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In chapter 1 of PS, Hagrid tells why he arrived on the motorbike.

"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorbike?"

"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorbike as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it me. I’ve got him, sir." (PS)

Later in PoA, Hagrid says

"It was me what rescued Harry from Lily an' James's house after they was killed! Jus' got him outta the ruins, poor little thing, with a great slash across his forehead, an' Sirius Black turns up, on that flyin' motorbike he used ter ride." (PoA)

So it's clear that it was not planned that Hagrid would use the motorbike. Hagrid didn't expect Sirius to turn up or to lend him the motorbike, and Dumbledore also didn't expect Hagrid to arrive on the motorbike.

The Potters were killed on Halloween. Hagrid arrives the next day, late enough in the evening that everybody is already asleep. If we assume that Hagrid arrived soon after the Potters were killed, it means he spent almost a day bringing Harry.

On the way from Godric's Hollow they passed Bristol, so that means Godric's Hollow must be between 100 and 200 miles away. The distance from Bristol to Surrey is about 100 miles, and the distance from the west coast though Bristol to Surrey is about 200 miles.

He fell asleep as we was flyin’ over Bristol. (PS)

As Hagrid accepts the motorbike, he must consider it a better transport than what he intended to use, or he would not have taken the motorbike.

So how was Hagrid supposed to get Harry to Surrey if he hadn't met Sirius, or is Sirius hadn't decided to lend him the motorbike?

Edit:

Valorum gave a link where the answer suggest Portkeys or the Knight Bus. This is true, but both are much faster than a whole day for travel. So if Hagrid did originally intention to use a Portkeys or the Knight Bus, why did he take the motorbike instead?

  • @Valorum True, but then it doesn't make sense to use a motorbike. – QuestionAuthority Aug 2 '18 at 18:43
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    Presumably he decided to drive for the same reason everyone does; because the buses are full of drunks and stoners who smell of wee – Valorum Aug 2 '18 at 18:49
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    A baby on the Night Bus? oO – Jenayah Aug 2 '18 at 18:51
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    If the Night Bus is bad for a baby, then then it (hopefully) was not the original plan. And a baby for a whole day without food other than Hagrid's rock cakes? – QuestionAuthority Aug 2 '18 at 19:08
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Dumbledore probably trusted Hagrid would figure something out.

Dumbledore might not have specified the mode of transport that Hagrid should use to bring Harry to the Dursleys, but he would have likely trusted Hagrid would figure out something. Ten years later, Dumbledore sent Hagrid to get Harry again, and Hagrid got Harry off the island the Dursleys were hiding him from the letters on by somehow flying. Presumably it wasn’t unsupported flight like the Dark Lord uses since that’s incredibly rare, but he had used magic in to enable his flight method in some way, because he couldn’t do it when he had Harry and was no longer allowed to use magic.

“How did you get here?’ Harry asked, looking around for another boat.

‘Flew,’ said Hagrid.

‘Flew?’

‘Yeah – but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic now I’ve got yeh.’

They settled down in the boat, Harry still staring at Hagrid, trying to imagine him flying.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)

There would be certain options that would be unworkable for Hagrid (a large guy with limited magical training) and baby Harry (a baby) like brooms, Apparition, and Floo Powder, but it wouldn’t be impossible to work something out. As Valorum mentioned in the comments, there are larger objects that can fly in addition to brooms, such as carpets, which can fit whole families so could certainly take Hagrid’s weight. Though flying carpets are supposed to be illegal in Britain, Dumbledore and Hagrid have been known to bend the rules a bit, like with his umbrella wand.

“Well, they’ll never replace brooms in Britain, will they?’ said Bagman.

‘Ali thinks there’s a niche in the market for a family vehicle,’ said Mr Crouch. ‘I remember my grandfather had an Axminster that could seat twelve – but that was before carpets were banned, of course.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 7 (Bagman and Crouch)

For another example, they could have taken the Knight Bus. Hagrid later transports both himself and Buckbeak the Hippogriff to the trial on the Knight Bus. Though he’d have to hold on to Harry tightly, since the Knight Bus is a very bumpy ride, it could work.

“What are they for, Hagrid?’ said Harry.

‘Buckbeak’s case against the Committee fer the Disposal o’ Dangerous Creatures,’ said Hagrid. ‘This Friday. Him an’ me’ll be goin’ down ter London together. I’ve booked two beds on the Knight Bus …”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16 (Snape’s Grudge)

However, the motorbike would be better as it powers the flight, and Hagrid could drive it carefully and control its speed to whatever he and Harry need, as well as stop for a rest if they had to. He also wouldn’t have to worry about curious onlookers who heard rumors of a baby surviving the Killing Curse, and it'd keep Harry safer from the Dark Lord’s supporters who might want revenge.

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    There are other (and presumably larger) things that can fly such as carpets. Very much out of fashion, mind you. – Valorum Aug 2 '18 at 19:33
  • @Valorum Thanks a lot! :) I’ll edit and add that in, thanks! – Bellatrix Aug 2 '18 at 19:35
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    Building off of what Valorum said - aren't carpets outlawed? I remember a quote after the Qudditch World Cup relating to that, though my memory is a bit fuzzy in that respect and I don't have the books on me. – heather Aug 2 '18 at 20:01
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    @heather Yes, they are, I mentioned that in my answer as well. I think it’s a possibility worth considering, since for example Hagrid isn’t allowed a wand yet Dumbledore helped him hide his. They’re not above rule-bending when it suits them. – Bellatrix Aug 2 '18 at 20:39
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    @Bellatrix ah, sorry didn't notice that in your answer! – heather Aug 2 '18 at 20:42
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Hagrid had the Knight Bus available to him, or he could use muggle transportation. Portkeys are unlikely in this case - he'd need someone to make a portkey for him to get where he needed - that's too convoluted.

Both the Knight Bus and the muggle transportation have one big issue with them: they are not private. Anyone can observe the half-giant and the baby travelling by those means. And while Voldemort is down, the Death Eaters are not - Neville's parents, for example, were attacked after Voldemort went down.

To keep Harry safe, his visibility needs to be reduced. In this respect, muggle transportation is safer than the Knight Bus - there Hagrid would be less likely to be observed by someone who would know who Harry Potter is. It is thus reasonable that this was Dumbledore's original plan. But, since the motorbike became available to Hagrid, it fulfils the "safety" functionality better (being private), and it is also more comfortable (being magical).

Either way, I doubt Hagrid spent a whole day on the way. He might well have taken some time to rest, and more importantly - let wee Harry rest, eat, etc. There is logic in leaving a baby on the doorstep at night, rather than in broad daylight.

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I think another crucial question is - how did Hagrid get to Godric's Hollow in the first place? The journey couldn't have taken him long, since he was the first to arrive. In the books there is no mention of Snape coming into the house and finding the dead Potters, as it was shown in the movie. Instead, Hagrid claims he was the first there, and that he personally rescued Harry from the ruins of the house (Sirius arrived shortly after that on his motorbike). If both Hagrid and Sirius traveled there very slowly, then Harry would've spent many, many hours (or even days) alone in the destroyed house, which I don't believe.

Which makes me think Hagrid must have used a means of transport that would have gotten him there reasonably quickly - the Knight Bus, a Portkey, or even the Floo network (Godric's Hollow is a wizarding village, so at least one of the magical inhabitants must have a Floo-connected fireplace at home, which Hagrid could have used). Anything else would be too slow, and I cannot imagine that when Dumbledore was sending Hagrid to fetch Harry, he told him: "There is no need to hurry, just take your time, it's no problem if you get there next day, the (hungry, thirsty and scared) baby can wait..." That sounds rather cold, even from someone like Dumbledore.

I'm also still not entirely convinced that Hagrid is unable to Apparate. We never see him do so, but when the Dursleys were hiding with Harry on that island in the middle of the sea in Book One, he somehow managed to transport himself there without any visible magical means (no magic motorbike, no broomstick etc.) So maybe he can Apparate, but his skills are rather mediocre, so he only uses it in cases of emergency (the Potters' death definitely would have been one). But since he's not very confident in his Apparating skills, he wouldn't dare to Apparate again with Harry - risking his own health is one thing, risking the health of a little baby quite another. So the motorbike would come in handy.

But all in all, when contemplating why Hagrid didn't use the same method of transport which he used to get to Godric's Hollow in the first place to leave the village again with Harry, we have to take into account that he wasn't the only person who behaved in an absolutely nonsensensical way that fateful Halloween night 1981.

For example Sirius Black. He found out that his friend Peter, the Potters' Secret Keeper, was missing. Worried for the safety of James and Lily, he immediately set out to their house in Godric's Hollow - on a motorbike... When your friends are in danger and you're coming to their aid, time is a very important factor. Any other wizard would have chosen the quickest possible way - Apparition (which would have transported him there within seconds) instead of a lengthy motorbike ride (which seems to take several hours; or at the very least minutes, if he was somewhere close to their location).

The way Rowling had described the events of Halloween 1981, several things do not make sense and there are some obvious plot holes. For example, how did every wizard in Britain learn so quickly that Voldemort was gone? Sure, the press. But how did they know what exactly happened at the Potters' house, when there were no surviving witnesses apart from a little baby boy? Who couldn't have been questioned (even were he capable of speech), since he was with Hagrid the whole time, and we never hear Hagrid mention that he has stopped at an Aurors Office for several hours on his way to Privet Drive...

The reason why Hagrid chose to use Sirius' motorbike is sadly one of those plot holes. The best explanation probably is that at that point in the series Rowling had not yet developed all means of transport used in the wizarding world as we know them now, and so a flying motorbike made sense then. But after she has developed several much quicker transport methods, it stopped to make sense.

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    Hi there. While part of this answers the question, some paragraphs are rather "discussion" (the "how did everyone come to know so fast" for instance"); you might want to edit the answer, trim it a bit to only keep the relevant parts. May I encourage you to take the tour to see how things work on this site? (as per your "plot hole" questions, you might want to poke around the HP tag, many of them have already been answered) – Jenayah Feb 23 at 21:39

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