How to Ship a Motorcycle You Just Bought

At a glance

You finally found your dream Harley—but the seller is several states away. Don’t be discouraged. There are two ways to get your new motorcycle into your garage. You can either go get the bike and break it in with a road trip home, or you can ship your hog with one of our favorite motorcycle shipping companies.

While you may think driving the motorcycle home would be cheaper, we’ve actually found that motorcycle shipping is the thriftier option when you account for all the costs of a road trip.

The best part is that you don’t even need to fly out to sign any paperwork or hand the keys to your delivery driver. If you coordinate with your seller, they can easily handle all of this for you.

Keep reading to learn how you can get your new bike shipped to you from across the country.

How much does motorcycle shipping cost?

Motorcycle make/model504 miles967 miles2,668 miles
2016 Harley Davidson Street 750$254$345$534
Motorcycle make/model
2016 Harley Davidson Street 750
504 miles 967 miles 2,668 miles
$254 $345 $534

Data as of 4/1/2020. Prices subject to change. 2,668-mile price calculated for motorcycle transport from Los Angeles, CA, to Washington, DC. 967-mile price calculated for motorcycle transport from Chicago, IL, to Dallas, TX. 504-mile price calculated for motorcycle transport from Boise, ID, to Seattle, WA.

While motorcycle shipping certainly isn’t cheap, it’s far cheaper than shipping a car. We’ve found that shipping a motorcycle long-distance can cost between $200 and $600, while shipping a car a similar distance will usually cost you between $500 and $2,000.

Of course, rates vary depending on distance, seasonality, and shipment method (open vs. enclosed transportation), so your shipment could cost a little more or a little less than what we’ve listed here.

The key takeaway is that shipping your motorcycle is probably cheaper than flying out to ride it home yourself. Once you factor in the costs of hotels, gas, food, and a plane ticket, you’re likely to spend a hundred or two more on a road trip than you would if you just shipped your bike.

We recommend getting quotes from multiple motorcycle shipping companies so you have several prices to choose from.

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.

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How to tell if a shipping company is trustworthy

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?

Enclosed trailers

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.

Open trailers

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.

Before the pickup

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.

On pickup day

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.

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What about the keys?

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.

Recommended resources

Now that we’ve covered shipping a motorcycle you just bought, we recommend checking out these other vehicle delivery resources:

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About Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.