When I ship a bike I always stress a bit. You have to disassemble the bike, protect it accordingly, and then squeeze it into a bike box or bike case to be reassembled at its next location.
That’s where this guide on how to ship a bicycle comes into play – allowing you the peace of mind that your prized two-wheeled friend will arrive in one piece!
Let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
- Choose the right shipping method for your bike based on traditional carriers, bike-shipping specialists, and airline travel.
- Select a suitable bike box or case considering protection, cost efficiency, and personal preference.
- Prepare your bicycle correctly with adequate frame/fork protection. Use proper packing techniques & accurate labeling to ensure safe delivery of goods.
Choosing the Right Shipping Method
Selecting the ideal shipping method for your bike is comparable to picking out the right maintenance tool. Will you pick customary carriers or cycling-specific delivery experts? Or even air transit perhaps?
Knowing their advantages and disadvantages can ensure a smooth ride as opposed to an unpleasant experience during its journey.
When looking to ship a bike, the tried and true carriers like FedEx, UPS, or USPS offer reliable services, but it’s important to note that cost and delivery times may vary depending on factors such as size & weight of the shipment plus velocity & distance traveled.
If you qualify for the Kona Ironman, I recommend using a bike shipping specialist. I chose to make Kona a “race vacation”, and I didn’t want to be burdened with lugging around a huge bike case at each stop.
Bike-shipping pros like Overnight Bikes and BikeFlights have ushered in a new age of transportation tailor-made for cyclists. Offering flat-rate shipping with services tailored to their needs, this bicycle shipment service is as simple as an enjoyable ride!
Their commitment to the care taken when handling your bikes lets you rest easy knowing that bike delivery will be carried out properly.
TriBike Transport was the top choice for many triathletes, but they seem to have ceased operations in 2023.
Overnight Bikes offers flat rate pricing – $250 for next-day delivery, although you do have to sign up for a $99 yearly membership. They use FedEx for transport. If you’re shipping to Hawaii or Alaska, there’s an additional $100 surcharge. To ship to Kona for me would be $449.
BikeFlights is more like a standard shipper – price is dependent on location. To ship to Kona, BikeFlights estimated a 40-pound bike box would be $302 for 2nd day air. Insurance for my bike would cost another $130 bringing the total to $440.
If you’re traveling to a race or other event, most people opt to bring their bikes with them when flying. You’ll want to purchase or rent a bike case for this purpose. Many local bike shops will lease you a bike case for a nominal fee.
Extra precautions should be taken when packing your bike in a bike case. Airlines are notoriously rough on luggage, and these cases are no exception. They are generally super strong, but only when the contents inside are well secured.
Also, make sure you have a plan if the worst happens and your bike is lost or damaged in transit.
Most airlines will charge additional fees for a bike box. These fees are for each way of your travel (to and from). Fees are typically around $150 each way.
Some airlines are offering free bike case fees, although only if the entire case with the bike is under 50 pounds.
Selecting the Perfect Bike Box or Case
Different bike shipping boxes come with varied benefits in terms of protection and price efficiency. If you need to send your bike one-way (perhaps to a new owner), then a cardboard box is the common solution. If you’re traveling to a race and will be re-packing and re-using the box multiple times, a solid bike case is often used.
A recyclable cardboard bike shipping box costs less but if you require more safety then a hard case is the way to go.
Cardboard Bike Boxes
Bike boxes, both cardboard and other bike shipping boxes, are quite cost-effective when it comes to transporting a bike.
Local bicycle shops will often give these to you for free since they receive their inventory in them. Various bike shipping services also sell new bike boxes.
These boxes can be a great help for getting your valuable two-wheelers where they need to go safely.
Reusable Bike Cases
Constructed with strong nylon for softshell covering as well as padding added on top, these products are designed to keep the contents of your bicycles secure under the most extreme conditions.
They are built for the rough handling that the airlines are known for and generally require less breakdown of your bike than their cardboard cousins. They generally have slightly more room inside of them for other gear as well.
Bike cases cost more because they can be used again and again. They weigh more as well so shipping costs will be a bit higher.
I have the Tri All 3 Sports Velo Safe II Pro Case. It’s awesome but weighs 35 pounds on its own. After you put my bike and gear in it I’m over the 50-pound bag limit for flying. The airlines always charge me an overweight bag fee.
Preparing Your Bike for Shipping
You can guarantee that the postal carriers and airlines will not be gentle with your bike. It’s just another piece of cargo that they have to move from one town to the next as fast as possible.
It’s important to be sure all of its components are taken apart and fastened securely in place so as not to be damaged while they’re being transported.
Frame and Fork Protection
The frame and fork of a bike need protection, particularly when it comes to protecting its front wheel.
You’ll be removing the wheels for transport, so you’ll need to replace the axles in the frame to avoid sideways compression from anything hitting the box. Simply take the axles out of the wheels and put them back into the frame (without the wheels of course). This will keep the frame and fork rigid for transport.
Be sure to wrap the bike frame and fork with pipe foam (like pool noodle material). This will protect the bike from nicks and scrapes. By properly packing them this way you can ensure maximum security during transit.
For added safety, you may choose to use bubble wrap as well, but I like pool noodles. This will make a big difference in safeguarding your bike from any potential damage along the way.
Handlebars, Stem, and Levers
You’ll need to take off your handlebars and secure them. The cables will remain attached from the handlebars to the frame, so experiment with the best placement of them.
Just like the frame and fork, you’ll want to secure the handlebars, stem, and levers by wrapping them to avoid contact with any other parts. I use strips of velcro to secure the pool noodle wraps so they don’t pop off during transit.
Seat, Seatpost, and Pedals
PRO TIP – Mark your seatpost height with a piece of tape on the seatpost. When you reattach it later, you can use this tape as your guide.
Remove the seatpost, but keep the seat attached to the seatpost. Wrap this in bubble tape or pool noodles. I typically put this outside the rear triangle of the frame.
Remove the pedals. I typically carry these with me outside the box. They are small and easy to transport. I don’t want them to bounce around and do any damage to my carbon fiber frame inside the box.
Carefully place everything into the box and make sure it is adequately secure.
Working with Local Bike Shops
Your local bike shop can often provide a bike shipping service that will help with taking apart, packing up, and shipping your bicycle at an additional cost.
A bike shop’s professional touch allows you the peace of mind of knowing that your trusted steed has been taken care of with utmost precision and safety.
You may be able to ship your bike directly to another local bike shop at your destination. This can provide convenience and peace of mind that another professional shop will put it back together quickly so that you don’t have to worry about it further.
Shipping Electric Bikes
Shipping an e-bike can be unfamiliar, as extra precautions must be taken into account because of the weight and lithium battery laws.
Electric bikes are heavier, and that can definitely have implications for shipping prices. Heavier means higher cost.
Lithium Battery Regulations
When shipping lithium batteries for electric bikes, specific guidelines must be followed to avoid any penalties or consequences. Failure to adhere can lead to serious repercussions.
If traveling by plane, most airlines require you to take the battery off the bike and carry it with you in your carry-on luggage.
Check with your airline and shipping carrier for full guidelines. Always make sure you are honest with them to avoid any legal troubles.
Avoiding Common Bike Shipping Mistakes
We’ve seen some doozy mistakes. From broken frames to missing parts, here are the common mistakes made when shipping a bike.
Proper Packing Techniques
Packing materials and the right packing techniques are essential to ensure nothing gets damaged in transit. Using proper packing techniques when packaging items will keep them safe throughout their journey.
Labeling your package properly is key to making sure that it gets delivered to the right place. Include a copy of this label inside the box for extra safety when sending out your bike. This way, you can be assured that proper directions are given and followed throughout its journey until delivery.
Calculating Shipping Costs
The cost of sending a package varies depending on multiple factors. These include the box size and weight, how far it has to go, and when you need delivery. All these contribute to determining the shipping costs incurred.
Make sure you get an estimate to avoid a stroke later on.
Insurance and Liability
Shipping a bike without insurance is a big risk. Carriers provide limited liability. Having specialized bicycle insurance for full coverage would be recommended.
Carriers don’t like to pay more than they have to. If you have an expensive bike and it gets damaged, the carrier’s default amount may be insufficient. Arguing with them often gets nowhere. Just buy the right amount and avoid the headache later.
Navigating the process of sending a bike on its way can be challenging, but proper planning and execution can make the process easier.
Opting for the best shipping method, selecting appropriate packing materials such as a suitable bike box or case, and being aware of shipping regulations is critical.
Calculate expenses carefully and make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage. Following these guidelines will result in safer travels for both shipper and recipient alike.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest way to ship a bike?
Ground shipping is the most affordable option for sending a bike, providing monetary savings without any loss in quality. Though delivery might take longer than other forms of transport, it’s worth it to capitalize on lower costs.
How much does it cost to ship a bike in the mail?
The expense for shipping a bike by post varies drastically, with costs ranging from $128.58 to an exorbitant sum of $1,293.88 depending on the type of delivery option chosen and the distance it must travel.
Can I ship a bike with FedEx?
FedEx provides shipping solutions for bikes, with express and ground services that can transport your bike in a quick amount of time. You’ll be able to choose international options as well so you don’t have to wait any longer than the next business day for delivery.
How do I ship a bike with USPS?
For shipping purposes, you must package your bicycle securely and make sure it does not exceed a weight of 70 lbs. The United States Postal Service offers its Retail Ground service as the sole option for transporting bicycles.
What are the options for bike shipping?
For those looking to ship a bike, there are various methods available. Traditional shipping companies and services that specialize in transporting bikes have the capacity for this task, as do many airlines that accept bikes.
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