How to ship a motorcycle you recently purchased
Shipping a motorcycle when you can’t be there to hand it off works similarly to shipping a car you purchased from afar. That is to say, it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s how to do it in three easy steps.
1. Pick a motorcycle shipping company
The first step is to pick a motorcycle shipper that will work for your schedule, your budget, and your bike. Here are a few of our favorites:
Like we said earlier, you should research and get quotes from several different companies before you settle on one. Some companies can offer better rates for certain routes, so requesting multiple quotes is crucial for getting the best price.
How to research vehicle transport companies
Check company websites, third-party review sites (like Move.org), and customer reviews.
While researching, ask these questions:
- Is the shipper trustworthy?
- Does it offer fair pricing?
- Does it consistently deliver motorcycles on time?
- Does it deliver motorcycles without any damage?
Be sure to check multiple customer review sites like Google and Yelp. Don’t rely solely on the reviews the company shares about itself.
After you’ve found a few companies you can trust, request quotes online or call the companies directly with the details of your shipment.
How to tell if a shipping company is trustworthy
Here are a few quick and easy ways to vet a transport company:
- Look up its FMCSA licensing.
- Check for customer reviews that complain about hidden fees.
- Read third-party reviews.
For more tips and tricks for checking a company’s trustworthiness, read our guide to moving scams.
2. Pick a shipment method
Like cars, motorcycles can be shipped on either open trailers or enclosed trailers.
What’s the difference?
An enclosed trailer protects your motorcycle from road debris and weather, making it the safest way to ship your bike. However, enclosed shipping usually costs more than open shipping, and it can take longer.
This is because enclosed trailers can carry more bikes than open trailers, and shipping companies typically wait until a trailer is full to send it on its way. If you’re the first person to schedule a delivery you might have to wait until the company gets more bookings.
An open trailer leaves your motorcycle exposed to road debris like flying rocks and discarded trash. Open trailers are usually a bit cheaper, and since they don’t hold as many bikes, they generally ship out quicker. Just don’t be surprised if your bike shows up with a few scratches or dents that weren’t in your seller’s pictures.
Which shipment method is right for you?
If you have room in your budget and plenty of time on your hands, then enclosed shipping is the way to go. If you’re strapped for cash or you need your bike ASAP, then open shipping might work better.
3. Coordinate with the seller
Since you won’t be there to give your motorcycle to your delivery driver, ask the seller if they can handle this part for you. It isn’t too difficult, but you might still want to pay them a little extra for their trouble or leave them an especially positive review online.
The transport company will call you the day before the delivery driver comes to pick up your bike. Make sure that your seller knows the day and time of the pickup and that your delivery driver knows where to go. If your seller is okay with it, you should also give the company their contact info in case the driver has trouble finding them.
Once your driver arrives, they’ll do a shipment inspection with your seller. If they agree on the condition of the motorcycle, they’ll both sign a form saying so. Then the driver will load the motorcycle up and head out to bring it to you.
Keep in mind that some motorcycle shipping companies are brokerages, which means they hire other companies to complete their deliveries—and the person who shows up to get your bike might have a different logo on their truck. This is nothing to worry about. Lots of our favorite companies are brokerages.
What about the keys?
Some companies require that motorcycles be shipped with their keys. Check with your shipper to learn what their requirements are, and ask your seller to mail you an extra set of keys for the bike in either case.