How Expensive Is Motorcycle Shipping: Costs, Options and Tips

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated August 8, 2023

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Experiencing the open road on a motorcycle is unparalleled. However, riding your motorcycle there might not be feasible when relocating to a distant new home with your family. Given their weight, motorcycle shipping by loading them into a moving truck is impractical. Towing it yourself is an option, but you could risk damage or theft over long distances.

Bike shipping across the country can be both affordable and convenient with the help of experienced shipping companies. Here’s a complete guide to shipping your motorcycle.

Average Motorcycle Shipping Costs and Factors Affecting Prices

On average, bike shipping costs around $940. However, prices may vary based on factors such as transport type and distance. Open transport (a truck without walls or a roof) is the most affordable choice, but it also comes with higher risks (some top motorcycle shipping companies don’t even offer this option). Bike shipping companies provide various price and risk levels to suit your preferences, whether you need open transport for a dirt bike or an enclosed carrier for a Harley.

Estimating Motorcycle Shipping Costs

Shipping a motorcycle typically ranges from $300 to $1,300, which is less expensive than the average car shipping cost. However, motorcycle transport costs are subject to change depending on various factors.

Open transport (trucks without walls or roofs) is the most economical option, but also the riskiest. Some top bike shipping companies don’t even offer it. These companies let you choose the price and risk level you’re comfortable with, allowing you to ship your dirt bike using open transport or your Harley in an enclosed carrier.

Distance, Location, and Bike Shipping Costs

The primary factor affecting shipping costs is the travel distance. Prices may vary slightly between companies, but on average, you’ll pay around $0.60 per mile for nationwide bike shipping, although this figure differs from state to state. Costs are likely to be higher for remote or hard-to-reach locations, and some companies may add a surcharge for interstate shipments.

Motorcycle Size, Weight, and Shipping Rates

Some companies charge higher rates for shipping large, heavy motorbikes. The average cost of $0.60 per mile can increase to $0.70-$0.80 per mile when transporting heavyweight models, such as Harley Davidsons, weighing around 500 pounds. Larger motorbikes are more challenging to handle, requiring oversized crates, specialized tie-downs, and unique packing accommodations to ensure safe transit. This price increase also affects insurance coverage, so take your time to collect price estimates when searching for a moving company.

Freight Type and Bike Shipping Costs

Various motorcycle shipping methods exist, each with different price ranges. Companies typically offer only one or two of these methods, so inquire ahead of time if you need a specific transportation method.

Professional Shipping Truck: The average price to transport a motorcycle by 1,300 miles by truck is around $800. Truck transport is the most common method for shipping a motorcycle throughout the United States.

Train: Train transportation is very budget-friendly, offering significant savings compared to other transport types. You’ll pay around $250 to $450 for a 1,300-mile trip. However, drop-off and pick-up locations are at train stations, so this method works best when shipping from one large city to another. Additionally, train-based companies prioritize commercial clients, so shipping spots fill up quickly.

Ship: Shipping by boat is slow and expensive, averaging around $1,500. However, it’s the most affordable option for shipping a motorcycle overseas if you’re moving out of the country.

Plane: Shipping a motorcycle by plane is much faster than by boat. The overall cost varies based on weight, but you’ll pay at least $1,000 and as much as $3,000 or more, depending on the destination.

The Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Shipping

Exploring the open road on a motorcycle is unmatched, but when moving to a distant new home with family, riding your bike there isn’t always feasible. Due to their weight, motorcycles can’t easily be packed into moving trucks. Towing a motorcycle yourself could risk damage or theft during a long journey.

Motorcycle shipping is a convenient option for getting your bike from point A to point B, whether you’re relocating or selling your motorcycle to a distant buyer. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your motorcycle and ensure its successful delivery.

Step-by-Step Process for Shipping a Motorcycle

Step 1: Choose a Trailer Type When shipping a motorcycle, decide between an enclosed or open trailer. Enclosed trailers offer better protection during transit, while open trailers are significantly cheaper.

Step 2: Obtain a motorcycle shipping quote and request multiple quotes. Consider shipping costs and desired service levels (door-to-door, open or enclosed trailer, crating, etc).

To compare various shipping companies’ prices, use websites like Compare the Carrier or uShip.

Step 3: Schedule Service After selecting a carrier, promptly schedule your service to secure a spot on their calendar. Cross-country shipping takes about five days, so plan for a three-day window for pick-up and delivery to accommodate potential delays.

Step 4: Document Motorcycle Condition Before shipping, document your motorcycle’s condition, as carriers may not be responsible for damages occurring under their care without proper documentation. Take detailed pictures of your motorcycle from different angles.

Step 5: Prepare Motorcycle for Shipping Usually, there’s no need to empty the gas tank or disconnect the battery. Ensure saddlebags or tour packs are securely closed and avoid leaving personal property, like helmets, attached to the motorcycle’s exterior.

Step 6: Consider Additional Insurance Most shippers include insurance coverage, but it may not cover your motorcycle’s full value. Consider purchasing additional coverage for valuable bikes.

Step 7: Ship Your Motorcycle The carrier will either pick up your motorcycle or you can bring it to the shipper’s depot to expedite the process.

Step 8: Receive Your Motorcycle Meet the carrier and accept motorcycle delivery. Inspect the motorcycle promptly for any damage. If necessary, file insurance claims immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Bottom Line

Shipping your motorcycle is a convenient and secure way to transport your bike over long distances, whether you’re relocating or selling it to a distant buyer. By understanding the various factors affecting shipping costs, choosing the right shipping method, and taking the necessary precautions to prepare your motorcycle, you can ensure a hassle-free and successful delivery. Don’t forget to research and compare different shipping companies to find the best fit for your needs and budget.