Dirt Bike Hitch Haulers
Dirt bike hitch haulers are a great alternative to pickup truck beds or tow-behind trailers for transporting your dirt bike. They're low enough to the ground to make loading and unloading easy, they're less expensive than a trailer (not to mention easier to maneuver), and there are no DMV registration fees. The first step before buying a motorcycle hauler of any kind is to make sure your hitch is rated properly (we won't go into detail about that in this article, but it's important!). Most dirt bike hitch haulers require a Class II hitch or better. If you need more info about hitches, some brand names are Reese and Curt Manufacturing. Curt Manufacturing has a nice 'Understanding Towing' pdf article that offers tips about towing and trailer hitches.
Bottle jack hitch haulers: There are two basic styles of dirt bike haulers: one that uses a ramp, and one that uses a hydraulic jack to raise and lower the platform of the hitch hauler. The latter is known as a bottle jack style hauler. The Moto Jack and Ultimate MX Hauler are bottle jack style haulers (the Ultimate MX is pictured). The bottle jack style of hitch hauler is more expensive than the ramp style haulers, but the plus side is ease of loading. The bottle jack hauler uses hydraulics which makes loading the bike a bit easier as you don't need to wrestle with the dirt bike as much as with a ramp, but it also begs the question - what happens if the hydraulics give out?
Ramp style hitch haulers: The ramp style hitch hauler offers several choices: single, double, and solid or runged platforms. The platform with rungs, (where the tires sit inside the rungs) is more popular than the solid platform. If you have a heavier bike it can be tough to get the bike into and out of the rungs, but it's a bit more stable than the solid platform as the bike sits securely in the rungs. The ramp style hauler also has the advantage of only relying on a ramp and not hydraulics, which means if the ramp gets lost, borrowed or stolen, it's still possible to load the bike onto the platform with some good muscle power. The Rage Powersports aluminum hitch hauler and the TMC runged hitch hauler are two examples of ramp style hitch haulers. The ramp style haulers are generally less expensive than the bottle jack haulers, and there are dozens of models on the market.
Going strapless: It may seem a bit extreme to drill holes in a pickup truck in order to transport a dirt bike, but if you're a serious privateer driving all over the country, a strapless system might be a good option in order to avoid compressing the forks for an extended period. Risk Racing has a strapless tie-down system that's been around for a while and has gotten good reviews. Once the rack is attached to the pickup bed, the dirt bike is secured to the rack via the footpegs. You set the bottom jaws level with the bike's footpegs, then step on the top jaw to sandwich the footpegs in between the jaws. A knurled hand tightener secures (and releases) the jaws. Although the base itself is stationary the side jaws are removeable. Be sure to read the reviews on Amazon as they talk about clearances for different bikes (at least 13" tall, no more than 14" wide, etc). If you have a short bed truck, make sure the bike will fit in the bed once the plate is installed. You may want to consider a pickup truck bed extender just to be on the safe side.
Research before buying: If you're buying online, be sure to check the weight the hauler is rated to carry, the size of receiver hitch it will accommodate, the end user reviews, and the shipping costs. Read the descriptions as well as the Q&As (if there are any). If the answer you're looking for isn't there - ask your own question. Most manufacturers lump lightweight dirt bikes in with big touring bikes under the umbrella of 'motorcycle hauler' and there's no easy way to separate the categories. Try searching for hitch hauler, motorcycle hauler, dirt bike hitch hauler, dirt bike carrier, etc. When doing your research keep in mind that a cargo carrier is not the same as a dirt bike carrier - cargo carriers are generally meant to haul coolers, camping supplies, and other lightweight products. Make sure the item you're looking at is rated to carry a dirt bike.
MX Hauler video: Here's a video showing how to install the Ultimate MX Hauler hitch carrier, which is a bottle jack type hauler. BTW - getting good value for your money is subjective as the following video will show. He feels he got a "killer deal" on Ebay; others will think he got ripped off, not just because he was lied to by the Ebay seller but because of the inconvenience of not being able to use the carrier, having to the spend time and money to drive to Sears to buy a new bottle jack, paying for replacement parts, and having to repair the hauler. He's lucky he was handy enough to do the repairs himself. Sometimes buying new is cheaper in the long run. The video does a good job of showing the dirt bike hauler though.