Whether you’re selling a bicycle online, or shipping one to yourself it helps to know how to pack and ship a bicycle in a cost effective manner. For an inexpensive bicycle, there is no reason to pay a bicycle shop for professional packing. Also, you can save by partially disassembling the bike andshipping in a smaller box.
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Finding a box: Locate a proper cardboard bicycle box. Local bicycle shops will usually give away bicycle shipping boxes. (Occasionally they charge a nominal fee, no more than $5.) When picking up a box ask for a smaller size – this will help you save on shipping.
Calculating the cost: Measure the length, height and depth of your box. Plug these numbers into the shipping calculators at websites such as http://www.FedEx.com andhttp://www.UPS.com along with the shipping address for the bicycle. A safe estimate for the package weight is usually around 35lbs. If you’re lucky, the bicycle box measures under the “dimensional weight” restrictions of the carriers. If you notice an extra $25 or $35 dollar charge in the estimate you’ll need to trim your bicycle box.
Bicycles can also be shipped from Amtrak Express which delivers them from station to station. They must be securely packed in boxes and boxes can also be purchased at the stations. Visit http://www.amtrak.com for more details.
Trimming the box (if needed): Cut two or three inch slots into the four corners of the open end of the box (between the flaps). Fold the flaps inward (you’ll have to trim the long flaps) and take down your new measurements. The length and depth will have remained the same, but the height of your box is now less – with luck the box now comes in under the size restriction and the $25 or $35 additional charge is gone. If the box is still large try to trim it again removing an additional two or three inches from the height.
Test fit: It’s best to conduct a few test fits. In order to fit the bicycle into a smaller box, you may need to remove one or both of the wheels, pedals, seat post, or possibly even the handlebars if by loosening the stem and turning the handlebars sideways will not work.
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- As of this writing, FedEx generally seems about 10% cheaper than UPS for shipping bicycle boxes. Don’t forget alternative shippers with options such as an online account that discounts 10%.
- Generally bicycles can be shipped within a region for $15 to $20. Shipping across country may cost $30 to $40 or more, but shipping prices have seen a surge recently due to increases in fuel prices, leading to typical complete bike shipping price of $100 or more.
- Double check your box dimensions with the online shipping calculators before making the trip to the drop off location. “Measure twice, cut once.”
- When buying a bicycle, shop locally first – you might be able to avoid shipping charges altogether.
- AMTRAK will sell you a box for $15 at stations that handle baggage. You are responsible for fitting/packing/partially disassembling your bike, tape, marking/addressing box. They will weigh your box and $60-$80 should get it to most places in contiguous US. You pick up bike at baggage at destination and assemble and ride away. They will keep the box.
- Always insure your bicycle against damage (most carriers insure up to $100 automatically.)
- Expensive, rare, or collectible bicycles should always be professionally packed by a bicycle shop.
- Write with a permanent marker your shipping destination, contact, and home phone numbers on the box; include the same inside the box. If it’s part of your airline checked luggage, include the ticket identifier as well.
- Checked bikes are often lost or miss connecting flights because of their size and fragility; have a backup plan if you get to your destination sans bike.
- UPS/FedEx do not provide insurance against damage. They provide Declared Value Protection. You must and I repeat, MUST pack your shipment within their guidelines or you will lose a claim for damage. Bicycle shops do not pack to UPS/FedEx regulations, use a professional packing company. Shipping rates are based on the final size, weight and destination zip code for your shipment.Things You’ll Need
- Bicycle box from your local bike shop
- Tools: Allen wrenches, adjustable wrench, etc.
- Tape, tape measure, zip ties, packing materials
- Internet access for checking online shipping calculators