We’re getting some questions about the logistics of shipping our bikes, so I’m just going to do a post about it.  Pretty pictures will resume in the next post.

The tl:dr version is Motorcycle Express, $1085 for each bike, $625 for each person.

And the long version….

We shipped with Motorcycle Express.  (We looked into Air Canada’s motorcycle shipping program, but it didn’t start until May, and we wanted to go mid-April.) The nearest airport we could ship our bikes from was Vancouver, and the only place we could send them from there in mid April was London-Gatwick. More destinations are available in the summer.

Motorcycle Express obtained our dangerous goods forms and arranged all the shipping details.  We used their recommended travel agency to book our flights, coordinated with the bike shipping.  The carrier was Air Transat.

We delivered our bikes to a cargo depot at YVR the day before the flight.  The requirements were less than one gallon of gasoline in the tanks and a disconnected battery.  We timed our gas usage well and disconnected the batteries when we arrived.  We left our soft panniers on the bikes, loaded with luggage.  (There is a list of prohibited items, none of which were an issue for us.)  We stayed to watch them be loaded onto pallets, which we didn’t need to but we’re glad we did.  Besides getting the photo op, we were able to assist a bit.  Because our bikes aren’t bristling with crash bars, the cargo guys were having a little trouble attaching their special straps.  So we just provided some of our own straps to make additional tie-down points.  I have every confidence the cargo guys would have secured the bikes had we not been there; we just made it a little easier for them.

When we arrived at our gate for the flight, we could see the bikes in the tarmac waiting to load.  And we got to watch the loading!  Nice to know that our bikes were on the same plane as we were.

We had to use an agent to receive the bikes at Gatwick.  Motorcycle Express provided the contact info, and a few emails back and forth ahead of our travel lined everything up.  I paid the fees online before we flew.  (This had to wait until the bikes had been weighed at the cargo depot.)  The fees could also have been paid by phone upon arrival in England.

We landed around 11 am, and after clearing immigration, getting our bags, clearing customs, hitting up a cash machine, and having a bite to eat, we took a taxi over to the cargo warehouse.  Our bikes were unloaded and waiting for us patiently.  We reconnected the batteries and loaded our luggage.  By 2 pm, we were riding off to the nearest filling station.   Easy Peasy!

We paid Motorcycle Express USD$1085/motorcycle (it would have been $150 more if we hadn’t flown with the bikes).  Our one-way airfares were USD$625/person.  We paid USD$111.50/bike to the agent in England to cover a variety of fees.  This last charge would have been more if our bikes were bigger — they were under the minimum weight charge, so we paid that minimum.

(There was a third bike on our flight, also from Oregon,  — Hi Mike! — and he reported $1150 for the bike and $450 for himself.  I don’t know what he paid in destination fees.)

The UK agent filed a temporary importation form on our behalf, and we had to report when the bikes left the UK.

We obtained our mandatory insurance (often referred to as “green card” insurance) through an agency in Croatia.  Motorcycle Express could have also provided this had we wanted them to.  It was easy to obtain the paperwork; I hope to not find out about filing any claims.

I think that’s the whole story.  If I missed anything or you have any questions, let me know.


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4 Responses to Logistics

  1. Do you mind if I share this with some local riding groups? Lots of good information here.

  2. Steve says:

    What were the in-flight meal options for the bikes? I hear things sometimes get pretty wild down in the cargo hold, what with the free alcohol and everything. Any incidents worth reporting?

    • lauraseaver says:

      They’re not saying. I think there’s a bit of “what happens in the cargo hold, stays in the cargo hold” going on. A suspicious hiccup or two, but no other evidence.


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