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How to Tie Down a Dirt Bike on a Hitch-Mounted Carrier

03/10/2022

When planning a dirt bike excursion, it’s understandable to spend more time thinking about the ride than how you’ll be getting there. Of course, there are a lot of logistical issues that go along with transporting a dirt bike, including the method you will use to transport it.

One of the more popular options is the hitch carrier, a carrier that, as the name suggests, extends off the trailer hitch and runs parallel to the back of the vehicle. This type of carrier is often used for bicycles, motorcycles and dirt bikes.

Interested in giving it a try for your dirt bikes? Here’s a quick look at the steps of securing the dirt bike on the carrier.

Positioning the bike

Your carrier may have built-in wheel chocks or you may have to add your own separately. In either case, you should make sure they’re secured on the hitch carrier first.

When wheel chocks are ready on one side, you can position the bike so the front wheel locks between the chocks. This will help to prevent displacement during bumps and turns as you maneuver the vehicle.

Using the included ramp on the Black Widow Dirt Bike Carrier to load up
Using the included ramp on the Black Widow Dirt Bike Carrier to load up

You will, of course, need a ramp to be able to get the bike up to the level of the hitch carrier. Most dirt bikes will be quite heavy, which makes them difficult to lift into position on the carrier. Push the bike slowly and steadily up the ramp and maneuver it into position on the carrier.

Get started with the straps

You can never have too many straps if you tow or carry heavy items or equipment. You will need two to four tie-down straps for the front section of the bike. Tie the straps around each handlebar down to the bottom of the carrier, and hook the straps carefully. Attach another strap to the front wheel if you want some extra security, or if you do not have wheel chocks.

4 soft loops and 4 tie downs
4 soft loops and 4 tie downs
Four ratchet straps and four soft loops are perfect for safely tying down your bike to a hitch-mounted

You can then move to the back of the carrier and the bike, and begin strapping the rear wheel. Look for a stable part where it’s easy to hook the straps safely. Some people use the siting area, while others tie the straps down along with the rear wheel. As long as you’re using the bike frame rather than auxiliary parts, this will allow you to safely and securely fasten the bike in its proper position. You will need about two straps for the back.

Provide tension

Once all the straps are laid out and gently tied in their places, go back and re-check your work before tightening. You can then begin to ratchet up the tension. Get the straps as tight as possible, and hold on to the bike vertically if you need to give it a little extra stability during the process. You may also need to exert some extra energy or physicality to be able to get the straps sufficiently tightened.

Removing slack
Tightening strap
Removing slack(left)(top) and tightening to your straps is neccessary

Secure both the front and back sections. A common mistake made by beginners is only sufficiently securing the front section. This could result in enough movement in the back that the straps will come loose as you drive.

When finished tightening, check to see if the bike is leaning in either direction. If so, determine which tension is causing the leaning, loosen it and then re-tighten while making sure the bike stays straight and vertical.

Last check

Before you take off, give one final check. Hold the handlebars and shake the bike. If it moves, then you need to do more to tighten it. But if it stays in position, is straight and vertical and does not move at all, you are good to drive off!

The hitch-mounted carrier is a great tool for dirt bike enthusiasts and one of the simplest means of transporting your bike. Give it a shot for your next dirt bike expedition.

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