How to Ship Your Bike

Introduction

This section contains:

Enter YOUR OWN PREVIOUS shipment, to help other travellers!

Actual Shipments DONE by Travellers

See the Shipping pages for information on air and sea shipments by actual travellers to or from everywhere!

For each shipment, the details include Shipping Date, Cost, Shipper Contact details and a Description of the experience, in many cases very detailed and extremely useful information about the requirements for crating or the paperwork involved at the destination location.

This information has been gleaned from various sources, and not all details are available for every route. If you are aware of any more up-to-date information, or you know of any shipping details for locations which aren't listed in the database, please advise us. Thanks to all who have entered shipment details, and please keep it coming!

Motorcycle Shipping Experts

James Cargo is an international freight shipper specialising in International Bike / Motorcycle Shipping and more. All countries, sea or air, multi-bike shipments, containers to USA from the UK and back for events like Sturgis and more. Be sure to mention Horizons Unlimited for the best service!

Air or Sea?

After shipping our own bike many times, and watching and hearing about hundreds more shipments, we have come to the conclusion that overall, the best method to send your bike is via air.

Sea shipping sounds cheaper, but the port fees are much higher, often off-setting any savings, or worse, as we heard recently, costing a traveller more than the entire original shipping fees! And by the time you factor in being without the bike for weeks or even months, it's usually not worth any savings you may get in the end. An important thing to watch for is that sea shipments are extraordinarily unreliable for time. The shipper will often quote for instance 6-8 weeks to ship from Vancouver to Europe by sea. Experience has shown that this is at best an optimistic guess, at worst a flat lie. Yes it can be done in six weeks, but not if the boat is rerouted to Nigeria! Twelve weeks is not unheard of, and then there's the dock strikes...

We know of one traveller who arranged shipping for her bike from England to Ecuador 12 weeks in advance of her planned vacation in South America. On arrival in Ecuador, she went to the shipping company's office looking for her bike. They knew nothing about it. It was still in the UK, awaiting a boat. She didn't enjoy the bus for the next two months. At least with an airplane they can always put it on another flight and it will only be a matter of days before it arrives.

Unfortunately US airlines are paranoid about shipping bikes - they class them as "dangerous goods" - and often refuse to carry them at all. All you can do is call all the airlines freight departments and find out if they will do it. Not the head office etc. - their automatic reaction is NO. If you find one make sure you talk to the guys in the freight department that actually handle it - what they will tell you is often very different from the official story from head office and passenger people. Do a search using the search bar above on "dangerous goods" to find much more about solutions and ways to deal with the problem. MOST shipments aren't done out of the USA anymore, most travellers use Canada instead due to this problem. Air Canada is very familiar with shipping bikes, and it can generally be done by dealing direct with the FREIGHT guys at the airport - not the check-in desk! :) Air Canada also regularly does super deals on shipping, in the range of half or less the usual, during the northern summer. See posts on the HUBB Trip Transport Forum documenting the details.

Lufthansa and other European airlines, as well as South American and Asian airlines will generally take a bike. You may have to work through an agent, but it is usually not too expensive for their services, and they will take care of all the paperwork for you.

For a good description of the crating process, see Chris and Erin Ratay's website. Chris also made this comment on the Air vs Sea question on the HUBB:

"Receiving a bike at the airport in Buenos Aires is much cheaper than at the seaport. ($60 vs $400). I've heard that Uruguay is a bit more expensive.

A friend shipped his bike to Valpariso (near Santiago), Chile, and paid US$7 -- yes, only SEVEN Dollars to reclaim his bike. I was with him, and the whole process was done in one day. The customs offices are walking distance from where the containers get unpacked."

Also, there are numerous more posts on the HUBB on this topic, in the Trip Transport forum.

General Instructions for Shipping

  • You may get told you can't ship the battery with the bike - that is not generally true - you MUST however completely disconnect the battery and tape the terminals securely. Also usually you must drain MOST of the fuel out of the tank, a litre or pint or so left is usually fine, just enough to get you to a fuel station on arrival.


Grant preparing to crate the bike in Cape Town, South Africa

  • We usually leave the front wheel on when shipping as we're lazy - it can be an advantage to be able to just wheel the bike out of the crate and drive away, particularly in places like Nairobi. All I usually do is take off the mirrors and windshield, but it does cost a little more. Sometimes the local warehouse where you pick up the bike will not allow you to dismantle the crate there, insisting you take the crate away on a truck. We've always been able to get around this, but it has taken some persuading in the USA. (and waiting for everyone to go on coffee break)
  • Crates can often be obtained from a dealer. Wood crates are the easiest to deal with but many crates are now metal with a cardboard wrapper. They will work, but are harder to custom size. They are lighter, which can be good, but usually the problem with a bike is not the weight but the volume.
  • Shipping costs are calculated on a weight per volume basis. If the weight is over x / cubic foot then you pay the weight, if under you pay based on volume. Bikes are bulky, and you have to work hard to get the volume down in order to pay the weight price. You will have to really squeeze hard to get down to the weight price.

"Size counts" formula in common use:

Length x Width x Height in cm. divided by 6 = weight in KG.

e.g. 225 x 100 x 115 = 2587.5 cm3 divided by 6 = 431kg

Therefore regardless of the REAL weight of the bike and crate, you will be charged AS IF it weighed 431 KG.


Strapped down on the base of the crate
  • DON'T fully compress the forks. The bike should be tied TIGHT down on its suspension, about half-way or a little more down. Be SURE the straps can't loosen or come unhooked if the bike moves, because it will!
  • It should NOT be resting on centre-stand or side-stand, only on its wheels, and vertical. This will not harm the springs (unless you leave it for a couple of years). If it's on the stand, it will pound up and down in transport, and cause a lot of damage to the stand, the crate, etc.
  • Use good straps (I like 6) and don't skimp on the crate. You can usually get them for nothing from bike dealers, since they usually throw them away anyway. Good straps are often available for free from BMW dealers - they are what BMW uses to ship their bikes, and dealers end up with plenty. They are popular though!
  • IF you really want to squeeze the volume down, take the front wheel off, rest the bike on the skidplate or forks (with axle installed and clamps tightened but NOT the end nut), and tie securely. I like to have the axle secured to the base of the crate.
  • Book a container and put several bikes in it, and the cost per bike will usually drop significantly.


Strapping boxes on top, getting as much as possible in and as small as possible.

To reduce your shipping costs - from Istvan Szlany:

  • Dismount front tire with fender, handle bar with mirrors, and side+tail bags/boxes to reduce height, length and width and you'll pay the minimum possible by volume.
  • if you can, crate the bike, because then they can put other things on the top of the motorcycle crate. Ask around for scrap wood, nails and hammer - I'm sure they have. In this case you will pay most likely for the weight of the motorcycle.


Almost done.

For a good description of the crating process, see Chris and Erin Ratay's website.

Also, there are numerous posts on the HUBB on this topic, in the Trip Transport forum.

Other issues to think about

  • Import regulations
  • Carnet de passage or temporary import permit (esp. OZ)
  • Insurance (transport, bike, health insurance etc.)
  • Quarantine: Be aware of very strict regulations for OZ and NZ.
  • CLEAN - the bike must be SUPER CLEAN or toothbrush clean for most countries, and you cannot use untreated wood not specified as safe for export. They WILL send the crate back to the originating country at your expense!


BEST PLACE TO ASK QUESTIONS IS ON THE HUBB IN THE TRIP TRANSPORT FORUM: CLICK HERE.

Comments

With all that work put into building a bike and shipping it this way, do you really save money for all that effort. Have you guys tried this before or is it a first attempt? Do you guys know how much it would cost to ship it from USA to New Zealand

Hi, not sure who you're asking re first time etc, but yes it's VERY worthwhile to reduce the size of the crate. You can reduce the price by 50% if you work hard at it - really hard!

Note the info above:

Shipping costs are calculated on a weight per volume basis. If the weight is over x / cubic foot then you pay the weight, if under you pay based on volume. Bikes are bulky, and you have to work hard to get the volume down in order to pay the weight price. You will have to really squeeze hard to get down to the weight price.

"Size counts" formula in common use:

Length x Width x Height in cm. divided by 6 = weight in KG.

e.g. 225 x 100 x 115 = 2587.5 cm3 divided by 6 = 431kg*

Therefore regardless of the REAL weight of the bike and crate, you will be charged AS IF it weighed 431 KG.

So if you can cut the VOLUME in half, your price will be - half! Plus of course misc charges no matter what size it is.

As for costs, we have no idea as that changes all the time and is of course dependent on the exact route, and there's a million of them, so check our shippers, and the shipping database for previous shipments done to get some ideas.

Hi Guys!

Does anyone know if its possible to use a local thai agency in Chiang Mai or anywhere else to get my bike shipped to India? Just across the border on a truck? I'm sure there's loads of trucks going, but I can't find anything in the search here. Any hint would be highly appreciated!

That’s a really tough one!

id suggest writing the local HU Community, they’re the most likely to know. 

You could also ask on the HUBB, someone that knows might be looking for something else and spot your post. 

Good luck and please be sure to let us know your results!

G'day!

I'm hoping to get some advice and help regarding shipping my 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 from Australia (Brisbane or Gold Coast) to Stockholm in Sweden.

From recent reading, seems like air freight will end up costing pretty much the same as sea freight?

How much should I really be counting on spending if I manage to get my own crate and have it delivered at the drop off point?

Thank you!

HI,

 

Get in touch with Mark Edmonds from buyglobal.com.au. Brisbane based. Excellent guy. Flew my KTm 690 Enduro to Iran last year ($2200 one way with Thai Airways). Some minor fees at customs (and complications in Iran-> see my blog should be linked to my profile), but definitely worth it.

As a comparison, sea freight to Dubai was $750. Then you have the port charges which I've heard are a lottery. Could be hundreds, might be less.

 

Key thing with airfreight is a thing they call "volume weight" or something. Can't remember exactly, It's basically just a simple formula based on the crate sizde. I got a smaller crate anbd took off handlebars and windscreen. I reckon that saved me $300 alone.

 

Fuel needs to be purged (not oil) and you need the mechanics to do a letter to say it was done. Team Moto Moorooka did mine and were very helpful. Aparently, some airlines are stricter than others but Thai are good. I heard Air Canada are good too (from this website,so maybe flying the bike east is an option.

 

Let me know if you need to know anything else.

 

Good luck!

 

Cheers,

Shane.

I wish I could answer that with something positive, but shipping is SO variable, I just can't.

You will have to contact a few shippers - find the good ones through the reports on that route or see our advertisers, James Cargo and Motofreight, both of whom have great reputations with our travellers.

See what they have to say, remembering that shipping by air is MUCH faster and more reliable (delivery time-wise) than by sea. People will often ship by air out, and by sea (usually a bit cheaper) home, as dealing with delays at home is a lot less of a problem than when on a trip.

Do less us know the results when you've done your shipment by adding to the database!

Hey All, 

We are hoping our experience might prove helpful to anyone who is looking to ship a motorycle from Canada to Mexico. You can read about it on our blog at the link posted below. 

http://www.adventurehaks.com/canada-mexico-world-cargo-pt-2/

Brendon Hak

Hi All, 

We finished our ride around Europe and are ready to take on South America. We are looking for shipping or air transport from Europe to pretty much anywhere in S.A. 

We've gotten some crazy quotes so we're wondering if anyone has any specific and recent info about this. 

We are traveling on a GSA 1200. 

Thanks in advance...

I'm sending a container of bikes down to Montivideo in January 2019 and currently have a couple of spaces. If you need info, give me a shout and it's a lot cheaper than flyingg

Hi,

I just created an entry in the HU Shipping Database about the shipping of my GSA 1200 from Frankfurt/Germany to Anchorage in Alaska. I know, that's pretty far from South America, but the company which did the shipping (In Time Forwarding & Courier in Hamburg, Germany) also does shipping to South America.

A friend of mine had his Triumph Tiger shipped from Frankfurt to Valparaiso in Chile in September 2017 by In Time in Hamburg. They're very helpful and have a special rate for shipments to Valparaiso this winter. Shipments take place about every 3 weeks, but you may want to check directly with them (see http://www.intime-ham.com/motorrad-container-valparaiso.html for details on the transport from Hamburg to Valparaiso).

 

Have you checked the Shipping Database? There's lots in there that you can use for reference.

Also check with our regular advertisers, James Cargo, Motofreight and Motorcycle Express? They all ship motorcycles all over the world on a regular basis, get great reviews, and their prices are reasonable and consistent.

 

Hello all

Im about to spend the next two years in South America on my KLR650, mixing it up with teaching, aid work, and travel.

I want to ship the bike from either Hobart, Melbourne or Sydney to Santiago, or B.A.

Has anyone done this by either air or ship? The price by air will be almost $3000, and on a $5K bike, its not really worth it. 

Any information would be appreciated as it doesnt seem a common theme. Please help.

Although I speak Spanish very well, I realise the challenges involved with beauracracy upon arrival, but it was great to read that a carnet isnt needed in S.America....

Thanks for the web space and passion!!

 

Regards

Quinn

why don't you just keep the bike there and buy a used one with a few miles in the USA (https://www.cycletrader.com/search-results?make=Kawasaki%7C2318344&model...) and ride it down.  cost you a grand to air frieght it from panama to colombia, less by boat, but totally viaable and sell the bike when you are done with your trip.  then when you go back in a couple of years, your bike awaits you

See the Shipping Dabase results here for a much lower price.

There's several sea shipments that are half that. Unfortunately in and out of Australia is one of the more expensive shipping routes. All the usual sea freight caveats apply of course!

 

We want to ship our bikes to Lima Peru so we can drive them back to Canada . Air Canada is willing to do it but we can’t find out if there is any charges at customs  involved when we land in Peru? Does anybody know that’s on here?

There will always be charges and fees. How much is the big question! I doubt that it will be a lot, at most probably a few hundred dollars. Coming into Peru by land is not a big deal, so by airs should be the same.

Do notice the caveats in the preceding statement - doubt, should etc. :)

Information like that can only be confirmed by actually doing it, so I think you will have to just have a go and see what happens. Whatever the fees, they will be far less than riding down! And by sea WILL be more at the dock.

Once you've done it, please let us know by posting in the Shipments Made by Travellers.

Thanks, and good luck!

Want to spend 3mo exploring Israel. Know anyone who has gone through this process recently? Is it even possible?

Thanks
Sarah

Did you manage to get more information? I am trying to ship mine to Jordan.

Hi Sarah,

NOT sure if anyone has done this recently - but there are some old shipments in the HU Shipping Database about it, particularly a ferry from Greece. That might be worth checking into to see if it's still running.

It should be possible, check with Air Canada to see if they can ship your bike there. They have a summer deal on bike shipping that's a super deal. See the links page and Trip Transport forum on the HUBB for more.

PLEASE be sure to let us now by posting on the Shipping Database what worked for you!

Good luck, Grant

All,
I am stuck with a damaged bike in Tajikistan after accident. I had a front collision against a car pushing in the bike's upper front frame some inches, blocking now full steering angles. Also had a more than moderate fork hit and headlight gone anyway.
This journey is over for me, and I am looking for a way to flying the bike to Europe (preferably Germany).
All help and hints appreciated!
Thank you!

Sorry to hear!

Shipping is certainly possible - I would plan to fly it, possibly to Islamabad first, from where you'll have more connections, but you may be able to do a direct. You'll have to go to the airport to find out.

See this link: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/get-ready/shipping?from=Tajikistan&from_continent=&to=&to_continent=any&recommended=All&show_map=1&order_by=0&from_coords_lng=71.276093&from_coords_lat=38.861034&from_country=Tajikistan&from_type=country&to_coords_lng=999999&to_coords_lat=999999&to_type=continent#row-3632

An alternative also is to have the parts needed shipped in!

Good luck with whatever you decide, I hope it works out.

PLEASE enter the details of your shipment in the Shipping Database so other travellers can benefit. If everyone contributes we have a gold mine of information to help everyone.

Greetings, 

I am planning a long term stay in Thailand. Upon my return to the USA is it possible to ship my motorbike/scooter I intend to purchase in Thailand to the USA (crated or otherwise) via canada or any route? 

Shipping is actually straightforward compared to the potential hassle getting it registered to ride. The USA varies widely from state to state, so I would START the whole thing at your local motor vehicle office about registering foreign purchased bikes. 

In Canada it's almost - and technically - impossible unless it's over 15 years old. 

Good luck!

So Im planning on riding my bike from SA to Switzerland. and nobody can tell me if i need to have export documents from SA when i leave the borders to go north.

 

Im not planning on bringing it back to South Africa it will stay with me in Switzerland.

any advice will be appreciated.

 

Robbie 

Hi Robbie

I’m from Switzerland and hope to help a little bit. For sure to get a Swiss license plate is not easy, but possible. You will need the import/custom documents. Then you have to go to a vehicle inspection which is probably the strictest one in the whole world…. But, I’m not sure if you can register a bike without Swiss residence.

Right now I’m in Johannesburg and heading to Namibia and then to Switzerland. As soon I’m back at home I can organize more information’s and maybe help you for everything. Feel free to contact me anytime: chr...@infiniteroad.ch

When do plan to take off from South Africa?

Chris

Export documents aren't generally needed, most countries don't care if a bike leaves (NOTE for UK residents - SORN is critical if you leave!) it's IMporting to Switzerland that could be a big issue.

You'll want to research that in detail!! I don't know about Switzerland but for many countries you simply can't bring a foreign bike in and register it locally.

Best of luck, and let us know how you do. You might want to post this question on the HUBB to get a few more eyes on it - perhaps even someone from Switzerland can help.

Hi All, Can anyone give me a guesstimate on the full cost of shipping my BMW GS Adventure from South Africa to Finland and back for a 2 month holiday. I just want to get a ballpark cost to see if it's worth it. Thanks, Brad

That's REALLY hard to answer, it varies a LOT, and by Air or Sea makes a big difference too.
I'd contact one or two of the people who advertise shipping here, Roddy at Motofreight is based in UK but is from South Africa so should know all the ins and outs.

Good luck, and please post in the Shipping database your results!

BTW, for a REALLY rough number, think US$1500 per ocean - one way.



 

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