If you have planned a vacation in the saddle, or need to shift your two-wheeler to a mechanic, velodrome or off-road race track, you’ll have started thinking about how to ship it.
The good news is you’re not alone. Bikes have been packed and shipped since they were invented, meaning there are packages and cases on the market specifically designed for this purpose. If you travel often with a bike – and especially if you travel by air – it’s well worth investing in a bike box or case. They’re certainly the easiest and quickest option, as they require little preparation (putting in padding, etc). But, as with many methods of bike packing that do not involve use of a professional shipper, you will still need to dismantle the bike first.
Pre-made packaging for bikes
One thing to be aware of when buying a bike box or case: the cost of shipping it will increase. However, it is still a smart economy considering the cost you might face if the bike is damaged in transit. This reviewer would recommend the purchase if your bike is valuable or you are attached to it. Plus, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your bike is protected by bike-specific packaging can also take the stress out of your vacation.
Fees for boxes or cases generally range from $75 to $200 each way, based on the airline. By all means check the small print to see what charges you should expect at the airport.
Cases or bike boxes can be purchased from your local bike store. Let the proprietor know exactly what kind of bike you intend to ship. (Ideally, bring the bike with you to the store.) Mountain bikes tend to require larger boxes or cases than road bikes, so the distinction is important. Make sure to ask for padding, as some types do not contain it as standard. Zip ties and packing tape may also come in handy when you are packaging your bike.
For many kinds of boxes and cases it is necessary to dismantle your bike, sometimes just the front wheel and sometimes the front and rear wheels. It is usually cardboard bike boxes that require only the front wheel to be removed.
In both cases, it is wise to put the bike in the lowest gear. This will keep the chain and derailleur away from the side of the packing case where it might be damaged.
Packing the bike
For best (i.e. safest) results, remove the following from your bike prior to transit:
- Saddle and seat post (before removing, make sure to mark your preferred height on the seat post with a marker)
- Handlebars (this will minimise the width dimension and keep shipping costs down, which are largely based on volume)
- Accessories (racks, fenders, junction boxes, computers or navigational devices)
When you visit the bike shop and ask for packing materials, it can be useful to procure the following as well as the bike box:
- Foam strips cut to the length of your frame tubes
- Drop bars to protect the handlebars
- Plastic fork protector to go in the place of your quick release axle
- Plastic hub protector plugs for your front wheel
- Plastic derailleur protector disc
- Optional: pieces of bubble wrap or foam/plastic sheets.
Once you’re ready to begin packing, use masking tape to wrap as much foam and bubble wrap around the bike’s frame as is necessary to protect it from jolts and bumps. The most sensitive parts of a bike are its derailleur and gears, and the spokes of the wheels, so pay close attention to the protection you give them. If you do not have a plastic fork protector, insert some stiff foam between the fork dropouts and tape it into place instead.
The handlebars will need padding too. Use zip ties to secure the drop bars and foam around them. If your handlebars are straight enough you may not need drop bars. Either way, the aim is to slim the final package as much as you can, while making sure every piece is well-protected.
The handlebars should be stowed on the opposite side of the main bike frame from the front wheel. Slide the crank through the spokes of the front wheel. (This may take a little jiggling.) Secure the big pieces to each other with zip ties, but try to avoid metal on metal rubbing. Use old clothes or strips of foam to keep metal pieces separated.
Small parts, tools and accessories merit their own smaller box within the main package. This will help prevent them being lost or slipping through gaps in the bike box or case.
Now close the box and staple or tape it shut. If using tape, make sure to wrap it several times around to stop it opening. You will not need to do this with a case, as they often have buckles and/or zips attached.
Finally, write FRAGILE clearly on the shipping label. And you’re done!
Other methods – CitizenShipper
The safest way to transport a bike is to hire a professional transporter. Because CitizenShipper is an online marketplace, prices are driven down by competition and you need not expect a hefty quote. You are also free to pick and choose which transporter you want, and contact them directly to ask about their equipment and experience.
Post your shipment for free on CitizenShipper and receive quotes today. Mention your bike make and model, destination, origin and time frame, and let the marketplace take it from there!
Featured Image Credit: www.parcelhero.com