Whether you are relocating to another city or state or changing places due to work-related requirements, you will probably need to find a way to ship your motorcycle. Perhaps you have just bought yourself a nice present, but riding your brand new bike yourself may not be the best-case scenario at this given time. This is where motorcycle shipping comes into play.

Indeed, there are motorcycle transport and shipping services to help get your precious asset from point A to point B safely and securely. Nevertheless, note that shipping a standard vehicle is quite different from motorcycle shipping due to the different size and the different construction of bikes compared to cars or trucks. This means that the standard shipping methods will probably not apply here. So, how do you ship your motorcycle?

When it comes to finding motorcycle shipping services, there are two main methods: open transport and enclosed transport. Most motorcycles that are shipped long-distances require enclosed motorcycle transport services, simply for the fact that there aren’t as many open motorcycle shipping companies as there are enclosed motorcycle shippers. This is because most motorcycles are actually shipped in a crate as opposed to just strapped down onto a flatbed truck, because it’s safer as well as cheaper.

Typically, enclosed motorcycle transporters are recommended for long-distance shipments; if you’re shipping your motorcycle in-town or in-state, you may be able to get away with an open shipper, but we recommend against this if your motorcycle is really, really pretty and you don’t want possible damage to happen. Here is everything you need to know about how motorcycle shipping works, how to prepare for it, and what you can do to make the most out of your shipment.

motorcycle shipping by American Auto Shipping

How Does Shipping a Motorcycle Work?

Shipping a motorcycle is pretty simple and involves the following 5 steps:
  1. Get a Quote. Use our online auto transport calculator to get your motorcycle shipping quote in just a few seconds. Our pricing experts take into account all factors that determine motorcycle shipping costs, including diesel fuel rates and supply and demand. This is why our price quotes are binding – the price you will receive from using our online shipping calculator is what you will pay. No hidden costs.
  2. Schedule the Pickup. Once you give us all the necessary details about your motorcycle shipping needs (i.e., trailer type), we will schedule your motorcycle shipping service accordingly the soonest possible. We will give you several available dates to choose from, depending on your pick up and delivery requirements. Note that shipping a bike across the country can take several days. We strongly suggest planning on at least a 3-day window for pick up and delivery to accommodate any delays that can not be foreseen.
  3. Document the Condition of Your Bike. It is important to us that you document the condition of your motorcycle before we provide our motorcycle shipping service. This is a standard procedure to ensure that you will receive your bike in the same condition as you hand it over to us. If this step is omitted, the carrier has no liability if your bike has scratches or dings at delivery. Therefore, take detailed photos of your bike from various angles. Also, ensure you inspect the motorcycle thoroughly at delivery and report any damage found (if any) to the driver while also noting it down on the delivery inspection document. Remember that when you ship your bike with us, we guarantee a damage-free delivery. In the extremely rare case that your bike gets damaged during the transport, we bind ourselves to help you pay a portion of the repair costs.
  4. Prepare Your Motorcycle For Shipping. Your bike should be ready to ride at delivery, which is why we won’t ask you to disconnect the battery or empty the gas tank. Unless you’re shipping a short distance, make sure that you drain the gas tank – 1/4 tank is what motorcycle shipping services typically recommend. Do ensure that your tour packs and saddlebags are properly closed and secured and remove any personal property from the motorcycle (i.e., the helmet) – you may store your personal items inside the tour packs, saddlebags, or trunks. Please do not leave any extra parts outside the motorcycle to prevent potential dents or scratches. Don’t forget to either ship your keys (or your spare keys) or attach them to the handlebars with a tie wrap. After you’ve marked down anything of importance, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your motorcycle, write down any existing mechanical problems, take pictures of your vehicle from multiple angles, and make sure to include any damage in the photos to be sure that it’s documented – and remember to date any pictures or notes you take regarding your bike. Make sure to remove all loose items from your motorcycle, as your shipper’s insurance probably won’t cover them. As your carrier may need to drive your motorcycle on or off the transport truck, telling them ahead of time of any mechanical problems or reasons why they cannot drive it would be a good idea. Motorcycle shipping services are generally cheaper than vehicle shipping services, but sometimes it can be more expensive, especially if you’re shipping across the country, so in order to save some time and money be sure that you follow all the steps in regards to prepping your bike and make sure that you understand how your motorcycle is insured and what that insurance will do for you. Don’t forget that you can ship any vehicle with American Auto Shipping! Simply take a minute to fill out our free quote form and get a free, no-hassle quote to ship your vehicle right away. You can also contact us any time toll-free to speak to a representative. They can answer questions, give you a free quote, and even book your reservation if you’re ready to actually ship.
  5. Ship & Receive Your Motorcycle At the Destination. The select carrier will meet you at the designated location and pick up your motorcycle. Or you could bring the bike to the depot of the shipper yourself if you wish to expedite the process. Once your motorcycle arrives at its destination, you will meet the carrier, inspect the bike for any damage, and accept the motorcycle delivery (or not, if damage is done and you need to file insurance claims). Remember to bring your keys if you have not attached them to the handlebars. The carrier does not need them, so you must have them with you.

How Motorcycle Shipping Differs From Auto Shipping?

On the surface, both transport procedures include the same steps. However, the procedures vary quite significantly. You see, when shipping a standard SUV, truck, or car, we usually ship them using open auto transportation trucks. This is not the case with bike shipping as open carrier shipping is not an available option because motorcycles cannot be securely transported via open transport trucks as they are meant to haul vehicles bearing four wheels. Being a two-wheel vehicle, a bike is more susceptible to damage during shipping. For that reason, we either choose enclosed carriers or (less commonly) flatbed trucks. In the first method, the bike is secured in a crate and then shipped on the carrier. In the latter option, we strap the motorcycle down to the bed, which means that it will be exposed to the elements. Finally, price-wise, shipping a bike is cheaper than shipping a vehicle due to the lower weight of the first.

In regard to the relevant costs of using either an enclosed truck or a flatbed carrier, there are no significant variations. The two methods are almost equally priced. However, the majority of bike-only shippers prefer enclosed trucks to transport motorcycles, which usually reflects on the price. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the best solution for your motorcycle shipping needs.

motorcycle in shipping crate

How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Motorcycle?

Using our online auto transport calculator will give you an instant quote, so you will know exactly how much shipping your bike will cost you. Several factors determine the price quote, including the distance that needs to be covered, the trailer used, and, of course, the type of the bike. If you request extra services, such as delivering the motorcycle to a residential area, as well as crating services and supplemental insurance coverage, additional charges may be incurred. To give you a general idea, you can expect to pay around $500 on average if you are shipping a bike over a distance of 1,000 miles. For less than 1,000 miles, the bike shipping costs are about half as much (so, between $200-$350).

How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for Shipping?

Preparing your motorcycle for shipping has, more or less, the same requirements as to when preparing your vehicle for shipping. This means that you should only have the bike’s tank full by ¼ only at the time of pick up.

It is also paramount that the motorcycle is operational. Otherwise, please inform us that it does not run so we can make the necessary arrangements for its transfer. Another checkpoint is the bike’s connections. Look for any loose connections (i.e., with the handlebars or the wheels). It does not happen often, but we have witnessed motorcycles literally falling apart while they are being loaded or unloaded several times in the past!

Equally critical is the transport method you have selected. Ensure you know what you sign up for so you can take all necessary precautionary measures. If, for example, you have chosen to have your bike crated before it gets shipped, make sure to select a suitable area in which to assemble the motorcycle crate. This could be a bit challenging as you must leave enough room for the truck itself. In this case, do not hesitate to contact us and figure out an alternative pickup location. Although the majority of drivers will take care of the crate assembly themselves, your assistance might be required as well, so be ready to pitch in if necessary!

The last step involves a motorcycle inspection on both your end and your driver. Any existing damage will be documented and reported in the Bill of Lading as proof of the inspection.

motorcycle transport truck

Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance When Shipping Your Bike?

When searching for motorcycle shipping services, a good question is whether or not you’ll want to purchase additional insurance against damage or theft during transport.

Your motorcycle will be insured by the carrier’s base insurance policy, but chances are your motorcycle won’t be insured for the full value and as such might end up costing you out-of-pocket should it get damaged during transport.

Most motorcycle shipping services will provide additional insurance if you’re worried, and you should always ask about their cargo insurance and how much it actually covers before you ship.

If you’re shipping in an enclosed container and your motorcycle is crated, it’ll be pretty hard for it to get damaged unless the transport truck is side-swiped by a Transformer or something, but different customers like different things, and companies that provide motorcycle shipping services usually will be able to accommodate you accordingly.

Motorcycle Shipping Tips

When obtaining a shipping quote to transport your motorcycle, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you feel necessary to have peace of mind. So, as how each one will address your concerns. This includes extra costs for things like crating a motorcycle. Normally, you should not be asked to pay anything on top of the agreed price to have your bike crated. Some carriers, though, do charge extra for this service.

How to choose the best motorcycle shipper? Going through online reviews from customers of the prospective companies you have listed is a great way to start researching shippers. Ultimately, you want to deal with a top-rated motorcycle shipping company that has a long-standing reputation. In any case, though, it won’t hurt to verify the accountability and authority of the shipper(s) you have in mind doing business with.

Interested? Let's get in touch!

For motorcycle shipping, contact American Auto Shipping.

Dave Armstrong
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