Getting Your Motorcycle from Point A to Point B

Understanding how to transport a motorcycle safely over a long distance is important no matter if you are moving or on the buying or the selling end of a business transaction. If you don’t want to take the trek yourself, there are companies that will deliver your bike for you.

Start Your Search for a Helping Hand

Research the different motorcycle shipping companies in your area, and procure at least three (or more) price quotes. The cost will be dependent on how far the bike needs to travel, the type of bike it is, the dates of departure and arrival, and which shipping method on which you decide. Some companies may have additional fees, including service charges or handling fees, that will be added to your order.

Frequently, many of these motorcycle transport companies require the balance be paid in full before the bike is shipped. The best arrangement is payment of a deposit at the time of the service order, then remitting the remaining balance once delivery has been made. This allows you to have some bargaining power if anything happens to go wrong.

What’s the Difference Between Open and Enclosed Shipping?

The first decision comes when choosing open or enclosed shipping. Open shipping typically is the less costly option. However, if you are going to be transporting your bike more than 500 miles, it is highly recommended that enclosed shipping method is chosen. This method gives a higher degree of security and aids in the protection of your bike from potentially damaging elements, e.g. small rocks, snow, or rain.

With enclosed transport, the motorcycle is secured to a pallet and then loaded onto a truck inside a wooden crate. Although this is a popular option, it is imperative to remember that crated transport does ordinarily require extra preparation. Before transport, all fluids should be drained and flushed. Further, removal of the battery and, in some cases, the mirrors and handlebars may be required.

Make Sure the Transporter is Covered

The chosen shipping company should be insured against damage or theft to your motorcycle. It would be a wise decision to ask to see a copy of its insurance coverage before signing any agreement, just to be sure. Depending on the company, some will cover all damage costs, should they arise. On the other hand, other carriers require you to pay a deductible in the event of a mishap. Another safeguard you may consider is extending one of your insurance policies to protect your bike during shipping. Contact your insurance customer service to verify the details of this coverage.

Prepping for the Trip

When you need to ship your motorcycle, you will want to select a carrier who shares your passion for these beautiful machines. Motorcycle enthusiasts are best served to enlist a motorcycle shipping company that understands the intricacies involved in the handling and movement of this type of vehicle.

While some turnkey carriers will get your bike good to go, others may require that you complete preparations, including items like:

  • Washing the bike and taking a note of any existing damage. Document this step with pictures for extra security measure.
  • Removal of personal items from saddlebags and under-seat storage.
  • Deactivation of any alarms to prevent them going off during transport.
  • Inflation of tires to recommended pressures.
  • Inspection for fuel leaks.
  • Securing of side mirrors and locking of the handlebars.
  • Shifting the bike to neutral as movement during transport can result in an engaged transmission doing internal damage.
  • If choosing enclosed shipping, drain the gas tank and remove the battery.

Don't neglect to request a copy of the pre-trip inspection report before turning your motorcycle over to the shipping company. These carriers are required to keep records that detail pick-up and delivery information, records of the bike’s mileage and a full description of its current condition.

What to Check When It Gets There

Upon arrival at the final destination, use the original inspection report to check for any damages on the motorcycle. If you notice any scratches, nicks, or other problems, insist that they are documented immediately. You will have a difficult time trying to collect reimbursement for shipping-related damages if you do not have complete records. Normally, it is best to receive your bike during daylight hours. An inspection for any shipping-related damages will be easier and faster. Do not agree to receive your motorcycle at night unless you are able to take it to a well-lit location close by for the inspection.

Find a Problem? What’s Next?

The majority of motorcycle transport experiences are worry-free. If a problem occurs during the shipping process, however, first speak with the motorcycle shipping company. Most genuine businesses are dedicated to customer service. They will be willing to work with you to find an acceptable solution if you state your case firmly and politely. If you are unable to come to a resolution about the problem to your satisfaction, then consider filing a grievance with the Better Business Bureau or the U.S. Department of Transportation.