Using a motorcycle as means of transport became more popular in recent years. However, what if you need to move your bike from one place to another without riding it? What if you are moving abroad or across the country? Or you want to showcase your recently restored motorcycle on a show?
Sometimes you might a need to transport a motorcycle from one place to another. There are several options on how to do it depending on circumstances and your budget. Let's explore them together...
Main options for motorcycle transportation
It could be a surprise for you, but motorcycles are more difficult to transport than automobiles, especially because of their lack of stability and fragility. There are three main options available to you - Transport the motorbike yourself, book a transport company from the trucking industry, or call upon specialised motorcycle removals. Let's explore each option in details:
DIY - Transporting a motorcycle by your own means
If you are moving abroad or need one off motorbike move, you might want to reconsider moving your bike on your own. If you don't have the right equipment, you could end up damaging your bike.
However, if you are planning to move your bike on a regular basis and on small distances, you might want to consider buying the right stuff and learn how to do it yourself. You can save money in the long run.
There are several reasons why self transport can be beneficial, especially if you already own a van or a trailer. Firstly, you are in control of every aspect. You decide the timescale and conditions under which is your beloved motorbike transported. Secondary, you are responsible for the transport itself. Also, if you don't mind the cost of petrol and the wear and tear to your vehicle, it can be a relatively cheap way to transport it.
But what do you need?
If your car is equipped with a towing bar, buying or renting the right size of trailer can solve your problem. Just remember to check the towing weight capacity of your car first. You need to be certain that the added weight of the trailer and your bike doesn't exceed the limit.
Using a hired trailer can be a cheap way to move your motorbike, especially on small distances. The downside of trailers is the fact that your motorcycle is exposed to the elements throughout the journey. Also, your travelling speed and manoeuvrability is limited, you will have to make regular stops to check your load.
Pick-up truck or van
A large truck or a van is a great alternative to a trailer when moving a motorcycle. The weight of your motorbike can be equally distributed on the vehicle, which will give you a better control while driving. Enclosed truck or van also offer additional protection to your motorbike.
Smaller or lighter motorcycles can also be moved using a motorcycle carrier. This is a rack-like device that connects to the hitch of your SUV, truck or even motorhome. Your motorbike is then attached to it and transported sideways.
Things to be mindful of is the overall weight of your vehicle when fully loaded with the bike, passengers and any other luggage you might need. You can hire a motorcycle carrier, buy one if you are planning regular trips, or even build one following one of many DIY videos on Youtube.
Moving motorcycle using freight or transport company
Transporting a motorcycle on long distances by yourself is not advisable. Even if you carefully strap it to your truck and take all precautions, lots can go wrong.
Sometimes you have no other option either. If you are relocating overseas or importing your newly bought motorcycle from another country, using a freight company might be your only option.
The cost of transporting a motorcycle via a freight company depends a lot on the condition of your motorcycle, the distance and your special requirements.
Custom crate or box
Since these companies transport a variety of items, your motorcycle will have to be packed in a custom-made crate or box, usually made of wood or steel. This way, it can be fitted onto a lorry or into a shipping container alongside other items and industrial goods.
Even though the initial cost might seem cheap, the cost of the crate is not included. Also, before booking this type of transport, you need to ensure you have the dimensions of the crate and the full weight of the consignment. Always ensure that the delivery is fully insured.
There are specialised companies on the market that can make a custom transport box for your motorcycle and securely fit it into it. The extra time for this service and the additional cost should be taken into consideration. A crate creation and fitting service can easily turn a purchase of a motorbike from abroad into a very expensive venture.
Alternatively, you can create your own crate and pack your bike for the journey yourself. Remember to take all precautions, remove all ornamental extras, drain the fuel tank to 1/4 full if possible and secure your bike firmly and securely. Take lots of photos and document any existing damage for future reference.
Using professional motorcycle transport services
Luckily, there are also specialised motorcycle transport companies on the market. They understand how to transport a motorcycle safely without causing any damage. They tend to be small companies, usually run by motorcycle enthusiasts themselves.
Motorcycle transport services are a niche market. There might be a limited availability on short notice. Also, the prices are higher than generic delivery companies. On the positive side, they have the necessary equipment and straps designed for your motorbike delivery to go smoothly and scratch free.
Tips for selecting a motorcycle transport service
Choose a company with experience transporting bikes
While there are many companies offering a delivery service, not many will move motorcycles. Before you pay any deposits or book a collection date, make sure you select the right transportation company. The majority of shipping companies don't have experience transporting bikes or they might not have the correct equipment to secure the bike. So read the small print and previous customers' reviews.
Choose a company that can pick up and deliver within your timescale
Motorcycle shipping isn't nearly as simple as car transport across Europe or larger distances. While most auto transport companies can get from point A to point B within two weeks, motorcycle movers may take three times that long, depending on how many bikes they're working with at once. So if you need your motorcycle moved quickly, make sure the mover you hire offers the correct service.
Do your research early
If you want to be 100% sure your bike will arrive at its destination safely and sound, you must research motorcycle movers ahead of time. Compare prices across different companies to see what kind of service they offer and what they require from you as a customer. This way, you can choose the best transporter before they're even hired, so there are no surprises later on down the road.
Motorcycle Transport Tips
Whichever method you choose to transport your motorcycle, these tips and precautions will ensure that your motorcycle arrives in the best possible condition.
Loading a motorcycle
If you are transporting your bike in a crate or using a specialised motorcycle delivery company, you don't need to worry about this step. However, if you are moving the bike on a trailer or in a van, loading it onto the vehicle will be a crucial moment for you.
Get a motorcycle ramp
Ramps provide more grip and traction for your motorcycle wheels and can be secured to the back of the van or trailer, making loading your vehicle safer.
Get a friend or two to help
Balancing a bike on your own up a ramp is dangerous and certainly not safe. Try to resist riding the bike up the ramp, if you don't have full control over your bike, lots can go wrong! Walking it up the ramp with a help of another person is a much safer option.
Ratchet straps, specialists straps
Use soft straps where posible. Ensure that you place them only over structurally solid areas, avoiding wires and brake lines. Specialist straps are also available on the market to ensure you can tie down your motorbike safely and securely. However, avoid bungee cords! These aren't the safest option, they have too much give allowance, which can cause damage to your bike's exterior.
Chocks are great for securing the wheels of your motorcycle during transit. They prevent movement of your bike should the vehicle stop or excellare suddenly, and take pressure off the straps.
Drain the fuel tank
Loading a motorcycle onto a trailer filled to the rim with fuel is a safety hazard. Keep the tank nearly empty. In the odd circumstance that you need to transport your motorcycle on its side, ensure you drain all fluids, including engine oil and coolant. Motorcycles are not designed to stay on the side, so removing the battery and draining all fluids, will ensure that the liquids don't get into places where they shouldn't be.
The front brake should be applied if possible. Try using an elastic band or string to tighten the brake handle to the grip. This should stop your bike from moving about when the vehicle is slowing down or accelerating.
Remove all extra such as bags and luggage as well as any ornamental items. Wrap and pack them separately. These items are not usually covered by the transporters' insurance and they might get damaged during securing and moving yur motorcycle.
Lower tire pressure
Flat tires absorb road impacts better. Remove just enough to soften the tires, as blowing out too much air can make it difficult to load and unload your bike as well as leave it vulnerable to damage during transport.
Take pictures of your bike before it's ready to ship, and then take it again when it's ready to ship. Make a list of any damage before the motorcycle transport and write down everything you've done to secure the bike for transport. Upon collection, ask the driver to sign the form to confirm the bike's condition before transport.
Can you lay a motorcycle down to transport?
If your bike is in running condition and it can stand on its own wheels, transporting it on the side is not recommended. There are too many different fluids within a motorbike and laying it on the side can cause leaks and irreversible damage. If you need to move a bike on the side for whatever reason, remove the battery and drain all fluids first.
How much does it cost to transport a motorcycle?
That will really depend on the transport company, the distance and the service you choose. Generally speaking, short distance deliveries can be as cheap as £100, cross country moves are anything from £250 to £500, and overseas moves start on £550. A price will also vary between types of motorcycles (ie. small dirtbike will be cheaper to transport that a cruiser) and their conditions, so do your research in advance.