Motorcycle Transport: Five Things to Know About Shipping Your Motorcycle

Motorcycle Transport: Five Things to Know About Shipping Your Motorcycle

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Mar 15th 2016

We’d like to think we could ride our motorcycles anywhere, whether it’s a few hundred miles, between states or even across international borders. But sometimes, like when your bike decides to have a sick day or you’re scheduled for a dream ride overseas, your bike has to leave without you. Seeing your two-wheeled baby loaded onto a truck and hauled to a destination out of view can be an unnerving experience fraught with anxiety and sweaty palms, especially if the person doing the loading has shaky hands. But fret not, motorcyclists. The experience of transporting your motorcycle with a shipping or tow company doesn’t have to be disastrous if you keep the following things in mind.

1. Don’t ship with the cheapest bidder.

You may think you’re getting a deal, but the old adage of ‘You get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more true. A cheap rate means yours bike is switching trucks mid-trip, being damaged by inexperienced drivers, being loaded and unloaded from trailers not specifically designed to transport motorcycles, or worse, being parked unsecured alongside loose cargo. For example, a quick call to AAA may seem the logical choice, but once the driver tosses a cargo strap over your gas tank and haphazardly tightens the bike down until the fork seals blow, you’ll be wishing for a better alternative. Don’t take the risk. If your bike is worth the world to you, then pay what it’s worth to get it to its next destination safety with a reputable motorcycle transport company.


2. Beware the mobile mechanic.

Again, the frugal route could cost you more in the end. It may be tempting to hire the garage mechanic to come to your doorstep and fix your bike, but with money in hand, a brief parts run could mean your so-called mechanic has made off with your money, with no intention of returning and finishing the job. Call your local motorcycle transport company to take the bike to your trusted local shop or dealer to get it fixed right, the first time, if you’re not comfortable doing the repairs yourself.

3. Use the right equipment for shipping.

If you’re loading your bike and transporting it yourself on a truck, using Cycle Cinch straps instead of Canyon Dancers or cargo straps to prevent bent clip-on’s or handlebars and broken switch assemblies. On that same note, when transporting your bike nationally or internationally, make sure to choose a shipping company that will secure your bike responsibly inside a wooden or metal pallet. The pallet has side, top and lower supports that guard your bike from loose debris or damage from movement during transport. It will also make it easier for the shipper to load and unload the bike from a trailer with a forklift.


4. Prepare your motorcycle for transport properly.

Be sure to check with your shipping company to determine how you should prepare your motorcycle for shipment. Regardless of where your motorcycle is going, it’s a good rule of thumb to drain your fuel tank; at least to a quarter tank, and tighten your gas cap to prevent spillage. Also, if shipping internationally, be sure to disconnect the battery cables, tape the battery posts, and/or remove the main fuse. This way, you can ride your bike away from the shipping company, instead of needing yet another tow because your battery is dead. Also, keeping your forks unlocked, your bike in neutral, alarm deactivated and saddlebags empty can prevent unwanted calls with bad news.

5. If you’re going overseas, know the rules.

Most international shipping is handled by brokers, and these brokers are aware of certain regulations and rules that may not be friendly toward your particular bike. For example, forget that dream ride in Switzerland aboard your Harley. Harley’s are not allowed to enter the country, so you’ll have to find an alternative. Knowing rules like these in advance allows you to see to your motorcycle again instead of having it stuck in the black hole called customs.


The above tips were provided by the following:

Mike Gregor, Owner of Motorcycle Transport Company in Orange County, CA

Mike has been transporting bikes pretty much 24/7 for about nine years. He utilizes a hydraulic lift mounted between the wheel wells of his pickup truck that allow him to load full bagger Harley on his own, without any help, faster than you can say “Bring my bike back.” He’s transported everything from classic café racers and WWII era sidecars to custom motorcycles worth more than $400K. Rider magazine, Motorcycle Consumer News, and Charlie’s Place in Glendale, CA, all trust Mike to do transport for them, and so do the many motorcycle dealers he provides services to.
Jennifer Gibbs, Manager at Federal Motorcycle Transport based in East Peoria, IL

Federal Motorcycle Transport has transported in excess of 100,000 bikes since 1990 and because of their friendly and dedicated customer service team, they still serve many of their original shippers. They transport bikes for collectors, and museums, as well as individuals buying and selling, and military personnel who want to have their bikes with them on base. Federal has contracts through STI (Specialized Transportation Inc.) and a network of agents across the US that monitor the bikes every step of the way. They also have discounted pricing available to AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) and HOG (Harley Owners Group) members.