There’s a lot that goes into shipping a motorcycle across the country, and it’s not exactly the same as shipping a bike locally or regionally. For one thing, you have the added concern of the longer shipping distance. What this means for carriers is that it’s important to make sure the bike is protected and securely held in place for the duration of the trip. There are two primary methods of securing a bike for shipping, which we’ll briefly review in this section.
Palletized & Crated Motorcycle Transport - Both palletized and crating services involve securing the motorcycle to a wooden pallet, which is then either left open (palletized) or enclosed in a wooded crate (crating). Whether you decide to have your bike crated is really a matter of personal choice, though it can provide a slightly more protected means of shipping. Most long distance motorcycle shippers will be able to provide a crate if you don’t have one, but it does come at an additional cost.
Uncrated Motorcycle Shipping - There are a number of uncrated methods for shipping a motorcycle long distance. Some companies have trucks that are specially equipped to move bikes and they may have enclosed carriers with special stalls, soft ties and skids to prevent shifting during the delivery process. Others may have a simple, all-purpose dock that is designed to fit anything from a moped to a touring bike. Uncrated motorcycle transport may be done in an open or enclosed carrier, though enclosed carriers are the more common of the two for shipping bikes over a long distance.
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Research & Preparation For Long Distance Motorcycle Transport
Verifying Insurance & Performance History
If you know where to look, it’s relatively easy to verify safety records, licensing and insurance information for motorcycle shipping companies. The best resource available is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER System. With just some basic information about a company, you can find in-depth reports about their service history, inspections, crash reports, and current licensing information.
Preparing Your Motorcycle For Cross Country Shipping
When you hire a company to ship your bike, whether it’s being delivered across the state or across the country, there a few things you’ll need to do in preparation. Some companies offer more inclusive services and may take care of this for you, but the expectation among most shippers is that the following be addressed prior to loading your motorcycle onto the transport carrier:
- Remove any personal items, including saddlebags and storage compartments
- Check that tires are properly inflated & that there are no fluid leaks
- Fold back mirrors & deactivate antitheft systems
- Make sure the bike is clean & operable
- Document any damages or mechanical issues (photos recommended)
- Run the gas tank to below 1/4 of a tank
- Arrange for crating if applicable
- Remove any nonpermanent accessories or electronics
- Have maintenance records available
For more tips about rider safety and motorcycle maintenance, visit this resource from the American Motorcyclist Association.
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Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.