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 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
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.
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.