We moved from Virginia to Minnesota at the start of this year. We each drove a car up, which left my 2010 Yamaha FJR motorcycle back home. I knew I wanted to ship the bike up — the ride would be at least two days and probably three if I played it safe. The weather is still unpredictable up here until as late as May, so I couldn’t count on a snow-free trip. Someone else would have to bring my baby to me.
As soon as the snow started melting here I researched several companies and ultimately decided on JC Motors (also known as Motorcycleshippers.com) to do the job.
I also considered the following services:
- Haulbikes.com. They were my front runner for quite some time as their Web site was pretty detailed and their service pricing seemed to be the least expensive. Then I started reading reviews and there were many more complaints about them on various blogs, motorcycle forums, and consumer complaint sites than any other provider. I requested a quote, and it wound up being 15% higher than what was posted on their Web site. Between the complaints and the price switch-a-roo, I figured I’d keep looking.
- Federal Motorcycle Transport (FUN). Nothing super personal about my decision to not use Federal — their pricing was competitive, but there weren’t as many positive things said about them as JC Motors. They were just $9 more than motorcycleshippers.com, so no big deal there.
- Shipping Masters didn’t have an instant estimate option, so I didn’t proceed. Most providers want to give me an estimate first and then a detailed quote second, and I was fine with that. I didn’t want to surrender my contact information over just to get a base estimate, so Shipping Masters got the thumbs down.
- I evaluated a few other providers, but they either had long lead times, seemed too small-time, or were much more expensive.
I chose JC Motors based on:
- Cost — they were the most affordable service, considering my perception of their history and organizational size.
- Positive reviews on the Web from other motorcyclists like this thread on ADVrider.com.
- Decent liability coverage — Motorcycleshippers.com provided a $7000 valuation on my motorcycle in case something went wrong. I could have purchased more coverage, but that’s about the payoff on my bike anyway so I figured $7k was good enough.
- Ease of interaction with the Web site. I am super busy at work, and being able to request an initial estimate online was a big plus. I placed my service order online easily and received enough information to alert my buddy back home who was storing my bike.
I submitted my order early March 11. I received a series of emails from Motorcycleshippers.com confirming my order, what my tracking number was, and instructions on pickup and delivery. I also received a PDF version of my contract, which contained important information not spelled out in the email.
The instructions for pickup were clear and easy to follow. The steering had to be unlocked, and the ignition key removed. The directions stated that nothing else could be shipped with the bike, such as saddlebags and loose accessories. I don’t know if they allowed mine because they were hard cases or not, but my bike shipped with both factory sidebags and a GIVI topcase full of stuff. Lastly, a full-size semi truck had to be able to get in to pick up the bike. This wasn’t a problem with me, but it’s something you should be aware of.
I liked that I didn’t have to crate my bike or drain the gas tank. Other providers demanded one or both of these things, and I didn’t want to trouble my friend back home any more than necessary.
If you use Motorcycleshippers.com, make sure you read the PDF contract attached in one of their emails. It contains the pickup estimate, which was about a week’s length of time. Some providers do not provide even this level of estimate, so owners were “standing by” for up to several weeks before the pickup vehicle arrived. Even though the estimated pickup period was lengthy, it allowed my friend to plan a trip out of town around it.
Motorcycleshippers.com called my friend on March 23rd, twelve days after I placed my order. This was well within their written estimate. They verified that a semi truck could get to the bike, and that someone would be there to help the driver load the bike onto the truck. There was less than 24 hours notice, but since we had a general idea when the pickup would be it wasn’t a big deal.
Apparently the pickup went off without any issues on March 24. They put the FJR onto a wooden sled device with retractable wheels. They loaded the sled and bike onto an elevator-style tailgate and away they went. My friend said help was definitely needed to load the bike up. Make sure that whomever is involved can help steady, and perhaps ride, the motorcycle you intend to ship.
I received a phone call on March 29th, five days after pickup. A nice lady called to confirm the delivery address, that a semi truck could access that address, and that someone would be available to help unload the bike. They scheduled me for around 9AM on March 30th.
I got a phone call at about 9:15 on March 30th. The driver was lost, and needed more time to arrive. Luckily I’ve had enough stuff delivered here that I blocked out my entire morning and afternoon from work. The driver arrived at about 11:00 and we were all done by 11:30.
The unloading process was pretty easy. He manhandled the wooden sled to the lift gate, and then we pulled the bike off of the sled onto the street. He gave me the option to drive it off of the sled, but I declined. I hadn’t ridden in almost six months and I didn’t want my first spin to be some sort of Battlestar Galactica-style launch down a track. It was a little touch and go for a bit, as my motorcycle is fairly tall and weighs about 650 pounds, but we made it. This part is important: make sure you or someone you know is in good enough shape to be able to help move the bike. I am definitely glad I was there to help instead of Sedagive? who is definitely strong enough to help but would have been too short at 5′ 2″.
My motorcycle took 19 calendar days to arrive from the morning I placed my order. I was impressed with the ease of the whole operation, and the driver was courteous and friendly. If I had to change anything, I would have wanted more notice on the pickup and delivery. I also found the tracking number to be mostly useless. I am used to near real-time tracking ala UPS or FedEx, so a general estimated pickup and delivery date wasn’t as precise as I expected. I wanted to know if my bike was in Kentucky, or Indiana, but in the end it didn’t matter.
I definitely recommend JC Motors / Motorcycleshippers.com.