In Hawaii, motorcycles offer their riders an open-air tour of all the beauty the islands have to offer. If you long to feel the Pacific trade winds blowing by and the warm sun on your body as you glide down the road past waterfalls, ocean views and other iconic Hawaiian sights, we’ve got good news for you: It’s pretty easy to ship your motorcycle to the Hawaiian islands. Or, if you’ve fallen in love with your bike in Hawaii and can’t imagine leaving it behind when you move to the mainland (or another island!), it can be just as simple to take it with you.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through all your options for moving your motorcycle to Hawaii, to the mainland and inter-island. We’ll also show you the steps you need to take to make sure your bike arrives in perfect condition—and what to expect of anyone you hire to help you with that shipping.
Let’s get started!
The Four Main Pickup & Delivery Options for Shipping Your Motorcycle
No matter whether you’re shipping your bike to Hawaii, to the mainland or interisland, your motorcycle will take a ride on a boat to get to its destination.
That being said, you’ll have two main decisions to make during the process:
- How your motorcycle gets to the boat—and your new home.
- How your bike will travel during its ocean journey.
First, let’s discuss the four options for getting your bike from your old home to your new one:
Option #1: Door-to-Door Service
While this option is the priciest, it’s also the most convenient. In a door-to-door arrangement, your moving company will come to your house, pick up your motorcycle at your old house, then deliver it right to the door of your new home. Door-to-door service is your simplest, lowest-hassle option for moving your bike, regardless of your final destination.
Option #2: Warehouse-to-Door Service
If you want to save a little money, you might be able to take advantage of this hybrid option, although every carrier may not offer it. Under this arrangement, you’ll drop your bike at a warehouse, where it will be prepared for delivery. Then, once your bike reaches port at its destination, your carrier will deliver it right to your door. Check with your shipping company to see if they offer this option.
Option #3: Warehouse-to-Warehouse or Port-to-Port
This will likely be your cheapest option for shipping your bike, and it’s just as it sounds. You drop your bike at your carrier’s warehouse or port, then you pick it up at the other end and drive it yourself to your new home.
There’s just one catch: If you don’t live near a port, this might not be a good solution for you. For example, if your new home is in Colorado, you’d have to get yourself to a port like Los Angeles to pick up your bike. Keep this in mind as you plan your motorcycle’s move.
Option #4: Including It in Your Container
If you’re planning on shipping a container of your personal possessions, you might consider including your motorcycle in your shipment. A professional moving company can build what’s called a bulkhead—essentially a wall inside your container—then strap your motorcycle down within the container. Your motorcycle will travel with the rest of your possessions, under whatever arrangements you’ve made for your container.
Pro Tip from Dennis Schultz, Vice President of Household Goods at Royal Hawaiian Movers: If you decide to put your motorcycle in your container, make sure you have professional help at your destination to get your motorcycle out. Remember that the container will likely sit on a chassis about four feet off the ground.
Now, you might have a ramp to help with the unloading. However, it’s not a good idea to roll the motorcycle down the ramp. It’s too heavy, and you’ll have trouble slowing it down.
You also should NOT try to ride it down the ramp. Says Dennis, “I’ve been riding motorcycles all my life, and no way would I ride a motorcycle down the ramp. It’s going to be a hard landing.”
Your best bet? Get a pro to help you unload it, or you risk last-minute damage to your bike.
Now that we’ve covered how to get your bike from your old house to your new home, you’ll also have some decisions to make in area #2: how your bike will travel during its journey.
Your Options for Your Motorcycle’s Ocean Voyage
In the last section, we talked about including your motorcycle in your container. If you aren’t shipping a container—or if you don’t have room for your bike—you’ll have one more choice to make: whether to crate your bike or go with the “roll-on roll-off” option.
Option #1: Crate Your Motorcycle
Putting your motorcycle in a crate offers it maximum protection during its time with the steamship line. When you choose this option, your moving company can build a custom crate that’s been measured and designed just for your motorcycle. Your bike will be put on a pallet, strapped down, blocked and braced with bolts and then enclosed by walls.
If you’re concerned about getting your bike to your destination in excellent condition, custom crating is the way to go. That being said, you’ll still want to choose your moving company carefully. Two things to look for:
- Crate Materials: Some companies may use corrugated cardboard for the walls of the crate, while others will use solid wood. Wood will offer your bike an extra layer of protection.
- Stability: Keeping your bike steady despite the pitch-and-roll motion of the boat is the main concern when shipping your bike. If your moving company offers inflatable air bags that go inside the crate, they’ll give your bike rock-solid stability during its journey.
Option #2: Roll-On Roll-Off
If you’ve ever shipped a car to Hawaii, you might be familiar with this term. If you choose this option, you’ll drive your bike to the port, then the steamship line will drive it on to the ship. There, it’s braced and strapped down for its voyage.
Of the two options, this one is the cheaper of the two. If cost is your main concern, a roll-on roll-off solution might be right for you. Just be aware that, rather than being enclosed in its own crate or container, your motorcycle will be out in the open. While it will be on an enclosed deck on the ship, likely in an area designated for motorcycles, it won’t have the protection of a crate or a container.
Note: In order to use this option, your motorcycle has to be able to start, drive on and drive off the ship. If your bike is “under construction,” it will need to go in a crate or a container.
Once you decide the “how” of shipping your motorcycle, there are just a few items left before your motorcycle can head out on its journey.
Prepping Your Motorcycle in 3 Easy Steps
No matter what options you choose, there are three things you’ll need to do to prep your motorcycle for transit.
Step #1: Get Your Paperwork in Order
This is probably the most important step. If you don’t have the right paperwork, your motorcycle won’t be cleared for shipping, and the entire process will grind to a halt.
In most scenarios, you’ll need to provide:
- Picture ID
- The motorcycle’s registration
- The title for your motorcycle
Now, here’s where it can get a little tricky: If you personally own the motorcycle free and clear, the title is enough, and you’ll be good to go.
However, there are two scenarios that might require additional paperwork:
- Co-Owners: If there’s someone else’s name on the title along with yours, they either will have to 1) be present at the time of shipping or 2) provide a notarized letter, authorizing you to ship the motorcycle.
- Loans: If your motorcycle is financed, you’ll need a notarized letter of authorization from the lien holder, allowing you to ship the motorcycle. Make sure the letter includes the motorcycle’s year, make, model, VIN number, destination port and the name of the person authorized to ship the motorcycle (you).
Once your paperwork is complete, you’ve got just two more simple steps.
Step #2: Empty Your Gas Tank (Almost)
Most carriers will not ship a motorcycle with a full tank of gas. Empty your tank to about a quarter full, and you’ll be set to ship.
Step #3: Make Sure Your Battery Can Be Unhooked
During its journey, your bike’s battery will need to be unhooked. Make sure that there are no obstructions so that your moving company can unhook it during crating or the steamship line can unhook it after driving your bike onto the ship.
And that’s it! Your moving company or steamship line will take care of the rest.
Moving Your Motorcycle, Made Easy
Whether you want to cruise down Haleakala Highway with all of Maui laid out in front of you, enjoy HOV access on Oahu to skirt rush hour traffic or move your motorcycle to the mainland so you can cruise the continent, shipping your motorcycle to, from and between the Hawaiian islands can be simple.
Once you understand all the options, you’ll know everything you need to make your move an easy one—and get your bike back on the road in no time.
Need help shipping your motorcycle to or from Hawaii? We can help—and we do interisland shipments, too! Just get in touch with us for a quote, and we’ll help you put together the right plan to get your bike to its destination quickly, easily and affordably.