Now here’s something you don’t see every day. When you need to haul your motorcycle rather than ride it, if you’re content to use a trailer or load it in the back of a pickup, there’s no need to read any further. But if being restricted to the right lanes of the highway, maneuvering a trailer, or taking up all of the space in the bed of your truck is bothersome, then check out the Joe Hauler.
It fits into your SUV’s or truck’s hitch receiver and allows you to carry your bike across the back instead. The company makes Single and Double Haulers for dirt and street bikes, as well as Quad Haulers for ATVs.
We figured that the Single Hauler would probably be the most popular with Rider readers, so we ordered up Joe Hauler’s Deluxe Cam-Loc Heavy Duty motorcycle carrier. This is built for motorcycles up to 800 pounds, with larger diameter cross bracing, a tapered ramp that accommodates wider rear tires (up to 10 inches) and wider hold-down bars for more stability and four tiedown points. It comes with a full-length ramp so that you can easily roll the bike up on to the carrier and tie it down. Two studs on the carrier allow you to secure the ramp to it with wing nuts once you’re loaded up.
Although it really takes two people to lift the Joe Hauler and slide it into a hitch receiver, with lighter bikes it’s fairly easy to roll one up on the carrier and tie it down by yourself. Just have a front tiedown already hooked in place on the end of a hold-down bar that you can grab and hook over the handlebar. Heavier machines require a second person to do the tying down while you hold the bike up. We used engine power to get the bike up the ramp, but it’s probably safer to enlist a second person and push it up.
Joe Hauler’s Cam-Loc option is nice if you’re going to be making longer trips, as it keeps the Hauler from rattling around in the hitch receiver. It’s simply a sliding wedge on the end of the part that goes into the receiver that tightens with a large bolt on the opposite end. This expands the end to fit tightly into the receiver and prevents rattling. We found it worked well in practice, but adds a step that might not be necessary for shorter trips.
Once we had a 450-pound motorcycle securely tied down on the Joe Hauler, which was mounted on a late-model Toyota Tundra, no amount of weaving, hard stops, jackrabbit starts or speed bumps could break it or the Hauler loose. In addition to four stout Ancra tiedowns compressing the bike’s suspension, we also used one between a frame rail on the bike’s undercarriage and the front of the carrier to prevent the bike from rolling back and forth—even in gear the bike’s driveline lash allowed too much rolling for comfort.
There are, of course, caveats galore. First, you have to make sure that—in addition to the Joe Hauler model being able to support your bike’s weight—your SUV’s or truck’s hitch receiver will support the weight of your bike and the Joe Hauler. There’s no sense in getting a Hauler rated for 800 pounds, for example, when your Class III hitch is only rated for 500. You also have to make sure that your four-wheeled vehicle’s suspension is up to the task. Although my Nissan Pathfinder’s Class III hitch is good for the weight of the KTM Superduke and the Single Hauler, the SUV’s suspension completely bottomed once we loaded up the bike. Joe Hauler recommends the installation of suspension air bags when needed, which most SUVs do to carry that kind of weight behind the rear axle, so this could become quite an expensive proposition.
Though the Joe Hauler frees you from the right lanes and a trailer, it comes with its own necessary driving cautions. Driving up and down steep inclines may cause the Hauler to drag if your vehicle isn’t high enough, and there’s an anecdote on Joe Hauler’s website—which I recommend reading in detail—that describes how a customer pulled over a light pole with one. A real picky cop could take issue with a blocked license plate or taillights, and that much weight behind the rear axle may effect your four-wheeler’s handling. Overall though, we found the Joe hauler well made, easy to use and live with, and loved not having to use a trailer.
The Joe Hauler Single Deluxe Cam-Loc Heavy Duty retails for $699.99 plus freight, but JH has dozens of different carriers for Class II through Class IV receivers and dirt bikes to full dressers, so check the website for a complete list.
For more information: Joe Hauler Motorcycle Carriers, 1056 Commerce Street, Suite D, San Marcos, California 92078; (800) 504-2441 or (760) 510-9092; www.joehauler.com