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I'm sure I never want to pack a bike again...

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I'm sure I never want to pack a bike again...

Old 03-09-20, 12:01 PM
  #1  
smontanaro 
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I'm sure I never want to pack a bike again...

Packing bikes for shipping has always been a struggle for me. I don't do it often enough for it to be second nature or to always have relevant boxes and packing materials handy. I ride largish frames (60+cm), so sometimes boxes I get from my LBS aren't quite tall enough.

Such was the case this weekend. I needed to ship a 61cm Motobecane Grand Jubilé. I was out of foam pipe insulation, so I went to Home Depot and got a couple lengths of one-inch. Got home to find it was really 3/4-inch and wouldn't properly enclose the tubes. In addition, it was the self-adhesive stuff, so since it was too small it wanted to stick to the tubing. Checked the receipt. It scanned as one-inch, so perhaps HD is just trying to short-change its customers in small ways or their contractor screwed up the shipment. Ran to Lowes and got another couple tubes. I used a tape measure in-store to make sure it was the correct diameter. I got a box from an LBS. It was a double-boxed Bianchi box. Seemed perfect. Alas, it wasn't a good fit. To make matters worse, the bike has 27-inch wheels. I needed to pull the front wheel and reverse the fork to get it to fit the box length (with the rear wheel attached), so the front brake and cable stop needed to come off. With the rear wheel attached, the seat tube wasn't low enough. Even removing the rear wheel it was still a bit tall, and the big chainring hit the bottom of the box. I really didn't want to remove the crank if I could avoid it, so I put the rear wheel back on and did my best to pad the top of the seat tube and create clearance by cutting away the inner box in that area. Fortunately, the Motobecane's seat lug treatment is stout, not artistic. As I was taping the heck out of the box and blacking out any bar codes, I noted the box had originally held a Bianchi Donna model of some kind. I should have gone back to the shop to see if I could get another slightly bigger box. sigh

I think it will be okay, though I will be nervous until I hear from the buyer. I think if I ever have to ship a complete bike again I will simply pay a shop to pack it.
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Old 03-09-20, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
I think if I ever have to ship a complete bike again I will simply pay a shop to pack it.
That's exactly what I have done every time I've shipped a bike or frame.

$75 and a couple of days is the local rate, and well worth it IMO.
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Old 03-09-20, 12:49 PM
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I don't envy this task. The only time I shipped a frame was just after I'd purchased a different one that had been packed well, so I reused the materials I had on hand. Otherwise I have sold big stuff locally and packed small stuff.
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Old 03-09-20, 01:36 PM
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That's why I lament the passing of 27" road frames. Fuji boxes from the '80s kept many a shop rat sane when it came time to pack for shipment.
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Old 03-09-20, 01:50 PM
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noobinsf frames are no big deal. They go in a much smaller box and have many fewer "moving parts" to squeeze in. Bikes are another story though.
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Old 03-09-20, 02:17 PM
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I just flew to Arizona and back with my bike on American Airlines. First time I've ever done that. I used an old Colorado Cyclist bike box. Same size as a regular box but it lays flat with a separate lid. Like a hat box I suppose. Anyway it was really easy to pack. Seatpost out, handlebars out, wheels off and that's it. I had to repack it a few times to get under the 50# airplane limit and it was pretty smooth. I've been pretty lazy and still haven't gotten the bike back together. Big foam pad on the outsides and one in the middle. In this case I used a sleeping bag and pillow in the middle. I just put extra foam padding or bubble wrap at places where I thought there might be metal on metal contact. If you come across this style box, grab it.


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Old 03-09-20, 02:21 PM
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Know your bike shop, know your boxes. I pack bikes up to ship on a regular basis and always look for Trek Verve or Madone boxes. The Verves are much more common, longer than most and will put you right up against the max size for FedEx, but long enough to reverse the fork and insert the bars and levers vertically in front rather than on top. Madone/Project One boxes are clamshells with internal strapping to keep the frame steady and a separate layer for the wheels.

Worst case, get two indentical boxes for a smaller bike and cut them to make one longer or taller box, depending on your needs. These days, most shipping costs are in the dimension so the extra weight of a box you put together isn't much of a cost issue.
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Old 03-09-20, 02:27 PM
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Thanks all. FWIW, eBay calculated the shipping and turned out to be lower than either shipbikes.com or bikeflights.com. It was about $68 for eBay, $78 for shipbikes and $101 for bikeflights. Also, I didn't have to measure or weigh anything. The max weight (70lbs?) and max length+girth (153in?) were both generous. I was well under on both. It went FedEx (Ground, I presume).
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Old 03-09-20, 07:24 PM
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Bikeflight used to be so reasonable.
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Old 03-09-20, 08:03 PM
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I'll second the Colorado Cyclist clamshell box recommendation. I have three of them, all very handy for transport.

There was a similar product called the Crateworks Pro XL-C Plastic Bike Box. Sometimes I see these on the used market as well as the original Colorado Cyclist:

https://www.crateworks.com/product/p...stic-bike-box/
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Old 03-10-20, 07:16 AM
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Dollar Tree pool noodles work great. $1.00 each.
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Old 03-10-20, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by eom View Post
Dollar Tree pool noodles work great. $1.00 each.
Yep.

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Old 03-10-20, 08:30 AM
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I used this on maybe a dozen flights:


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Old 03-10-20, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Thanks all. FWIW, eBay calculated the shipping and turned out to be lower than either shipbikes.com or bikeflights.com. It was about $68 for eBay, $78 for shipbikes and $101 for bikeflights. Also, I didn't have to measure or weigh anything. The max weight (70lbs?) and max length+girth (153in?) were both generous. I was well under on both. It went FedEx (Ground, I presume).

153 inches is way too big. 130 inches for a complete bike, 108 inches for a frameset. Cross either size limit and the price can double. Depending on the bike box, I find a lot of them to be about 138 inches, which means I have to cut them down.


LBS here charges $100 to pack a bike. Buyers will not pay that price.

On the bigger stuff, Ebay's shipping calculator does not include insurance or signature on delivery. I find both of those are important on the higher priced stuff.

I have gotten to the point I will pack a frameset, no bikes. Too much hassle with too little return. I have a few times sold frame buyers bike "build kits". They contacted me later, and I sold them the parts I had just taken off. Win/win, as the buyer gets parts they know will fit, and I get an additional sale.

I have fit frames up to 64cm in a 108 inch box. But it took creating a box with a lid, to reduce box width. Shipped as far as New Zealand.
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Old 03-10-20, 09:22 PM
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Skip,
If you ever worked in a bike shop building new bikes you know how to unpack a bike in a box. And shipping is just the reverse process. I can pack one up in about a half hour and be assured it won't be damaged. They don't need styro-foam noodles but just a cardboard wrap around. A cardboard sheet between the wheel and the frame is the way they shipped them from the factory. It isn't a science but a problem to be solved. Smiles, MH
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Old 03-11-20, 07:38 AM
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And if there is an Amtrak station near both you and the person receiving the bike? They supply box ($10), you turn bars sideways and for some reason deflate the tires. Off it goes. Not sure the fees.
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Old 03-11-20, 07:41 AM
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One thing I do, esp on an expensive bike is take a piece of thin luan plywood ( I have a bunch laid up from old woodworking projects) the same dimension of the bottom of the box and screw 2x4 blocks to it, the same spacing as the forks and rear triangle and the same wheelbase as the bike. I'll use wood screws and washers to attach fork and rear dropouts between blocks. This totally immobilizes the frameset and prevents damage to the dropouts on both ends. It adds very little weight, and maybe its overkill, but I've shipped over 50 bikes and never had one arrive damaged.
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Old 03-11-20, 03:48 PM
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You could always do like a couple of folks I bought from: just take the front wheel off, toss the bike in a box and somehow secure it with 4" of tape, then mail it. No packing, no security, nada. It may not have damage the first 4-5 times it's dropped. My Colnago forks were poking out of the box when it arrived. Same with about 1/3 of the wheels, on one side or another.

I've done it enough I can relate to Mad Honk. I can also relate to Skip re: big frames. If I'm not removing the rear wheel, I don't worry about the crankset. I almost always reverse the fork. Biggest issues are then:
1-damage from moving around in the box (pokies and impact)
2-damage from things moving in the box (clutter)

For travel, I have a SportCo ABS box. I bought a classic NOS bike and the seller refused to ship any other way, charged me $100 for the travel box and shipping. Can't beat that. Some airlines seem to think shipping my bike free is the way to get me to buy. They are 100% right.
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Old 03-12-20, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
I think if I ever have to ship a complete bike again I will simply pay a shop to pack it.
It's a pain in the butt, sure, but I've yet to see a shop do a satisfactory job. Last time I had to have a shop box a bike for me, they covered and padded the bare minimum, didn't secure things well (or intelligently - note the pedal location), and dropped the handlebars into the box loose. The right brake lever adjuster was placed directly on top of the front fender, and scratched the living daylights out of it.





There also wasn't anything to keep the front dropouts from puncturing through the box - and they almost did.



This prize packaging job cost $50 for labor + shipping costs, and they also went UPS.

I also don't mind airing who pulled this off: It was Wasatch Touring of Salt Lake City. I'd expect much better from a shop that specializes in a segment of riders who are highly likely to require packing and shipment in the first place.

-Kurt
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Old 03-12-20, 07:41 AM
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+10 I have never been impressed with LBS packing either. Packing a complete bike in 30 minutes? The factories in China pack them to go into a shipping container, full load at a time. Little to no handling,

Realize shops often get their bikes via motor freight, sometimes strapped to a pallet. My single bike shipment gets a lot more abuse working through the Fed Ex system. The more times your box is touched, the greater the chance for damage.

Close to half my time packing a bike or frame is spent cutting down the box to optimize shipping.


Last bike I bought on this forum was packed without the front fork secured or the front wheel either. In transit, the fork rotated, and the skewer acted like a hacksaw, chewing the crap out of that fork. Fork was not fully wrapped in foam either. Box was not cut down in length either, allowing the entire bike to slide forward and backwards in the box, against that skewer. Lots of damage. Sad because it was a top of the line early Trek in my size.

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Old 03-12-20, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
I went to Home Depot and got a couple lengths of one-inch insulation. Got home to find it was really 3/4-inch and wouldn't properly enclose the tubes.
Sometimes it pays to live car free. I roll my bike into Lowes and fit the stuff over the top tube of my grocery getter to test the fit...
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Old 03-12-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Packing bikes for shipping has always been a struggle for me. I don't do it often enough for it to be second nature or to always have relevant boxes and packing materials handy. I ride largish frames (60+cm), so sometimes boxes I get from my LBS aren't quite tall enough.

Such was the case this weekend. I needed to ship a 61cm Motobecane Grand Jubilé. I was out of foam pipe insulation, .
so if you're getting your boxes from the bike shop why don't you get the packing material too? Those used by boxes by us are filled with the previous foam packing material, bubble wrap, wheel and fork protectors, etc. There are also goodies such as brand-new reflectors in the package which they never use (I give those away to friends), and other stuff they recently threw away. I found several sets of brand-new tires in there.

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Old 03-12-20, 09:48 AM
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Had a similar satori moment 4 years ago and that was the last time and market was not shot. Just not worth shipping whole bikes anymore unless you have something highly desirable or nothing better to do.
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Old 03-12-20, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Sometimes it pays to live car free. I roll my bike into Lowes and fit the stuff over the top tube of my grocery getter to test the fit...
I rode one in Kroger's once. According to the arresting officer, that was not "Krogering."
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Old 03-12-20, 10:40 AM
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Shipping bikes? Oddly I only have bikes shipped in, not out.
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