Carry your Bike on your Vehicle’s Hitch

Easily transport your bike on the back of your vehicle by investing in a hitch-mounted motorcycle carrier. Lightweight and practical, a carrier is easy to install and they are typically designed for single person operation. There are a variety of options available, and it’s important you choose a carrier that best meets your requirements. Before making a purchase, consider the following questions to ensure safe transportation of your motorcycle.

Hitch Class & Tongue Weight Capacity

Many people worry their vehicle hitch will not be able to handle the weight of a carrier and a motorcycle. Most trucks and SUVs are able to handle a motorcycle carrier, but it’s important to consult your owner’s manual and know the hitch class and tongue weight your vehicle can handle.

Hitch Class

Hitches are classified by their maximum weight capacity rating and receiver opening size, which range from class I - V. Smaller hitch sizes, I and II, are usually found on sedans and minivans, while larger hitch classes, III - V, are found on SUVs and pickup trucks. To haul a hitch mounted motorcycle carrier, your car will need to have a 2 class III or higher. You can identify your hitch’s class by checking the label applied directly to the trailer hitch. If it’s missing or worn away, you can measure the opening size of the hitch tube. If your vehicle doesn’t have a factory installed hitch, you can easily buy and install an aftermarket hitch. For more information on trailer hitch classes, please read our article Trailer Hitch Classes and Towing: What You Need to Know

Tongue Weight

The tongue weight is the amount of the trailer’s weight that is exerted downward onto the hitch of the tow vehicle by the tongue of the trailer. Since a hitch mounted motorcycle carrier hangs exclusively off the hitch, the combined weight of both the carrier and your motorcycle will be the tongue weight. Your tongue weight capacity can be found in your owner’s manual. It’s important to not exceed the recommended tongue weight, because overloading can cause steering and stability problems while driving.

When you install a motorcycle carrier on your vehicle, the added weight will cause the rear end to lower, and the front end to rise. Your vehicle’s manufacturer has determined how much weight can be applied to the rear end of the vehicle before the front end rises too much for safety. If you cannot find the manufacturer’s recommended tongue weight limit, a good rule of thumb is that tongue weight should not be more than 10% of your gross trailer weight.

Your Motorcycles Measurements & Carrier Types

To choose the proper carrier, you will need to know the dimensions, wheelbase, tire width, ground clearance, and overall weight of your bike. Your wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels, and ground clearance is the distance from the ground to the lowest part of your bike when standing vertically. Most motorcycle carriers have weight capacities large enough to easily transport dirt bikes or sport bikes, but a little more consideration is required if you’re planning on transporting a large cruiser or touring bike. Typically the largest weight capacity a carrier can hold is approximately 600 lbs. If your bike is over 600 lbs, you may want to look into a motorcycle trailer.

Aluminum is durable and lightweight, which is good if you’re looking to keep the tongue weight down. However, aluminum does tend to be more expensive than steel. A steel carrier is a heavy-duty, more affordable option, but it does weigh more than aluminum. Remember that your tongue weight includes the combined weight of the carrier and your motorcycle, so make sure you will not be exceeding your tongue weight before making a purchase.

Additional Accessories to Consider

Tie down straps and stabilizers are an excellent way to ensure you and your bike arrive to your destination safely. A set of quality tie down straps will keep your bike securely upright during transportation. A trailer hitch pin will increase the stability of your carrier while driving, making your ride smooth and quiet.

Motorcycle carriers are a safe, efficient way to transport your bike, and Discount Ramps offers a wide selection of high-quality, dependable carriers to accommodate nearly all bike makes and models.