Well, the time has come. For whatever reason, you need to get your motorcycle not just out of the country, but across the ocean. While your first thought might be to disassemble and take several boxes to UPS, trust me, there is an easier way. Whether changing active duty stations to somewhere in Europe, or selling your bike online to an enthusiast far away, here’s a quick look at what to expect and prepare for when shipping a bike overseas.
Find a Transporter
No, this doesn’t involve Jason Statham riding your bike at full throttle through a hail of mob bullets, although that would be cool. Transport companies are designed to ship someone’s outsize (too big for mail) cargo from anywhere in the world, to anywhere else, as efficiently as possible. Look for a larger, well known company, like Schumacher Cargo, Taurus Logistics, or any of the several dozen other transporters out there. Check out their website and get a quote. See what they require from you as far as motorcycle prep and paperwork. Unfortunately, accidents happen, so be sure to read up on their damage/loss protection. Remember, this isn’t just about the cheapest guys in town. You get what you pay for, so shop around based on reviews and reputation.
Prep the Motorcycle
Even though it isn’t running, this trip will be a bit rough on your bike, so do some basic maintenance. Charge the battery to capacity, then disconnect it. Put tape over the contacts so it can’t make an accidental connection. Make sure there are no leaks, and run the engine until the gas tank is low. Don’t run it empty unless you plan on removing and cleaning the tank, as a gas tank full of just fumes is a fire hazard. Take a ton of pictures. This can be a lifesaver if you have to make an insurance claim, as the before pics will provide indisputable proof of damage during transport. Do not let the motorcycle rest on the jackstand, as you could easily damage it. Go nuts on the bubble wrap, if you are doing the prep yourself. But first tape the key to the handlebar, and leave identifying numbers clear for inspection. Unfortunately, the US has a problem with stolen motorcycles leaving the country, so expect the customs officials in the receiving country to give your bike the stink eye before it passes inspection.
A couple final thoughts here. If you are shipping because you sold it overseas, be sure you have been paid, and the check has cleared the bank. Also, start this process as early as possible, otherwise your bike may not arrive in a timely manner, or even too late for that country’s riding season.