Motorcycle Shipping Cost and How You Can Save on Shipping Rates?

Paige Strickland Paige Strickland · Updated April 7, 2023

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There’s no feeling like cruising on a motorcycle, feeling the fresh air on your face and the road beneath your wheels. But, if you’re planning a big move, or buying a new bike, it’s not always the best option to ride it all the way home — especially if there are several hundred or thousand miles to your destination. While lighter than a car, it’s also not an easy feat to get a motorcycle on the back of a truck. That may make you wonder what kind of motorcycle shipping cost you might be facing.

This is where motorcycle shipping comes in handy. It’s an easy way to ensure your bike gets from point A to point B in a timely, cost-effective, and stress-free manner. Sometimes it’s just best to leave the logistics to the pros!

So, what contributes to the motorcycle shipping cost? The following is a breakdown to help you make the best decision based on the specifics of your hog.

How Much Does Motorcycle Shipping Cost?

Cost to Ship a Motorcycle Per Mile

A primary part of calculating the motorcycle shipping cost is the distance to the destination. It’s common for motorcycle shipping companies to charge a per-mile rate, ranging from $0.30 to $0.75 per mile. The further the distance, the more it will cost. 

Cost to Ship Within Your State

If you’re moving within your state, the motorcycle shipping cost will be rather low. For example, transports under 1,000 miles typically costs between $180 to $300. 

Cost to Ship to Another State

On the other hand, a trip that is twice as long — 1000+ miles — can cost twice as much. Longer moves can range from $350 to $700+.

Cost to Ship From the Dealership or Workshop

The cost to ship a motorcycle from a dealership or workshop will depend on several factors. Here are a few things you’ll need to know to determine the motorcycle shipping cost:

  • Is the car in running condition?
  • How far is the dealership/workshop from the destination?
  • How soon do you need the motorcycle in your possession?
  • Does the shipping company offer door-to-door transport?

Cost to Ship a Motorcycle to Hawaii and Alaska

While motorcycle transport via trucks and trailers are most common, and cost-effective, there are two of the 50 states where this isn’t possible. You guessed it — Hawaii and Alaska. If you’re shipping your motorcycle over the open ocean there are two choices: air freight and sea freight. 

Sea Freight

Motorcycles can be delivered on a specialized sea vessel that is used for hauling motor vehicles like cars and motorcycles. Your bike can be loaded up with a type of shipping called roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO), or in a shipping container. RO/RO  is much like a parking lot floating through the ocean — the bike is driven on, held by a rack and tie downs, and then driven off at the location. When your bike is transported in a shipping container, it’s enclosed and secured inside 4 sturdy walls. 

RO/RO is the cheapest shipping option on a sea vessel. Shipping in a sea container is typically more expensive, but if you share the space inside with other bikes, this will reduce the cost. Both options are priced based on volume — the calculation of length, width and height. 

Although the most cost-effective option, it’s best to choose shipping by boat if you are flexible on the arrival date of your bike. Sea shipping vessels are notorious for having delays, sometimes by a few days or a week.

Air Freight

Delivering your motorcycle by plane is an option for expedited shipping to bridge the gaps in over-sea shipping. It is quick, and delays are often far shorter (usually only spanning a few hours or a day). The largest downside is the cost of shipping. It can be very expensive because your bike must be crated and there is limited space on the plane.  

Cost of Open Transport Vs. Enclosed Transport

The following are the two main types of trailers used to haul motorcycles. Each has a different price point that will influence the total motorcycle shipping cost. 

Open Transport

If you choose to use an open motorcycle transport option, this means your bike will be secured onto an uncovered trailer. The benefits of open transport include being affordable, easy to use, and versatile. Open transport trailers come in a variety of sizes and styles. The main downside of open transport is that it leaves your bike vulnerable to the elements. Debris, dirt, and grime are kicked up from the road while en route, and adverse weather conditions may call for snow or rain. 

Another fear for those who choose open transport is movement of the bike en route, particularly on wide turns and rough terrain. These concerns can be alleviated by taking extra precautions and ensuring the bike is secured correctly. Open transport is a popular option for motorcycle shipping, and when done safely is a great way to save. 

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed transport is the opposite of open transport — the motorcycle is enclosed by four walls during transportation. Though it comes at a higher motorcycle shipping cost, it also has several benefits. This option is appealing because it provides a more secure mode of transport. Your motorcycle will be protected from the elements and out of sight, reducing the risk of theft in the event your transporter needs to make a stop or stay overnight on the trip. You can also store detachable and breakable parts of your motorcycle safely inside the enclosed trailer. 

What Factors Affect Motorcycle Shipping Costs?

Distance to Travel

As exemplified above, the distance your motorcycle needs to be transported will heavily affect the motorcycle shipping cost. 

Size and Weight

Motorcycle size doesn’t vary as much as cars. Obviously a truck like a Ford Raptor takes up way more space than a compact car like a Prius. Even so, as a general rule, the larger the bike, the higher the motorcycle shipping cost. Most motorcycle shipping rates are based on the standard space a motorcycle takes up — about 4 feet by 9 feet. If your bike is wider, like a three wheeler, or heavier, there may be an added cost. 

Insurance

While your personal motorcycle liability insurance covers bodily injury or property damage during a ride, it likely won’t extend to motorcycle transport. Luckily, all motorcycle transport companies carry their own liability insurance. It’s important to communicate with your motorcycle’s transporter about the total amount of coverage offered. If your motorcycle is of a higher value than they can pro7vide, you may need to purchase an add-on insurance package. This will have an extra fee attached to it. 

Accessibility

Accessibility will play a role in how much the transporter decides to charge — if your bike is located off the beaten path there may be an extra fee for pick up or drop off. Urban areas near major cities and highways will often make accessing your bike a lot easier for the transporter. Even if your planned route is only a couple hundred miles, extra fees may be added on if either the pick up or drop off locations are remote or hard to access. Some motorcycle transport companies won’t travel to remote areas with unpaved roads or other rough terrain.

Combined or “Stacked” Routes

You can usually find discounts with a motorcycle transporter that carries several bikes at a time. This is where having biker companions, or a biker club, comes in handy. If you and your friends are all planning to attend a rally or race at a dirt bike course together, you can ship them all at the same time on a stacked route, that way you can all save! If you’re riding solo, that’s okay too. Your motorcycle can still be added to a stacked route.

Pick Up and Drop Off Locations

Densely populated areas will typically have more shipping companies to choose from. Since there is competition between motorcycle shipping companies in these areas, they will offer competitive rates. Inversely, if your bike is kept at a rural location, less options may be available.

Door-to-Door vs. Terminal Shipping

You will also want to weigh the pros and cons of door-to-door shipping versus terminal shipping for your particular bike. Door-to-door pick up and drop off adds to the motorcycle shipping cost, but it also has added benefits that may make it worth the extra change. You’re paying for convenience — the motorcycle is picked up from your desired location and leaves directly for the destination. This is ideal in express shipping situations.

On the other hand, for terminal-to-terminal shipping, you will drop off your bike at a nearby location specified by the motorcycle shipping company. From there, it will await shipping and be taken to your destination. This is a cheaper option, but it may also take more time. If the driver is hauling several bikes at once you may need to wait until the trailer is full before they take off to your location. It lacks the direct-route approach of door-to-door services. 

Season of Transport

Summer marks a beloved time to ride — popular rallies like Sturgis in South Dakota accumulate 500,000+ bikers from all over the world. In winter, snow and ice can make it hard to ride safely in some areas. As you can see, the seasons may also play a role in determining the motorcycle shipping cost. You may experience a surge in prices during summer months due to high demand. Trucks will fill up fast.

If you plan on attending a rally, race or event, beat the crowd and book your shipment in advance. This will keep costs lower. 

Crating Your Bike

You may choose to crate your bike, closing it up in a metal or wooden container. This will add to your motorcycle shipping cost because the loading process will require a forklift or extra loading equipment. The cost of a motorcycle crate itself typically ranges from $200 to $400. You can either find a transporter that will provide a crate or make one yourself. It’s worth noting that building one yourself will add up to a similar price than buying one after the price of tools and materials. It is left up to your personal preference. 

The main advantage of a motorcycle crate is the added protection and space it offers. This can be helpful to store spare parts and accessories in a compact manner. Storing these attachments is not recommended for open transport methods.

Thinking in Advance: Flexible vs. Express Shipping

Just like buying a plane ticket or booking a hotel, planning your motorcycle transport as much in advance as possible will help you save. It allows the motorcycle shipping company enough time to plan and research your route, cutting costs down where possible. The more flexibility you have will be a great advantage. If you need next-day express shipping in a pinch, everyone will be in a rush, and you’ll pay a higher fee. 

Special Discounts

You may qualify for discounts! Several motorcycle shipping companies offer discounts, usually around 15% off, for:

  • Members of the Military
  • Emergency responders 
  • Motorcycle club memberships (like HOG or AMA)

How You Can Save on Motorcycle Shipping Costs?

CitizenShipper is a great tool to narrow down your motorcycle shipping options — you’ll save time and money with the help of transporter matchmaking and marketplace bidding. Here’s how!

Create a Listing

The first step is to create a free listing with some simple information about your ride on the CitizenShipper website:

Compare Quotes

This information will help CitizenShipper connect you with several prospective transporters that may be a match for your motorcycle shipping needs. Within minutes, you’ll receive quotes! The competitive atmosphere of the CitizenShipper marketplace keeps costs low. The transporters love what they do, and want to gain more clientele by offering the best prices and services possible. Cheap motorcycle shipping isn’t always too good to be true!

Choose the Best Match

From here, you can communicate with prospective transporters to see which one will be the best fit. Feel free to ask them any questions you may have before booking. Their profile will show you past customer reviews, their rating on a 5-star scale, and their experience. 

Enjoy peace of mind knowing your motorcycle is in great hands — create a free listing today!