What Is The Best Option For Shipping A Motorcycle?

There are a wide variety of methods for transporting your motorcycle and reasons you may need this service. Maybe you just purchased your first motorcycle and don’t feel comfortable riding home. Or it’s possible you need to ship a bike across the country or just a longer distance than you would like to drive.

In either case, there are some great solutions that range in convenience and price based on your needs.

The best option for shipping your motorcycle is to use a professional service that specializes in vehicle shipping and delivery. There are many companies that offer this service that range in price and quality.

What Are Your Options For Shipping A Motorcycle?

There are many options available nowadays for shipping a motorcycle. These range in cost and convenience depending on your needs and wants.

  • Professional Service

This would be ideal for a customer who wants peace of mind and insurance against an accident. A professional shipping company will be able to provide a more seamless experience where you won’t have to worry about anything going wrong.

Of course, this option will cost the most, but you are paying for experienced workers using good equipment from a company that is insured and bonded to take care of your motorcycle.

  • Do It Yourself

The more economical option would be to do the work yourself. I would recommend this if you’re looking to save money and don’t have to travel too far. You will need to buy or rent a truck and trailer along with all necessary accessories like tie-downs, a wheel chock, etc.

This is not recommended for someone with limited experience or working alone. It’s an ugly sight to have a motorcycle come loose on a trailer and fly off.

Here is a great example of someone with minimal experience transporting a motorcycle.
  • Dealership Provided

Another good option would be to have the selling dealership ship the motorcycle for you. This takes the burden off of you as long as you’re willing to pay the price. Most dealerships will have some relationship established with a local transport company to be able to reliably deliver your new bike.

This also relieves you of any liability if something were to go awry. The dealership would obviously be on the hook if the motorcycle were to get damaged during shipping.

  • Riding

The final option I can offer would be to “manually” ship the bike, also known as RIDING. This simply requires fuel and plenty of padding.

What Are Some Companies The Ship Motorcycles?

There are many options when it comes to shipping and transporting a motorcycle. I strongly recommend doing your own research to get accurate costs and determine the best option for your local area.

Common shipping outfits like UPS and Fedex do ship motorcycles.

They will be able to offer good insurance in case of accidental damage and definitely have some experience in the shipping industry. They will be charging a premium over mom and pop transporters but this is the inherent compromise you must decide on for yourself.

Based on your specific location, there will be a good small business that will offer transport services at a lower price while hopefully still maintaining high quality work.

For my location in California, Premier Motorcycle Transport has good reviews and offers competitive pricing. I do not have any affiliation with this company but you can click the link to be redirected to their website.

What Is The Cost Of Shipping A Motorcycle?

If you are shipping a motorcycle interstate, you should not be paying more than $500. If shipping across the country out of state, you could expect to pay anywhere between $2000-$4000, especially if shipping internationally.

Cost depends on a few factors:

  • Weight

This is one of the more important factors shipping companies will use when quoting the cost of shipping your motorcycle. Just like when you ship a normal package, the heavier the box the more expensive it is to ship.

The best practice when shipping a motorcycle is to empty the bike of fuel, oil, and coolant to make sure it is as light as possible. Three liters of oil weigh six pounds so this will make a considerable difference.

  • Distance

The other thing the post office usually asks for after weight is the destination address. It goes without saying that the longer the distance the more expensive the shipment will be.

It is worth noting that if the bike will have to cross an ocean this will also increase the price compared to if the bike is just crossing the country on ground.

  • Value

Something to consider is the price of the motorcycle being shipped. It will be considerably cheaper to send a Ninja 250 than a Panigale. This is mostly attributed to insurance cost and the liability being assumed by the shipper in the instance of a crash or any damage done to the payload during transit.

How Can A Motorcycle Get Transported?

In general, motorcycles can either be shipped in a crate, in an enclosed trailer, on an open trailer or in a truck bed.

The actual process of shipping a motorcycle comes in all shapes and sizes and reintroduces the question of price versus quality or workmanship. As can be noted in the video shown earlier, that probably didn’t cost a whole lot to strap the bike to the roof of the car, but the end result was undesirable.

There are a couple methods of physically shipping a motorcycle that are worth diving into deeper:

  • Crate
MV Agusta Brutale

If a bike is brand new or of any considerable value, most companies will load it into a crate to be shipped. See the photo how the bike is mounted to the crate securely to avoid any damage or accidents. Sometimes the wheels and windshield will be removed and the motorcycle will be physically bolted into a large rectangular wooden crate which is then strapped into a container or trailer.

This is going to be the preferred method if the bike is going a long distance on a commercial truck or boat.

  • Truck Bed

You can stack quite a few bikes in a truck bed. Check out this track day setup with three bikes ready to rock in one truck.

  • Open Trailer

While it is not recommended to tow with a small car, this is a good example of a couple bikes tied down to a trailer. Tie-downs used front and rear with both bike in proper alignment.

  • Closed Trailer

The last option I’ll mention is to use an enclosed trailer. This is a trailer much like the one in the picture above but with walls and a roof.

The same principles apply here as with any of the other methods. Use quality tie-downs, something to hold the front wheel steady like a wheel chock, and common sense.

Will A Motorcycle Dealership Deliver A Motorcycle?

In most instances, a motorcycle dealership will ship a motorcycle to the new owner.

Take caution when using this option to ship your motorcycle. The dealership will be in a good position in this set of circumstances to absolutely hose you if you aren’t paying attention. It wouldn’t take much work or fine print to markup a shipping invoice an obscene amount.

Possible Issues When Shipping A Motorcycle

I’ll end this article with a few things to keep an eye out for regardless of which option you choose.

Low Quality Equipment

Whether using a trailer, truck, or commercial mover, the quality of equipment being used is vital. Some easy things to keep a watch out for and reduce risk are cheap tie-downs and under-serviced tow equipment.

Tie-downs that have a tear in the strap or are of low quality can fail under tension and cause the bike to become dislodged during shipment which will most certainly result in damage to the bike.

If the truck and / or trailer being used to tow has not been serviced regularly, catastrophic failure may occur. Put it this way, if a thirty year old truck that’s beat to hell pulls up in front of my house to transport my bike, I’m going to run for the hills. Items like trailer axles are common to fail if not regularly lubricated.

Questionable Manpower

Take an inventory of the team shipping your bike if using a professional company. If I’m using a company for the first time and the driver is late, unkept, disrespectful, or all of the above, I’m likely going to cancel and try someone else if I care about the bike getting to it’s destination in one piece.

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