Getting your toys to your riding area is always a balance. Too many toys, not enough space. Buying a trailer vs. hauling in your truck bed. Buying a toy hauler vs. using camp trailer and putting toys in the truck bed.
Side x Side Vehicles are an interesting size. Smaller than a jeep or sand car, but bigger than an ATV.
Many UTV owners have come up with some unique ways to transport them to riding areas.
In California, the legal speed limit when towing is 55 mph. That is one of the major factors that drove me to have a truck rack built for my short bed. I also modified my 16′ flatbed trailer to haul a RZR sideways.
Others already have a camp trailer that cannot haul anything (or any more), so they turn to hauling in the truck bed.
The cheapest way to haul your UTV is in the back of your truck. Most long travel UTVs (with the exception of a few RZR kits) are too wide to fit in the bed of your truck. There are a few issues with hauling in the bed:
Watch the back window of your truck when you load so the bumper of your UTV doesn’t go through the window. Also make sure you strap the UTV down well so it doesn’t surge forward under heavy braking.
Don’t trust the cables on your tailgate!
When loading use 4×4 and make sure your ramps are strapped well. It is easy for a ramp to slide out when trying to get the front wheels over the wheel wells in the truck bed.
One way to save your tail gate is with a “GateSaver”. This product uses your hitch to support the rear tires of the UTV so your tailgate doesn’t have to.
A properly sized truck rack will allow even a long travel UTV to be stored above the bed rails. There are a few minor downsides to this method – higher center of gravity and the need for longer ramps (I wouldn’t do it with anything less than 10′ ramps).
If you want to haul your UTV in the back of your short bed truck and still be able to tow a camp trailer, the other option is an over cab truck rack. The advantage here is the UTV is completely within the tailgate. The downsides are the same as the normal truck racks, but add to that additional wind resistance and a bit higher center of gravity.
On the Back of a 5th Wheel
If you are looking to haul a UTV in the back of your truck, I would suggest installing a set of air bags on your truck so you can make sure the truck is level and the ride is firm. Air bags are installed between the frame and the suspension and are designed to maximize the safe load carrying capacity, stability and ride quality of your truck.
If you are going to use a rack in the bed of your truck, make sure it is securely fastened. Once you put a UTV up on top and hit a few bumps while turning, you will see why. I did not trust relying on a few straps attached to the factory tie down hooks. It is not that I worried about the straps breaking. It was more that I did not trust the factory tie down hooks fastened to the sheet metal in the bed.
People have been dealing with a similar problem with slide in campers for years. The best solution I found was a set of frame mounted tie downs. This not only gives you a solid point to attach, but also moves the tie down location out to the edge of the rack where it is most effective in controlling movement.
Upgrading shocks isn’t a bad idea either. OEM shocks do wear out, and aren’t up to the task of going from an empty truck to a loaded truck.
I went with a set of adjustable RS9000XL shocks from Rancho Suspension. Ranchos RS9000XL shock absorbers feature 9 position adjustable damping and a larger shock body allows the RS9000XL to run more consistent & cooler even under the most demanding conditions.
More: UTV Truck Rack Review