There are many reasons to consider hiring one of the best motorcycle shipping companies to handle relocating your bike instead of riding it to your destination yourself.
Maybe you’re contemplating a move to another state or even another country. That’s nerve-wracking enough because of all the planning. So, if you’re selling your bike to someone out of state but the buyer doesn’t want to pick it up in person, you might have to find a carrier.
The same applies if you buy a second-hand bike from another state or country. Shipping bikes across long distances is often safer and more efficient than riding them the entire way. And in some situations, it’s the only way to get it there.
But given the fragile nature of bikes, as compared to cars, the transportation requirements are more exigent. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick the right carrier for the job from the overwhelming number of them available on the market.
Identify the Best Motorcycle Transport Method for Your Needs
Before you start comparing the best motorcycle shipping companies, you need to figure out the ideal way to ship your motorcycle.
For example, international shipping almost always involves air freight or ocean cargo shipping. Transporting via airfreight poses minimal risk for your motorcycle because an airplane is the safest form of transport.
Your bike will be properly secured and protected, not to mention it will arrive very quickly at its destination. But ocean cargo shipping is considerably cheaper. And even though it may take weeks or months to ship your motorcycle, it will still be well-protected from exposure to the elements and impact damage.
If you want to ship your bike to another city or state, choosing a motorcycle hauling company with specialized trucks is the best way to go. It still won’t be nearly as fast as airfreight transport, but you’ll find plenty of cheap motorcycle shipping companies with outstanding service and experience.
Once you know how you want to ship your motorcycle, you can start looking at the best motorcycle shippers that can provide your preferred form of transport.
What to Look for in a Motorcycle Hauling Company
You’d be surprised how many shippers aren’t licensed or don’t have all their paperwork together. Identifying who has the best motorcycle transport services requires a closer look at the company.
First, you should look at a shipper’s license. The best motorcycle shipping companies should have a valid USDOT number issued by the Department of Transportation. If a company claims that it will handle shipping across state lines, it should also provide you with a valid MC number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA.)
Ask for proof of the transportation license as well as their insurance. If a company refuses to be transparent about these documents, you might want to look at other transport service providers.
Area of Expertise
Some of the best motorcycle transport companies will offer more than motorcycle shipping. However, this will be their main area of expertise.
How can you tell if you’re looking at a reputable shipper?
The best motorcycle shippers can usually provide records of former deliveries to show that they have a good history. In addition, the company will likely be able to provide both domestic and international shipping services for a wide range of motorcycles.
Another thing you should know is that cheap motorcycle shipping companies can still do a good job but might have a limited offering. Not all motorcycle shipping specialists will have the equipment required to transport custom bikes or certain brands.
Others may lack the insurance coverage or operational protocols to handle luxury and high-value motorcycles.
If you want to ensure your bike is being handled by the best motorcycle shipping company, you should ask for full disclosure of their vehicles, equipment, and safety protocols.
Loading a motorcycle onto an enclosed trailer will require specific lift gates. Without proper equipment, the loading process can damage the bike. Furthermore, larger custom bikes, choppers, and some sports models need more motorcycle-specific loading equipment.
Ensuring that your shipper has the right tools for the job is a must to minimize the risk of underside damage during loading and unloading.
Transporting a bike across the country won’t always be a smooth ride. But the best motorcycle shippers
should be up to the task of ensuring the bike is secure. Unlike cars, motorcycles can sway and fall if not properly strapped down.
Though a kickstand works fine for keeping a bike upright in a garage, driveway, or on the street, an experienced motorcycle hauling company should know better than to ship yours like that and consider it secure.
Your bike will need specialty straps to stabilize it and prevent it from falling. In most cases, four straps will do the trick. But another must-have piece of equipment is a good skid that can prevent the wheels from slipping.
Once you get the rundown on the equipment, it’s important to look at the transport vehicles. Cheap motorcycle shipping companies will often use whatever trucks they can afford to ship bikes locally and across state borders.
But the best motorcycle transport services use air-ride suspension vehicles. Air-ride suspension makes for a softer ride and a more accident-free experience. It helps the drivers as much as it helps the cargo by minimizing the shocks considerably compared to stock suspension systems.
Enclosed Shipping Is a Must
Don’t let anyone fool you. While transporting bikes on pickup trucks is not uncommon, enclosed transportation is the safest way to ship a motorcycle.
Unlike cars, motorcycles are more fragile. Vital engine components aren’t as well protected as they are on cars because bikes don’t have the same chassis style. Therefore, your bike will need every inch of extra protection to shield it from bad weather, road debris, accidents, and theft.
Shipping in enclosed trailers can be more expensive but also standard practice for reputable motorcycle shipping companies. Recommendations to use an open trailer can raise red flags about the carrier’s experience.
Motorcycle Shipping Companies Reviews
Lastly, you should always take some time to look at what other customers say about motorcycle shipping companies Reviews can give you some insight into how a company handles deliveries and customer communications.
Former customers are good sources of motorcycle shipping companies recommendations and can help you make a more informed decision.
International Shipping Research
Not every motorcycle hauling company offers international shipping. If you want to send your bike overseas or have a foreign bike delivered to your doorstep, you need to pick a highly specialized shipper.
Getting licensed as an international shipper isn’t too difficult. However, dealing with customs, explaining the paperwork and fees to customers, and finding the fastest and safest routes takes serious experience in international shipping.
Looking at past deliveries and how a company handles international transport to various countries is essential.
Customer service can make or break a business, especially in the shipping industry. If your carrier doesn’t have multiple communication channels or isn’t transparent about your delivery situation, you’re not dealing with a reputable carrier.
The best motorcycle transport service providers will almost always keep customers updated on the delivery status, even without being asked. Any delays should be promptly explained
If you want more information from a carrier, the customer service department should accommodate your queries in a timely fashion and address any concerns.
Companies that don’t allow transparency are often untrustworthy because they come off as having something to hide. This could mean anything from a history of reckless driving to not having the best insurance or driving old and ill-equipped trucks and trailers.
Avoid doing business with carriers that don’t have a habit of maintaining regular communication with customers or their drivers.
What Do You Need From a Motorcycle Hauling Company?
Finding the best motorcycle shipping companies to move your bike from point A to point B isn’t just a matter of who has the most five-star reviews. As with any vehicle shipping, your requirements can be highly specific.
Maybe you want to ship to a very remote location. Perhaps your bike is non-operational and requires additional equipment to load and unload.
You could have a very expensive motorcycle that needs better insurance coverage. Customer needs differ all the time. And while all the best motorcycle shippers will try to accommodate you, not everyone will be up for the task.
You should clarify your delivery requirements after you find a few reputable shippers and vet their history and credentials.
You might have a specific route and timeline in mind that not everyone can accommodate. Be clear about your needs to help the carrier give you an accurate quote.
Delivery Time Expectations
Traffic conditions and distance are the two most crucial influencing factors regarding the delivery time. Usually, shipping a bike across the country can take up to five working days.
But realistically speaking, it’s not uncommon to wait up to seven or eight days for delivery. Once you get a quote, the carrier will likely give you an estimated delivery time.
If you can work within that timeframe, feel free to proceed with the order.
That said, unexpected delays can happen, especially when hauling motorcycles. Due to the fragile nature of the vehicles and their high value, drivers may choose longer and safer routes, drive at lower speeds, avoid driving in bad weather, etc.
This is done to preserve your bike’s condition during a long haul.
How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for Shipping
You shouldn’t forget good shipping practices just because you found one of the best motorcycle transport services for your order.
The first thing you should do before the carrier comes to pick up your bike – if you don’t want to ride it to their warehouse – is to document your bike’s condition. Snap plenty of photos from multiple angles and account for every scratch before the loaders put the bike in the trailer.
As a general rule, motorcycle carriers are responsible for what happens to your bike during loading procedures, in transit, and unloading procedures. To submit an insurance claim, you must prove that whatever damage the bike sustained happened only after the carrier took possession.
You’ll also want to avoid leaving personal items on your bike.
Before making a deal with a carrier, you might want to consider getting additional insurance. The best motorcycle shipping companies will have commercial cargo insurance. All carriers have a federal mandate to have insurance so they can cover potential damage claims.
However, dealing with insurance appraisers doesn’t always go in the customer’s favor. Even if the carrier is found at fault, the appraiser might lowball your bike’s value. In that event, the insurance company might not pay you enough to fully repair your motorcycle.
This is a scary scenario to be in, especially in the event of total loss.
Sometimes asking the carrier or shipping broker about additional insurance coverage is a good idea. You can also ask your insurance company about your policy’s coverage for shipping.
The last thing you want to do is send off your expensive bike without sufficient coverage to reimburse you in the event the bike sustains damage.
Put Your Motorcycle’s Safety First
No matter what vehicle you need to ship, you should always pick a carrier with the highest quality of service. Though you can get away with cheaper services when transporting cars, going for cheap motorcycle shipping companies won’t always be a good idea.
Keeping your bike safe and handling it with care requires experienced people, good route planning, enough insurance coverage, and specialized equipment. These things require sizeable investments from carriers.
If someone is consistently undercutting the average market price, you can be pretty sure they’re lacking in at least one or two areas. Don’t let a few extra bucks trick you into gambling with your bike’s safety and timely arrival
And if you’re looking for more information on how to ship your bike domestically or internationally, Ship Vehicles can assist you. Our services cover a wide range of vehicles, and we do offer motorcycle-specific transportation using proper equipment, vehicles, and drivers. We can also guide you on how to safely ship your motorcycle internationally and navigate the murky waters of customs and legal issues.