You have finally taken the plunge and purchased your first motorcycle online, out of state. Now what options do you have to ship the motorcycle home? The most rewarding option is to ride your own motorcycle home. That’s assuming you have the time. This may not be the most cost effective option though, given the flight costs, hotel costs and gas costs associated with the trip.
Shipping is the most popular option. But choosing a reputable shipper is daunting. The choice should not be made on the shipping price alone. I recommend considering the following:
Price – Get at least three shipping quotes. These can be obtained online or by telephone. I prefer speaking directly to a company to obtain a quote. That way, you can gauge the quality of the company on a personal basis. Most prices are based on distance and the prevailing fuel costs. Discard any quote that is substantially lower than the others. A company providing a low-ball rate cannot realistically ship your motorcycle and make a profit. They are probably using old equipment or not paying their drivers enough to care.
Reliability – Consider the length of time the shipping company has been in business. Those that have been around longer probably deserve to be around. In addition, insurance companies only insure shipping companies with low damage claims so the age of the business will be indicative of their quality.
Equipment – Motorcycles should be strapped to a specialized skid with soft ties. A skid is a great way to transport a motorcycle since handling is minimized and there is a buffer between the truck bed and the motorcycle itself. The truck trailers should also be modern air ride trailers. This reduces the vibrations associated with shipping. Temperature controlled trailers are also a great option for shipping in winter.
Tracking – Most companies cannot provide online tracking but those that do, offer a great feature. You are able to track the whereabouts of the truck transporting your motorcycle at all times. Keep in mind that transport drivers are restricted to the number of hours they can drive so there will be down-time as well when the motorcycle does not move.
Service – Call the company you are booking with. Ensure a human answers the phone. This will ease your concern should you need to get a question answered in the future.
Insurance – Consider what insurance is provided, if any. Also consider whether the insurance provided by the carrier is primary insurance or secondary insurance. Also consider whether you are shipping subject to an insurance deductible and whether the insurance coverage provided is comprehensive, or total loss or limited insurance based on the motorcycle weight only.
Licensed – Ensure the company with which you are doing business is licensed with the Department of Transportation. All shipping companies in good standing have a motor carriers license number. If the company cannot provide you with their DOT license number, they probably are not licensed.
Timing – Consider the availability for pick-up, in-transit estimates and potential ETAs. Companies may provide cheaper rates knowing that they will hook you in and will only provide service weeks or months down the road.
Feedback or testimonials – Check whether the proposed shipper has any positive or negative feedback on the web. Ensure the positive feedback greatly exceeds any negative feedback. Negative feedback is inevitable (just review any restaurant on Yelp!) but read both the positive and the negative.
Be an informed shipper! Good luck!