Can A Small Car Carry A Dirt Bike?

When riding your dirt bike through the forest or in the mountains, you can usually have more fun than you ever imagined. However, when going to competitions and events, you need to transport the bike without driving it, which means loading it on your truck, or more likely, your car.

Your small car can easily transport one dirt bike from one event to the next without needing too many extra parts added onto it. You can load the dirt bike on the roof, or you can add a tow hitch to pull a trailer with the dirt bike or add a hitch-mounted carrier if your bike is not too wide.

However, you will notice that it is much easier being said than done, with the options and solutions to transporting your dirt bike differing wildly between each owner. We recommend that you understand everything about your options and what you will need to use when transporting your dirt bike.

How Do You Transport A Dirt Bike With A Car?

There are three ways to transport your dirt bike with your small car, with the option that you choose being decided on more than just cost. Many people forget that some small cars cannot have a hitch installed, which greatly limits how you transport your dirt bike.

To understand how each type of solution works, we recommend that you look at what you have and what you will need. Sometimes the most this world solutions are not only the best one for you but will solve several other issues that you may have.

On A Trailer

The best way to transport your dirt bike is by loading it onto a trailer that has been hitched onto the back of your small car. You will load the dirt bike onto the trailer using a small ramp or even drive it on if the ramp is low enough, with straps them securing the bike onto the trailer.

This method is the least difficult way of transporting your dirt bike and will mean that the car is not overtaxed, as it simply has to pull a bit of extra weight. Further, you can use the hitch and trailer for many other things, as long as they are small enough that your car’s engine is not overtaxed.

On The Roof

This is a much more controversial way of transporting your dirt bike, but it is an option if your car cannot get a hitch and below a certain height. You will have to install special roof mounts onto which the structure is built to hold onto the dirt bike.

These systems usually come with special ramps that can be hooked on to allow you to ride the bike up to the top; however, it is recommended that you only push it up. With the bike on the roof, you will have to start strapping everything down and make sure that the bike’s top is not so high that you are over the heigh limit.

Hitch-Mounted Carrier

This is the most common way for dirt bikes to be transported using a smaller car as it takes the least amount of space overall, something that is important if you have a small garage. The mounting system requires a hitch, but the entire carrier lifts the bike against the car’s rear.

We recommend getting this system if you know you don’t have space for a trailer and your car has the rear suspension to handle it. When done properly, the dirt bike will rest safely against the car’s rear window and will be easy to remove at the event and put back once you are done.

Can You Fit A Dirt Bike In A Car?

No, you cannot fit a dirt bike in a car as the dirt bike won’t fit, with many trucks not having large enough beds for dirt bikes to be in either. People often make the mistake of thinking that if the end of the dirt bike is only sticking over a small bit, then it is fine; this is not true.

Your small car will not have enough space for the dirt bike to fit, and you cannot drive down the road or the highway with the boot door of the car open. To transport your dirt bike, you will need to get a hitch or a roof mounting system, with many people recommending that you get a larger car.

Apart from getting a truck, the best vehicle to transport any dirt bike will always be an SUV, whether compact or normal. These vehicles have the ride height required to easily take on the weight of the dirt bike and the engine strength to pull almost anything you want to pull.

Can You Transport A Dirt Bike On Its Side?

No, if a dirt bike is on its side while you are transporting it, you will need to prepare it ins several ways, including removing almost all liquids from the engine. Further, the side of the dirt bike will be hurt as there is nothing to absorb the shocks and bumps from traveling.

A dirt bike that is on its wheels will easily have the suspension of the dirt bike absorb anything thrown at it. This is why a dirt bike is always stored upright, even when mounted on the roof of your car, to help keep the dirt bike in perfect working condition.

If you have to transport the bike on its side, you need to remove all the fuel from the tank and then put padding between any bike parts that touch the vehicle. Not only to keep your vehicle safe but to ensure that any bumps you drive over do not break the engine or the chassis.

What Do You Need To Do To Carry A Dirt Bike With A Small Car?

Now that you know what your options are when transporting the dirt bike with your small car, we need to look at what you will need in each instance. The required setups are quite similar but are used in different ways, with several people preferring to use trailers because of the ease of use.

However, if you are young and willing, you may want to look at all the options you have available to you. This means that a hitch-mounted carrier or a roof mount is just as much of an option as a trailer, with many dirt bike racers doing it over the weekend as an escape from their work.


The recommended way to carry your dirt bike with your small car will always be with a trailer; it is lightweight and much easier to set up. However, there are a few things that you will need to be aware of when you start loading and unloading the dirt bike on the trailer.

No one wants to drive 60 mph down the highway and then suddenly see their dirt bike flying down the road, with others having to dodge it. So, we recommend having a few things on hand and the basics of tightening the bike onto the trailer always ready for you.

  • Hitch: To hook any trailer, you will need a hitch on the car, and we recommend having one installed for safety anyway. The car manufacturer may install a hitch, but there are many third-party alternatives that a trusted mechanic can install.
  • Straps: We never recommend using chains when using a trailer; the forces applied to the dirt bike while in transport can shear through the chain. We recommend using ratchet straps that can be tightened to secure the bike onto the trailer fully.
  • Specialized Trailer: It should go without saying, but the trailer you are using to transport your dirt bike is not a normal trailer. Instead, you get specially made trailers that can transport dirt bikes, with the smallest ones allowing for only one bike, with larger ones allowing for four bikes at a time.
  • Ramp: While the skilled dirt bike rider can ride up onto a trailer without a ramp, we don’t recommend doing this. Instead, using the ramp that should be included with the trailer will allow you to perfectly strap the dirt bike onto it without missing the mark can cause damage to you, the trailer, and the bike.

Hitch-Mounted Carrier

We know that most people will attempt to use a hitch-mounted carrier if they only have one dirt bike. Which is exactly what the system was designed for and will easily allow you to load the dirt bike in a few minutes without having to go through the hassle of a trailer each time.

To load your dirt bike onto a hitch-mounted carrier, you will need a few things that many people aren’t always aware of. Many people do not use the right tools needed ending up with either a lost dirt bike or a dirt bike that has crashed through the rear window. Note that there are more hitch-mounted carrier types on the market than cars that can use them.

  • Ramp: The ramp used on a hitch-mounted carrier allows you to push the dirt bike onto the mount and safely secure it while removing the ramp. We recommend that you never try to drive the bike up this ramp, as it is significantly more difficult to do than on a ramp.
  • Ratchet Straps: The ratchet strap on a hitch-mounted carrier ensures that the front wheel does not turn, with many people only using one short strap. When securing a dirt bike onto a rear-mounted hitch, it will not rest on the bike’s wheels.
  • Chain: You will use two chains around the top of the dirt bike; these can be uncovered chains or covered chains. You must tighten these to ensure that the dirt bike cannot hop while being transported, or else it may hop off the carrier.
  • Carrier: The carrier used for this can usually be bought from bike specialist shops, with different models meant for different types of bikes. The heavier your dirt bike is, the stronger the carrier will have to be, which increases the system’s overall weight.
  • Hitch: As before, you will need to have your car or SUV fitted with a proper hitch to carry the dirt bike easily.


This is what we consider to be the absolute last resort, with the purchase of a new car or SUV being a better option than mounting your dirt bike on the roof. However, if you have no other option, it can be done with most modern cars having mounting holes for roof racks if needed.

To do this, you will need to ensure that the roof mount does not allow the bike’s wheels to touch any part of your car. This usually means that the mount will be the entire roof length, preventing you from opening the boot while the dirt bike is mounted onto the roof rack.

  • Chain: Like the hitch mount, you will have to use a chain over the middle of the dirt bike to ensure that it cannot tip or flip over. However, most roof mounts for dirt bikes have additional mounting locations that hold onto the bike with bolts to ensure it is secure.
  • Straps: While it is not necessarily needed, we always recommend putting two straps through the spokes of the dirt bike and roof mount. This will ensure that the dirt bike won’t easily be shaken loose, and if something does go wrong, you have redundancy.
  • Special Mount: The mount for a dirt bike is considered a specialized mount that needs to be built, especially according to every car and bike setup. While basic shapes can be used, they will have to be adjusted to ensure your dirt bike is secure.
  • Height Flag: We often see people not add this onto their car; however, we recommend adding a height flag onto the bonnet of your car. Ensuring that it is at the same height as the top of the dirt bike, ensuring you can see when a bridge or tree is too low before driving under it.


Your dirt bike can be transported with ease if you have a smaller car; you will need to install the right equipment to do so. When transporting a dirt bike in this manner, you will notice that the engine does suffer some performance, but you will be able to reach your destination.

Whatever you do, please don’t think your bicycle rack can hold your dirt bike!


Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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