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On the move

December 2, 2011
Packed up

Photo courtesy Jeff Wilhelm

Several scooter peeps departed the ‘Ham in 2011. None, thankfully, to That Great Good Night, but to other cities. They all took their scoots with them, of course.

I get asked frequently about moving a scooter. Obviously, the easiest way is to ride it, but obviously there are times when that’s not an option. Moving to Israel, for example.

Federal Motorcycle Transport is one of several companies that ship motorcycles. They’re not cheap, but they’ll transport your bike just about anywhere. And as you can see from the picture on the linked page, they prepare it for shipping by tying it to a specially-designed pallet.

The other possibility would be crating it. You can hire people to do this, though some folks are handy enough to do it themselves. Unless, of course, you somehow saved the crate your scooter came in. 😉

Even if you have to put the scoot in the U-Haul with the couch and the ficus, you can prevent damage the same way the pros do.

First, remove stuff that might be in the glovebox or under the seat (NO PETS). Next, take off mirrors, the windscreen, top case and anything else that might get damaged or even knocked off. A top case is a good place to stow such things, if they’ll fit. Wrap the mirrors in towels.

A friend who owns a moving van says draining the gas tank isn’t necessary if your scooter’s engine is fuel-injected—the fuel system is quite tightly sealed, so no fumes will escape. Otherwise, get the gas out of there, into an approved container, of course.

Disconnecting the battery (if there is one) won’t hurt, especially if the bike is going to be laid up for a while. Wrapping the metal ends of the battery cables in electrician’s tape will insulate them, preventing a possible short.

Ideally, the scooter should be tied to the floor or a pallet; use ratchet ties to compress the suspension front and rear (don’t put it on the center stand). A canyon dancer or similar device that loops through the handgrips is good for the front, while ratchet ties should connect to the frame or the transmission case in back.

Since U-Haul, Penske, et al take a dim view of drilling holes or inserting eye bolts in the floors of their vans, you will have to get creative when using one of their vehicles. Such vans usually have wooden rails on the interior walls (as in the picture), so you’ll want to make use of them. Get ~10 feet of yellow rope (it’s really cheap) from your local big-box hardware store, and tie the scoot up with it.

As I said, you want to keep your scooter from moving around, and especially from making contact with hard surfaces. Couch cushions or pillows between the bike and the inside wall accomplish this. Boxes on each end will keep it from moving forward or back (remember, scooter on its wheels), as will heavy furniture. If you’re renting a truck, spend the money for the cargo blankets, and cover the scoot and adjacent objects. If you’re not, big-box hardware stores have them, and they’re not expensive.

Many U-Haul rental locations have motorcycle trailers, but these must be returned to the renting location. Some utility trailers are cheap enough that you could think about buying one, then selling it once you arrive at your new home. For that matter, used U-Haul trucks are pretty cheap; sell it on once you’re done with it.

Of course, once you get settled, seek out the scooter folk in your new town. Favicon

  1. December 2, 2011 1:02 am

    Orin, I can’t emphasize how much I wish this information was available this summer. I moved three bikes from Virginia to Minnesota, and they were actually a lot more stable in the trailer than I thought they’d be – but when I pulled the Honda cb550 out, the big winged mirrors ran a scrape right into the paint of my brand new Kawasaki Concours. I was less than pleased. Take heed, and take good advice where you can get it!

    Behind Bars – Motorcycles and Life

  2. Dan Gould permalink
    December 2, 2011 10:46 am

    Great article on prevention. Moving is traumatic for scooters and owners, no matter how careful you are expect a ding or two!

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