There are all sorts of reasons why you might need to ask how much does it cost to ship a motorcycle
? Perhaps you’re moving across the country and need to take your two-wheeled pride and joy with you. Or, you may be making your way to a rally and want to keep your bike in pristine condition rather than exposing it to wear and tear by riding it to the event.
Maybe you’ve just bought a new bike and need to know motorcycle transport prices before you have it shipped to you.
Whatever the case may be, you have a bike that needs shipping, which means you need to know the cost of bike transport . However, there isn’t an easy answer to the question of how much does shipping a motorcycle cost? Instead, the answer depends on several factors, each of which affects the cost in different ways.
In this article, we take a look at the average cost to ship a motorcycle before explaining the key factors that tell you if your cost will be higher or lower than the average.
What Is the Average Cost to Ship a Motorcycle?
The average cost to ship a motorcycle varies depending on the state that you’re shipping from. Some states are much more expensive than others. For example, you can expect to pay about $0.45 per mile shipped if you’re transporting your bike from New Mexico. However, you’ll likely pay more than double that per mile when shipping from Alabama. So, location plays a big part, as we’ll dig into a little later.
But on a very general level, the average cost of shipping a motorcycle tends to fall between the $0.50 and $0.60 per mile range.
The Factors That Affect the Cost of Shipping
Though the average looks fairly manageable, your true bike transport cost depends on several factors. In many cases, the presence of one of these factors raises the price of shipping. However, there are occasions when a factor may work in your favor and cut the price you’re expected to pay.
Factor No. 1 – The Transport Type
You typically have a choice of two types of transport when shipping a motorcycle:
With an open carrier, you leave your bike exposed to the outside world. That means rain, sleet, snow, and debris may all come into contact with the bike. This makes open transport a poor choice if your goal is to preserve the bike’s look, such as when you’re transporting it for a show or rally. Open transports are also riskier than enclosed ones. If something collides with the transport, the bike isn’t protected against the impact. As such, open transports are not recommended for high-value motorbikes or if you’re transporting the bike over a long distance.
The one big advantage open transport has is that it’s far cheaper than enclosed transport. Still, the money you save on the journey may not mean much if your bike gets damaged along the way.
Motorcycle delivery prices increase significantly when you opt for enclosed transport. But your bike is stored in a protected space that shields it from the ravages of the elements. The enclosure also offers some impact protection, meaning your bike is likely to survive minor collisions. Of course, even a strong enclosure won’t prevent damage in the case of a major accident.
So, we know there’s a price difference between open and enclosed. The question is how much? To transport a motorcycle in an enclosed transport, you can expect to pay between $150 and $500 more than you would for open transport. The exact amount depends on the carrier and the rest of the factors in this list.
Factor No. 2 – Distance
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ll pay more for a long-distance trip than you will for a short-distance one. If we assume you’re paying $0.50 per mile, a 500-mile trip will cost $250, while a 1,500-mile one will cost $750.
Except it’s not quite that simple.
Distance obviously increases the number of miles traveled, which adds to your per-mile count. But many carriers will also charge a standing fee on top of their per-mile rates. Furthermore, the per-mile cost of bike transport may actually decrease for longer journeys.
Why is that?
If you commit to a longer journey, your carrier may offer a discount because they know you’re going to spend more money with them than somebody requiring a short-distance journey. When this discount applies varies from carrier to carrier. Still, it’s worth asking if your carrier applies a discount after reaching a certain mileage threshold to see if you’ll save a little money.
Factor No. 3 – The Motorcycle’s Size
The type of bike you’re shipping has a big impact on motorcycle delivery prices.
As a general rule, large and heavy bikes cost more to ship than small and light bikes. That’s because the former types of bikes take up more room, meaning your carrier can fit fewer of them onto a multi-vehicle transport.
Most carriers base their standard prices on a bike that requires 4 x 9 feet of space. If your bike is taller, wider, or longer than those standard measurements allow for, you’ll likely pay more. The same goes if your bike has a sidecar, as this takes up so much space that it may as well be a second bike.
Factor No. 4 – The Route Your Carrier Needs to Take
Let’s say the distance between your pick-up and drop-off location is 1,000 miles as the crow flies. This means that if the bike can be transported in a straight line from Point A to Point B, it will travel 1,000 miles.
Does that mean you’ll pay for 1,000 miles of transport?
Unfortunately, that’s very unlikely. It’s extremely rare for a carrier to be able to take your bike in a straight line, or even close to a straight line, when transporting it. The odds are they’ll have to take several side roads and detours to get your bike where it needs to go. So, the exact route the carrier has to take affects the miles traveled, which alters the amount you pay.
In an ideal situation, the carrier will be able to take popular transport routes for most of the journey. This means they can drive on highways and similar open roads that require little stopping or complex route mapping. However, this isn’t always the case. Many issues can cause a carrier to take a detour, such as road closures, construction work, and traffic jams. All of these issues add to the journey’s time and mileage, meaning they add to the cost of bike transport. A good motorcycle carrier will give you facilities to track the journey. They’ll also explain the intended route beforehand and keep you informed if something changes along the way.
Factor No. 5 – The Time of Year
Carriers tend to adjust their prices based on demand. When demand is high, you’ll usually pay a higher per-mile rate than when demand is lower.
Generally speaking, you’ll face a higher cost of bike transport during the summer months. Most people prefer shipping bikes during these months because the roads are safer, meaning there’s less risk of damage occurring during the journey. Interestingly, carriers may also charge more for shipping in January than they will for other months. This is likely to account for the increased risk involved in driving heavy vehicles on roads during winter when rain and snow create hazards.
Factor No. 6 – Your Pick-Up And Drop-Off Locations
If you opt for a carrier that transports multiple motorcycles per journey, you usually have to drop your motorcycle off at an assigned location and then pick it up at another designated spot. While this is inconvenient because it means you have to transport your bike somewhere before it can be shipped, it also costs less than door-to-door shipping.
Choosing a door-to-door service costs more because the carrier has to go out of their way to pick up and drop off your bike. Motorcycle delivery prices for door-to-door services increase further if your location is away from major transport links. For example, if you have a carrier pick your bike up from a rural location, you’ll pay more than if they picked it up from a location in a major city. As such, this factor ties into the previously mentioned issue related to the route. The further a carrier has to go off their preferred route, the more you’re going to pay.
Factor No. 7 – How Much Notice You Provide
If you book with a carrier several weeks or months before your bike needs shipping, you’ll usually get a better price than if you try to book at the last minute. This is because the carrier gets more time to determine the best route and figure out which transport to take your bike on, meaning they can provide a better quote.
By leaving things until the last minute, you force the carrier to figure out how to dedicate resources to your job without delaying others. Many carriers charge a premium for this type of service because it requires them to prioritize your bike over the others they’re shipping.
How to Reduce the Cost of Bike Transport
Now that you understand the factors that affect motorcycle delivery prices , you need to know what you can do to keep your costs as low as possible. These quick tips help you to cut your costs while still getting a professional service.
Tip No. 1 – Watch for Additional Fees
The two main fees you pay when shipping a bike are the carrier’s standing fee and their per mile charge. Combine the two and you get the total cost of shipping your bike. However, many carriers have additional charges that they levy in specific circumstances. These can add to your total, meaning you need to be aware of them before you book. Such fees include the following:
- Oversized bike charges
- Toll road fees
- Residential or rural fees for door-to-door
- Lift gate charges
- Fuel surcharges
Quiz your carrier about these fees and whether they’re included in your quoted price or will be tacked on as extras.
Tip No. 2 – Don’t Miss the Delivery
This seems like obvious advice. However, missing a delivery usually results in you paying additional fees for transporting your bike. Many carriers charge an attempted delivery fee, which applies if you don’t meet the carrier at the designated location on time.
Thankfully, most carriers won’t just leave your bike if you’re not there to pick it up. Instead, they’ll take it to a storage location and rearrange the delivery with you. But storage isn’t free. If you have to use it, you’ll pay another fee on top of the attempted delivery fee. This varies by carrier by can easily by over $100 per day.
Tip No. 3 – Take Advantage of Off-Season Delivery
Opting for delivery during the summer may be the safest option. But it’s also the costliest because carriers have plenty of demand during these periods. It’s often more cost-effective to choose an off-season month, such as those in the early spring or late fall.
Tip No. 4 – Gather Several Quotes
The motorcycle transport prices mentioned in this article are averages. They vary based on the factors listed in the article. Furthermore, they can vary depending on the carrier. Each carrier has its own criteria for determining how much you pay. Some specialize in interstate transportation and will charge less than more general carriers for that particular service. Others may seem more expensive at first. But they might incorporate all additional fees into their quotes where others don’t.
The point is that it’s a good practice to collect several quotes before deciding on your motorcycle carrier. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. But at the same time, going with the first quote you get may mean you pay more to transport your bike than you need to.
Keep Your Motorcycle Shipping Costs Low
How much does it cost to transport a motorcycle?
The answer varies depending on the type of transport you use, your bike, the season, the carrier, and several other factors. As such, it’s difficult to provide a specific answer to this question. But by taking the factors discussed in this article into account, in addition to using the cost-cutting tips mentioned, you can keep the cost of bike transport as low as possible.
Now, it’s time for you to start collecting quotes.
At Cheap Motorcycle Shipping, we pride ourselves on offering quality shipping services at low prices. Founded by a motorcycle enthusiast, we put the customer first by delivering motorcycles quickly, safely, and at a lower cost than other companies. Get a quote from us today to get a bike transport price that suits you.