Transporting Motorcycles: A Beginner’s Guide

CitizenShipper is a transportation marketplace that provides a range of shipment types for you to bid on and win. Motorcycle shipments are growing in popularity on our platform – if you’re already transporting pets or cargo, then adding a motorcycle shipment to your journey could help you make some extra cash on the road!

The idea of transporting a motorcycle may seem intimidating at first, but motorcycles are actually among the easiest items to ship, requiring inexpensive equipment and no more than a single transporter.

There are two main motorcycle shipping methods, Open Transport and Closed Transport. We’ll describe both, listing all the pros and cons.

Open Motorcycle Transport

Exactly what it sounds like, this method involves transporting a motorcycle without an enclosed trailer. Some examples include using open trailers, flatbeds, hitch mounts, or simply loading the bike onto a truck bed using ramps and lifts.

Source: https://www.2smoto.com/

A double bike motorcycle trailer

If transporting a bike in an open motorcycle trailer or your truck bed, avoid using tie-down hooks directly on the handlebars or forks to prevent any damage or scratching. See this video for advice on properly loading and securing a motorcycle in your truck bed.

Plenty of motorcycle transporters, professionals and beginners alike, use small flatbed trailers and durable tank straps to secure the bike. To learn more about transporting bikes using just a flatbed trailer and a pair of straps, check out this video:

A hitch mount might also work for you. This is a feature that you can mount on a car, van, or motorhome – think of it as a great big bicycle rack. It fits into the receiver tube on the back of the vehicle, or onto the hitch of a tow vehicle. Some hitch mounts, such as the Versa Haul Sport, have trailer hitches of their own that extend off the back of the motorcycle carrier. The hitch on the Versa Haul Sport can tow trailers of up to 3,000 pounds – see this video for advice on installing and seting up and the mount.

Source: https://www.racknroad.com

Motorcycle hitch mount

For those driving vans or RVs, there are plenty of options available. You could purchase a so-called “fifth wheel” hitch, allowing you to easily mount a motorcycle.

Source: https://decoraiso.com

RV 5th wheel motorcycle hitch

The cost of these accessories varies depending on their size and weight capacity, but for an open trailer, you can expect to invest between $1,000 and $3,000. Uncovered doubles typically cost $2,000 to $3,000, while singles go for $1,000 to $2,000. Hitch mounts are a much cheaper solution, starting off at $200, with most of the popular brands priced below $500 for a single bike rack. And if you are interested in purchasing a power lift for your truck bed, that could set you back as much as $1,500.

Think of these costs as investments which will be paid off with just a handful of motorcycle shipments, once you start winning bids on CitizenShipper!

If you’re only interested in doing this from time to time and have no place to keep the trailer, U-haul offers the option of renting one for motorcycle shipping. Their motorcycle trailers are affordable, easy to tow, and come equipped with loading ramps, tie-down rings, or built-in wheel lock systems (see the section dealing with wheel chocks, below).

Source: https://www.uhaul.com

Two common types of wheel chocks, depending on tire size and motorcycle type

The most notable specs for a U-Haul motorcycle trailer rental include the following.
Max load: 1600 lbs
Gross vehicle weight: 2,400 lbs. max
Empty weight: 800 lbs
Surface: 29 sq. ft.

When towing a U-Haul motorcycle trailer, it is recommended to keep the speed below 55 mph (or even lower depending on road conditions).

Source: https://www.uhaul.com

U-Haul motorcycle trailer

Click here for more detailed instructions on how to load a motorcycle onto a U-Haul motorcycle trailer.

Enclosed motorcycle transport

Enclosed transport, obviously, is performed using an enclosed trailer, which allows you to protect the motorcycle from adverse weather conditions or debris on the road.

Source: https://www.hdforums.com

Enclosed motorcycle trailer

An enclosed cargo trailer that accommodates two bikes could cost you $3,500 or more. Although higher priced, enclosed trailers protect bikes from weather or grime and provide greater security. When negotiating rates with customers, telling them you have an enclosed trailer provides added confidence and may help you win the shipment.

To learn more on how to properly secure a bike in an enclosed trailer using straps, check this video:

Motorcycles can also be blocked and braced inside the container for multiple bike transportation.

Source: https://www.schumachercargo.com

Motorcycle shipping container with wooden braces

Additional equipment

Depending on which method of motorcycle shipping you choose, there are certain accessories that you might want to purchase in order to ensure proper cargo safety:

#1 If planning to transport motorcycles in your truck bed, you will need a lift or loading ramp for the motorcycle. You can get an aluminum ramp for anywhere between $70 to $400, depending on size, quality, and durability.

Source: https://picclick.com

Motorcycle aluminum ramp

Power lifts are a more advanced option, requiring no manual loading effort. They are far more expensive, rarely available for less than $1,500.

Source: https://openroadoutfitters.com

Motorcycle power lift

#2 Once you get the motorcycle onto the truck bed, you will need wheel chocks and straps to ensure its stability. These are also recommended if using open trailers and hitches. You can purchase wheel chocks of various kinds, but your choice will largely depend on the type of motorcycles you’re planning on hauling (dirt bikes and race bakes have different wheel sizes). As for straps, make sure not to buy the longest ones available – any flaps left hanging might cause serious damage to the paint.

#3 For wooden floor trailers, we recommend installing a trailer restraint on the bike’s back wheels. These are also known as rear stands, and your purchase options will largely depend on the type of motorcycle you’re hauling.

Source: https://www.amazon.com.mx/

#4 If you’re primarily interested in transporting dirt bikes, you may also want to consider adding a locking system secured to the motorcycle frame (unlike front wheel chocks or rear stands). The major upside of this setup is that it eliminates the use of tie-down straps, floor anchors, or wheel chocks. It takes an enormous amount of pressure off of the motorcycle fork seals during transit, and frees up valuable space allowing the transport of more motorcycles or gear.

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Source: https://riskracing.com/

Source: https://riskracing.com/

The cost of these accessories varies, from $25 to $50 for a full set of straps, up to $100 for a pair or resistance hitchers.

Pros and cons of open vs enclosed motorcycle transport

The main benefits of choosing an enclosed trailer over an open one are as follows:

  • Enclosed trailers can usually fit multiple motorcycles at the same time, allowing you to stack more shipments.
  • Enclosed trailers also prevent loss or theft, keeping you anxiety-free during multi-day trips.
  • With four secure walls, an enclosed motorcycle trailer provides a stable base for the bike to be attached to.
  • No weather conditions or road debris can cause damage to a bike enclosed inside a trailer.

On the other hand, motorcycle shipping using an open transport method can also be quite useful:

  • For short-distance trips, open transport greatly cuts down on your preparation time.
  • When the customer is in urgent need of transport, it’s far easier to rent an open trailer than an enclosed one
  • If shipping motorcycles only as a side-hustle, the initial investment of purchasing a hitch mount or a single-bike open trailer is much lower than that of an enclosed trailer.

Things to do before loading the bike

Prior to transporting a customer’s motorcycle, make sure they know what preparations they should undertake. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The bike should be thoroughly wiped down, so that you can notice any chips or scratches that need to be documented before you load it.
  • If the motorcycle is in running condition, check its fluids, battery, tire pressure, and remove all accessories and loose items.
  • The bike should have no more than  ¼ tank of gas during shipping, to help loading and unloading on the ramp if needed.
  • If you haven’t had prior experiences loading motorcycles while in gear, simply shift it to neutral and have someone assist you.
Source: https://ridermagazine.com

When loading a motorcycle, a helping hand is always apprecitated

Finally, make sure to take photos of the motorcycle before it’s picked up, also at the drop off location upon delivery. By documenting the condition of the bike, you can avoid unwarranted insurance claims and other problems.

How much can I earn shipping motorcycles on CitizenShipper?

According to our internal data, the average winning rate on motorcycle shipments is around $.60 per mile. However, depending on the pick-up location, distance, and customer’s urgency, you can often quote and win at rates well above $1 per mile! Your quote for shipping a motorcycle will vary based on a number of factors, such as the make and model of the bike, as well as additional coverage.

Here’s just a few recent examples of motorcycle shipments won and delivered by drivers using the CitizenShipper platform:

We hope that this article has provided you with insight into the basics of motorcycle transportation. If you’re already a transporter using our platform, head to your account settings and add motorcycles to your list of categories. To add motorcycles just click in the ‘Motorcycles’ tick box.

And if you’re new to CitizenShipper, click here to sign up – it takes just a couple of minutes!

If you run into any trouble along the way, contact our support team and we’ll do what you can to help you along. Happy shipping!

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