If you’re planning a move, especially long-distance, it’s understandable if you don’t want to drive your motorcycle however many hundreds of miles it is from your origin to your destination. It would be most prudent (and not to mention much more comfortable) for you to fly to your new destination or take a traditional vehicle. This is especially true if you’re moving a large shipment and need to cut moving costs by driving on your own.
So, where does that leave your motorcycle? Thankfully, plenty of shipping options can handle the daunting task of transporting your bike from your old place to the new one. Let’s break down the costs of shipping a motorcycle and the steps you can take to choose the shipping company and method that are right for you.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Motorcycle?
The average cost of shipping a motorcycle in the US is around $900. Shorter moves can cost close to $500, but if you’re using a more expensive mode of transport and shipping longer distances, the cost dramatically rises to approximately $1,200. We’ll teach you a little more about the factors that go into motorcycle moving processes in a later section.
How Does Shipping a Motorcycle Work?
You have several options when shipping your motorcycle, ranging from doing it yourself to having a transport company handle all the details. The sections below explore some of the most popular options for shipping a motorcycle and how your chosen shipment method affects the price that you pay.
The first option for shipping your bike is open transport. Open transport uses an open, exposed trailer to ship your motorcycle. This option is cheaper than enclosed transport because more vehicles can be moved in an open transport container during a single shipment. If you’re moving your bike less than 500 miles, open transport will cost you around $500. The longer the trip, the less you’ll pay per mile. For example, for an open transport of a motorcycle of 1,000 to 1,500 miles, you can usually expect to pay less than $800.
One issue with open transport is that it does not protect your motorcycle from the elements. The whole trip is fully exposed to weather, sun, and whatever debris may fly up from the road, not to mention bugs and other animal unmentionables that may stick to the finish. Consider open transport for shorter trips or for motorcycles that are lower in value.
Enclosed transport is several hundred dollars more per trip than open transport, but this may well be worth it for the added protection and security that an enclosed transport trailer provides. A trip of 500 miles typically costs around $670, so it’s not exorbitantly more expensive than open transport. As with open transport, costs per mile do go down as the length of the trip is increased.
Shipping your motorcycle in an enclosed trailer offers several protections that open transport does not. Your bike will be safe from sun exposure (which will keep the leather happy), debris in the air, and anything that may fly up from under other vehicles’ tires on the road. It’s also protected from rain, wind, and any other weather conditions during transport. Consider enclosed transport to protect your motorcycle on longer trips of 1,000 miles or longer.
If you already have a towing trailer for your bike, this is an obvious choice. Most people who have motorcycles and frequently attend rallies or conventions with their bikes have trailers where they can place their bike and whatever kit they need for maintenance during these functions. If you have a trailer, you can opt to move your motorcycle yourself. It won’t save you time, but it will save you a few hundred dollars.
If you yourself don’t have a trailer, but this is the method you prefer to use, simply reach out to someone who does or rent one. The cost of renting a small enclosed single motorbike trailer is not much more than $50 to $80 to rent per day. If it’s a short trip, this will be cost effective. However, if you think your trip will take you several days, it might be easier to forgo the trailer rental and pay a shipper.
Freight shippers are fast and efficient. These are usually railroad transports that run on extremely regular schedules. If you live close to a rail yard or are moving close to one, consider freight shipping as an option. It’s reliable and affordable. That is, the shipping itself is reliable and affordable. Whether train or semi-truck, freight shippers require that your belongings, even a motorbike, be inside a wooden or steel crate. The crating process will end up raising the price—it’s expensive to have a custom crate made, and even just buying the materials and making it yourself can be a hassle. Consider freight shipping if you’ve already got a crate for your motorbike or are on a tight schedule.
Let Independent Haulers Bid on the Job
An independent hauler is a contractor that uses larger brokers and companies to find jobs. There are quite a few online marketplaces (like uShip) where you can look for contractors available to help you. If you sign up for one of these marketplaces, you can use that interface to show that you have a motorcycle move available. Then, the companies interested in your job will bid for it. This can be a great way to get a deal since the companies will attempt to outbid each other to get you to hire them. Be aware that they may not have as much experience in moving motorcycles specifically as a larger specialist company would.
Step-By-Step Guide to Motorcycle Shipping
So how do you go about this whole process of moving your motorcycle? Moving a motorcycle is a step-by-step procedure that you can accomplish in just a few days if that’s what you’re looking for. But you can also take your time with these steps, especially after you schedule the move. No matter how urgent your moving process is, taking time to prepare in advance will make your move easier. Here are the basic steps you’ll go through when planning your motorcycle shipment.
Decide How You Want to Ship Your Bike
From the options above, choose the process that’s best for you. You have to consider your budget, whether your bike has a warranty, how old your bike is, what is the make and model, and how far you’re moving. These factors can help you decide how you wish to move your motorcycle. For example, is it brand new with a glittering paint job? Maybe you want to use enclosed transport to keep your paint pristine. Or is it a twenty-year-old piece you’ve driven in the desert for years? Open transport may be a good option for your vehicle. This is the biggest piece of the puzzle.
Start the Quoting Process
Once you’ve decided how you wish to move your motorcycle, you have to figure out how much it will cost. You should have a ballpark estimate of the cost based on the method and our guide above. Depending on how far your trip is, whether you get extra insurance beyond state requirements, and your origin and destination, the price you’ll pay to move your motorcycle may vary significantly.
You should also get quotes from several different movers or companies to compare them and see which offers the best deal. Some companies may also offer services that others don’t (storage, unboxing, etc.) that you may be interested in. While additional services will increase the price of your move, they may be worth it if you have a very valuable bike or recent top-of-the-line purchase that you need to move.
Decide When You Will Move
Your schedule may be a factor in the quotes certain companies give you, which is related to the previous step. If you move during wintertime, you are likely to get a lower quote than if you move at the height of summer (when many people use moving companies). If you choose to move your motorcycle in the middle of the month, that may also make your rate cheaper than if it were at the beginning or end of the month.
This choice is about what works best for you at your destination. Chances are you already know when the big move is happening; you just have to figure out where the motorcycle fits into that time frame.
Document the Current Condition of Your Motorcycle
After those details are squared away and settled with whatever company (or trailer rental) you decide to use, now is the time for posterity. You should document the condition of your motorbike before the move. If anything happens in loading, unloading, or transportation, you have a record and know that any damage needs to be covered by the company’s insurance. Take photos with dates from every angle, especially of the paint, the small hardware on the bike, and any detailing.
Prepare Your Bike to be Shipped
This is an important step. There are quite a few things you can do so that your motorcycle is ready to be shipped safely. Firstly, decrease the tire pressure. If the tires have too much pressure, they won’t do as well absorbing impacts on the road if the ride is bumpy. Also, it’s best to make sure that your fuel tank is as empty as possible before moving your motorbike. A full fuel tank is simply a safety hazard, and leaving your tank full during open or closed transport can cause serious injuries to your moving team members.
Disconnecting the battery and wrapping up all loose cables are also good considerations, just to be extra safe. Finally, remove anything nonessential from your bike before the move (helmet, keys, whatever else is hanging on). Before the bike is transported, tell the driver what you’ve done and take some more photos. This is best practice for ensuring that your bike arrives at its destination the same way it left its origin.
Ship and Receive
Your bike should be ready to go. If you’ve chosen a moving company, they will load your motorcycle and secure it before heading out. If you’ve done it yourself, it’s time to load the trailer and start your journey. If you’re not the one completing the move, make sure you’re at the intended destination.
Factors That Influence the Cost of Shipping a Motorcycle
What can increase or decrease the price of shipping your motorcycle? Although most prices won’t vary as drastically as if you were moving different types of cars (trucks or vans versus sedans), there will still be some variations to consider.
Your Transportation Method
As mentioned, enclosed transport is several hundred dollars more expensive than open transport. Renting a trailer for a week may cost just as much as hiring a moving company to move your bike. Freight shipping might be convenient, but only if you have your own crate to pack your motorcycle in. This is the most important factor determining the cost (or at least the base rate) of transporting your motorcycle.
Size and Weight
You can expect that the larger and heavier your motorcycle is, the more it will cost you to transport it. Every extra inch and pound adds to fuel costs and less mileage for the moving vehicle, raising your rate per mile.
Distance & Route
A 2,000-mile move will be pricier than a move that’s only 400 miles. Depending on how far you want to move your motorcycle, you will have to factor that cost in. Unfortunately, things that you can’t control, such as roadblocks, detours, and inclement weather, can add to your cost because it’s adding time and miles to the route the movers take. It’s a combination of mileage and these things that occur along a travel route that can affect your cost.
When scheduling your motorcycle move, it can often be to your benefit to move when moving times are slow, like in the wintertime. Another way to get a mover to offer you a good deal is to give them at least two to three weeks to plan the move. The earlier in advance you give them (which doesn’t have to be more than a month or two), the better they can plan their route and the logistics of moving your bike. Moving companies need to plan to avoid as many unexpected snags on the way as possible.
Our Recommended Affordable Motorcycle Moving Options
Moving a motorcycle can be an expensive process. If you’re thinking about how you can save money on your move, you’ll want to work with a shipping provider that specializes in providing affordable motorcycle transportation options. Browse a few of our recommended options for low-cost motorcycle moving using the links below.
International Van Lines
International Van Lines (IVL) is a full-service moving company that can provide you with a wide range of services and specialties that make your motorcycle move fast and affordable. IVL has experience shipping to all 50 states and more than 150 countries located worldwide. If you’re looking to move internationally, IVL’s team has a variety of door-to-port and port-to-port shipping options that can help you balance convenience and cost when getting your bike where it needs to go. IVL also has an award-winning customer service team that will help streamline and synchronize your move.
Best Full-Service Mover
- Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
- Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker Nationwide
- Live Chat & 24/7 Customer Service
Safeway Moving Systems
Safeway Moving Systems is not a moving service provider itself. Instead, the company is structured as a moving broker connecting homeowners who need to move with moving companies that have availability over their requested moving dates in exchange for lower rates. This system helps you find the most affordable motorcycle moving services—even if you know that you need to move at the last minute.
Worried about the quality of the team that you’ll be matched with? Safeway employs a strict set of quality-control measures that ensure that only quality teams are considered for their customers. Safeway is so confident in their partnered teams that each move booked through their company has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Best for Military Moves
- FMCSA-Licensed Broker Nationwide
- Long-Distance Moving Only
- Packing & One Month Storage Included
uShip is a moving marketplace that uses an auction-style format to help you find an affordable, local moving team to help you move just about anything. You can list nearly anything on uShip’s marketplace, from motorcycles to RVs and livestock to bales of hay. After creating your listing, moving service providers can bid on your job, allowing you to choose the movers that offer the perfect match of affordability and experience in your area of need.
Do you already have an idea of how much you can afford to pay for your moving processes? uShip allows select listers to name their price within a range of recommendations. After listing your job at the price you can afford to pay, moving companies can bid directly on your job, similarly to eBay’s “Buy it Now” feature. This system helps you get on the road faster without blowing your moving budget.
Best for Single-Item Shipping
- Provides Shipping Services for Furniture, Cars, Boats, etc.
- Easy Mobile App for Tracking
- Ships for Residential and Commercial Moving
Saving Money on Your Upcoming Motorcycle Move
If you’re like most motorcycle owners, you’re probably very proud of all of the work you’ve put into your bike. It’s not unusual for a bike owner to spend thousands of dollars customizing their ride to show their unique tastes and personality. However, while you need the best possible transportation for your move, no one wants to overpay for their moving services.
We recommend getting a quote from our recommended motorcycle moving service providers before you book your date. Every moving company uses its own formula to determine how much you’ll pay for your transportation services. Getting at least three quotes before choosing which company you want to work with will ensure that you aren’t overpaying for your move.
Motorcycle Shipping Cost FAQ
What is the cheapest way to transport a motorcycle?
The cheapest way will usually be to ride it yourself to your destination or transport it in a trailer. However, perhaps you don’t have a trailer, or you’re looking for a safer option for a long-distance move. In that case, your next best option would be open transport.
Can I ship a motorcycle in a pod?
Some pod services do not allow this, but others will allow you to ship motorcycles in their pod containers as long as you have drained out all the fluids first (fuel, oil, coolant, etc.). Consult your specific moving container service provider to learn more about motorcycle moving specifications.
How long does it take to ship a motorcycle?
The short answer is that it usually takes less than a week, but it can take up to two weeks depending on what service you use and how long the move is. It should not take longer than two weeks to move a motorcycle within the US.
What is the best way to transport a motorcycle?
The answer to this question will depend on the condition of your motorcycle and your budget for the move. If you’re only concerned about the price of the move, driving your bike to your new location yourself can be the best option. If you’re looking for the transportation method that’s least likely to cause damage, enclosed transport might be right for you.