When shipping a motorcycle from the USA to Europe, Middle East, Africa or other countries it can be an unpredictable experience: It can be an easy and affordable task, it can be a hell of a bureaucracy and expense, or anything in between. The many possible combinations of shipping methods, personal preferences, timing constraints, associated costs, and byzantine rules and regulations all contribute to make this task difficult, mysterious, and stressful.
Air or Sea ?
Shipping a motorcycle via air is expensive in comparison with sea shipping. I got a quote recently from an air freight company for $1995 one way.
The upside of air shipping is that it works if you are doing a motorcycle tour in which you can’t be interrupted for several weeks while your bike reaches the other side. If that is the case I think air shipping is the only good solution.
Second decision: Roll-on/roll-off, crating, or container
At first I liked the idea of using RO-RO (Roll-on/roll-off) because there are major operators that you can easily find lots of reviews about. Customer service is generally good and I was happy talking to the car shipping company Cartran.net.
These guys handle shipping for car manufacturers, major construction companies, racing teams, etc. Very few shipping companies will actually deal with your single motorcycle and many questions. So I guess what I learned about it is this: The roro shipping company is easy to choose and you must take your time first finding a freight forwarding agent that will give you the attention you need, especially if this is your first time doing it.
Prepare the motorcycle for shipping
You must clean the motorcycle very well. I spent two afternoons detailing it.
Finally, before bringing the motorcycle in for shipping, make sure you leave very little gas in the tank.
You need the title in your name, without any liens on it. And you will need your passport.
You need an address at the country of arrival.
Tracking your Shipment:
This is not like FedEx or UPS, which would give you a tracking number and allows you to follow your cargo step by step. In this case you will have to be patient and not stress about it. The shipping company will be able to tell you the name of the ship where your motorcycle ends up and you can locate the ship in real time using Cartran.net which has a GPS shipping locator.
Once it arrives on the other side you can expect it to be unloaded in 24 hours or less, because ports do it as fast as possible. Your agent at that port will be able to keep you informed about how and when to get your motorcycle.