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Bike Flights Shipping Questions

Old 07-28-17, 11:35 AM
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Bike Flights Shipping Questions

In looking at shipping costs of bikes on ebay I see a wide range of prices. Bikeflights.com is mentioned frequently on this forum and after looking in to them I need some clarification on how it works. Their shipping prices seem very reasonable, but packaging is obviously required, which can raise the cost substantially.

Which type of box do members use (cardboard/plastic)? Is the box purchased from bikeflights or is it possible to get used ones at bike stores?
Finally, what is a reasonable price to charge for all the required materials and labor to pack a classic/vintage road bike?
Thanks!
Brian
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Old 07-28-17, 12:13 PM
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Oh boy....


Bikeflights is simply a broker..... They're a middle man between the sender and the shipper (FedEx, UPS etc.) Any costs above and beyond the actual shipping cost are the responsibility of the sender. Materials, labor etc.

1. Go to bikeflights
2. Enter data
3. Pay
4. Bikeflights email a label
5. Print label and affix to box

Shipping with them is very easy and straight forward. They do have 'value added services' so their prices are sometimes on par with going directly through ebay or FedEx.

I acquire used boxes from my local store. Packing a bike takes skill and patience, its not for everyone. That's part of the reason you see varying prices for shipping. I can send a 35lb bike from Tampa to Seattle, insured, with signature for no more than $85. If a seller has bike store package the box add another $50 or so to the that. Expect ebay shipping to range from $65 to $135 depending on distance and who packages the bike.

Keep in mind that's its the seller who picks the shipping method. All of my bikes are priced 'Buy Now' with free shipping. After a sale I compare shipping rates and choose what's most beneficial to myself. I don't always go with the least expensive.....


Insurance is also an issue...If something happens I believe its Bikeflights who handle the issue not FedEx/UPS.

Last edited by miamijim; 07-28-17 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:39 PM
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Don't know if it was an anomaly, but the last frame that I shipped (my Mercian), it was cheaper to ship it Fedex Smart Post not Bike Flights--but that was a relatively short distance--NY to PA.

I have always relied on local bike shops for boxes they are disposing of--and if I'm selling off a few things I will try to keep one ready. I use Home Depot pipe foam, cut spacer blocks from old dowel, and try to get a full cardboard separator in between frame and wheels--appliance cartons have the best heavy cardboard. Fork also tied down with zips to cardboard backing...
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Old 07-28-17, 01:53 PM
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I have used this service 4 or 5 times.

Get your boxes for free from the bike shop. Call first and have them save one for you. Also, they usually have one box that has the packing materials dumped into it - bags, foam stuff, cardboard pieces, zip ties, etc. Ask for it as they are just going to throw it away anyway. It can all be reused. I have even reused those nice large white zip ties - just insert a small screwdriver and open them up. You can even splice 2 or 3 cut zip ties to make one big one.

The main thing I try and do is bag/foam/protect parts that will rub together, then zip tie everything together so it because one big bundle of bike/plastic/cardboard/foam. Once you get to this stage, slip it into the box. It can actually move around inside the box when it is like this and will be fine.

If you need to charge someone, $75 will pretty much cover the shipping fees. (or be real close) The packing fees will be determined by what you spend and/or get for free and do it yourself. It really is not complicated to do yourself.

Last edited by KDTX; 07-28-17 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:18 PM
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Frames seem pretty easy to pack and ship.

At least half the bikes I've seen get some damage in shipping

Add lots of padding... then add more. Make sure that parts such as wheels, hubs, freewheels, etc, are all well protected, especially against marring into the frame. Tie together if you can.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:21 PM
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Okay, now I understand the reason for the disparity in shipping charges. Thank you for clearing that up for me!
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Old 07-28-17, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Frames seem pretty easy to pack and ship.

At least half the bikes I've seen get some damage in shipping

Add lots of padding... then add more. Make sure that parts such as wheels, hubs, freewheels, etc, are all well protected, especially against marring into the frame. Tie together if you can.
I just packed and shipped my first bike. I used the packing materials that came with the bike that were still in the box my LBS sent me. I wanted to sell locally because the whole thing made me nervous. Reading your post here I am very nervous something is going to happen while it is in transit. It's expected to arrive next Monday. Fingers crossed!
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Old 07-28-17, 02:45 PM
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+10 Bike Flights is just a broker. You are actually shipping via Fed Ex (at least the 20 or so times I shipped with Bike Flights it has been Fed Ex.

Jim has a nice tutorial on packing a bike. Basically, its a lot of work! And you have to cut down the bike box (make it smaller) or the shipping is high.

Bike shop in my area charges $65 to pack a bike and they are not going to cut the box down at all, and their packing job is nothing special. Realize at a typical labor rate at a bike shop of $75 an hour, they have less than an hour to do the entire job. And if you sell on eBay, guess who gets stuck on a bad packing job? You, the seller. I had one I bought that the seller used a local UPS store to pack and then UPS to ship it. Good idea, right? Wrong, arrived with lots of damage and it was poorly packed too.


Last bike I shipped ~ three weeks ago took me three hours to pack, and I thought that was good. At least half the time was spent cutting/folding/taping and creating a smaller box. Started with a bike shop box that measured 135 inches, got it down to 111 inches (girth plus length). $35 to NYC. But whats 3 hours of your time worth? I also used about $10 in shipping materials. Obviously, the bike needs to be decent enough (high enough price) that you can cover this cost, as buyers HATE to pay packing and handling charges. Better to build it into the price of the item.

Now getting a 59cm road bike into a 111 inch box is pretty intense packing wise. I wanted to see how small I could get it. I did not pull the chain rings, that would have been the way to get the box even smaller. But most buyers would not be happy with that amount of reassembly.

I use MORE packing material than the bike shops use. Why? Bike shops often get bikes delivered to them on a pallet, several boxes on each pallet. When you ship a single bike, its going to be tossed around, dropped, slapped, whatever. I received one where the seller put a large FRAGILE label on the side of the box. Someone from UPS put a large boot print right over that label. Funny guys! Google UPS or Fed Ex box handling and you will see them tossing TVs over a six foot fence. Your packing needs to be good enough to withstand this abuse.

FWIW, I pretty much follow Miami Jim's tutorial on bike packing.



Last edited by wrk101; 07-28-17 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:55 PM
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When shipping with Bikeflights, does FedEx pick up the package from your porch or do you have to drop it at a FedEx depot?
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Old 07-28-17, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Narhay
When shipping with Bikeflights, does FedEx pick up the package from your porch or do you have to drop it at a FedEx depot?
Yes, BikeFlights will work with the carrier to arrange pickup... FAQ's don't say if there's an up charge....
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Old 07-28-17, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Narhay
When shipping with Bikeflights, does FedEx pick up the package from your porch or do you have to drop it at a FedEx depot?
Cheaper to drop off at FedEx office and pick up as well.
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Old 07-28-17, 03:16 PM
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Anybody that's ever worked at an LBS that sells new bikes has unpacked tons of bikes, and would know how to pack them properly. I hadn't done it in a few decades until a few months ago, but it came right back to me. If you tell us where you're at, there's a decent chance that someone nearby can assist. If you were in the Portland, OR area, I'd pack it for you for the price of a nice cold beer.
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Old 07-28-17, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Narhay
When shipping with Bikeflights, does FedEx pick up the package from your porch or do you have to drop it at a FedEx depot?
$5 charge. Myself, I drop off not at a Fed Ex depot, but a local print shop that acts as a Fed Ex pickup location. The local Hallmark Card shop also does Fed Ex drop off (no charge). Besides saving $5, I also don't have to wait around for the Fed Ex truck to show up.
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Old 07-28-17, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Anybody that's ever worked at an LBS that sells new bikes has unpacked tons of bikes, and would know how to pack them properly.
Hmmmm,. I get the reversal of the process and all but still not sure I follow that logic. My wife could unpack a bike and lay all the parts on the floor but she could not even begin to know how to pack one properly for shipping.

The 20 year old at the bike shop getting minimum wage may not give a hoot if the '74 Masi I am shipping gets to the other end in one piece but I sure would. I would have a serious conversation with the LBS before handing off an ebay sale to be packed. My 2¢ of course.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by stilllearning
In looking at shipping costs of bikes on ebay I see a wide range of prices. Bikeflights.com is mentioned frequently on this forum and after looking in to them I need some clarification on how it works. Their shipping prices seem very reasonable, but packaging is obviously required, which can raise the cost substantially.

Which type of box do members use (cardboard/plastic)? Is the box purchased from bikeflights or is it possible to get used ones at bike stores?
Finally, what is a reasonable price to charge for all the required materials and labor to pack a classic/vintage road bike?
Thanks!
Brian
A co-worker of mine just user bikeflights. His frame got wrecked. Broken, non-replacable carbon fiber derailleur hanger. He paid extra for insurance through bikeflights. Last I heard is that he sat on hold for over an hour before giving up for the day
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Old 07-28-17, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101
$5 charge. Myself, I drop off not at a Fed Ex depot, but a local print shop that acts as a Fed Ex pickup location. The local Hallmark Card shop also does Fed Ex drop off (no charge). Besides saving $5, I also don't have to wait around for the Fed Ex truck to show up.
The local print shop in larger towns/cities are typically Kinko's, which rebranded as Kinko's/FedEx, and now is just FedEx.

Mine is open till midnight, 7 days a week. Delivery at my house requires a signature, and that requires somebody to be home. It's a lot easier for me to just pick it up.
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Old 07-28-17, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
A co-worker of mine just user bikeflights. His frame got wrecked. Broken, non-replacable carbon fiber derailleur hanger. He paid extra for insurance through bikeflights. Last I heard is that he sat on hold for over an hour before giving up for the day
Poor packing job. I usually cut a piece of 2x4 to the dropout width, and screw it into the dropouts with fender washers, and rotate it around so it protects the dropout.

I could rail on the insanity of a carbon fiber derailleur hanger...
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Old 07-28-17, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by tmh657
Hmmmm,. I get the reversal of the process and all but still not sure I follow that logic. My wife could unpack a bike and lay all the parts on the floor but she could not even begin to know how to pack one properly for shipping.

The 20 year old at the bike shop getting minimum wage may not give a hoot if the '74 Masi I am shipping gets to the other end in one piece but I sure would. I would have a serious conversation with the LBS before handing off an ebay sale to be packed. My 2¢ of course.
I was more thinking of finding somebody who worked at one "back in the day". Knowing what the final product should look like is half the battle. It ain't rocket science to reverse engineer it.
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Old 07-28-17, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
I was more thinking of finding somebody who worked at one "back in the day". Knowing what the final product should look like is half the battle. It ain't rocket science to reverse engineer it.
That makes sense. A "back in the day" type person that appreciates a fine steel bicycle.
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Old 07-29-17, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ppg677
A co-worker of mine just user bikeflights. His frame got wrecked. Broken, non-replacable carbon fiber derailleur hanger. He paid extra for insurance through bikeflights. Last I heard is that he sat on hold for over an hour before giving up for the day
Dropout/hanger damage is NOT covered....

Claims of rear derailleur or rear derailleur hanger damage are void if
You did not remove your rear derailleur from its hanger and wrap it in foam before securing it to the inside of your frame; or
You did not shift the rear derailleur to its largest cog and install a manufacturer’s plastic rear derailleur protector shield.

Their shipping policy covers everything and nothing. Everything is covered if you packaged the bike/frame correctly but nothing is covered if you didn't. Catch 22...if you packaged correctly nothing will get damaged!!!
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Old 07-29-17, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by miamijim
Dropout/hanger damage is NOT covered....




Their shipping policy covers everything and nothing. Everything is covered if you packaged the bike/frame correctly but nothing is covered if you didn't. Catch 22...if you packaged correctly nothing will get damaged!!!
Exactly, I make shaped wood blocks that I glue down to the inside of the box and screw the hanger and dropout into the block. Same for fork ends but that one is easy. Insurance claims are major problems with all shippers, not just Bikeflights.
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Old 07-29-17, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug
Exactly, I make shaped wood blocks that I glue down to the inside of the box and screw the hanger and dropout into the block. Same for fork ends but that one is easy. Insurance claims are major problems with all shippers, not just Bikeflights.
When I get around to re-uploading all the pics that were lost in the 'how to pack a bike' thread I'll show a super quick and easy way of protecting dropout and fork ends using only card board.
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Old 07-29-17, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tmh657
Hmmmm,. I get the reversal of the process and all but still not sure I follow that logic. My wife could unpack a bike and lay all the parts on the floor but she could not even begin to know how to pack one properly for shipping.
It's sorta like reverse-engineering in my mind. Many people can't do that, either.

DD
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Old 07-30-17, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude
It's sorta like reverse-engineering in my mind. Many people can't do that, either.

DD
Lots of helpful information, thanks! However, it is also making me seriously reconsider purchasing anything on eBay.
When members list bikes for sale here, I often see the price and then "plus Bikeflights". Is the labor involved with packing already added to the price of the bike, so I just need to calculate actual shipping costs?
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