How to Transport and Ship Your Motorcycle

How to Transport and Ship Your Motorcycle

If you need to transport your motorcycle across the country, you can move the bike yourself or hire a shipping service. Loading a bike and ensuring its safety along the way can be difficult if you're not familiar with the process. It's a good idea to consider getting professional help — especially if you have to travel a long way. Before you make a decision, you should think about the chance that something bad could happen to your motorcycle along the way. You could have to pay for this damage yourself if you don't have motorcycle insurance to cover your bike while it's in transit.

Motorcycle movers: What do they charge?

The cost of moving a motorcycle with a professional company depends on the size of your bike, the length of the trip, the type of truck that the movers use and the season in which the company hauls your bike.

The best way to estimate your cost is to multiply the distance you're traveling by an estimated rate. In general, we found that companies charge around $0.50 per mile, but trips longer than 1,000 miles might see a slightly discounted rate. On the other hand, shorter trips — generally under 500 miles — can include cost hikes that can push rates up by $3 per mile or more. You can use this table to begin estimating the cost of hauling your motorcycle across the U.S.:

Distance (miles)
Cost ($0.50 per mile)
New YorkChicago800$400
New YorkMiami1,300$650
New YorkHouston1,700$850
New YorkLos Angeles2,800$1,400

Although calculating exact prices for hauling your bike is difficult due to the number of variables shippers take into account, you can start estimating the cost of your trip by considering how far you have to go and multiplying the number of miles by 50 cents.

To reduce your freight costs, you should schedule your haul as far in advance as possible. You should also try to avoid moving your motorcycle during the peak summer season. Professional motorcycle shippers usually experience a slowdown in business during the winter, which may lead to lower shipping rates. If you have to ship during the summer, and you can expect the weather to stay sunny on your route, ask your moving company for an uncovered truck. Compared to covered models, trucks with uncovered trailers usually cost less to hire.

Motorcycle transport services and insurance

The cost of transporting your motorcycle also depends on whether you pay for shipping insurance. Often, your standard motorcycle insurance policy won't cover your bike while it's being moved. You can purchase comprehensive coverage to cover any harm that befalls your bike. You can also use your shipper's liability insurance or purchase additional cargo coverage to protect your vehicle while it's in transit.

Your movers are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation to carry liability insurance for their customers. Unfortunately, this coverage isn't very extensive. When you sign up for this liability coverage, the mover assigns a value to your bike based on its weight and style — typically around $0.50 per pound. This means that a 500-pound bike will be insured for $250, regardless of its purchase price.

This basic type of liability coverage comes with five major types of exclusions. In addition to the less-common Acts of War, Government Action and Inherent Vice exclusions in movers liability policies, your motorcycle also won't be protected from:

Acts of God: Damage that can't be avoided or controlled probably falls outside of the protection afforded by your mover's liability policy. For example, if the truck shipping your motorcycle encountered a flash flood that damaged your property, the transporter's liability insurance wouldn't pay for repairs.

Acts of Shipper: Your liability policy won't pay for repairs if your own actions resulted in damage to your bike. This means you shouldn't pack your own bike or tie it down if you decide to use a professional transportation company to move your motorcycle. If your movers can prove that their actions aren't to blame for the damage to your property, you will have to cover the costs yourself.

If you have a new or expensive motorcycle, it's probably a good idea to purchase extra cargo insurance when you ship your bike. Unlike movers liability insurance, extra coverage for your motorcycle isn't free. Typically, you might spend around $100 or more per vehicle depending on its weight.

This type of policy increases your coverage limit for your motorcycle and adds a deductible to any claim you'd want to make. However, it still comes with exclusions. You wouldn't be protected from leakage, misconduct, loss of value caused by delay or damage from poor packing if you tied down any part of your motorcycle yourself.

Motorcycle shipping reviews

After examining several motorcycle shipping companies, we found that the best companies are AmeriFreight and King of the Road. These companies have cheap prices and provide customers with informative online resources that help you understand (and modify) your shipping plan. Although not a shipper itself, uShip is a very useful tool to connect with motorcycle shipping companies.

Typically, most companies have similar pricing — around $0.50 per mile. Your motorcycle will be priced according to the distance you are taking it, its weight and whether it needs any special accommodations, such as an enclosed cab. Considering this, we found that the best motorcycle shipping companies combined reasonable, clear rates with a satisfactory customer experience.

Best motorcycle shipping company: AmeriFreight

The overall best motorcycle shipping company is AmeriFreight. This company has a clear pricing model, plus an informative website that allows you to understand how your policy works and what you're paying for.

It's easy to request a quote through AmeriFreight's website. You're asked to provide personal information about your bike and your journey, as well as how you'd like your motorcycle transported. As you fill out the quote form on the website, AmeriFreight alerts you if it believes there are cheaper options available.

For example, if you decide that you want to ship your motorcycle in an enclosed cab, you're alerted that this can drive up costs by up to 80%. In general, AmeriFreight is very transparent with its prices. You'll know exactly what you're receiving for your money — as well as how to make changes if it's not right for you. It's also easy to purchase additional cargo insurance through the site's quote process — rates are generally $95-$125 per vehicle depending on size and type.

Although you can't get an instant quote from AmeriFreight, you won't have to wait long before an agent sends you an email with your price. In the meantime, you can estimate the cost of hauling your motorcycle using AmeriFreight's pricing index tools, which show costs for traveling between different pairs of major U.S. cities.

Another option for motorcycle transport: King of the Road

King of the Road is another great option for shipping your motorcycle. The company has high marks from the Better Business Bureau and other companies that monitor customer satisfaction. King of the Road also offers discounts for military members and students.

King of the Road, like AmeriFreight, doesn't allow you to get an instant quote. Once you fill out the quote form on King of the Road's website, an agent will contact you in about 15 minutes. Its website offers a great deal of information about what factors might generally lead to price increases aside from your bike's weight and your trip's distance.

King of the Road has a standard shipping service for motorcycles that includes enclosed transport, but there's an element of precision and cost transparency that AmeriFreight has that King of the Road doesn't. For instance, due to the constraints of King of the Road's standard shipping services, it's not easy to see how you can drive your cost down.

Finding reliable motorcycle delivery services: uShip

UShip won't haul your motorcycle itself, but it connects you with companies that will transport your bike. Here's how it works: Once you fill out a quote form with information about your motorcycle and your trip, uShip connects you with carriers in its network. These vendors can bid for your business with different prices and perks. You can even set your own price for vendors to answer.

This auction system allows you to compare prices from a number of carriers so that you can get a cost that you're comfortable with. However, you could wait multiple days before you hear back from a vendor with a good price.

UShip's site has general information about typical costs from its network (you can expect to pay an average of $0.78 per mile over 1,000 or more miles with its carriers), but there's not a guarantee that a vendor will contact you with that price. If you use uShip, you should expect to receive offers from many different shippers.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.