Guest Post: Jason Mueller of A1 Auto Transport

The Ultimate Guide for Transporting Your Motorcyle

It’s hard to explain the adrenaline you feel when racing motorcycles. But like anything in life, there is a lot more to racing bikes than simply the racing itself. There is an entire logistical side to racing that you need to stay on top of.

Some of the biggest requirements to succeed in races is to learn how to prepare your bike, and one of the best ways to prepare your bike, is to learn how to transport it to whatever races you are competing in.

A bike that arrives to your race in great condition will race better than one that does not, regardless of the skill of the racer.

When helping beginner riders learn how to transport their race bikes, we like to think about how Bob would approach this situation. Does this scenario apply to you?

Bob needs to transport his race bike three states away for a race in one month. Bob, however, has not transported a motorcycle before. He is interested in the process of prepping his bike for transport, and is interested in finding a shipping company, and a shipping option that is right for him and his bike. Like most riders, Bob loves his bike and doesn’t want anything to happen to it.

In this article, we will discuss how you, like Bob, can prepare your race bike for transport. This article will cover things like:
• A general guide to help you personally prepare your bike for shipping
• The different types of shipping methods that are available to you
• A brief look into motorcycle insurance and what you should consider if shipping with a third party

Blake Davis Racing on his 2019 Kawasaki 400

Preparing Your Motorcycle for Transport

Preparing your race bike for transport is no different than preparing a motorcycle for transport for any other purpose. There is a general list of steps that you should follow in order to prepare your motorcycle for the long road ahead. You want to make sure that your bike is well-cared for and that it arrives at its intended destination in the same condition that you sent it in. After all, a broken bike won’t do very well in a race.

If you have transported a bike before, you know these steps well. If not, here is what we recommend you do:

● Clean your motorcycle. Keep in mind that plastic and metal will react differently to being soaked in soap and water so make sure that you follow the recommendations of your bike manufacturer regarding the cleaning of your bike.
● Once your bike is clean and dry, take note of any cosmetic defects that you notice. Write down a description of these defects and take photographs and record videos as well. If you need to fix your bike, do so before transport. Some bike transport companies will refuse to transport bikes that they think are too damaged, due to the insurance and liability issues involved with transporting a damaged bike.
● Similar to taking notice of cosmetic defects regarding your bike, take notice of any mechanical issues as well. If these mechanical issues need to be fixed, make sure you do so before you transport your bike. Check to make sure your clutch is working, that your gears are shifting smoothly, and all other mechanical operations are in working order.
● Now that you know the conditional state of your race bike, and you have documentation regarding this state, provide copies to the transport company. If anything happens to your bike during transport, you will be able to determine whether the damage to your bike was caused prior to transport, or as a result of transport. It is rare that an incident will occur but, on occasion, transport trucks do get into accidents and ships do sink. You can’t predict the unpredictable.
● Fill out the shipping form that your bike transport company provides you. If you do not fill out this form, or you fill out this form incorrectly, the company may not be able to transport your bike. Typical information included in the form includes information about your bike, your payment details, and the bike’s destination.
● Whether you are required to drain your race bike’s gas tank or remove the battery will depend on the shipping company that you use. Some require these actions to be performed prior to transport, while others do not.

Motorcycle Transportation Methods

Open Shipping

Open shipping is one of the most affordable types of bike shipping. Your race bike will be secured and strapped down to a wooden pallet, and then that pallet will be loaded onto a flatbed or low loader truck. From there, your bike will be transported to your destination, and then off-loaded.

However, there is one caveat to know of before using this method. Open shipping means open shipping. This means that your bike will be exposed to the elements. Your bike may suffer from slight cosmetic damage if a bird lands on your bike, or a pebble grazes your bike during transport.

Enclosed Shipping

Enclosed shipping is an option for both land-based and ocean-based transport. Your race bike will be loaded, along with other bikes, into a trailer. That trailer will either be placed onto the back of a flatbed or low loader truck, or a ship. From there, your bike will be transported to its intended destination.

While enclosed shipping is more expensive than open shipping, the benefit to having enclosed shipping is worth it. Your bike is secured and locked and the container will not be opened until it has arrived at the destination.

Another type of enclosed shipping option is exclusive enclosed shipping. This is the same as the typical enclosed shipping, but your bike is the only bike in the trailer or shipping container. Of course, this is a more expensive option but some clients are willing to pay for this added security. An exclusive trailer or container is only opened once your bike arrives at its destination, no sooner. This is the safest option to ship your bike.

We use enclosed shipping with a trailer personally, but various shipping options work best for different riders, depending on your situation.

Door-to-Door Shipping

If you require your race bike to be transported to a specific address, you can use door-to-door shipping. The shipping company will drop off your race bike as close to your intended destination as possible.

However, while this shipping method is desirable, if for instance, you want to have your race bike shipped directly to the racing grounds or arena, this all depends on whether the transport truck can access the destination. If the roads are too narrow or unnavigable, you may need to compromise on the shipping destination because the transport truck will not be able to physically access the grounds.

The shipping company that you use will determine whether door-to-door shipping is a possibility.

“Roll On-Roll Off” Shipping

If you are transporting your bike via ship (either nationally or internationally), you have the option of requesting “roll on-roll off” shipping. For international shipments, check out the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for additional information. If you want to use this type of shipping, your race bike needs to be operational. Your bike will be driven into the cargo hold of a ship, secured and strapped down, and then transported to its destination port. From there, your bike will be driven off the ship.

If you intend to pick up your bike from the port, your bike will be provided to you there. If not, your shipping company may be able to send a courier to pick up the bike and transport it to your final intended destination inland.

Motorcycle Transport Insurance

If you want to purchase extra insurance for your race bike while it is being transported, you have two general options:

● You can purchase insurance from the bike transport company you are using, or,
● You can purchase insurance from a third-party insurance provider.

There are a few different factors that you need to consider when purchasing insurance for your race bike. You need to consider the protections you are insured for, like water damage. You need to consider the coverage limit. Many times, people purchase additional insurance to raise their coverage limit in case their bike is damaged.

You also need to consider the extent that your insurance policy will cover. Does your insurance only cover your bike, or does your insurance cover any additional accessories and equipment also transported with your bike as well?

In general, it is a good idea to purchase insurance whenever your ship your items anywhere. Nevertheless, your level of desired coverage may be higher than the coverage included in the insurance provided to you. In this case, it is desirable to purchase additional insurance. However, for most cases, the insurance provided to you by the transport shipping company is more than adequate for your motorcycle shipping needs.

Motorcycle Shipping Isn’t That Hard

We have covered a lot in this article. Let’s recap what we covered, and what you’ve learned.

● You learned the general steps to prepare your bike for transport
● You learned about the benefits of different types of shipping options for your bike
● You learned about insurance and whether you should purchase additional insurance for your bike

You now have the knowledge to succeed in transporting your bike to your next race. If you are a fellow motorcycle rider, you know that there is something really special about riding. If you want to follow a pro and learn how the best race, follow Blake Davis.