Monday, February 4, 2019

Florida Motorcycle Shipping

So what does it really cost to airfreight a motorcycle from Miami to Bogotá, Colombia? 

After the airlines charge, the next largest expense is crating the bike even if it is air freight. Is it necessary? Not really... BUT the US Customs requires it. 
So if you want to ship from the US, crate it.

MERFLEX International, our shipping agent in both Miami and Bogotá, broke down the cost for shipping my nephew's Colombian registered motorcycle. 

Prices in US$, does not include any costs on the Colombian end: as of 01-14-2019

Airway Bill                                                      $30.00
Airfreight by volume:                                   $1096.25
(What the airline charges)
Export Declaration Handling Custom         $125.00
Ibs delivery to airport                                  $58.02
Handling and services by weight                $43.85
Completing Dangerous Goods Form           $95.00
DG Airline Fee (UN3166)                             $125.00
Crating Service                                              $500.00
Complete Declaration of Export                  $30.00
                                    Total US$                  2,103.12

Note:  This is for a Vstrom650 fully loaded, stacked high with spare tires and gear.  The air freight cost by volume would have been less if the front tire, windshield, mirrors were removed and the excess gear was stored along side the bike.  Not knowing if we would be allowed to reassemble the bikes at the airport in Bogotá, we opted for leaving them ready to ride off the pallet and go.  The fuel tanks were almost empty as required. They did not ask that we disconnect the batteries. 

While a complete crate was required for leaving the US, if shipping from Colombia north, a pallet and shrink wrap would have been sufficient.

Does anyone actually look at the cargo leaving the US?  

The Customs did!  After his inspection, the officer applied bright green tape to the bike, 
clearing it for shipping.

Of course the crate for my KLR sidecar rig was even larger. 
Cost for Crating Service: $750.00.

Luckily I was able to stop the shipping process right after the accident, prior to the crate being handled over to the airlines and Customs for inspection. 

The KLR was removed from the crate so my son could haul it back to Texas. MERFLEX said they would stored my $750 crate knocked down, until I was ready to go again. 

So how did we get the KLR back to Texas?

My son Alan drove my truck without dragging a big trailer to Florida to retrieve me. Once there we looked at several options for getting the KLR home:

1). Uship, est. $1000+ plus waiting for a shipper to come get it 

2). UHaul, rent an auto transport for $650+ taxes and fees. They did not offer any other size trailer for a one way use to Texas. 

3).  Craigslist, maybe find a suitable trailer close by that's available now. Found two on the other side of the state near Tampa, a days drive there and back plus both were over $2000 each.

Every day we are in Miami is costing $300 for motel and food. After several dead ends and missed buys, on Sunday we see a new ad pop up. A 12' by 77" wide open cargo trailer 45 miles north of where we are. Quickly arranging a meet with the seller, we take off north. After inspecting the 3 year old trailer, we bought it $850 (cash from my SA travel stash).  However it has no spare tire.

Next morning we locate a nearby a boat trailer shop who sells parts and spares. The owner looks at the trailer, then drags out a used spare tire/wheel he says will fit. 
Next pick up the KLR, load it and get out of Miami.

The story should end with us safely arriving back in Houston with the KLR in tow, but... 
it was not to be.

Seventy miles east of Houston in heavily traffic on I-10, a trailer tire on the driver's side blows!  6:10 p.m.

Alan safely steers the truck and trailer off the highway, stopping behind a flashing traffic warning light with big orange barrels around it. A safe place to stop. 

Using the truck's jack and lying on the pavement as traffic whizzes by within a few feet, Alan jacks up the trailer, removes the blown tire. Struggling to mount the spare, it won't go. We finally determine the Florida trailer guy sold us the wrong size spare wheel... *_^#$*#)*!@#$%^&* 

Okay, let try the truck's spare tire. Doh..wrong size too. We finally call AAA for a tow.
As we wait, Alan suggests having the AAA driver take one of us to the nearest WalMart with the trailer wheel. There get a new tire mounted and come back. It is now 6:40 p.m. The nearest Walmart is only ten minutes away. Calling them to see if they have the size tire we need, they inform Alan the auto department closes at 7 p.m.

At 7:40 p.m. the AAA driver finally arrives. Disconnecting the trailer from my truck, he loads it and the KLR on his flatbed wrecker.  He agrees to haul it to my home in Houston, 68 miles away. Alan and I take my truck sans trailer home.

Next day we place the Florida trailer up for sale for what we paid for it. Sold.
Broke even, except for the spare tire fiasco. 

This is the second time I had to buy a trailer to haul a sidecar across the country, then sell the trailer for what it cost me. Cheaper than renting...


Back home in Texas, several people sent me articles about how unsafe it is 
for pedestrians in Miami.

Wish I had seen this BEFORE I went to Miami..... might have been a little more cautious.


Now home for three weeks, am slowing recuperating. Follow up doctors appointment next week.  Can even drive a little but haven't tried riding a sidecar yet. Swinging the right leg up and over a seat is a challenge.

Thanks for all the well wishes. 

Ride safe ya'll, but please be careful when walking in Florida...



  1. Thank you for the cost summary. Not that I have any plans to travel anywhere like that but I was always wondering what people were spending for shipping via air freight. I’ve run into a number of people in AK that were looking for crates to ship their intact or damaged motorcycle somewhere via air.

    I hope you recuperate quickly. Since you brought the rig back from FL I’m guessing that there is no target date for the SA trip.

    1. Richard, ocean freight costs about 40% less than air freight, but the major problem with ocean freight is not knowing WHEN your bike will arrive. It might take two weeks, or two months. Motorcycle shippers are such a small non-priority low margin non-repeat business shipper, we get whatever fits the ocean carrier's schedule and changing routes. Air freight is more controlled, regulated and costly.

      No target date for trying again for South America. Upcoming sidecar rally in northern Idaho late July, a few other commitments, another Alaska run on the sidecamper in 2020 or 2019...

      Some say SA is star-crossed for me. My first ride down there ended in the hospital in Chile. This ride almost started in the hospital, but I refused to go. SO wants SA crossed off the bucket list permanently....

  2. Quite the trials and tribulations Jan.....glad you and the rig are home safe. There will be other opportunities for it I'm sure to be part of an adventure.

    1. Dom, yes there will be other opportunities, maybe just not SA. Have not made any decision concerning the KLR's future. That can wait. In the meanwhile, I have the BMW RT road warrior and the sidecamper for my North America wanderings.

      Did you get the TW200 yet?

    2. Jan, yes, the TW200 is in the stable and fully ready at last....not sure when my next blog posting will be but it'll be feature I'm sure.

  3. I am glad you added all the shipping costs. Recently I contacted a local shipping company to find out how much it cost to ship a Kawasaki ZX-14 from Philadelphia to Puerto Rico. They quoted $1000, and I thought that was too much.

    1. Kolfa, you wouldn't have all the customs paperwork shipping to PR. Not sure about the crating requirement. Just the airline shipping cost will be about a grand. The plus side is you know when the bike will be there. Ocean shipping is such a roll of the dice on delivery times.

  4. Great information you had shared. this service is best and people want that type of service. we also have ocean freight services Miami which delivered the vehicle or any goods. for more info you can visit our website.


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