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How to Ship a Bike: The Step-by-Step Procedure & Costs

Shipping a bike can be a stressful process with many different factors to consider. Should you disassemble the bike and send it in pieces? Will the bike get damaged with the incorrect packaging? How much does it cost to ship a bike?

You don’t need to stress over all these questions. We’ll go over some of the basics of how to ship a bike, and after you read this article, you should have a pretty clear idea of how to quickly, safely, and efficiently complete the shipping process.

Steps on Preparing the Bike for Shipping

A fully assembled bike will be costly to ship. Disassembling your bike allows you to use compact packaging suitable for a bicycle while also ensuring safe packaging.

Here are a few general instructions to prepare a bike for shipping:

  1. Begin with removing the pedals from the forward sprocket (make sure to not remove the sprocket or derailleur).
  2. Next, you can remove the front wheel from the bike frame.
  3. Afterward, remove the handlebars from the bike frame.
  4. And finally, you can attach the pedals and handlebars to the bike frame using zip-ties.

You should do your best to avoid disassembling the rear wheel or derailleur assembly. Bikes can be shipped with derailleurs and spokes in place, and removing these parts may require the bike to be re-assembled by an expert.

You also want to have plenty of packing materials on hand for the best possible packaging. You will need zip-ties, bubble wrap (or some other form of padding) as well as an appropriate shipping container. Zip-ties are used to secure the loose parts removed during disassembly. The packing materials ensure that there is no damage to the bike during transit.

Bicycle Shipping Methods

Broadly speaking, there are two different methods of shipping a bike. You can choose to use general package couriers, such as FedEx or UPS, or you can use a company that specializes in shipping bikes, such as ShipBikes or BikeFlights.

Bike shipping costs are generally lower with companies that specialize in transporting bicycles. Still, a savvy shipper can find reasonable prices with general package carriers as well. If you choose to use a company like FedEx, you will be responsible for following their guidelines for packaging the bike properly.

It’s important to consider using a bicycle shipping box to safely package your bike. A bike box is a sturdy container explicitly designed to protect a box during shipping. If you prefer a cheaper option, you can opt-out of the hard outer shell bike box and use a flimsier cardboard box, but this may come at the cost of a damaged package on arrival.

Bicycle Shipping Services

If you’re looking to ship a bike with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of convenience, you may wish to consider a bicycle shipping service. Services such as BikeFlights even go so far as to partner with bike shops that disassemble and pack the bike.

While bike shipping services make it extremely easy to ship a bike, the convenience comes at a higher cost. Bike shipping services generally have reasonable courier costs, but expenses like buying a bicycle shipping box or having a bike shop disassemble the bike can quickly add up.

Arguably the most significant benefit of a bike shipping service is peace of mind. Paying a little extra can guarantee that your bike arrives undamaged and ready for quick reassembly. If a mistake or accident occurs, bike shipping services usually include a streamlined claims process to ensure a speedy resolution with appropriate compensation.

Bike Shipping Costs

Bike shipping costs can vary quite a bit depending on how far you are sending your bike, the weight of your bike, and the shipping method you choose. For a cross-country USA journey, you can expect to pay around $150 using a traditional courier, but this does not include packaging or insurance.

Bike shipping companies generally have lower shipping rates, averaging about $100 from east coast to west coast. This usually includes some form of insurance for the bike, however, much like traditional courier services, this most likely won’t include packaging fees. If you include a bike box, insurance, and professional disassembly, this cost can quickly increase to over $300.

Bikes with odd dimensions (such as tandems) will cost more to ship and disassemble. Older, heavier bikes cost slightly more to ship than newer, lighter bicycles, so it’s essential to consider the weight as well as the dimensions when shipping.

Mistakes People Make When Shipping Bikes

The most common mistakes people make when shipping their bikes include improper packing and incorrect measurement. Make sure you are taking the time to learn how to pack your bike correctly unless you are having a bike shop do it for you.

A properly packed bike has all the loose components (such as pedals) secured to the bike frame to keep them from banging around during transit, as well as plenty of cushioning material. Remember, shipping boxes can take a lot of abuse. An improperly packed bike may arrive with dents, scratches, or critical damage to the sprockets and derailleurs.

If you’re packing your own bike, get a box large enough to ensure you don’t “stuff” the bike into the box. The box walls shouldn’t bend outward, and the box shouldn’t be difficult to close. This is important because a stuffed box offers less protection and can make the measurements of your package inaccurate. Inaccurate measurements can lead to extra costs when your bike reaches its destination. 

Learning how to ship a bike doesn’t need to be a complex process. If you’ve got the money to spend, consider using a professional service that can take the hassle out of shipping a bike. If you’re looking to save on bike shipping costs, you can ship a bike for a reasonable price by disassembling and packing the bike yourself. Whatever your needs, there is a way to get your bike from A to B safely, securely, and damage-free.

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