How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Motorcycle?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on June 29, 2021
5 min read

At a glance

The average cost to ship a motorcycle is approximately $890, but prices vary based on things like transport type and distance. Open transport (a truck without walls or a roof) is your cheapest option, but it’s also the riskiest (some of the best motorcycle shipping companies don’t even offer it). Motorcycle shipping companies let you choose the price and risk level you’re most comfortable with, so you can send your dirtbike on open transport—or ship your Harley in an enclosed carrier.

We break down motorcycle shipping costs into two categories:

  1. Transport type (open or enclosed)
  2. Distance (total mileage)
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How motorcycle transport prices work

Bidding process

Motorcycle shipping prices go through the standard car auto transport bidding process that makes it tough to nail down your price. As a result, your initial quote is typically the best guess of what your final bill will shake out to. Once you get a quote, motorcycle shipping companies (called brokers) submit your shipment details to members of an online shipping auction. Truck drivers (called carriers) then bid on your shipment.

The broker picks the lowest-priced carrier it can find in the time frame you provide. Final prices are often about 25% higher than your initial quote, but you can minimize costs by placing your reservation a couple of weeks in advance (that’s usually enough time for the bids to reach their lowest points).

Info Box
What is the best motorcycle shipping service?

The best motorcycle shipping service is uShip, according to Move.org. uShip is an online shipping marketplace that transports cars and motorcycles. It has the lowest prices in the business and lets you purchase additional insurance to protect your bike.

uShip

Motorcycle transport cost factors

Several things affect your motorcycle shipping cost (in addition to the bidding process):

  • Transport type. You can ship your bike inside a fully enclosed semi or on an open transport truck that doesn’t have walls or a roof. Open transport is your cheapest option, but it also exposes your chopper to elements like the sun, dirt, and rain. Some of the best motorcycle shipping companies don’t even offer open transport because it’s so harsh on your bike’s finish.
  • Motorcycle size and weight. The more space your bike takes up on the truck, the more you pay. Motorcycle sizes don’t typically vary as much as other vehicles (big trucks can be twice the size of compact cars), but it’s still something to keep an eye on. A heavy-duty Suzuki M1800 is probably going to set you back more than a lightweight Kawasaki Ninja 400.
  • Distance. The farther you travel, the more it costs. You can ship your bike a couple of hundred miles for as little as $500, while a cross-country trip will often set you back twice as much.
  • Route. You pay based on how far and long the carrier drives rather than how the crow flies. It may be only 800 miles to your destination on a map, but road closures, traffic jams, and construction can all add time and miles to your transport. Unfortunately, you can’t map this out on your own, but the best car shipping companies can keep you updated on how mishaps along your route might affect prices.
  • Advanced reservations. This is where the bidding process we talked about comes into play. You can get the lowest prices by placing your reservation about two weeks in advance. That allows the truck drivers to do their research and cut costs as much as possible. On the other hand, you’ll pay through the nose if you call a company today and say you need your motorcycle picked up tomorrow. It pays to plan ahead.
  • Number of motorcycles. You can usually find discounts for shipping more than one bike at the same time. So if you and your buddies are going to the same motorcycle show or dirt bike course, consider shipping them all at the same time with the same company. You might even save enough cash to afford a hotel upgrade or a fancy steak joint.
  • Seasonality. Auto transport is a supply and demand business. You can often find deals when business is slow (in the winter), but you also pay higher prices when trucks are mostly full (in the summer).

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What is the cheapest shipping method for motorcycles?

The cheapest shipping method for motorcycles is an open trailer. However, we recommend using enclosed motorcycle transport to protect your motorbike from the elements while it’s en route


Motorcycle shipping costs by transport type

It’s cheaper to ship your motorcycle on an open transport carrier than an enclosed trailer. Move.org compared more than 200 motorcycle shipping quotes and found that open transport saves you more than $200. While enclosed shipping costs approximately $990, you can often ship your bike on an open carrier for about $770.

Motorcycle
Open transport cost
Enclosed transport cost

Honda Super Cub C125 ABS

$770
$990

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing motorcycle shipping costs across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

But your cheapest option also comes with some pretty big risks. An open transport carrier is “open” to the elements. That means your bike gets hit with everything from dirt and rain to hail and slush—not to mention constant exposure to the sun. It’s torture on your bike’s finish, so open transport is recommended primarily for dirt bikes or motorcycles with plenty of wear and tear.

Note: Companies that specialize in motorcycle shipping often provide only enclosed shipping. It costs about $200 more but also keeps your bike much safer.


Motorcycle shipping costs by distance

Motorcycle shipping prices are higher the farther you travel. We don’t like to use per mile costs (because there are so many variables at play), but our analysis of more than 200 motorcycle shipping quotes breaks down costs in 500-mile increments. We found that prices range from about $600 to ship your motorcycle less than 500 miles to over $1,000 to transport your bike 2,000 miles or more.

After the first 500 miles, each additional 500 miles cost about $120.

Motorcycle shipping prices by distance and transport type

Distance
Open transport cost
Enclosed transport cost
<500 miles
$500
$670
500–1,000 miles
$590
$670
1,000–1,500 miles
$760
$970
1,500–2,000 miles
$890
$1120
>2,000 miles
$940
$1190

Data as of May 14, 2021. Average cost calculated by comparing motorcycle shipping costs across 11 distances. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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Cost to ship a motorcycle FAQ

How much does it cost to ship a motorcycle?

The average cost to ship a motorcycle is approximately $890. Prices range from about $500 to ship your bike a short distance on an open carrier to around $1,200 to transport it cross-country on an enclosed carrier.

How much is it to ship a motorcycle across the country?

It costs about $1,060 to ship a motorcycle across the country. Move.org found that the cheapest motorcycle transporters are uShip, Easy Auto Ship, and Ship a Car Direct.

What should I look for in a motorcycle transport company?

You should look for affordable rates, bike expertise, and positive customer reviews in a motorcycle transport company. Move.org also recommends using a motorcycle shipper, like Easy Auto Ship, that has additional insurance coverage options.

Can you ship a motorcycle in a moving truck?

You can ship a motorcycle in a moving truck, but most companies recommend renting a motorcycle trailer instead. If you use a moving truck, be sure to bleed the bike’s engine before loading it, and then make sure to strap down your motorcycle tightly so it doesn’t fall in transit.

Where can I find international motorcycle shipping?

You can find international motorcycle shipping by contacting a motorcycle transporter such as AmeriFreight, Montway Auto Transport, uShip, or Easy Auto Ship. Be sure to ask what documents you need to transport your vehicle overseas.

Do auto transport companies also ship motorcycles?

Yes, auto transport companies also ship motorcycles. Move.org says that Sherpa Auto Transport is a notable exception. While the auto shipping company scores well with customers, it doesn’t offer motorcycle transport services.


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Methodology

Move.org calculates industry averages and identifies pricing trends by following a fourfold research approach:

  1. Compare quotes. We collected more than 200 quotes from 10 different companies. The car shipping quotes included prices to ship a motorcycle across 11 distances on both open and enclosed transport.
  2. Mystery shopping. We contacted auto transport companies posing as customers to gather pricing data and learn how the brokers formulate their prices.
  3. Site visits. We invited several industry leaders to visit our headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT, and explain what goes into their pricing. We then compared their answers to information we independently obtained to verify accuracy.
  4. Annual calendar. We repeat our research process every year and save our data so that we can compare trends over time.
Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.