Comparing Motorcycle Shipping Methods Open vs. Enclosed Transport

When it comes to shipping your motorcycle, choosing the right transport method is crucial for ensuring its safety and arriving in pristine condition. The two primary methods for shipping motorcycles are open and enclosed transport. Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision that best suits your needs and budget. This article will delve into the details of both open and enclosed motorcycle transport to help you make the right choice.

Open Motorcycle Transport


Open transport involves shipping your motorcycle on an open trailer, which means the bike is exposed to the elements. This is a common method used for transporting motorcycles and other vehicles due to its cost-effectiveness and availability.


  1. Cost-Effective: Open transport is generally less expensive than enclosed transport. This makes it an attractive option for those on a budget or for motorcycles that do not require extra protection.
  2. Widespread Availability: Because open trailers are more commonly used, it’s easier to find a carrier that offers this service. This can lead to more flexible scheduling and quicker shipping times.
  3. Suitable for Standard Motorcycles: For standard motorcycles that are regularly used and do not have high custom or collector’s value, open transport can be a perfectly adequate option.


  1. Exposure to Elements: The main drawback of open transport is that your motorcycle will be exposed to weather conditions such as rain, snow, and sun, as well as road debris. This can lead to potential cosmetic damage.
  2. Less Security: While the risk of theft is generally low, an open trailer provides less security compared to an enclosed one.
  3. Potential for Damage: Due to exposure, there is a slightly higher risk of minor damage like scratches or dings from road debris or other environmental factors.

Enclosed Motorcycle Transport


Enclosed transport involves shipping your motorcycle in a covered trailer, protecting it from the elements and offering a higher level of security. This method is typically chosen for high-value, custom, or vintage motorcycles that require extra care during transport.


  1. Maximum Protection: Enclosed trailers provide complete protection from weather conditions, road debris, and other environmental factors. This is especially important for expensive, rare, or delicate motorcycles.
  2. Enhanced Security: With your motorcycle being out of sight and in a locked trailer, the risk of theft is significantly reduced.
  3. Ideal for High-Value Motorcycles: If you own a high-value, custom, or vintage motorcycle, the additional protection offered by enclosed transport can be worth the extra cost for peace of mind.


  1. Higher Cost: The most significant disadvantage of enclosed transport is the higher cost compared to open transport. This can be a deciding factor if you’re on a tight budget.
  2. Limited Availability: There are fewer enclosed trailers on the road, which can make it more challenging to schedule your shipment. You might need to book further in advance or be flexible with your dates.
  3. Longer Lead Times: Due to limited availability and the specialized nature of the service, enclosed transport can sometimes take longer to arrange and complete.

Which Method is Right for You?

Choosing between open and enclosed motorcycle transport services depends on several factors, including your budget, the value of your motorcycle, and your specific needs.

Budget Considerations

  • If you’re looking to save money and your motorcycle is a standard model used for daily riding, open transport is a cost-effective and practical choice.
  • For high-value or collector motorcycles, the extra cost of enclosed transport is often justified by the added protection and peace of mind it provides.

Value and Condition of the Motorcycle

  • Standard motorcycles that can withstand exposure to weather and road conditions can be safely transported using open trailers.
  • Custom, vintage, or high-value motorcycles that require more careful handling and protection should be transported in enclosed trailers to avoid potential damage.

Shipping Distance and Environmental Factors

  • For short-distance shipping, the risk of damage from weather and road debris is reduced, making open transport a viable option.
  • For long-distance or cross-country shipping, the potential exposure to varying weather conditions and road hazards makes enclosed transport a safer choice.

Time and Flexibility

  • If you need your motorcycle shipped quickly and have flexible scheduling, open transport offers more options and quicker lead times.
  • If you can plan ahead and are not in a rush, enclosed transport ensures the highest level of care and security for your motorcycle.


Both open and enclosed motorcycle transport methods have their unique advantages and disadvantages. By carefully considering factors such as your budget, the value and condition of your motorcycle, and the specifics of your shipping route, you can choose the method that best meets your needs. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure your motorcycle arrives safely and in the same condition as when it was shipped, allowing you to enjoy your ride without any concerns.