The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Shipping: What Every Rider Needs to Know

Motorcycle shipping can be a daunting task, whether you’re moving cross-country, buying or selling a bike online, or planning an epic road trip far from home. Ensuring your motorcycle arrives safely and on time requires careful planning and choosing the right shipping method. This guide provides everything you need to know about motorcycle shipping to make the process smooth and stress-free.

Why Ship a Motorcycle?

There are several reasons you might need to ship a motorcycle:

  1. Relocation: Moving to a new city or state and unable to ride the bike there.
  2. Purchasing/Selling: Buying or selling a motorcycle online that needs to be transported to its new owner.
  3. RoadTrips: Starting or ending a road trip far from home and needing your bike shipped to or from the destination.
  4. Events: Attending motorcycle shows or races where you want your bike to be present.

Understanding your reason for shipping helps determine the best shipping method and timeline for your needs.

Types of Motorcycle Shipping

There are primarily two types of motorcycle shipping: open and enclosed transport.

Open Transport

In open transport, motorcycles are shipped on an open trailer. This method is usually cheaper and more readily available. However, it exposes your bike to the elements, including weather, dust, and road debris. Open transport is suitable for shorter distances and less expensive bikes where minor exposure isn’t a significant concern.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport involves shipping the motorcycle in a covered trailer. This method offers maximum protection from weather and road debris, making it ideal for high-value or vintage motorcycles. Enclosed transport is more expensive but provides peace of mind knowing your bike is protected throughout the journey.

Choosing the Right Shipping Company

Selecting a reliable motorcycle shipping company is crucial. Here are key considerations:

  1. Reputation: Research the company’s reputation through online reviews, ratings, and testimonials. Look for feedback on their reliability, customer service, and handling of motorcycles.
  2. Experience: Choose a company experienced in motorcycle shipping. They should know how to secure bikes properly and handle the unique challenges of transporting motorcycles.
  3. Insurance: Ensure the shipping company provides adequate insurance coverage. Understand what is covered and consider additional insurance if needed.
  4. Licensing and Certification: Verify that the company is properly licensed and certified for motorcycle transport.
  5. Cost: Obtain quotes from multiple companies. While cost is important, don’t choose based solely on the lowest price. Consider the company’s reputation and the value of your motorcycle.

Preparing Your Motorcycle for Shipping

Proper preparation is essential to ensure your motorcycle arrives safely. Here’s a step-by-step checklist:

  1. Clean Your Motorcycle: Thoroughly wash your bike to remove dirt and debris. This helps with a clear inspection and prevents damage to the finish.
  2. Document the Condition: Take detailed photos of your motorcycle from all angles, including close-ups of any existing damage. This documentation is vital for insurance claims if any damage occurs during transport.
  3. Remove Accessories: Remove any loose items, accessories, or personal belongings from the bike to prevent loss or damage.
  1. Check Fluids and Battery: Ensure fluid levels are correct, and there are no leaks. It’s often recommended to reduce the fuel level to about a quarter tank. Disconnect the battery if required by the shipping company.
  2. Inspect Tires: Make sure the tires are properly inflated to provide a stable base during transport.
  3. Keys and Alarm: Provide the shipping company with any necessary keys and instructions to disable the alarm system if applicable.

Understanding the Shipping Process

Here’s what to expect during the shipping process:

  1. Booking: Once you’ve chosen a shipping company, book your shipment and provide all necessary details, including pickup and delivery locations, dates, and any special requirements.
  2. Pickup: The shipping company will schedule a pickup time. Be present to hand over the motorcycle and sign any required paperwork.
  3. Transport: Your motorcycle will be loaded onto the trailer. For enclosed transport, it will be secured within a covered trailer. For open transport, it will be strapped onto an open trailer.
  4. Tracking: Many companies offer tracking services so you can monitor the shipment’s progress.
  5. Delivery: Upon arrival, inspect your motorcycle thoroughly before signing off on the delivery. Compare its condition to the photos taken before shipping and note any discrepancies.

The Cost of Motorcycle Shipping

Several factors influence the cost of shipping a motorcycle:

  1. Distance: Longer distances generally mean higher costs.
  2. ShippingMethod: Enclosed transport is more expensive than open transport due to the added protection.
  3. Time of Year: Shipping during peak times, like summer, can be more expensive due to higher demand.
  4. Motorcycle Size: Larger and heavier bikes cost more to ship.
  5. Pickup and Delivery Locations: Remote areas may incur additional charges compared to major cities or easily accessible locations.

On average, shipping a motorcycle within the United States can cost anywhere from $300 to $800, depending on these factors.


Shipping a motorcycle requires careful consideration and planning, but with the right approach, it can be a straightforward and stress-free process. By choosing a reputable shipping company, preparing your bike properly, and understanding the logistics involved, you can ensure your motorcycle arrives safely at its destination, ready for your next adventure. Whether relocating, selling, or embarking on a road trip, the peace of mind that comes with reliable motorcycle shipping is invaluable.

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