Motorcycle Shipping Do’s and Don’t’s
Motorcycle shipping is becoming easier, cheaper, and faster than ever. With several established motorcycle shipping routes between Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Australia, you can now live your dream of riding anywhere in the world. Depending on the duration of your trip, sometimes it may be more cost-effective to buy or rent a bike locally. However, if you’re planning to travel for more than two months, shipping your own bike is your best bet.
Here’s what you need to know about motorcycle shipping.
Air vs Sea Freight
The main difference between air and sea freight is the duration and cost of the shipping. When you opt for air freight, expect higher fees, but your bike will arrive the same day as you which is great for saving time. Sea freight, on the other hand, will be significantly cheaper, but it will take several weeks. This means you’ll have to be without your motorcycle for approximately a month before your trip and a month after. Most riders simply choose to travel by car or backpack during that time; alternatively, you may rent a motorcycle locally while waiting for your own bike to arrive.
- Do ship your bike via air freight if you need to save time
- Don’t ship your bike via air freight if you can afford several weeks without your bike
- Do choose the sea freight option to save on costs
- Don’t ship via sea freight if your trip will only last for a few weeks
Once you’ve decided on air or sea freight, it’s time to pick a shipping agent. Typically, you can arrange motorcycle shipping on your own, however this will require extensive research and you will need to deal with port authorities and customs officials on your own. If you’re flying your bike via air freight between Europe and North America, this can be a fairly straightforward process. For all other destinations as well as sea freight options however, local knowledge is key. We recommend choosing a reliable shipping agent who will take care of all the necessary paperwork to make the process faster and smoother.
- Do choose a reputable shipping agent or company that is reliable and has plenty of shipping experience to your chosen destination
- Do check reviews and testimonials online before committing
- Do read the fine print – some shipping agents or companies may have extra fees and surcharges!
- Don’t pick a shipping agent or company just because they are the cheapest. Always check whether they are reputable and whether the quote they gave you is the final cost.
Prepping Your Motorcycle for Shipping
If you’ve got your shipping booked, it’s time to prepare your motorcycle for the journey. Normally, the shipping companies will require the motorcycle to be delivered to their warehouse, airport, or shipping container several days prior to the shipping, so make sure you plan for a few extra days. At Motobirds, we offer to arrange your motorcycle delivery to our warehouse for your convenience. However, you can deliver the bike yourself to save costs.
Make sure your motorcycle is thoroughly cleaned before shipping. Take photos of all the scratches or dents in your fairings and other parts to make sure you can spot potential damages occurred during the shipping. Check your bike over and see that there are no oil or gas leaks. Leave your tank half or a quarter-full; if you’re shipping via sea freight, it’s usually a good idea to use an anti-corrosion product after cleaning your bike to prevent rust and moisture from getting at it.
If you have an excessively large windshield or mirror extensions, the shippers may require that you remove them. Your tires should be fully inflated, and it’s recommended to do an oil change before shipping your bike so that the engine has a fresh coat of oil before you start your ride.
Generally, most shippers will allow you to send your luggage (hard or soft panniers and/or a top box) with the bike. At Motobirds, we can also pack your riding gear together with your motorcycle for added convenience.
- Do thoroughly clean your motorcycle and photo-document any dents or scratches
- Do remove your windshield and mirrors if they are large
- Do remove all electronics – your GPS unit, as an example – before shipping your bike
- Do have spare keys with you just in case
- Don’t worry about disconnecting your battery, unless you know it doesn’t hold charge well
If you’re planning to ship your motorcycle and have any questions or concerns, shoot us a message – we’re always happy to help!