Company Review : Motorcycleshippers.com: The Agony and the Ecstasy

When you need to transport your bike across country.. who do you call? You call professionals! As I intend on attending the I-BMW.com 2008 Sierra Gold Rush Rally near Sonora in September and I don't have the time (or cajones) to actually ride my bike the 3000+ miles.. what to do? Of course!!.. Fly and ride... After the usual prerequisite (read: anal) research, I heard about JC Motors Motorcycle Transport (now called Motorcycleshippers.com) and signed them up to transport my 2006 K1200S from Asheville, NC to Sacramento, Ca and back so I can attend the rally.  It's the very first left coast K12 rally so how could I miss it?! JC Motors got a great write up in the Jan 2008 issue of Motorcyclist Mag  and at least 2 other people in the know mentioned them. Good enough for me. As for the actual execution of said transport... I was/am in personal uncharted territories. I will admit.. trusting complete strangers with my perfectly maintained toys isn't something that comes easily for me. 

Company rep, Harry quoted me $1495 R/T which seemed reasonable and that includes a free cover for each way of transport and $20,000 worth of insurance which I paid extra for. I think the usual coverage is about $7,500 or so. I called to make the arrangements on August 12th and Harry walked me though all the issues .. calming my paranoias ..squelching my phobias. He said they had transported over 10,000 motorcycles with only a 2% damage rate. Sounds impressive. I explained that my bike needed to be in California and ready for me to pick up on Sept 12th.  The plan was for them to simply drop it off at their hub in Sacramento, I'd fly in, take a cab from the airport to their hub, pick-up the bike and ride it to the rally, and then return a week later for the return transport home and my flight out..

After much deliberation and back and forth "what-ifs".... Harry insisted they needed to pick-up the bike near my house between August 20th  and the 23rd to make sure it arrived in time making allowances for break-downs, floods, plague, hurricanes, killer bees,, and apparently civil war. I reluctantly agreed to give up the bike a full 3 WEEKS early just to be safe.  He said the bike would arrive between Sept 9th-11th giving me a few days padding time. I could live with that if that's how it's done.

The Pick-Up

The movers showed up on the 19th.. a full day early and gave us a call and said they were ready to pick it up.. As the bike was in the shop getting new ball joints installed I told them they couldn't have it until the next day.. the 20th as per my contract. They were pissed and threatened to leave and not come back until the following Monday. I told them 5PM on the 20th is the earliest they could have it and they reluctantly agreed. The next day they called at noon and said they were sitting in the designated pick-up area and were ready to pick it up.. !? I'm not sure if they suffered from ADD or not so I reminded them that  we had just yesterday agreed upon a 5PM pick-up. They were pissed and again threatened to leave. I called the BMW dealership who was working on my bike (1.5 hours away) and asked them how soon I could pick up the bike (putting pressure on them) and fortunately they were just finishing it up so I jumped in the truck and headed out to pick it up. In theory I'd have the bike back and ready to load at 4pm.. I informed the trucking guys and they agreed they'd wait.. Geez. .Lucky me.

I actually made it back, managed a hurried 8 minute test ride on the bike to make sure everything seemed to be working properly (it was as best I could tell in 8 minutes) and met the transport guys at just after 3pm about 400 yards from my home in the local grocery store parking lot. They were in a nice truck with an electric rear gate. Not quite the size of a semi, but close. The actual bike platform consisted of a reinforced wooden pallet with a hole in the front where the front tire dropped into. (pic at right) Rather than expensive tie downs like the Canyon Dancer  or some sort of wheel chock as I would expect from one of the nations supposed "premier" bike transport companies, they just used simple ratchet-type tie downs. I supervised the guy tying it down and if I had NOT been there to place strategic rags (that I had to provide) under straps that came into contact with powder coated areas, I'd bet money that the straps would have done damage.  Amber documented the entire procedure with our camera just in case. Feel me?

I should mention, I've been hauling and trailering bikes since the universe was young and planets were just forming so I know a little on the subject. I've seen bikes fall, get scratched.. basically anything that can go wrong.. I've seen.. or done. The designated tie-down guy couldn't find any decent places for the front straps so I reluctantly agreed to let him attach the straps directly to my heated grips.  Not happy about this but we all agreed it was the best spot to keep the straps away from painted areas.

The loading guys were very personable and did actually seem to care about my bike and it's safety but .. they were NOT motorcyclists and my confidence has to be earned.. After the strapping in ceremonies they covered the bike with heavy type moving blankets and then one of the aforementioned bike covers.  Total time to load and strap down.. About 30 minutes.  I signed the paperwork and then like the wind.. they were gone.

One good thing about Motorcycleshippers.com is that you can go on-line to their website, type in your contract number, and actually track your bike while it moves across the country.  Cool. I figured I'd wait about a week then check out this tracking service. As it turns out.. I never got the chance.

On August  27th, just 7 days from the pick-up day I got a call from Valley Relocation (my pick-up point in Sacramento) letting me know my bike had arrived and I needed to pick it up before Sept 2nd.. !!?? I explained that the bike wasn't even supposed to be there until Sept 9th and that I wouldn't even be arriving until the 12th so obviously I would NOT be picking it up.. Geez.. He said he'd make a few calls and get back to me. So far.. he hasn't. At this point, I'm pissed that I gave up my newly repaired bike a full 2 WEEKS early. On the other hand... I can relax knowing it is safe and secure just 60 miles from rally central...or can I? and is it?

California Delivery

On September 12th, after 5 hours in the air (courtesy of Delta airlines) and a $60 cab ride with Sahib the non-English speaking, hygienically challenged Indonesian, I arrived at JC Motors Motorcycle Transport's warehouse in Sacramento to pick up my bike for the California rally. Cleverly, instead of trusting the airlines with my gear and clothes, I FedEx'ed all my stuff directly to the Sonora Days Inn so all I carried with me on the plane was my backpack, my helmet, my riding boots, my leather jacket, and a tin of Mango flavored Altoids.

Weeks of fears quickly disappeared as soon as they rolled out my bike. After a quick inspection... there wasn't a scratch on it..Woohoo! I signed the appropriate paperwork, suited up for the 98 mile ride, and quickly discovered my battery was nearly dead. Damn! This was a result of a month of NOT riding the bike prior to the JC Motors pick-up because of the ball joint problems AND 3 dormant weeks in their possession.. Nobody's fault but my own. Fortunately, after asking the company dispatcher for a jump, they had me up and running in less than 15 minutes and on my way to Sonora for the first annual Sierra Goldrush K12 Rally.. So far so good... I'm half way there!

On September 19th, with the 2008 I-BMW.com Sierra Gold Rush Rally now history, I returned the bike to the JC Motors Motorcycle Transport's hub in Sacramento, watched them strap it down for the return trip home, signed the papers, then caught my flight back to Asheville.

Delivery Back to NC: "It It Safe?"

On October 2nd, just 13 days after I left Sacramento, and one day earlier than the on-line tracking schedule had promised, the anxiously awaited delivery truck pulled up to my back door. The delivery guys unloaded her and actually rode her into my garage. These were the same 2 guys that had picked it up a month earlier. And the verdict?? After an incredibly anal inspection I determined the bike was scratch-free.. as promised. Motorcycleshippers.com actually lived up to their reputation and I couldn't be happier. Would I use their service again? Absolutely. Would I recommend them to fellow riders? Absolutely. Am I relieved that the 7000 mile shipping sojourn is over? You bet your ass.. This Pirate will sleep much better tonight.

And that's all I've got to say about that..for now. Pirate out...
Jerry D. Finley
Captain / Pirates' Lair