Buying and Shipping a Motorcycle

jesika jesika · Updated February 23, 2024

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The US has seen a boom in motorcycle sales in 2021, with an increase of over 37.2 percent more bikes sold than the same period in 2020. The internet has significantly changed the shopping habits of motorcycle enthusiasts and made it much easier to buy a motorcycle from out of state.

Below, we will outline safe buying tips and how to ship a motorcycle.

Best Practices for Buying and Shipping

The first step in buying a motorcycle and having it shipped is finding the bike that’s right for you. The second is to ask a few questions. You want to make sure that you’re buying a motorcycle safely.

Find the Number of Previous Owners

Ideally, you’ll want a bike that’s had only one previous owner. They’re much more informed about the bike’s history. They should be able to easily answer any questions you have.

When you’re shopping for an older bike, the number of previous owners can increase quite a bit. Ask the seller how many people have owned the bike. You should also ask where and when the motorcycle was purchased and where it was serviced.

Look for Evidence of Damage

The next thing you’ll want to know is its damage history. Has the bike been damaged? If so, how? If it has, ask the seller to send photos and videos of the damage. 

A good rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding motorcycle scams is to order a VIN report. It will help you discover whether the seller is hiding anything.

Consider the climate in the state where you’re looking to buy. States with poor weather may not be the best state from which to purchase.

Ask for Maintenance Records

Ask the seller if the bike has been maintained by a local dealership. If so, there might be maintenance logs that you can ask to see. If the seller did the maintenance themselves, ask for receipts or other evidence. 

Make sure to find out what kind of maintenance or repairs have been done. If it’s a newer bike and it had serious maintenance done, you may want to look elsewhere. Be sure to ask about the condition of the tires, too.

Get Odometer Evidence

The listing will probably report the bike’s mileage. Ask for a photo of the current mileage to make sure it matches the listing. If it doesn’t, find out why. 

You will also want to ask for a video of the seller starting the bike. Ask them to keep the bike running for 30 seconds so you can evaluate the sound and listen for misfiring cylinders. . 

If Possible, Go See It

If you can reach the seller’s location, take a trip and see the bike for yourself. Not only will you be able to evaluate the bike yourself, but you can test drive it to make sure it rides well. Be aware the most owners will require a cash deposit and proof of insurance and license to let you test drive.

If you can’t go see it, contact a nearby dealership. Often, they’ll go out and inspect the bike for you for a fee. This can be especially helpful if you’re new to motorcycles. There are also services such as WeGoLook that will send someone how to document the condition of an item you want to buy.

Finally, one of the best tips on how to avoid motorcycle scams is to check the seller’s online reputation (if they have one). Dealers who have a shady reputation online are much more likely to rip you off.

Tax and License on a Motorcycle from Out of State

Before you start looking for motorcycle shipping companies, make sure you can register the bike in your home state. Check your local DMV for information regarding registration and tax. 

Usually, you don’t have to pay sales tax in the state you buy the motorcycle. However, you may have to pay sales tax in your home state upon registration.

Motorcycle Shipping Cost

Some motorcycle buyers will fly out and drive the bike home themselves. However, this is usually an expensive option. You have to buy the plane ticket and pay for gas, lodging, and food as well.

The cost to ship a motorcycle is less expensive than shipping a car. Shipping a bike long-distance usually runs a few hundred dollars. Shipping a car can cost a few thousand.

To know for sure how much you’re going to pay, get a motorcycle shipping quote from CitizenShipper. Estimates are free and it’s a great option for safely shipping a motorcycle from out of state.

Pick a Motorcycle Shipping Company

You want a motorcycle shipping company you can trust. Companies like CitizenShipper will work for your schedule, your budget, and your bike. 

Choose a Shipping Method

There are several ways to ship a motorcycle. Like cars, you can choose between open trailers or enclosed trailers.

Open Trailers

Open trailers are typically less expensive. However, they can expose your bike to road debris and dust. They also tend to hold fewer motorcycles, making shipping quicker.

Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers protect your bike from weather and debris. They can be a bit more expensive, though. They can also take a little longer to ship a motorcycle since they hold more bikes.

Working With the Seller

If you can’t be there to hand the bike off to the driver, ask the seller to do it for you. It’s an easy thing to do, though some sellers may want extra.


You’ll get a call the day before pickup. Ensure the seller knows the day and time of the pickup. Also, ensure the driver knows where to go. Ask the seller if you can give their info to the driver in case he or she has questions on where to go.

The Day of the Pickup

The driver will arrive at the seller’s location and conduct a pre-pickup inspection. They will then sign a form indicating their agreement on the shipment’s condition. Next, the driver loads the motorcycle and brings it to you. 

Buying and Shipping a Motorcycle from Out of State

Buying a motorcycle safely requires you to do your due diligence. Never be afraid to ask the seller any questions you have. If they seem evasive or fishy, be willing to walk away.

Now that you know how to ship a motorcycle, there’s nothing standing in your way. If you’re interested in shipping a bike from out of state or shipping something else, check out our blog.