Shipping a Motorcycle: The Nightmare Begins

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There are two bear traps waiting to snap shut on your leg when buying a bike online. The first, of course, is buying the bike itself. If you’re going by an ad and pictures –  and placing trust in your fellow man – you’re buying a pig in a poke. God only knows what’s gonna show up on the truck a few weeks down the line.

If the truck ever shows, that is.

Which is my problem right now and Exhibit A that even an experienced wrangler of vehicles of all types can find himself in a position not unlike that of Ned Beatty in Deliverance – you know, the Hillbilly Scene. “Aintree? You aint never gonna get down to Aintree… ”

Or get your bike – city boy.

Here’s what happened:

In late November, I bought a new (to me) 1983 Honda GL650 Silverwing Interstate. I had been looking off and on for a decent example of this rare (because one-year-only) middleweight touring bike for about a year when I found a low mileage (just 12k) apparently well-preserved example about 100 miles northwest of Chicago. After some back and forth with the seller (who happened to be a dealer) I bought the bike. Now I had to figure out how to get the bike.

I live in SW Virginia, not too far from Roanoke – but very far from the Chicago area. Driving 10-plus hours (one way) to pick the bike up seemed like a hassle, so, after discussing it with the dealer, I decided to have the bike shipped to me instead. Without thinking about it much – and, much worse – without doing any research first, I agreed to use the company he recommended, Haul Bikes, Inc.

This was Wrong Move Number One. I should have checked the company out before signing up. Instead, I paid $600 to Haul Bikes to ship the bike to me within an estimated “2-3″ weeks from pick-up. Later on, I read the caveats and clauses in the contract that talked a lot about delays. I should have read those clauses before parting with my money.

This was Mistake Number Two.

Well, the bike gets picked up by Haul Bikes the following week – the first week of December, 2010. So far, so good. The Haul Bikes web site goes on at great length about how the bikes are placed on secure pallets for the trip, all tied down snug and safe. I am feeling good. 

I let two weeks by – which is Mistake Number Three. I figured, after about two weeks, the bike will be either on its way to me or about to be sent on its journey. I should certainly have it in my garage before another week or maybe two at the outside. So I call the shipping company to check in and see whether they can give me a ballpark ETA, so I can be sure to be available to receive the bike.

Drumroll, please.

The lady at Haul Bikes informs me on Friday the 17th that “… nothing is going out before the end of the month.” Speechless pause follows as I digest this. Haul Bikes has already had my bike in its possession for two weeks. Now I am told that it will be at least another two weeks before it is “assigned” to a delivery driver. Maybe. No guarantee.

It gets better.

Even if it is assigned, the lady (who is personally very nice; I do not have any hate in my heart for her) tells me further that the actual delivery date could be the first week of January. Or the second. Maybe the third. She doesn’t know. Can’t say. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

So it could go on for weeks to come – possibly, months. To ship a bike 800 miles, for which I paid $600. I could walk 800 miles in the time my bike has just been collecting dust in the Haul Bikes warehouse.

If only I had done 5 minutes of due diligence Googling I would have found that glacial delivery times are a common complaint leveled against Haul Bikes, Inc.

But this I did not do – which is why I find myself looking and feeling jus’ like a hog. They have my money; they have my bike. And there is very little I can do about it except sit back, close my eyes and try to enjoy it.

Lesson: If you buy a vehicle online and need to get it shipped to you, take at least as much time checking out the shipping company as you did the vehicle itself. In particular, do they give a written guarantee that your vehicle will be delivered by such and such a date, excepting war or natural catastrophe? If not, think twice – unless you don’t mind your new baby spending time – potentially, a great deal of time – with someone else, long before it ever gets to you.

Postscript: I am getting ready to do what I should have done back in November – drive the 800 miles to pick up the bike and drive home with it in the bed of my pick-up.

I always have to learn the hard way.

C’mon boy, squeal! Louder! eeeeeee! eeeeee! 

Throw it in the woods? 

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  34 comments for “Shipping a Motorcycle: The Nightmare Begins

  1. Fair Spanish Lady
    December 19, 2010 at 12:57 am

    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    • December 19, 2010 at 1:31 am

      eeeeeeeeee! Louder!

    • Kim
      July 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      The delay’s reported above seems to be their SOP. They are the epitome of over promising and under delivering. On top of that they put a scratch in my brand new HD, driver admits he did it, offers me $200, but I made the mistake of saying no, I wanted to file with the company. Well the $500 deductible comes into play then. Soooo, they can haul 40 bikes, do $500 damage to each and tell you “too bad so sad”. I have told more people about this bad experience than any other bad purchase decision I have ever made…..because in this case, it was not a matter of policy, it was a matter of taking care of a customer the way you would want to be taken care of….my recommendation, drive the bike home next time!

      • July 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

        Hi Kim,

        That’s vile – even worse than the delay I experienced getting my bike. I have no way of knowing whether they added scratches to the poor thing, because the first time I saw it in person was when the driver arrived to unload it. Scratching a brand-new bike is unforgivable, because the whole point of buying a new bike is to not have any scratches. Even if they fix it, it’s no longer factory-new. It’s been repaired. And that’s just not the same.

        Really sorry to hear this happened to you…

  2. Fair Spanish Lady
    December 19, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Knowing you, you’ll be on your way TO the bike and the bike will be on the way TO your house…….make sure that doesn’t happen before you leave.

  3. dom
    December 19, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Haul Bikes Inc. Reviews

    Sounds to me like another excellent example of an American corporation doing their thing and robbing us all blind.

    Help me.. I can’t see anymore!

    This is the American way, isn’t it?

    • December 19, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      Yeah. It’s bleak.

      You tell me: Am I being impatient or unreasonable? I don’t think I am being impatient or unreasonable. They told me “2-3″ weeks. Ok. I can handle four weeks or so. That’s a week beyond the outside limit of the estimate they gave me. Five weeks is pushing it. Anything much more than five weeks is fucking ridiculous – and a rip-off. We’re talking an 800 mile (one way) delivery. More than a month for that? Seriously? And this shit about them just sitting on my bike for a month-plus before even thinking about maybe putting it on a truck really chafes my ass.

      I have already filed a complaint with the BBS.

  4. dom
    December 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Haul Bikes Inc. Reviews

    *Caveat Emptor*

    “Let the buyer beware”.

    Under normal circumstances I would say you are justified in your complaints. Unfortunately, now everything is a gimmick bro. You hurry up and pay massive premiums for simple/basic services then you hurry up and wait. It’s a joke! You’re going to be upset with my conclusion, but this one is your fault man! You have to research these fuckers and not just take a person’s word on it. A dealer will tell you anything necessary to complete the sale. You know this better than anyone. Like I said before when I was thinking about transporting my Polaris Ranger from Texas to here I contacted over 20 trucking companies and had numbers and times all over the board. Ranging from over $1,000 and a month to less than $400 and a couple days. The total distance would have been somewhere like 2,000 miles.

    —Bottom Line—

    You have to do your homework and not be taken by a nice website, or the word of a used car salesman, or in this case a used bike salesman!

    Research.. Research.. Research..

    Keywords: Haul Bikes Inc, Reviews, Caveat Emptor, Let the buyer beware

    • December 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      You’re right. I fucked up! Now I’m squealing like a pig…. eeeeeee!!!

  5. Michael
    December 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I used Forward Air about 5 years ago to ship a KTM 450 from NC to CA. The cost was approx $500 and it took two weeks for everything to happen. I did have to wait for an extra week for them to call me and tell me the container was ready but after that everything went really smooth.

    • December 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

      Next time, I’ll be checking with them… live and learn!

  6. steve
    December 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Second recommendation for forward air. I bought a Honda Superhawk from Mo and had it shipped to PA for about $400. Everything went smooth and I would guess it was 2 weeks from buying the bike online until I was riding it.

  7. MarcR
    April 17, 2012 at 12:47 am

    What was the total time for you to get your ride? I see a lot talking about the wait, but nothing about when they get it

    • April 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Hi Marc,

      It took about two months. My main complaint with the company was that they weren’t forthright up front about the likely time in transit and their lack of customer response once they had the bike. These two things caused me a lot of stress during the experience. If I’d known ahead of time it was going to take as long as it ended up taking, that would have been one thing. But it took about twice as long as they initially suggested it would. Not cool. Also not cool – no tracking system. I called several times and all I could get out of them was that my bike was sitting in a wharehouse someplace waiting to be picked up. Was it secure? Was it inside? No answer. When will it be shipped? Is it in transit now? Now answer. That went on for weeks and weeks.

      When the bike finally arrived, it was fine. It had been secured properly on a pallet inside a custom-made big ride designed to haul several bikes at a time. The driver seemed to be a conscientious guy.

      If they’d been straight with me up front about how long it was going to take – and been able to provide updated tracking info (like UPS or Fed Ex) I would have no complaints.

  8. steve
    September 12, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I recently used Haul Bikes. They provide no guarantees as to pick up and delivery, just estimates. One truck picks up the bike and then it goes to a warehouse to be picked up by another truck. Again no guarantees. I did get the bike within a reasonable amount of time but the driver gave me a lot of grief, virtually demanding a gratuity. I refused and that sealed the deal for never using Haul Bikes or their other name Daily Direct again.

    • September 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Hi Steve,

      In my case, I was given an “estimated” delivery time – which I took to mean within a week or so of the stated date. Maybe two weeks. That would have been ok with me, too. I don’t think I’m unreasonable.

      But when weeks had elapsed since the “estimated” delivery date I began to get anxious – and angry. Where’s my bike? Many things began to run through my mind such as – is it in a secure place? Is it out of the weather? I could not get anything definitive out of their customer no-service person. She was bored and indifferent. Now they had my bike and my money – and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

      The leaving-you-hanging they apparently do routinely (I found numerous similar complaints) is unnerving and infuriating. If they’d told me ahead of time, “It may take two months,” ok. But they never even hinted it would take anywhere near that long. Really pissed me off.

      Not only that, since I’d gone by their “estimated” delivery date, I hadn’t thought to remove the battery (to avoid having to buy a new $$$ one as a result of the bike sitting for months in the middle of winter with it hooked up), or drain the tank (or at least put fuel stabilizer in it) and so on.

      The driver, when he eventually arrived, was ok. No issues with him.

      And the bike was ok, too.

      Still, I’d never use them again just because of their fundamental dishonesty with regard to telling me how long it would take to get my bike from A to B. I would never have used them to begin with had I known ahead of time it would take two months to get a bike from the Chicago area to the SW Virginia area – a trip that I could have done in my truck in two days for less money.

      • steve
        September 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

        Eric:

        Their new line which they use repeatedly is their average time for delivery is 21 days. If you try to pin them down they will do nothing but repeat the 21 day average. If you ask, “does that mean it could take 6 months?” they will answer yes. While I chose to use them I was on pins and needles the entire time. I would never use them again. I also suggest to anyone reading this never to pay in advance as Haul Bikes requires. That was stupid for me to do and would be stupid for anyone else to do.

        • September 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm

          I agree, Steve –

          It’s one thing to give people a “window” – say, within 10 days, either way. I understand things come up, that trucking freight sometimes inevitably involves delays, etc. But it’s obnoxious for them to imply your bike will get there within 21 days or so – while knowing it may and probably will take much, much longer (in my case, more than twice as long as 21 days). I know why they do this. They wait until they have a full truck – and can arrange the deliveries so as to reduce their costs. I get that – and I’d be ok with it – if they were up front about it. If they said: Our deliveries typically take about two months; could be longer – could be shorter. We do it this way to save you money (by saving us money) but if you’re in a hurry, or need an exact delivery date, probably you should select another carrrier …. I’d be fine with it.

          But they don’t. What they do is – in my opinion – dishonest.

          I would not use them again.

  9. steve
    September 12, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Understand that if you use this company there is a two step process. First they pick the bike up and transfer it to a warehouse. Then, they schedule a truck to load up a bunch of stuff to your destination and areas along the way. They will not guarantee a delivery date and it’s very unsettling.

  10. Jim Isbell
    February 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Concerned, I need a road king transported from co to nashville tn .
    Now what should I do to afford all the grief I’ve been reading about.
    Some help here please. I was about to contact haul bikes, now I’m thinking
    About personally picking it up.

    • February 27, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Having “been there/done that,” I’d counsel just going to pick it up yourself. Having to wait for weeks on end for your bike to arrive – and not knowing what’s happening in the meanwhile – is really aggravating.

  11. October 4, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Was told verbally 3 weeks. Was sent an e-mail that stated estimated delivery of 2 to 3 weeks. Signed contract that stated “estimates” only, this is where I trusted Chris and messed up. I can’t believe after 23 days my bike is stuck in a terminal 1500 miles away and no driver has been assigned to deliver yet. I was even told by Chris that once a driver is assigned it averages 28 days more to come this distance not including truck break downs ect??! WHAT?!? So I’m out $633.00 and a month without my Ebay purchased bike. Now I’m out another $850.00 I’m paying to a different shipper ( with great reviews ) to get my bike here within 6 days with a guarantee. Someone please include me in the class action lawsuit that’s inevitable for these rip off artists! Read reviews before you commit to ship! Also, don’t pay in full upfront like these scammers require. When I told my lawyer the situation he stated they probably never get sued since it costs more to do so than what I spent to get scammed. Haulbikes.com YOU SUCK!!!

    • eric
      October 4, 2013 at 5:02 am

      Ditto, LeadingEdge –

      Your experience was a dead ringer for mine. Same verbal assurances – same out-of-all-reason delays.

      I did eventually get my bike – and the driver seemed like a good dude.

      What sticks in my craw is the initial misrepresentation of delivery time. If they’d have been up-front about it I would have used another shipper – as you no doubt probably would have. As most people no doubt would have. Very few people, I suspect, are willing to wait two-plus months to have a bike delivered.

      And that’s no doubt why they misrepresent their delivery times.

      It’s a shitty thing to do to people – and I believe they do it routinely, that our experience was not the exception. I found numerous similar stories online.

      Like you, I wish I’d found them sooner…

  12. James
    November 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I also was taken by Haul Bikes–I finally received the bike two months after I was told it would be delivered Actual total of 62 days. when the bike was delivered, they had run down the battery to light the inside of their van. I should have known when the driver asked me to help push it out of the van that something was wrong. He pushed it to the end of my driveway and took off as fast as he could. I initially was told that the bike would be picked up from the dealer within 5 to 10 days and delivered within 10 days of pickup. So outside time frame of 20 days turned into 62 days. I have heard every lie and excuse in the book from Haul Bikes. I could not even get the same lie from two different people at this company. If they could be rated lower than 0, that would be my rating. P.S don’t believe anything on their website!!
    James

    • eric
      November 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Ditto all that, James.

      The problem isn’t so much the lengthy delivery times, of course. It’s their grossly dishonest representations.

      I’m amazed they’re still in business.

  13. Pete
    February 7, 2014 at 12:22 am

    HaulBikes.com Sucks!!!!!! Kept changing the pickup date. Told them I have work to attend to, told me to read my contract, no guarantee on pickup date. Driver was arrogant. Bike left Florida almost a month ago to Arizona now sitting in Pennsylvania. Sad thing is the guy who bought my bike hired them and after myself having to deal with them, screw them. New owner asked where the bike was and what was taking so long, was told read your contract estimated time only. Find someone else, don’t hire these asshholes!!!!!!

    • eric
      February 7, 2014 at 6:42 am

      Have to second that, Pete.

      My beef with them is that they’re deceptive up front – in order to get your business. When I first contacted them (while shopping for shippers) I asked for a delivery estimate. They told me (as per the article) it would be within a (to me) reasonable timeframe. I foolishly accepted the person on the phone’s oral assurances; should have gotten everything in writing.

      Had I known it would take months to ship a bike from the Chicago area to the SW Virginia area – a trip I could have made (there and back with my truck) in 48 hours I would never have given Haul Bikes my business.

      And they know this. If they were honest with people – told them, “It may take 2-3 months for us to get your bike to you; we don’t send the truck on its way until it’s full of bikes, in order to keep our costs down” and so on – I doubt most people would buy in. Those who did would do so knowing the deal – and that would be fine.

      But the way they do business is not cool – and I therefore second your thumbs down. Don’t hire Haul Bikes unless you’re ok with a potentially very long wait for your bike.

  14. Bill
    March 31, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Hey Guys

    Thanks for the information, you saved me much pain.

    Bill

    • eric
      April 1, 2014 at 7:03 am

      I’m glad to hear it, Bill. That’s the one good thing to have come out of that ordeal!

      • Charlie
        May 16, 2014 at 12:06 am

        Signed a contract paid in full 4/11/2014 Used them because the Better Business Bureau gave them an A+ rating. I have always trusted the BBB. Stupid is as Stupid does.
        They have my bike & my money. 5/15/2014
        I call all the time I have to wait online while the excuse wheel lands on a good excuse. I have heard them all I think, the one I liked best was the driver was 6 miles away from the pick up and had an emergency. I think he soiled his pants. Must have been bad, after a breakdown, running out of hours, Stop me if you have heard all these, trouble with delivery, Family emergency, trailer problems. I am waiting for the erection lasting more than 4 hours.

        The problem seems to be Mine I read the reviews on everything. BBB careful!
        I hope I see my bike before the snow flies. I live in the desert in AZ.

        • eric
          May 16, 2014 at 5:03 am

          Hi Charlie,

          I feel your pain. Same thing happened to me – as described in the article.

          It would be ok if they were up front about it. Some people are cool with waiting months to get their bike. But what’s not cool is the way they imply it’ll be a couple weeks. Which they do – in order to get your money. And once they have that – and your bike – you are stuck.

          The good news – for me – was that the bike did eventually show and it was not damaged in transit. I hope the same for you.

  15. Marc
    May 16, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Mine was 7 or 8 weeks. It sucks, and it’s shitty business practice.

    Like you I heard every excuse in the book.

    • eric
      May 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      I’m amazed they’re still in business. The number of complaints I found online – similar to ours – is pretty high. I just wish I’d looked into them a little more closely before I bought in.

      The kicker is they’re not even a good deal. If they charged 30-40 percent less than a shipper who got your bike from A to B within three weeks or so, it might be worth it.

      But you pay – and wait.

  16. Charlie
    May 16, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I also caught hell because I expected to get my bike in 3 weeks.
    Read your contract!!!! This is not a direct ship!!! there are delays / excuses.

    Excuses are like noses, everyone’s got one and they all smell.

    I used the family friendly version.

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