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HOW-TO Ship a bike cross country (pics)
Eddie would go ...
Dutch's Avatar
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HOW-TO Ship a bike cross country (pics) - April 10, 2007, 03:55 AM

This is just my experience, not a perfect guide.

But since some of you asked, I thought I'd post in a more searchable manner as a How-To. Perhaps others who ship can add to this thread.

Objective: Ship my new R1 to California in order to ride it back along the Southern route.

Method: Google and lots of phone calls.

Results: Many. There are plenty of ways to ship your bike cross country.
I suggest you first set a budget and ask yourself what you would be comfortable with as far as what your bike may or may not be subjected to.
There are guys that drive cross country with covered trailers and as few as 2 bikes strapped in. Door to door service but requires plenty of lead time and flexibility on your side.
On the other end of the spectrum there are open trailers with many bikes and many stops. Many freight places will require you to crate the bike, most crates are wooden or provided by you (as in go ask the dealer for a packing crate - most of these are on the smallish side and will require your carpentry skills).
Prices range from around $400-$1400, so shop around but don't skimp on it either.

Here's a link to one that will provide door to door as well as packing services. I did not have the lead time to use them but the services list looks impressive.

So lesson learned: book ahead! Many places had booked up by the time I started looking (1 month or so ahead of ship date....I know..I procrastinate)

Since I am shipping a brand new bike, my top priority was having the bike protected in addition to getting there on time. (some shipments may take as long as 2 weeks on the road to get to LA...).
I ended up finding Forward Air on-line and really liking the design of their shipping containers. They provide them to you, they are built specifically for motorcycles and you lock them with your own locks. Perfect! In addition, Forward Air takes about 4 days to get cross country....fast.


They have several sizes available, sportbikes will fit comfortably in the EXC
I suspect that the hard plastic container may work as well, I preferred the metal one. Here it is as advertised on their site:

Forward air requires 14 days lead time to secure a container for you. They book up fast since they have a really nicely designed container as you can see. The will ship from and to most freight centers at most major us airports. I am going from IAD to LAX.

The customer service team was outstanding, both at corporate as well as at the local facility in Sterling. They got me an EXC container on 4 hours notice. . DO NOT expect them to be able to do the same for you, I got lucky...and have a great smile

So what do you need in order to ship your bike with them?

A minimum of 4 tie downs - if you are shipping one-way as I am, realize that you have to carry or send these things back or toss them at your destination. I picked up 4 ratchet tie downs at Home Depot for about $40. I plan on leaving them with a friend as a parting gift in LA.

A hose and container to syphon your gas into - Forward Air requires that you drain the gas. This also means you show up on the other side with a gas can before you can ride off with your bike. Theoretically you could perhaps maybe just leave a bit in the tank to get you to the nearest gas station. Not that I am advising this, but I'm just saying that a friend of mine, not me mind you,....well you get the idea.

2 combination padlocks - yes the high school locker type - $4 each

Tools- you will need to disconnect your battery when you ship the bike. Check to see if your on-board tool kit has the required tools or you will have to take them with you when you ship as well as when you pick up. My R1 had the right tools to take off the seat as well as disconnect the + terminal from the battery.

Next lesson learned: Before you click yes to "additional coverage" when booking your shipment, check with your insurance company if your bike is covered in shipping. Chances are that it is and you will save yourself at least $100. In my case, should anything get damaged in shipping I am out my deductable and the rest is covered. Its worth the call to the 800 number. (props to Progressive)

Ok so you have your hose, gas can, padlocks and tie downs. Ride to the terminal (2 nice sweepers on the way...) and pack her up. All of Forward Air's containers have pro welded tie down anchors, you should have no problem securing your bike. Make sure you get compression in the front and rear shocks as you ratchet the tie downs and choose your anchor points on the bike wisely. You do not want to be ratcheting that tie down and hear the sound of your fairing cracking. In my case I chose the front sliders and the rear passsenger pegs (which are back on to hold my tail bag). I debated using an extra strap across the seat but the bike was solid with the 4 tie downs.(more on that later...). Make sure the bike is centered but leave your kickstand down as well.

NOTE: remove any registration papers etc. you may have in the bike NOW and keep them on your person. And yeah...take the key too...

On to the pics:

NOTE: take some pics of your bike before you ship it for insurance purposes, not only at home but at the shipping site. Document how you secured the bike.

As you can see, the container has been used plenty of times. No worries, the outside can be plenty banged up, the bike should be safe inside as there is plenty of space:

Plenty of room to walk the bike in once you drain gas and disconnect your battery.

Front tie downs:

Rear tie downs:

One of the dock guys will then slap the destination label on and sign for the bike after checking your straps. Break out your padlocks and lock your baby up.

NOTE:Be sure to take the combinations with you (its been a while since you had a locker...email them to yourself and a friend so you wont need bolt cutters when you get to your destination)

Then you get to watch as the forklift picks up the container...it teeters forward..and DROPS!!!!

ok not a big drop, but it fell off the forks as he did not shim it or tilt them...

I stayed calm and thought it was actually a nice test to see if we had secured the bike properly. Quick check on the bike and she was still sitting perfectly level.

Off she goes:

So what will all this cost you? No idea, not for you anyways

For me a one way trip to Los Angeles will cost me $635. Add in the cost of the 4 tie downs and 2 padlocks if you dont already have them. I do know that the larger LGC container (for tourers and custom bikes) would have cost me and additional $214. The smaller container is probably that much cheaper as compared to the EXC.

How long will it take? I dropped the bike off Monday evening at 6 (any time before 9PM is ok for a trip to LA) and it will be on the other side of the states by Friday 9 AM local time.

I'll let you know in what shape she arrived, but I am expecting no problems.

Hope this helps.

Originally Posted by spud View Post
No one gives a fuck about your puff out your chest bravado.

Last edited by Dutch; April 10, 2007 at 03:58 AM..
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Licensed Rider
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April 10, 2007, 06:28 AM

great post...not that i'll be shipping a bike anytime soon

but good information nonetheless
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Far from a rookie!!!!!
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April 10, 2007, 06:48 AM



Joe Rocket Whore

Why your man acting like secret service??? I'm going to get you alone and get my secret serviced!!!
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Pleased to meet me
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April 10, 2007, 06:50 AM

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MSF Student
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April 10, 2007, 07:30 AM

pretty cool
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whats in your drink?
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April 10, 2007, 08:33 AM

Killer post thanks for the info

Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!
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opossum puncher
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April 10, 2007, 08:36 AM

Very cool, hope your cross country ride goes great.

Attack Life! It's going to kill you anyway.

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God Made Me Wrong
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April 10, 2007, 08:53 AM

Really informative post! Awesome Dutch!

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Stop putting shit in my papusa!
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April 10, 2007, 10:05 AM

R1 , 2001
Gixxer 2005
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AMA Superbike Champ
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Thumbs up April 10, 2007, 10:57 AM

Awesome write up and pics. Please update us when you get back to let us know how it went on the other side...

Rep point for ya.
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singin sweet home alabama
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April 10, 2007, 11:17 AM

This is really good info to know. Thanks! I think I might do this in a couple years to ride with a friend of mine out in Cali.

"No race has ever been won in the first corner, but plenty have been lost there."
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Whoa, Momma!
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April 10, 2007, 11:28 AM

Great post, man! I really liked it since I hope to be sending my bike to CA as well.
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Knee Draggin!
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April 10, 2007, 11:33 AM

i used DAS to ship from SD. they were great. I had space in an 18wheeler that could fit 2 motorcycles, set of rims, some junk... all for like 1200 bucks. good deal. you pack it yourself when he pulls up.

i dont care
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I'm so tired
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April 10, 2007, 11:38 AM

See you when you get back. Have a great and safe trip.

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