All You Need to Know About Shipping Motorcycle

By: Thomas Curry Last Updated: Dec 22, 2022

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Are you looking for a way to ship your newly purchased motorcycle overseas? Or are you relocating to another country and want to transport your motorcycle to your new home? The truth is that shipping motorcycles from one place to another can be a daunting task for first-timers.

All You Need to Know About Shipping Motorcycle

In this article

Most people got discouraged by their close friends when they thought of buying motorcycles to hear about the difficulty in transporting it. Although some people believe riding their motorcycles is more practical than to have it shipped, most especially when they are moving.

However, hiring a professional shipping company that specializes in shipping motorcycle is more economical when you consider the cost of feeding, gas, and other relevant expenses. The United States has over 8 million registered motorcycles, according to the recent survey done by the DOT in 2011. This figure includes commercial organizations and private owners.

This implies that out of 36 Americans, there is at least a motorcycle owner among them. Although there are many reasons why someone would ship their motorcycle, the most popular reason is relocation. Hiring a motorcycle shipping company is their last resort and recommended. This is because they need to handle many things about the move. Think about the tasks you need to handle when preparing for your move.

There won’t be any time left for you to go out and ride your bike to the new home. Additionally, you have other stuff to think about, such as your work and family. Among other reasons to have your motorcycle shipped is delivering it to the buyers or sellers, attending motorcycle rallies, taking them with you on vacations, and so on.

Also, people with highly expensive or vintage motorbikes would opt for this option to avoid adding mileage on the odometer. Regardless of the reason, there are numerous factors to be considered before opting to ship your motorcycles to your new home.

All the information you need to know about shipping your motorcycle has been put together in this article. This will help you in making the right decisions on purchasing and getting your motorcycle shipped to your location.

What are the Different Methods of Shipping Motorcycles?

The first step to ship your motorcycle is to figure out the shipping method you want for your motorcycle. Decide whether air freight or ocean shipping.

You will get to determine the shipping method for your motorcycle when you decide on the time frame with which you want your motorbike to be delivered to your destination.

The ocean is certainly the cheapest option to ship a bike, but it can take weeks before it gets there. The deciding factors here include the budget, distance, and delivery time. The option you choose will determine how high or low your shipping quote will be.

Both terminal shipping and door-to-door shipping are available for you to choose from, as they are both popularly used and considered safe for all shipping types.

Below are different methods of shipping motorcycles:

Terminal Shipping

This option is the cheapest, and it’s efficient, only that you will need to ask the carrier before the moving date if they have a terminal in your location for both pickup and delivery.

In some cases, the terminals can be a little bit far away from your town, meaning that you may need to ride the bike to drop it off.

This option might be the best for you if you don’t consider driving to the terminal to be an issue, and you also need to save some cash.

Door-to-Door Shipping

Most motorcycle shipping companies will offer door-to-door service at a lesser fee or even free in some cases. You will, however, need to arrange with them before you agree to hire them if they cannot pick up your motorcycle at the pickup point or cannot deliver it to your specified destination.

You will be paying extra for transport if you refuse to arrange it before you hire the company. If safe delivery is not possible at both or either of the pick-up or drop-off points, it is important to pick a location where there is a lot of space and also secure.

Enclosed Trailers

Using an enclosed trailer to ship your motorcycle is the most expensive option. However, enclosed trailers provide more protection to your motorcycle, both from damage and theft. This option is best for people who are:

  • Transporting their motorcycle over a long distance.
  • Don’t have a specific date for delivery
  • Shipping an expensive and fragile motorcycle.

The latest enclosed transport trailers contain air ride suspension components as well as a soft-tie strapping system, which reduces the shock on your motorbike during transit. You may be able to get all your motorcycles on a single trailer if you plan to ship more than one bike.

Open Trailers

Although this option is cheaper compared to the enclosed trailer option, it is also an excellent option depending on your needs.

Your motorcycle will be exposed to many weather condition and other elements as there is no side panels or roof on the trailer.

This also means that there won’t be much security on your motorcycle on an open trailer as well.

This option is to be considered if: 

  • You are only shipping your vehicle on a short distance
  • You have an exact delivery date in mind

The value of your motorcycle is not much, and it is also not fragile.

How much does it Cost to Ship a Motorcycle?

To know the shipping cost of a bike in the United States, the best approach is to use the online motorcycle shipping calculator.

It will cost an average of $350 to $700 to ship a motorcycle over 1,000 miles while it will cost an average of $180 to $300 on a short distance.

This means that the average cost per mile is about $0.50 for a journey of about 1 thousand miles.

However, there are a number of factors that determine the actual cost of shipping a motorcycle.

Below are some of the factors that affect the overall cost of shipping your motorcycle:

1. Motorcycle size and weight

The normal rate can cost about $0.50/pound, although there are companies that charge lesser rates. Both the weight and size of your motorcycle can affect the shipping cost, as there are shipping companies that charge insurance based on weight.

In summary, shipping light motorcycles come at a lesser price compared to bulky ones. This implies that you may be charged an extra fee for shipping larger motorcycles.

This is because shipping larger motorcycles will involve the use of larger crates, straps, and other special packing equipment to ensure their safety throughout the process.

2. Transport distance

Some clients with pickup points within a particular range enjoy affordable deals from their shipping companies. This means distance is also important in the cost of shipping a motorcycle.

The distance of the pickup and drop-off points to major roads is also very important in pricing. Additional charges may be incurred when shipping to remote areas or a very long distance.

Kindly note that individual shipping companies determine prices, so be sure to ask them about this information before you hire them.

3. Pick-Up and Drop-Off Locations

Shipping a bike within an urban area is cheaper than shipping in rural areas, most notably when you opt for door-to-door service.

  • Open vs. Enclosed Transport: There are just two significant ways to ship your motorcycle. It is either via open or enclosed trailers. Shipping through an open carrier means your bike will be shipped along with other bikes in an open trailer and will be exposed to different elements all through the journey. Shipping through an enclosed carrier, on the other hand, means the bikes will be inside a truck and securely protected from weather elements and others. Enclosed transport is more expensive than the open transport option.
  • Make sure you clearly understand this before you decide on which method to choose. In general, only 2 out of 10 customers complained about the open motorcycle transport option. However, there are some situations where the enclosed transport option is greatly needed. For instance, shipping through an enclosed carrier is advisable when transporting a highly valuable or vintage motorbike to be certain of its protection throughout the transitioning.

4. Season or Time of the Year

Motorcycle shipping costs can also be affected by seasonal demand, even if not much. For instance, an enclosed carrier would be required by a customer for their motorcycle during winter.

It is generally known that the weather during this time is not favorable, and as such, it is better to use an enclosed transport for your shipment. This would, however, cost more, up to $150 above the open transport shipping during spring.

In most cases, the shipping quotes issued to customers by their motorcycle shipping company already contain all the vital details of the whole transport process, such as loading, insurance, transports, taxes, and unloading.

5. Shipping speed

You will be required to make payment for fast pickup and delivery if you are working on a deadline. Although there is no guarantee given that your bike will get to your destination within a given period on express delivery, it just means that your shipment will be moved to the front line, and the shipping company will do all they can, to make sure you get your shipment when needed.

Cost of Shipping Luxury and Vintage Motorcycles

The shipping of luxury and vintage motorcycles doesn’t require any special rates. However, the enclosed shipping option gets more attention from many owners because of the safety it provides for their motorcycles.

Just as discussed earlier, many would prefer to ship their motorcycles to prevent adding mileage on their odometer. The average cost for shipping luxury or vintage bikes through enclosed transport is about $800.

Additional Costs and Expenses that may occur include:

  • Motorbike shipping insurance coverage: many shipping companies determine this fee by calculating the size and weight of the shipment.
  • Surcharges for fuel cost: The distance will determine the fuel costs.
  • Failed delivery attempt: An additional charge up to $200 and above may be applied if delivery fails.

Difference between Door-to-Door Service and Pick-up & Drop-off

  • Location– people living in a spacious and wide neighborhood that is free from obstruction such as cable lines and others are advised to go for door-to-door service. In the absence of this, meeting with the transport company at an easily accessible location is much better to prevent you from being charged an additional fee for the pickup and delivery.
  • Extra space for trailers, sidecars, and other accessories.
  • Enclosed carrier
  • Express motorbike transport.

What is the Cost of Shipping Motorcycles Internationally?

Country permit fees and port entry fees are part of the reasons why international shipping will cost more than it does within the United States.

For instance, you will be required to purchase a motorcycle permit for your motorbike before its arrival if you are shipping to Australia.

The pickup and drop off locations will determine the cost of shipping your motorcycle internationally, but it will cost an average of $1,000 to $2,500 to ship a vehicle abroad.

Shipping a motorcycle to Europe ranges between $1,000 and $2,000. The average cost is always around $1,000 when shipping from the West coast, but can be around $700 when shipping from the East coast.

It will cost between $1,500 and $3,000 to ship to a long-distance like Australia.

Common Motorcycle Shipping Discounts

Although discounts are different from one company to another and some companies give out discounts than others. However, below are the most popular motorcycle transport discounts you can come across:

  • Rallies: A discounted flat rate may be given to you if you are transporting within 100 miles of a motorcycle rally, not minding the type of motorcycle you are shipping.
  • Multiple vehicle discounts: A discount within the range of $25 to $65/bike may be given to you if you are shipping between 2 to 10 or more motorcycles.
  • Motorcycle club membership: You can get a 10% or 15% discount on your shipping fee if you are a member of a motorcycle club, regardless of the reason why you are in the club.
  • Armed services and emergency personnel: The majority of motorcycle shipping companies will appreciate your service by getting you a 10% to 15% discount on your total shipment.

What is the Best and Safe Way to Shipping Motorcycle?

It comes to the reality that hiring a professional motorcycle transport company to ship a motorcycle to any destination not only helps the owner save some money but also helps reduce much wear and tear on the motorbike a great number of times.

Asking questions when looking to hire a professional motorcycle shipping company for your shipment is one of the major things you will do.

Make sure you ask them any questions that come to mind when you contact the company to know about how well they will treat you, their professionalism, as well as their year of experience.

Also, confirm if the company is licensed and insured properly, as well as their registration status with the Department of Transportation. All transporters are required to possess DOT and an MC (Motor Carrier) number, and this can be easily checked at the comfort of your home by looking it up on the FMCSA website.

There is much vital information on this website, such as the company’s insurance status, years of experience in the business, and track records of success and failure.

Making sure you hire the best motorcycle transport company remains the most vital decision you make when looking to ship your motorcycle even though there are many other things to keep in mind during this process.

After deciding on the company to hire for your job, you will find the rest of the process very easy as you communicate with the customer service representative, they will help you work out a plan for an easy and efficient transitioning of your motorbike.

One of the major advantages of shipping a motorcycle is being able to hop on it and ride it down to the road to your home once the delivery truck delivers it to your destination.

In a time like this, all I want to do is to hop on my bike and cruise it down the road to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Enjoy the ride, fellas!

How to Prep your Motorcycle for Shipping?

It is essential to get your motorcycle ready for shipping before the shippers arrive to pick it up at the pickup location. Carefully inspect your bike for any existing damage.

Proper documentation of your bike will save you the headache that comes with filing an insurance claim in case of any problems.

Many motorcycle movers will ask you to empty the gas tank while others require the entire fluids on the bike to be drained off before shipping. The shippers expect the bike to be clean and free of any leaks.

Ensure you wash the bike and check for any leaks before you load it on the moving truck. Transporting your motorcycle together with your household possessions is not wise.

Below is the best way to get your motorcycle ready for shipping.

Pick the Right Moving Day

You will need to define two main things before you get to understand how to get your motorcycle ready for shipping. The number one thing is to develop a moving plan.

Note that you will only be able to stay organized and focused all through the whole process when you have a plan in place.

You will have to create a list of everything you need to have for the yet to come relocation. You should also break the plans into categories.

For instance, you can have a part of the plan to handle your motorcycle preparation while the other takes care of your belongings.

The second thing is to pick a perfect day to move. For instance, there are merits and demerits of relocating on the weekend.

Once you pick a day, you will get to know how much longer you have to prepare and the best way to get your household ready for the move.

Calculate your Costs

This relocation is certainly going to cost you more money as you are not only moving your household belongings but also need to get your motorcycle ready for shipping. The right thing to do here is to plan your moving budget as early as possible.

Make sure your budget list contains everything you are planning to move. Just as mentioned above, it is better to have the plan segmented into phases.

You will get to calculate your costs without a mistake when you have your motorcycle and the rest of your household items in separate categories.

Hire a Shipping Company

It is important to hire a mover to help you transport all your belongings to your new home. If your household item is much and you also need to prepare your motorcycle for shipping, you will require help from professionals.

Movers are available for you to hire in case you are looking for a relocation company to hire for your job. The moving team will help you come up with a nice moving plan and also work with you all through the moving process even as they move you.

Your moving company can as well help you arrange for your motorcycle shipping.

Tips on How to Get Your Motorcycle Ready For Shipping

This is the time to prepare your motorcycle for shipping. Kindly note that there are different types of motorcycles and varied approaches for preparing them for shipping.

For instance, the step involved in preparing a cruiser for shipping is different from the one involved in a moped. However, some tips work for all types of motorcycles.

You will find them below, as compiled by our team.

  • Clean your motorcycle: Preparing your motorcycle for shipping is logical, and cleaning it before shipping is very important.
  • Document any mechanical problem: You have to let the shippers know the condition of your motorcycle and the mechanical problem, if any.
  • Take pictures of your Motorcycle: Take pictures of your motorcycle to know its right condition. This will give you a proof in case there is any damage to your bike during the move.
  • Date all records: Create a record and preset it to the shippers on arrival.
  • Fill gas to ¼: Make sure you have some gas left in your tank.
  • Inspect the brakes and fluids: Ensure the brakes are functioning well.
  • Gather all the keys: Make sure you have a copy of the key with you as well as the one you will give the shippers.
  • Take out all personal items: You must remove all your items when cleaning it for shipping.

Above are the main tips you can hold on to before the moving process begins. Getting your motorcycle ready is an important thing.

Can I Send My Belongings with my Bike?

It is almost certain that you will separate your other belongings while preparing your motorcycle for shipping. You will find what to do with the rest of your possession.

You must have your possessions stored in a storage unit since you will require good preparation for your motorcycle before shipping.

This means that you will need to conduct proper research to locate the best moving company to help you handle your move.

Most of these relocation companies have many storage units in most locations and will help you store your belongings properly with the utmost protection.

These movers can also help you pack your possessions. You only need to contact them and make arrangements with them all at once.

You can as well send your belongings to a professional moving company.

How long does it take to Ship a Motorcycle?

Many factors determine the duration it takes for a motorcycle to be shipped. It will take less than two weeks to ship a bike from one state to another, while it will take up to 28 days to ship your motorcycle from one country to another.

Below are some of the factors to consider when figuring out the duration of shipping a bike:

  • Pickup and drop-off points
  • Weather
  • Type
  • Distance
  • Traffic
  • Shipment Season

Consider the shipping duration of the motorcycle below:

Type of motorcycle Route Duration
Yamaha YSR50 Arkansas to California 5 days
MASSIMO MSU 500 UTV (2017) Texas to Georgia 3 days
Harley-Davidson Electra Florida to Ohio 5 days
Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC (2012) Connecticut to California 2 weeks

It can take up to 14 days to ship a typical motorcycle from coast to coast. Consult a motorcycle shipping index to know the duration of shipping a motorcycle to your location.

Be sure to have Enough Insurance Coverage for Shipping Motorcycles

Although motorcycle shipping companies will provide you with some insurance coverage, which may not offer enough protection for your shipments as you may require.

You must contact the shippers and request for explanation on the following as regards insurance coverage for your motorcycle during shipping:

  • The types of damage covered
  • The coverage limit it offers
  • Availability of coverage on motorcycle accessories and other attachments

Additional coverage may be required for some highly valuable motorcycles which the shipping company should be able to get for you.

Which Motorcycle Shipping Company is the Best for me?

Yeah! Having gotten enough knowledge about how you can ship your motorcycle, it is essential to choose the best motorcycle shipping company for you move. While there are hundreds of boat shipping companies out there, only a few can give you that reliable service you may require.

However, you can’t just enter the market and pick one. In our subsequent post, we will be sharing top motorcycle shipping companies we had researched and hand-picked for you.


Shipping a motorcycle can be a very challenging, costly, and stressful process. However, if you hire the right shipping company to handle this task for you, purchase adequate insurance, and stick to the plan, you will enjoy the entire process. Are you ready to move and will love to put on your helmet, hop on the bike, and cruise the ride down the road? Use this guide to ship your motorcycle and get it across to your new location. Happy ride in advance!