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Motorcycle Hitch Carriers vs. Trailers and Ramps: Which Is Better?

03/16/2021

Having access to or owning a truck with a flatbed can be ideal for those who need larger vehicles for travel, frequently go off-roading, or often haul large loads (like motorcycles, jet skis, or ATVs). However, if you don’t already have access to a flatbed truck, purchasing one solely to haul motorcycles and dirt bikes, isn’t always achievable. Luckily there are hitch carriers, trailers, and ramps that you can invest in to help smooth your motorcycle and dirt bike transporting process.

Prior to purchasing a ramp, trailer, or hitch carrier, it is important to research each loading and storage method to verify what tool best fits your needs. Safety, installation methods, and the product’s purpose are just a few points to consider before finalizing a purchase. Below are explanations of both types of carriers to help you better determine which one is best suited for you.

Motorcycle Hitch Carriers

A motorcycle hitch carrier is a cargo storage device that is installed on the back of a vehicle to help transport larger items like luggage, bicycles, dirt bikes, and motorcycles. To choose a hitch carrier, you should be aware of the size and weight of the cargo you wish to carry, as well as the type of vehicle you wish to install the hitch carrier on. From there, you then choose a carrier style. The carriers you can choose from include:

Motorcycle Hitch Carrier
Our Double Dirt Bike Carrier hitched to truck

The type of carrier purchased varies on the type of vehicle you have. For instance, if you have a truck, you are able to get the rack style carrier system since it is installed over the truck bed. Most other vehicles are compatible with the classic motorcycle hitch carrier styles. It is also important to weigh in on the pros and cons of hitch carriers if the wrong style is chosen or purchased without research, it could result in damage to your vehicle and/or motorcycle.

Pros

Aside from being highly portable, motorcycle hitch carriers provide you with a variety of benefits. For example, hitch carriers are:

  • Accommodating to various toy sizes
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact
  • Convenient
  • Prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the carrier and the vehicle
  • Safe when installed correctly (installation processes vary, contact a hitch carrier company with any questions regarding the proper way to installation process)

Another benefit of a hitch carrier is that they don’t involve any towing, unlike traditional trailers, making it a fast and convenient way to load and unload dirt bikes, ATVs, and motorcycles.

Cons

Although the pros tend to outweigh the cons, there are still additional points to consider before purchasing a hitch carrier. For example:

  • Depending on the size of the carrier, it may obstruct the view of the license plate or tail lights on the back of the vehicle. Research local license plate cover laws to ensure all rules are being followed.
  • Some vehicles may sway while driving when a hitch carrier is attached.
  • They’re unable to carry many motorcycles at once (for most, the limit is two at a time).
  • They can be noisy at times.
  • Your vehicle may not be compatible with a hitch carrier

Using Motorcycle Trailers With Ramps

Motorcycle trailers differ from hitch carriers in various ways. For example, they’re larger, heavier, carry more, and have different setup requirements — making them perfect for those wanting to haul multiple motorcycles, gear, and more. These trailers must be used in combination with powersports ramps motorcycle loading ramps, which can come in various styles as well, for example:

  • Aluminum punch-plate ramps
  • Arched folding dual-runner ramps that can also be used to load ATVs
  • Extra-wide tri-folds
  • Heavy-duty arched folding ramps
  • Non-folding, straight motorcycle ramps
  • Trailer ramps
  • Tri-fold arched folding ramps
  • Motorcycle ramps
Motorcycle Ramp with Trailer
Cruiser bike riding up our Folding Motorcycle Trailer Ramp

Similar to a hitch carrier, the type of trailer and associated ramp that you need will vary based on your vehicle type. For instance, those who have a truck may simply need a ramp for loading, whereas those with an SUV or other tow-bearing vehicles may invest in a trailer instead. Keep in mind that just as with any additions added onto a vehicle, it is important to ensure any trailers that are purchased are installed and used correctly to maintain the safety of the equipment and those using it.

Pros

Trailers can be helpful for those who often take up a lot of space when traveling with their motorcycles and gear. Aside from providing you with more space, some pros of trailers include:

  • More storage room for gear and other cargo
  • More weight-bearing capabilities that aren’t achievable with a hitch carrier
  • Suitable for trucks and SUVs
  • The ability to carry more bikes

Cons

Even though there are few cons, it is still important to consider them before finalizing the purchase of a trailer or ramp.

  • In reference to trailers, you may possibly need more equipment, like loading ramps, to get the motorcycle into the trailer, therefore costing more than you initially planned
  • Most trailers are only suitable for certain vehicles
  • They may take more room to store during the offseason
  • They’re large and heavy

Which Is Better For You?

Both solutions will require some additional safety equipment — straps to secure the cargo being an essential addition. If you do not have a truck, then a motorcycle hitch carrier can be the better solution. If you do have a truck, the answer isn’t set yet. You must first take into consideration what it takes to tow a trailer or install a ramp — do you have everything you need to do so? If so, then a ramp and/or trailer can be the route to go.

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