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An ATV carrier is a structure mounted on the bed of a pickup truck or on a trailer hitch receiver which is designed to haul an all-terrain vehicle, or ATV. The specific design of the ATV carrier can vary significantly by manufacturer and intended application, but all models will feature some method of allowing the user to drive the ATV onto the carrier, as well as some method of securing the carrier and ATV in place for secure hauling. Some of these carriers are designed for use specifically in pickup truck beds, while others are designed for use with trailer hitches or even trailers.
The specific design of the ATV carrier will vary depending on how it is intended to be used. Some carriers, for example, mount on the top rails of a pickup truck bed, which means the ATV will sit above the top lip of the bed. It must then be secured in place using cables, straps, or chains. A ramp is usually included as part of the ATV carrier to make it easy to drive the ATV onto the carrier, which will already be mounted to the truck bed. Some ATV carrier models allow for two ATVs to be hauled at one time; the ATVs will be situated perpendicularly across the pickup truck bed to maximize effective storage space.
The carrier is usually made of durable steel that can withstand the abuse and constant weight of the heavy ATVs. The structure can, therefore, be fairly heavy, so once it is mounted in the truck bed, it may not be easy to remove it quickly. An ATV carrier that is designed for use with a trailer hitch may be a bit lighter, but removal may still require more than one person. Hitch-mounted carriers can only haul one ATV, and the size of the ATV that can be hauled will be limited not only by the carrier's weight restrictions, but also by the trailer hitch assembly's weight restrictions.
Most carriers feature some sort of ramp that can be retracted or folded up when not in use. This allows the ATV to be driven onto the rack safely. The ramps may also be made of steel, though in some cases, aluminum ramps are acceptable. Buyers should take note of the weight capacity of ramps and carriers before purchasing to ensure the ATV does not exceed the weight limits.