Transporting Motorcycles: A Beginner’s Guide

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated April 17, 2024

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CitizenShipper is a transportation marketplace that provides a range of shipment types for you to bid on and win. Motorcycle shipments are a rapidly growing segment on our platform! If you’re already transporting pets or cargo, adding a motorcycle shipment to your journey could earn you extra cash on the road. The best part of being a transporter is that, according to ZipRecruiter, motorcycle transporters can make upwards of $60,000.

The idea of transporting a motorcycle may seem intimidating at first. However, motorcycles are among the easiest items to ship. This is because motorcycle shipping requires inexpensive equipment and no more than a single transporter. There are two main motorcycle shipping methods, Open Transport and Closed Transport

Open Motorcycle Transport

Open motorcycle transport is exactly what it sounds like. This method involves transporting motorcycles without an enclosed trailer. Some examples include using open trailers, flatbeds, hitch mounts or simply loading the bike onto a truck bed using ramps and lifts.

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Transporting motorcycles using an open trailer

When you’re transporting motorcycles in an open trailer or truck bed, avoid using tie-down hooks directly on the handlebars or forks. This will prevent any damage or scratching.

Plenty of motorcycle transporters, professionals and beginners alike, use small flatbed trailers and durable tank straps to secure the bike. To learn more about transporting bikes using just a flatbed trailer and a pair of straps, check out this video:

Motorcycle Hitch Mount

A hitch mount might also work for you. This is a feature that you can mount on a car, van, or motorhome . Think of it as a great big bicycle rack.

The mount fits into the receiver tube on the back of the vehicle or onto the hitch of a tow vehicle. Some hitch mounts, such as the Versa Haul Sport, have trailer hitches of their own that extend off the back of the motorcycle carrier. The hitch on the Versa Haul Sport can tow trailers of up to 3,000 pounds.

Transporting motorcycles using a hitch mount.

For those driving vans or RVs, there are plenty of options available. You could purchase a “fifth wheel” hitch, allowing you to easily mount a motorcycle.

Source: https://decoraiso.com

Open Motorcycle Trailer Costs

The cost of these accessories varies depending on their size and weight capacity, but for an open trailer, you can expect to invest between $1,000 and $3,000. Uncovered doubles typically cost $2,000 to $3,000, while singles go for $1,000 to $2,000.

Hitch mounts are a much cheaper solution, starting off at $200, with most popular brands priced below $500 for a single bike rack. If you’re interested in a power lift for your truck bed, that could set you back as much as $1,500.

Think of these costs as investments that will be paid off with just a handful of motorcycle shipments once you start winning bids on CitizenShipper!

If you’re only interested in transporting motorcycles from time to time and have no place to keep the trailer, U-Haul rents trailers. The trailer rentals are affordable, easy to tow and come equipped with loading ramps, tie-down rings or built-in wheel lock systems.

Source: https://www.uhaul.com

When towing a U-Haul motorcycle trailer, it is recommended to keep the speed below 55 mph (or even lower depending on road conditions).

Source: https://www.uhaul.com

Enclosed Motorcycle Transport

As the name suggests, enclosed transport is performed using an enclosed trailer. This method allows you to protect the motorcycle from adverse weather conditions or debris on the road.

Source: https://www.hdforums.com

An enclosed cargo trailer that accommodates two bikes could cost you $3,500 or more. Although higher priced, enclosed trailers protect bikes from weather or grime and provide greater security. When negotiating rates with customers, telling them you have an enclosed trailer provides added confidence and may help you win the shipment.

To learn more on how to properly secure a bike in an enclosed trailer using straps, check this video:

Motorcycles can also be blocked and braced inside the container for multiple bike transportation.

Source: https://www.schumachercargo.com

Additional Transport Equipment

Depending on which method of motorcycle shipping you choose, there are accessories that ensure proper cargo safety:

Loading Equipment

If you will transport motorcycles in your truck bed, you need a lift or loading ramp. You can buy an aluminum ramp for $70 to $400. The cost depends on size, quality and durability.

Source: https://picclick.com

Power lifts are an advanced option that require no manual loading effort. They’re more expensive, rarely available for less than $1,500.

Source: https://openroadoutfitters.com

 

Wheel Chocks and Straps

Once you get the motorcycle onto the truck bed, you’ll use wheel chocks and straps to ensure its stability. These are also recommended for transporters using open trailers and hitches. There are several types of chocks and straps; your choice largely depends on the type of motorcycles you’re planning on hauling. This is because dirt bikes and race bikes have different wheel sizes. As for straps, be aware of their length because hanging flaps can cause damage to the bike’s paint.

Trailer Restraint

For wooden floor trailers, we recommend installing a trailer restraint on the bike’s back wheels. These are also known as rear stands, and your purchase options will largely depend on the type of motorcycle you’re hauling.

Source: https://www.amazon.com.mx/

Locking System

If you’re primarily interested in transporting dirt bikes, consider a locking system that’s secured to the motorcycle frame. The major upside of this setup is that it eliminates the use of tie-down straps, floor anchors or wheel chocks. It takes an enormous amount of pressure off the motorcycle fork seals during transit. It also frees up valuable space, allowing for the transport of more motorcycles or gear.

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Pros and Cons of Open vs Enclosed Motorcycle Transport

The main benefits of choosing an enclosed trailer over an open trailer:

  • Enclosed trailers usually fit multiple motorcycles at the same time, allowing you to stack more shipments.
  • Enclosed trailers also prevent loss or theft, keeping you anxiety-free during multi-day trips.
  • With four secure walls, an enclosed motorcycle trailer provides a stable base for the bike to be attached to.
  • No weather conditions or road debris can cause damage to a bike enclosed inside a trailer.

On the other hand, there are benefits for open motorcycle shipping:

  • For short-distance trips, open transport greatly cuts down on your preparation time.
  • When the customer is in urgent need of transport, it’s far easier to rent an open trailer.
  • If shipping motorcycles is just your side-hustle, the initial investment of a hitch mount or a single-bike open trailer is lower.

Things To Do Before Loading the Bike

Prior to transporting a customer’s motorcycle, make sure you know how to be prepared. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Thoroughly wipe down the bike. Take note of any chips or scratches and document them before loading the bike.
  • If the motorcycle is in running condition, check its fluids, battery and tire pressure. Remove all accessories and loose items.
  • The bike should have no more than  ¼ tank of gas during shipping.
  • If you don’t have experience loading the bike in gear, shift it to neutral and have someone assist you.

Source: https://ridermagazine.com

Finally, make sure to take photos of the motorcycle before it’s picked up, also at the drop-off location upon delivery. By documenting the condition of the bike, you can avoid unwarranted insurance claims and other problems.

How Much Can I Earn Shipping Motorcycles on CitizenShipper?

According to our internal data, the average winning rate on motorcycle shipments is around $.85 per mile. However, depending on the pick-up location, distance, and customer’s urgency, you can often quote and win at rates well above $1.50 per mile! Your quote for shipping a motorcycle varies, based on a number of factors. These factors include the make and model of the bike and any additional coverage.

Here’s just a few recent examples of motorcycle shipments won and delivered by drivers using the CitizenShipper platform:

We hope that this article has provided you with insight into the basics of motorcycle transportation. If you’re already a transporter using our platform, head to your account settings and add motorcycles to your list of categories. To add motorcycles just click on the Motorcycles tick box.

And if you’re new to CitizenShipper, click here to sign up – it takes just a couple of minutes! If you run into any trouble along the way, contact our support team and we’ll do what you can to help you along. Happy shipping!


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6 thoughts on “Transporting Motorcycles: A Beginner’s Guide

  1. I like how you mentioned that due to inexpensive equipment and single transporters, motorbikes are one of the simplest vehicles to transport. My brother is thinking of looking for a tilt equipment trailer for sale because he’s considering buying a custom made motorcycle for him to ride during the warm months. I think it’s best for my brother to consider all of his options when choosing a reputable company to purchase a trailer from to transport his motorbike if he gets it.

  2. I have been thinking about adding motorcycles. How do I sign up for this too?

  3. I have my motorcycle endorsement on my license. My question is this. I know people would rather there vehicle or cycle be hauled or towed. Does anyone drive the cycle or car to the buyers or persons location?

  4. Am I able to tow 2 motorcycles side by side on an open trailer that are different weights?

    1. Tim, this will depend on the trailer specifications, as long as you are within its weight distribution and gross weight capacity, there should not be issues. Before you do this however, please make sure to consult with your trailer manufacturer.

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