VersaHaul is a Lafayette, Ind., company that provides a wide range of products for transporting all sorts of vehicles. For a trip from Austin to Colorado for the 50th Annual Rocky Mountain Trials Association Ute Cup, I transported my Vertigo Combat Ice Hell motorcycle using the VersaHaul VH-55 RO carrier, with the optional Taillight Kit and V-Strap Motorcycle Kit tie-downs.
The light kit provides that extra peace of mind when crossing states and into the Rocky Mountains, knowing your lights can be seen by all. It also means less chance of causing law enforcement to take a close look at you. The six-foot ratcheting tie-downs are real heavy-duty kit, too, measuring one-inch wide—quality all around.
When the VersaHaul VH-55 RO was delivered, I was not disappointed. The box is not light—shipping weight is nearly 100 pounds—so be careful when trying to move it. You will need a dolly or hand truck to do it safely. The weight of the package translates to a well-made, designed, and constructed unit.
I watched a couple of videos online before it arrived to see if there were any tips I would need to know. There were, and they did help. That said, it is a straightforward install. Following the instructions provided makes it go smoothly.
As I pulled each component out of the box, I was impressed with the quality of the metalwork, finish, and simplicity of the VersaHaul VH-55 RO. I installed the light kit first—a tip I learned from watching one of the videos. Next, I put the carrier onto the hitch, adding the removable tie-down outriggers as the next step. The spring pin fasteners that hold the tie-down outriggers in place are heavy-duty and a cracking design solution. I put the light units on last, followed by the supplied reflectors, just to be totally covered.
As the carrier is not light, taking it on and off regularly will require strong quads and glutes, with a straight back technique. I was slipping it into the hitch on my Dodge Ram 15000 Rebel. The carrier also has a hitch of its own, so you can tow up to 3000 pounds behind it. VersaHaul also has a wide variety of accessories to handle virtually any sort of hitch requirements, as long as you have at least a Class III hitch—a Class IV is even better, of course.
It was easy to load my admittedly light Vertigo trials bike onto the carrier using the included ramp, which is nearly five-feet long. Ground clearance will not be an issue on any dirt bike, but could come into play with a street bike.
The V-Strap Kit makes it each to cinch down the motorcycle onto the carrier. There are two ratchet straps and two cam-buckle straps, both one-inch wide, along with four closed-loop straps to keep your motorcycle scratch-free and away from the plastic-coated hooks. That is enough to tie-down a motorcycle with confidence.
For the VersaHaul VH-55 RO’s first test, I drove to Colorado for a family fly fishing trip, as part of the Ute Cup two-day trail. The fly-fishing trip has been a staple in my mother-in-law’s life for seven decades, so for a couple of weeks in the summer, my family takes their fly fishing quite seriously. Of course, I wanted to ride in the Ute Cup, having heard stories from my riding buddies how fun, hard, and satisfying it was to compete in this event.
The trip I covered over 2700 miles, with 300 of those off-road. After driving to Fairplay for a week of fishing, I continued to Del Norte, near the Ute Cup pits.
The drive to Fairplay from Texas was trouble-free, even though it took me 300 miles to stop looking in my mirrors to see if the rack and bike were okay. The VersaHaul VH-55 RO was solid; nothing on it rattled loose, the V-Strap kit kept my bike tight and safe. I was very impressed, but like any motorcycle riding Englishman, I couldn’t have 100 percent trust—not just yet.
After getting to our cabin, I removed my motorcycle and put it in the shed. That gave me a chance to inspect the carrier—it was perfect. I kept the carrier on the entire week, driving between our cabin and the in-laws, which included about eight miles of off-road—it was a good test. I took the Vertigo to ride at the in-laws while everyone fished.
After all this, the carrier was holding firm—not one thing was loose or anything like. It was as unyielding as when I first installed it.
After a week of local driving, I said goodbye to my family, loaded up the Vertigo, cinched it down, and headed to Del Norte—140 miles away. Arriving in Del Norte, the motorcycle was unmoved, and so was the carrier—the VersaHaul VH-55 RO was making me feel confident about its safety.
This is in sharp contrast to my previous carrier. I bought the no-name product online, and the carrier that came wasn’t the one in the picture I’d ordered. I didn’t have time to send it back, so I went ahead and started using it. After the second time using it, I managed to strip out two of the three bolts on the stabilizing bracket, due to some low-grade rubbish metal. That proper wound me up. Having your motorcycle rocking back and forth on the hitch is not what you want to see in your rearview mirror, and I’m sure it was a little disconcerting for any motorist behind me, too.
The Monday before the Ute Cup, I took a drive to the end of Embargo Creek Road; it is long and rough as hell. It didn’t faze the VersaHaul VH-55 RO—sound as a pound.
For a week, I drove around the area and explored and took a few pics. I decided to do a reccy of the Ute Cup event area. This meant driving up Embargo Creek Road for 25 miles, all off-road, and climbing from 7,800 feet above sea level to the pits at 11,000 feet.
The dirt road is not too bad for about three or four miles, but then it gets pretty rough till you get up to the pits. The scenery on the drive up is breathtaking. Once you reach the pits, it is more of the same. I did this drive 14 times. It was rough on my truck, and I thought it would be even harder on the VersaHaul VH-55 RO—not so.
A quick description of the Ute Cup: It is a two-day observed motorcycle trial in the Rocky Mountains comprising of 20 sections. This year, there was a 35-mile loop on Saturday and a 30-mile loop on Sunday. It was the most demanding trial event I have ever competed in—I will train harder for next year.
After beating myself up and the bike over this event and catching up with some NorCal PITS club friends I hadn’t seen in a while, I headed home on Monday. The drive home was uneventful, which is always a good thing.
I arrived at my house and took a look at my Vertigo—safe and sound on the VersaHaul VH-55 RO. I was so impressed. I keep the carrier on for a few weeks to further test its durability. Driving all over the Austin area, nothing has come loose.
The VersaHaul VH-55 RO is a well-built, well-designed motorcycle carrier. It has everything and can take almost anything. My motorcycle was held in place and safe for the entire journey. Some people will say it is a bit pricey—I’m telling you it’s worth it when you’re carrying a motorcycle that costs over $10,000. After spending a lot less on a rack that failed on its second outing, the is no question that the VersaHaul unit worth the money and a smart investment.
VersaHaul VH-55 RO Fast Facts
- Carrying capacity: 500 pounds
- Pin to center-of-rail: 21.5 inches
- Carrier rail length: 71.5 inches
- Carrier rail width: 6.375 inches
- Ramp length: 57.5 inches
- Ramp width: 5.5 inches
- Maximum tire width: 5.5 inches
- VersaHaul VH-55 RO Price: $548 MSRP
- VersaHaul VH-TK Taillight Kit Price: $53 MSRP
- VersaHaul 1″ V-Strap Kit Price: $45 MSRP (four straps)