Sometimes you need to pack up your bike and send it away, whether you have sold it to someone on the other side of the country, moved house, or going on an adventure somewhere new.
Often people are unaware of how to ship a bike, but it isn’t complicated once you know the basics.
In this article, we will cover the following?
- How To Ship A Bike | 3 ways
- How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Bike?
- Bike Shipping Insurance
- Bike Boxes For Shipping
- How to pack your bike into a bike for shipping
- Bike shipping mistakes to avoid
Are you ready to learn about shipping your bike?
How To Ship A Bike
There are a few fundamental things to know when you want to know how to ship a bike. Once you grasp these elements, you will realize that shipping a bike isn’t as daunting or as awkward as you may have first thought.
Most courier services such as FedEx or UPS provide bike shipping. If you are traveling with your bike, you can also put it on the plane. However, many cyclists transporting their bikes for a vacation, cycle race, or triathlon tend to ship them to the destination.
3 Ways To Ship A Bike
There are 3 ways to ship a bike nationally and internationally, but how much does it cost to ship a bike?
A bike shipping service typically offers the best rate on UPS or FedEx shipping in the U.S. However, the price is determined by how big the package is. When you ship a bike, the box shouldn’t be larger than 130″ in length. If you exceed the maximum package size, FedEx or UPS will slap you with a hefty oversized surcharge.
1. Flying With Your Bike
If you have done any traveling with a bike, you will know that a bike box is heavy and bulky, making it challenging to move through busy airports. But, bike boxes also draw the attention of the TSA agents, so there is a good chance they will want to unpack yours for an inspection.
TSA inspections go on behind the scenes, so you won’t be there to make sure they repack it properly. So you cannot be confident that your bike will be in good condition when you pick up your bike at your destination airport. Imagine if your thru-axle didn’t make it and you couldn’t get a new one in time!
Most airlines charge additional fees to put your bike in the plane’s cargo hold. How much they charge will depend on the airline’s size and weight restrictions, which vary widely. In general, the cost of flying with your bike ranges from $100-$300 each way.
2. Express (1 Day Delivery)
If you need to ship your bike quickly, you might want to check out Overnight Bikes. This company can deliver your bike in just 1 day.
However, you need a $250 membership to benefit from the $99 flat rate shipping and next-day delivery within the U.S. This includes Hawaii and Alaska and is a popular service used by bike industry professionals, athletes, and custom bike builders.
The benefit of shipping your bike overnight is that there is less chance of something happening to it. The longer your bike is in transit, the more likely it will be damaged.
3. Ground (5-6 Day Delivery)
If you wanted to ship a bike with BikeFlights from Seattle, WA to Panama City Beach, FL, you should expect to pay between $80-$90, not including pickup. They also provide international shipping if required.
The issue with ground shipping is that your bike is more susceptible to damage, as they are on the move for longer. Also, this might not be the best method if you need your bike in a new location at a specific time. Shipping a bike via road often results in delays, especially over significantly large distances. Depending on your destination, it is best to plan at least 3 to 6 working days for delivery.
Bike Shipping Insurance
It is a good idea to get bike shipping insurance. Often the shipping company’s coverage won’t be enough to replace or repair your bike should anything happen to it. Therefore, you should get bike shipping insurance from a third-party insurance company.
Find an insurance provider that covers damage, theft, or loss in transit. Your home insurance may cover this, so it is worth checking out your policy.
Bike Boxes For Shipping
Of course, you can’t just wheel your bike over to a shipping company and expect it to be in one piece at its destination. Therefore, you need to pack it into a suitable bike box.
There are two types of bike boxes you can use for shipping, recyclable cardboard, and hard cases. The way you pack your bike into one of these boxes will make a difference in how it fares during transit.
Recyclable Cardboard Bike Shipping Boxes
You may get lucky enough to get a free cardboard bike box. Go to your local bike shop and ask them if they have any spare. Bike shops receive new bikes all the time and often need to dispose of their boxes.
However, you can get a 54″ x 28″ x 8″ bike box from FedEx, purposely designed for the safe shipping of bikes. However, this may not be the best solution if you have an unusual bike, such as a fat bike.
Another option for a cardboard bike box is the xBikeShipper™ from ShipBikes, which costs $40.
Hard Case Bike Boxes
If you want to buy a quality hard case bike box, check out the Thule Roundtrip. This durable hard case is suitable for most road, triathlon, mountain, and cyclocross bikes. It also meets the FedEx and UPS package size restrictions, so you won’t need to pay the oversized package penalty.
How To Pack Your Bike For Shipping
A good hard case will make packing your bike up easy. But here is how to ship a bike in a cardboard bike box:
You will need a set of Allen keys, a pedal wrench, some tape, a pair of scissors, foam pipe insulation for the frame, and lots of bubble wrap.
Step 1 – Protect Your Frame
It is essential to protect your frame when you pack your bike into a cardboard box. There is a good chance that the box will get pierced by something while in transit, so head to your local hardware store and get some foam pipe insulation.
Cut the insulation to the correct length, and fit it around each tube on your bike’s frame. You may need to double up to fit it around the larger tubes, especially if you have a mountain bike.
Use plenty of tape to keep the insulation in place. Cover as much as you can and make sure the chain is on the smallest gear.
Step 2 – Remove Your Pedals
Take the pedals off using your pedal wrench or Allen key, and put them in some bubble wrap.
Step 3 – Remove Your Handlebars
While the bike is pretty much complete, it is a good idea to put your handlebars into a secure position. Remove your handlebars entirely from the stem, and tape them around the top tube without bending the cables too much. This will make the bike narrow enough to fit into the bike box.
Remember: Put the bolts back into the stem so you don’t lose them. You should also bubble wrap the stem for protection.
Step 4 – Remove Your Wheels
Remove the wheels, and put pipe insulation around the fork and rear triangle.
Step 5 – Unbolt Your Rear Mech
Unbolt the rear mech, but leave it on the bike with the chain running through it. Try to put the mech inside the rear triangle to protect it from any knocks the bike box will get during transit. Use lots of bubble wrap to ensure it has lots of protection.
Step 6 – Get Your Saddle Out Of The Way
Lower or remove your saddle. Which one you do will depend on the size of your bike box. If possible, it is best to leave it on the bike, as you can risk your seat post being scratched, especially if it is carbon.
Step 7 – Put YOur Bike In The Box
Put your bike frame into the box, making sure the seat is low enough for you to close it. Then remove the quick release axles from the wheels, and wrap them up with all the parts, so you don’t lose anything.
Slip the wheels in next to the bike. You may want to add some tape to the inside of the box to reinforce it in vulnerable areas. Use some extra cardboard to separate the wheels from each other and the frame. This will stop them from rubbing and banging into each other.
Step 8 – Tape Up Your Box
Now it is time to tape up your box. We don’t recommend leaving any loose parts in the box with your bike. If the box gets ripped, especially if it gets wet, those parts can fall out, never to be seen again. Therefore, pack them with the rest of your stuff.
Most bike boxes have holes for carrying them. Try not to cover the holes when you tape up the box. You will find it much easier to move, but hopefully, a baggage handler will use them, reducing the likelihood of dropping your bike.
Bike Shipping Mistakes To Avoid
The most common mistakes people make when shipping a bike are poor packing and incorrect measurements. Follow the guidelines above or find a YouTube video.
When you pack your bike, make sure it is in the correct-sized box. When you measure the box, round up to the next whole inch. And remember, packages over 130″ in length plus girth will incur an oversize fee.
Now You Know How To Ship A Bike
If you follow these tips, you should have no problem shipping or travelling with your bike. If you want more cycling information, check out the blogs below: