For military riders, bringing their motorcycle along for a permanent change-of-station move requires a bit of homework that may vary depending on the type of relocation.
A few tips to assist motorcycle owners are below, but first, a message from the Army Combat Readiness Center’s Driving Directorate that’s worth amplifying: Riders heading to unfamiliar roads at their new duty station need to keep safety in mind as they adjust to their new surroundings. Those heading north after a stay in warmer climates, for instance, need to be prepared for more potholes and uneven surfaces thanks to weather-related road repairs.
The directorate’s note puts it bluntly: “Far too often riders think after a few years and a few thousand miles that they know it all. That concept can be fatal.”
With the safety brief over, here’s how to get your bike to its new home:
1. The safety brief continues. If you’ve opted to ship your bike (see below), you’ll have to prep it before the movers arrive. Per Move.mil, that means draining the fuel, repairing any fluid leaks, properly inflating the tires, disconnecting the battery (wrap the ends in electrical tape), unlocking the bike so it’ll roll off the moving truck, and emptying any saddlebags. You can strap your helmet to the bike for the move.
2. Select your shipping. Your motorcycle can be shipped as a household good whether you’re move is within our outside of the continental U.S. If you’re heading overseas without another privately owned vehicle, you can ship the bike as your POV; that way, the bike’s weight does not count against your allowance.
3. Know the rules. Some overseas duty stations make relocating your motorcycle expensive and impractical ... at best. Shipping one to Japan is “highly discouraged,” per Defense Department guidance that outlines a variety of expensive inspections and other import restrictions.
4. Know the rules NOW. Think you can sort out the motorcycle import rules after you arrive overseas? Maybe, but per 2016 DoD transportation regulations, your entire shipment can be held up if there are any unchecked boxes. While you may be prepared to do without your motorcycle while the issues are sorted out, think about the rest of your goods that’ll be out of reach.
5. Get local help. Don’t wait until moving day to get answers to your questions: Reach out to your personal property or transportation office for details on your specific motorcycle-move concerns, including storage options. Not sure how to find your office? Use this search engine.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.