Is Shipping a Motorcycle Going to Break Your Budget?

How Much Would It Cost To Ship A Motorcycle

If you are moving, staying somewhere new for a while, or even selling a bike, it’s possible you’ve wondered about the prices of motorcycle shipping and how to go about preparing for it. If you’ve never shipped a motorcycle before it can seem daunting, but in actuality, it is not that difficult.

The standard average is around $400 to $600 to send a motorcycle around 1,000 miles. It can be higher depending on the bike and the distance. For example, shipping a Harley-Davidson from New York to Los Angeles will run around $800 to $900.

There are calculators available to give you a better idea but remember these are an estimate. Ultimately, the weight of your bike, the distance, and the company you choose will be significant factors in the overall cost.

What Affects the Cost of Shipping a Motorcycle?

One of the significant differences between shipping a package and shipping a motorcycle is that of parcel shipping versus freight shipping. Generally, packages under 150 pounds are shipped as parcels, or what you would consider regular mailing of boxes. Items over 150 pounds are classified as freight products.

Freight Shipping

When shipped via freight, a specification such as measurements and weight are much more crucial. These items are typically put on trucks, railroads, ships, or aircraft, and the cumulative weight in these cargo holders needs to be more exact.

Even with freight, you need to decide on open or closed shipping. If you are sending a bike more than 400 or 500 miles, closed shipping is recommended to prevent outside damage or debris.

Factors in Cost

Some of the things that can affect the cost of shipping by way of freight are the weight of the item, its density, the classification of the object you are shipping, and how far it is being sent between its origin and destination. Additionally, the shipping mode, as well as fuel costs and taxes or tariff rates, can affect your price, too.

Several companies specialize in shipping items such as a motorcycle, and rates will vary a bit. You can check with each one, give them the weight of your bike and the shipping zip codes, and compare to select the right one for you. Some of these companies are Uship, A-1 Auto Transport, All Day Auto Transport, Motorcycle Shippers, and AA Motorcycle Shipping.


As mentioned, a Motorcycle may be shipped via Freight, or in a carrier truck with a private company. Regardless, the heaviness of your bike is likely to be a factor in shipping costs. This will be as much, if not more of a factor than it is when shipping a package such as a box. You will need to know the weight of your bike before sending it out.


Naturally, how far you want to ship your ride will make a significant difference in cost. If you're going to send it from Detroit to Chicago, it will likely cost you far and away less than it will if you are shipping from New York to Los Angeles. Just prepare yourself ahead of time, if you are sending your bike on a long journey, it will add up in price.

Preparing to Ship a Motorcycle

Before you ship a motorcycle, there are some necessary steps to prepare for shipment. First, you want to make sure the bike is thoroughly clean. Even if you are just shipping to yourself (not a buyer) in a new location, most companies want your motorcycle to be cleaned to prevent their trucks from getting excessively dirty.

Cosmetic Damage

Be sure to take down notes about any scratches, chips, dents, dings, or other damages. You want to keep track of these to be sure damages during shipping are not blamed on you. Take thorough pictures of the bike before shipment.

Engine Condition

For the same reason, you will want to write down any mechanical problems with the motorcycle before shipping. If the bike is damaged during shipment and it causes issues with the engine, you will want to have the prior condition stated.

Take Pictures

Again, if there is any existing damage, be sure to document that in pictures as well. If the damage is worsened during transport, you want records of the condition of the bike with pictures beforehand. Be sure to keep dates on all of the records for the motorcycle and show them to whoever is shipping the bike for you when they arrive to pick it up or when you drop it off.

Loose Items

You will also want to remove any loose-hanging items so that they are not swinging around or creating potential damage on the motorcycle. Movers are generally not held responsible for such things. If your motorcycle accessories get damaged or even lost completely, they will not typically be covered under an insurance policy.

Tires, Battery, and Gas Tank

Finally, be sure that the motorcycle is in proper working condition. In many situations, the company will need to drive your bike onto a pallet or truck carefully. So, keep it in operational condition if possible.

This is part of the reason it is vital to make sure the tires are correctly inflated, you have the battery charged, and any fluid leaks are fixed. For most carriers, the gas tank should be around 1/4 to 1/2 full.

Pick Up and Drop Off When Shipping a Motorcycle

The pick-up and drop-off process should be simple and straight forward when shipping a motorcycle. The company you choose should walk you through their method when you book with them (if they don’t, you might consider someone else).

Many companies will schedule a time with you for both pickup and drop off and will arrive with a truck to load the bike on. In some situations, if they have a local branch, you might be able to drive your motorcycle to their location to be loaded. Just confirm their protocol for both pickup and drop off before your bike is on its way.

Before You Ship, Check on Insurance

It is recommended to get insurance on your bike as it ships, regardless of whether it is a new, premium bike or if you are talking older, used motorcycle values—you should have it covered either way. You never know what can happen during transport, and you want to have your ride insured in case of damage, or worse, a freight accident. Give yourself some peace of mind, and then send your baby on its way.