Ultimate MX Hauler

When you don't have space for a trailer....
In 2007, my faithful red GMC pickup truck had amassed 175,000
miles, miraculously on its original transmission. I figured at some point
I'd be loading up for a race, ready to roll and then hear and feel the
kind of grinding in the drivetrain that can only mean death to the
second most expensive component of an automobile. I had been
considering a hitch-mounted bike carrier for some time, as a backup
plan in case the
Sonoma finally let go. When plans materialized for
my
2007 Colorado vacation to include Big Bird (a/k/a The BlaZeR2)
pulling two bikes on
Matt Sellers'  trailer from St. Louis to Gunnison,
the bike carrier idea was accelerated. I needed to get my KTM to
Wentzville, Missouri and didn't have access to a trailer.

So I ordered up an
Ultimate MX Hauler from Rocky Mountain, along
with a
gas can carrier rack. Dirt Rider Magazine had reviewed
hitch-mounted carriers in 2006 and rated the Ultimate MX Hauler as
the top of the line. It's solidly constructed, painted and welded very
well, pretty easy to operate and the most expensive hitch-mounted
carrier option out there. After I added the gas can rack, I probably
could have bought a decent used 5x8 trailer for the same price ($380
in total). Even so, the Ultimate MX Hauler works very well. Only
pictures can adequately describe what this contraption looks like and
how it functions:
The bike sits on a horizontal plate, secured by pins with wing nuts on
the ends. In the "down" position, the bike is centered over the plate
and then secured by dropping the pins through the footpegs and
through holes in the plate. Once the wing nuts are tightened (lock
washers are supplied), you pump the jack several times and the bike
lifts into its carrying position.
Another pin locks the carrier into this position, so there's no reliance
on the bottle jack to hold the rack in its raised position. I added the
gas can attachment so I wouldn't have to carry premix inside Big Bird.
Note the tie-down strap
from the handlebar to a
hook welded to the carrier.
This keeps the front end of
the bike from moving while
driving. You can see I had
to remove the Blazer's
Above: Here's what Big Bird looks like with the bike raised on the
carrier. The photo below shows the carrier in its down position, with no
weight on the hitch. It's hard to see much difference in sag, but it's
there - note the angle of the roof rack compared to the cement block
wall.  The extra weight is noticeable when driving, but not so much to
be annoying or distracting.
The downside to the Ultimate MX Hauler is that it completely conceals
the license plate. With a bike attached, the taillights are also obscured
somewhat. The rear window is still accessible but the tailgate pretty
much has to stay closed even without a bike on the carrier. The
pivoting control arms of the carrier have enough play that I always see
the bike swaying in the rear view mirror, but it's not going anywhere.
The carrier is solid, and once I accepted that (about 300 miles into my
trip to St. Louis), I didn't even pay attention anymore.

I'd recommend the Ultimate MX Hauler to anyone who wants to haul a
bike around in the comfort of an SUV and not have to deal with a
trailer. When my pickup truck does finally meet its maker, I suspect I'll
end up buying a trailer, but for now I've got a good alternative - an
insurance policy, if you will, for the day I'm no longer a pickup truck
guy.
Update October 2007:
The Ultimate MX Hauler has now logged about 4,000 miles, most of
them coming from the
Eastern Road Trip '07 in September. A couple
observations:

  • The wing nuts securing the foot peg pins loosen as I drive, even
    with the supplied lock washers. I've since swapped them for lock
    nuts. The lock nuts also prevent scarring of the threads on the
    pins when tightening or loosening the wing nuts with pliers. Once
    the threads get dinged up, the wing nuts turn harder.
  • As mentioned in my Eastern Road Trip '07 report, lock nuts are a
    slightly better theft deterrent than wing nuts.
  • The ideal tightness of the wing nuts (or whichever type of nuts are
    used) is just a little past where the lock washers are compressed
    fully. On my KX250, any tighter and the bike tended to pivot more
    freely at the foot pegs. Snug is all you need, otherwise you'll see a
    lot more movement in your rear view mirror.
  • The Blazer's handling is naturally affected by an extra 300 pounds
    (including the Ultimate MX Hauler) on the hitch. While every turn
    and bump is amplified, it's easy to get used to and after a while I
    didn't even notice.
  • The next time I do a long road trip with the Blazer carrying a
    motorcycle, I'll remove the spare tire carrier. With this vehicle, to
    get full access to the cargo area, the tailgate must be dropped
    down, but this can't be done unless the spare tire carrier is fully
    extended. With a motorcycle on the Ultimate MX Hauler, the
    carrier can't be extended far enough.
  • I wondered if I'd ever be questioned by law enforcement, since the
    motorcycle conceals the Blazer's license plate and partially blocks
    the taillights. I may have received a few second looks, but "The
    Man" had plenty of opportunities to get to know me better and
    took a pass each time.

Overall, the Ultimate MX Hauler is a pretty good compromise between
a pickup truck and a trailer for hauling bikes. I still believe it will
eventually be replaced by a trailer someday, but for now it's great for
long trips where I want the comfort, reliability, and
horn blasting
capability of my Blazer.
Update November 2010:
I've long since lost track of how many miles the Ultimate MX Hauler
has logged, but nothing has changed. It still works the same. The
only issue I've wanted to address for some time is the tendency for my
bikes to bounce a little over rough terrain. The foot peg pins do an
excellent job holding the bike against the steel plate, but the bike can
still pivot around the pegs. On uneven terrain, I'll look into my rear
view mirror and see the bike trying to do a wheelie behind me.

To fix this, I bought a turnbuckle with a hook on one end and an
eyelet on the other. I mounted a 90-degree bracket to the MX Hauler
like this:
Works great.
spare tire, as it interfered with the operation of the carrier. I tried a 6"
hitch extender that I use for my hitch-mounted bicycle rack, but the
rear end of the vehicle sags more and I didn't like the extra sway.
Even when using special threaded sway-reducing hitch pins in both
ends of the tube extension, there was still more movement than I was
comfortable with. The Ultimate MX Hauler comes with threads in the
hitch pin hole and a threaded hitch pin. I used my own lockable
threaded hitch pin. The photo above left shows how I add a little
security with
The Beast.