Best Ways to Transport a Motorcycle – Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated: July 22, 2021

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When transporting a motorcycle from point A to point B, there is a right way and wrong way to go about it.

No one wants to be on one of those “top 10 fails” videos of the week on YouTube.

Because not everyone has a motorcycle license, simply driving it to a destination isn’t always possible.

Best Ways to Transport a Motorcycle

Transporting a motorcycle around can be done in a variety of different ways. There isn’t one best way to transport a motorcycle. It will all depend on what your requirements are. If you’re on a strict budget, doing it yourself is probably the easiest and most effective way.

You can do it yourself in many different ways. If you have a friend or family member with a motorcycle license, getting them to drive it to its location would be the easiest way. If that’s not possible, then using or borrowing a truck is the alternative DIY method. 

If neither of the above work and you don’t have a truck, you could always get a trailer hitch installed on your car and transport it with an attached trailer. If that option isn’t available, you’ll have to resort to other methods, such as getting an independent hauler to transport it or renting out a utility van.

Transporting a Motorcycle

There are a variety of different transport methods when it comes to moving a motorcycle. Depending on what methods you currently have available, you might be limited to certain options.


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The most common way to move a motorcycle is just to just a standard pick-up truck. Trucks can carry the weight of the motorcycle in the back, and you only have to worry about strapping them down properly.

If you’re using a truck, you’ll also need to have a ramp handy. Most people use a strong wooden plank, but it’s always better to go with a real motorcycle ramp for loading and unloading. A lot of sturdy motorcycle ramps come with a rubber end that prevents any potential slippage from occurring. 

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $200 - $300 for short distance. $2000 for international

Insurance: $100/month

Rental: $1,550


  • Using a truck is convenient and easy
  • If you already own a truck, you don’t have to invest money into any other option


  • They are expensive to purchase
  • The fuel consumption isn’t as good as a car


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Not everyone has a pick-up truck available to them. If you don’t have one, you can use a trailer and attach it to your vehicle. You can even look for a motorcycle trailer specifically designed to tow motorcycles, making the entire loading and unloading process much easier than any other trailer. 

If you’re going the trailer route, keep in mind that you’ll also require a trailer hitch on the back of your vehicle for the trailer to latch onto. You’ll also need to remember that the trailer will react to bumps, quick stops, and turning around corners much different in comparison to a pick-up truck, so your driving will need to reflect that.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $4000 to $7000

Insurance: $700 per year

Rental: Around $15 daily

If you’re considering purchasing a trailer, there are a few things you’ll need to be mindful of:

  • The trailer hitch will need to be installed by you, by a mechanic, or through a dealership

  • The weight capacity of your vehicle will need to support the trailer and the motorcycle

  • You’ll need a spot to store the trailer 

  • You’ll need to get insurance for the trailer to use on the road to tow the motorcycle

  • The trailer will require working taillights to be insured


  • Think of the money you spend on the trailer as an investment
  • Full control of scheduling, securing the motorcycle, and everything else
  • Using a trailer is a great option because you don’t only have to use it for hauling around your motorcycle 


  • Requires a spot in your yard to store the trailer if you aren’t just renting one out
  • Needs to have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle to haul the trailer around

Utility Van

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Utility vans are handy for hauling around products that you want to keep concealed, and for that reason, they are perfect for transporting motorcycles. Renting out a utility van from a moving company can potentially cost a bit upfront, but it’s a wise choice for those that want to keep their motorcycles protected from the outside elements.

When you’re looking to rent out a utility van, you’ll need to find one that has a good clearance so that your motorcycle can fit inside of it. Not all of the utility vans available will have enough height clearance, but many do. 

Utility vans might not always come with motorcycle ratchet straps designed for hauling around motorcycles, so you’ll want to keep that in mind before you go and rent one.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $150 per local trip, $3,200 for long-distance

Rent: $15 daily plus insurance fee

Cargo Container

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If you’re transporting a bunch of other things in addition to your motorcycle, a full cargo container is another option. Even if you’re not planning on moving things from point A to point B right away, a cargo container can act as a temporary storage solution to store your motorcycle. 

When you’re looking around for cargo containers, ensure that you contact at least two companies for two separate quotes. Sometimes you’ll be able to save a good chunk of money by doing this. In comparison to the other methods available, getting a full cargo container won’t be the cheapest.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $599 to $3,000 per move


  • Use the cargo container for anything else you want to store
  • Don’t have to worry about it tipping over or flying all over the place
  • Use the cargo container as a temporary holding container before shipping


  • You’ll have to find room to store the cargo container
  • The cost to purchase or rent a cargo container can be a little on the expensive side if you’re only using it to store and haul around your motorcycle

Freight Company

If you have the money and are fully moving locations from your current residence, hiring a freight company is an option. When you hire a freight company to transport your motorcycle, you can rest assured that it will get to the destination location in one piece.

A freight company will use a vehicle that will store your motorcycle in a fully enclosed compartment. The motorcycle will be shipped along with a bunch of other products that other people or businesses ship with the freight. By doing this, there are some cost savings.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $1.16 per mile


  • A freight company is a reliable way to transport a motorcycle
  • They follow a strict schedule and usually don’t stray from that schedule


  • You have to supply the crate that the motorcycle is transported in
  • A freight company is usually one of the more expensive ways to transport a motorcycle

Independent Hauler

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The gig economy has expanded to many different industries, and this includes the trucking and transportation industry. Hiring an independent hauler is another method to transport your bike to a destination. Independent haulers typically use their trailers to transport goods from a variety of different people and businesses. For example, an independent hauler might specify that they are delivering goods to Vancouver from Toronto.

They will then take orders on whoever requires their goods to be transported from Toronto to Vancouver. An independent hauler is usually a self-employed individual that will do whatever it takes to make a customer pleased with the service. You’ll usually get a better deal with an independent hauler in comparison to using a freight company.

An independent hauler is almost a combination of a motorcycle shipper and a freight company. They’ll typically have experience loading up different types of vehicles if they’ve been in the business long enough, and that might bring you greater peace of mind when you’re thinking of choosing this method of motorcycle transportation.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $700

Insurance: $50


  • Haulers ensure customer service
  • Cheaper than some other methods


  • Might turn out to be expensive

Professional Motorcycle Shipper

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Getting a professional motorcycle shipper will probably be the most expensive method of shipping your motorcycle around. This is the most specialized way to transport your motorcycle, and they make the job look simple and seamless because it’s all they do day in and day out.

If you want additional shipping protection, are shipping a very large motorcycle, or if your motorcycle requires a unique shipping method, a professional motorcycle shipper will be the one to make it all happen. You won’t have to worry about any damage with this shipping method.

A professional motorcycle shipper takes all of the headaches out of transporting a motorcycle, and this option is usually the one that will leave you with the least worries. When you go to build a house, people will typically hire a general contractor instead of an insulator.

Metrics For This Method

Cost: $900

Insurance: $70


  • Professional motorcycle shippers make the job look easy
  • A shipper will have loads of experience because it’s all they do
  • Specialized equipment is used to transport the motorcycle, ensuring that no damage or falls will occur along the way


  • Comparing quotes can get time-consuming
  • Not everyone feels the need to use specialized services for old, used motorcycles
  • Because you’re getting a specialized service, the cost involved in shipping adds up very quickly

How to Safely Load and Secure Your Motorcycle

On the outside, loading and securing a motorcycle can look like an easy task to do, but it’s a task that requires some careful planning and consideration. 

  1. Using a ramp to load up your motorcycle is always highly recommended. No one wants to hurt their back while lifting a bike onto a truck or trailer when you can easily maneuver it up a ramp. It’s best to use a ramp with a rubber end on it so that it won’t slip out of place.

  2. You typically don’t want to be using the motorcycle’s power to drive up the ramp. Using the throttle and giving the motorcycle some gas to drive up a ramp could quickly lead to an accident.

  3. Ensure that the ramp is securely in place before beginning to push it up the ramp. For best results, get a friend or family member to help with it.

  4. Have one person maneuver the handlebars while the other person is pushing the motorcycle up from behind. You’ll notice that the motorcycle will feel the heaviest once it nears the top of the ramp.

  5. Once the bike is up in the truck or trailer, you’ll now have to secure the bike down.

  6. It’s best to center the bike right in the middle of the truck or trailer.

  7. Ratchet straps are a good product to invest in if you transport your motorcycle frequently.

  8. Ensure that you’re strapping down the ramp so that it doesn’t have a chance to fly all over the place when you’re driving. 

  9. Once you have the ratchet straps situated in place, you can begin tightening them to secure the bike in position.

  10. When everything is stripped down, take a second look at everything to make sure it’s stable enough to begin driving.

When you’re ready to unload your motorcycle, you’ll just be following the steps in a reverse fashion. The motorcycle might begin to creep frontward or backward when you release the straps that are securing it down, so be mindful of that when you’re getting ready to unload it.

Tips for Transporting Your Motorcycle

While driving a motorcycle is the best way to transport it from place to place, not everyone has the luxury to do that. Sometimes, you run into flat tires, or maybe you don’t even have your motorcycle license and are just purchasing one as a collector’s item. There are some tips to keep in mind when you’re transporting your motorcycle.

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Push The Motorcycle Up The Ramp

It can become very tempting to drive a motorcycle up a ramp. You might think it’ll save you time and effort, but it requires a very experienced motorcycle loader/unloader to be able to drive up a thin motorcycle ramp without running into problems.

For the best-case scenario, it’s best to have a friend or family member help you push the motorcycle up the ramp manually. Always have one person controlling the handlebars while the other person pushes from the back. You should ensure that the ramp is secured against the truck or trailer before proceeding.

Double Check to Ensure The Motorcycle is Secured

Before getting behind the driver’s seat and taking off, you’ll always want to double and triple-check that the motorcycle is solid in place. Try giving it a good shake to imitate what might happen to it if you go over a bump while transporting it around.

If you give it a good shake and it seems to feel like it won’t move at all, then you should be ready to hit the road.

Use Soft Ties

If you care about the cosmetics of your bike, you might want to invest in some soft ties. Sometimes using your standard ratchet straps can cause some scratches and scuffs while transporting a bike around.  Soft ties will prevent this from happening. 

Ensure The Front Tie-Downs Are The Strongest

When you’re tying down your bike to the truck or trailer bed, ensure that the front tie-downs are very sturdy and stabilized. The front tie-downs are taking the bulk of the weight, so you’ll want them to be held down tightly.

You might be asking how tightly the front tie-downs should be. Extremely tight. You don’t want them to feel loose in any way. Sometimes bumps on the road can loosen things up a bit as you’re driving, and keeping them extra tight will prevent that from happening. 

Use a Real Motorcycle Ramp

Many people like to save money by using a 2x4 or other type of wooden plank. While this might work, you never know how much weight these methods will be able to support.

Using a solid motorcycle ramp built for that reason will give you greater peace of mind when loading and unloading the motorcycle. 

If you can find a cleated ramp, then that’s a nice bonus. Cleats will prevent the wheels from rolling back and forth as smoothly as a plank or ramp without cleats.

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Transporting your motorcycle from one location to the next shouldn’t be something that brings you fear and anxiety. Each method comes with its advantages and disadvantages, and the one you ultimately select will ensure your motorcycle will get to its destination safely, effectively, and hopefully, without damage of any kind.

People Also Ask

Here are some questions surrounding the topic.

How Do You Transport a Motorcycle In a  Car?

Transporting a motorcycle in a car will require a trailer and a trailer hitch. Many cars don’t come with trailer hitches installed, so you’ll have to contact your dealership or mechanic to see if you can get one installed. 

It’s good to look around and get a few quotes before just blindly selecting the first one you get. Sometimes you can get a more affordable price simply by just looking around a bit.

How Can I Transport My Motorcycle Without a Truck?

There are several methods to transport your motorcycle without using a truck. Each method comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

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Some of the various methods are:

  • Using a trailer

  • Using an independent hauler

  • Specialized motorcycle shipper

  • Using a cargo container

  • Asking a friend that has a motorcycle license to drive it to its destination for you

  • Using a utility van

  • Using a freight company

Can You Transport a Motorcycle on its Side?

You never want to transport a motorcycle on its side as it will lead to all sorts of cosmetic issues in multiple areas. The average weight of motorcycles equals around 400lbs. That’s 400lbs of weight placed on either plastic or sheet metal, depending on what part of the bike is facing down.

Sometimes the battery acid will also leak when you place a motorcycle on its side, resulting in cosmetic damage if it leaks all over the place. In addition, if you go to lift the motorcycle back up after battery acid has gotten everywhere, you’ll also get it all over you.

Will a Motorcycle Fit on a 5x8 Trailer?

A 5x8 trailer should be a sufficient size to transport dirt bikes and motorcycles around. Some 5x8 trailers that aren’t built for motorcycles might not be big enough to haul certain bulkier motorcycles around, but you shouldn’t run into too many issues.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship My Motorcycle?

The costs to ship your motorcycle around will vary from one transportation method to the next. If you’re moving it yourself, that will be the cheapest method, usually costing between $600 to $800. If you’re hiring a friend company, the costs can ramp up to $1,600.

For an independent hauler, you’ll be paying about $800, and the professional motorcycle haulers will cost roughly the same. 

What is the Cheapest Way to Transport a Motorcycle?

As with most things in life, the cheapest way to transport a motorcycle is to move it yourself. The main costs associated with moving a motorcycle yourself are fuel and transportation costs. 

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.