I struggled with the same ideas, costs, problems. I didn't want to be without my bike for long periods of ocean transport. I wanted to ride Europe for 5-8weeks or more and do it again the following year or more often. That left renting out of the picture as too expensive. From the US, it has to go on a ship. From Canada, it can go on a plane. The airfreight and the cost of riding to Vancouver began to look pretty expensive, too. And a friend who shipped his bike from Germany to Vancouver arrived 6 days before his bike, costing him a lot of grief, lost riding time and hotel bills. His camping gear was with the bike.
Next option? I considered buying a bike in Europe. I had been told that this was nearly impossible, but I met Wheatwhacker on ADVRider. He steered me to an online site to look for bikes to buy in Ireland. He's in Kinsale, near Cork, so that's where I began to look for a bike. He was more than helpful. He and his bike mechanic buddy checked out the bike I liked, gave me honest info on it, and after I paid for it, they picked it up from the seller for me. They stored it for me and I had them install new tires, rear brake pads and engine crash bars.
And they delivered the bike to the B&B near Kinsale where my wife and I would stay for a week in SE Ireland. We got a very nice Honda Varadero with Hepco & Becker side cases and top case. We rode it over 3,000 miles on that trip and will return this summer for more. Our 1150GS stayed home safe and ready for our travels on this continent and the Vara is ready over there.
Registration and insurance? Wheatwhacker helped with that, too. And we loved Ireland!
Now I have a nice bike to ride for close to the cost of shipping. In fact, I figure it's paid for itself already. And it's there for me whenever I get there. Look for Wheatwhacker on the EMEA section of Trip Planning.
I don't work for him or get anything more than his usual smiles and cheerful help. In fact, I do owe him a beer (or more than a few).