For most motorcycle owners, that feeling of freedom that riding gives you is unlike any other. You feel like there’s not a single obstacle ahead, you could get literally anywhere! But that’s not strictly true, is it? Sometimes you just have to arrange for motorcycle transportation, either privately or by hiring a hauler.
Professional transporters using specialized motorcycle trailers can load several bikes at a time. For private owners with just a single bike to move, a hitch-mounted carrier is often a more practical solution. But a lot of people frown on hitch-mounted carriers. Some claim that they’re unsafe, others consider them an inferior option for any number of reasons.
So what’s the verdict on this, are motorcycle carriers safe to use or not? Let’s break this down a little.
Are hitch-mounted motorcycle carriers safe to use?
Generally yes, very much so. As long the weight of the bike is lower than the carrier’s limit, you should be good to go. Of course, your motorcycle will still need a proper tiedown, but that goes for any other type of transport.
If you don’t secure the bike properly or if it’s too big for the carrier, you’ll run into problems. When a motorcycle starts tipping one way or the other, it’s out of balance and no longer to transport. So just stay on the safe side, don’t overload your carrier, and things should go smoothly.
What about the wear and tear caused to the vehicle?
Not an issue. Your vehicle’s tow hitch is designed to bear heavier loads than a dirt bike or two. Yes, with a carrier you’re not technically towing — all the weight is bearing downwards. Still, that weight differential is accounted for by the manufacturer. It’s next to impossible for a hitch-mounted motorcycle carrier to cause wear-and-tear through use.
Again, this only applies if you stay within the listed weight limits, both for the carrier and for the hitch!
What’s this I hear about them blocking your taillights?
Depending on the type of vehicle and the carrier, this is a potential issue. The same goes for any trailer you’re towing — your tail lamps might not be fully visible from behind.
Fortunately, the problem is easily redeemed. Some carriers (and trailers) feature taillights of their own, easily wired to your vehicle’s systems. Others can be outfitted with light kits bought separately, so you can maintain correct traffic signalization. Safety first!
What about this rattling noise I keep hearing from the back?
People raise these complaint fairly often after hitching a new carrier or trailer to their car. Everyone describes noise differently both in tone and intensity. The cause, of course, could be any number of things, some more serious than others.
If you’re positive that it’s your hitch-mounted carrier rattling, that’s easy to sort out. There are anti-rattle hitch pins out there, designed to nullify annoying noises. Problem solved!
What should I look for when choosing a motorcycle carrier?
We’ve covered this in great detail elsewhere on the site, but just to summarize briefly:
- Weight Capacity: Get a carrier able to support your bike.
- Vehicle Compatibility: Make sure the carrier can actually be hitched to your car.
- Material: Steel for durability, aluminum for weight, other materials for style.
- Ramp Length: If it’s long enough, the loading slope will be nice and gentle.
Of course, brand recognition and cost are also factors to be considered. We’re not endorsing any particular brand or product at the moment, so we’ll just advise you to be careful with your purchases. Scout out the market and compare prices before pulling the trigger!
Aren’t bike trailers just a better option overall?
For some people, sure. But you know what they say, there’s no accounting for taste. Motorcycle trailers are more spacious and can be used to transport a wide variety of cargo. They’re also more expensive, more difficult to store, and and (for some people) more difficult to manage in traffic.
But if it’s safety you’re concerned with when it comes to hitch-mounted carriers, you really shouldn’t be. They’re a perfectly valid and convenient option, as safe as any other products on the market.
Stay safe, and happy shipping!
Featured Image Credit: goworldcargo.com