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bikes packed by bike shop for shipping

Old 11-14-20, 04:42 PM
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bikes packed by bike shop for shipping

I just had this confirmed for me again but I am convinced that the worst packed bikes I receive are those that are packed by someone's LBS. I have received bike after bike that was poorly packed and damaged after being told that it would be a "professional" job and "sure to be packed right" by sellers having their bike shop pack and ship a bike. Does this match with others experience? I suspect the LBS assigns the lowest level person who has probably unpacked a bunch of bikes but never packed one. And then the LBS actually has no liability in the whole transaction so maybe they don't care as much as they should. I have had a few wonderful packing jobs by a bike shop but I have had like a dozen damaged bikes that were packed by bike shops.

I have tried to figure out how to explain to a seller and what to suggest they do when they tell me they are going to have it packed by a bike shop. Packing it correctly yourself is actually a fair bit of work and requires a box and packing materials. When I try to explain they always tell me "their" bike shop would never pack a bike badly and to not worry. If it is through Ebay then I know I can get my money back if there is shipping damage but when buying off the forum here it can be a problem. I am close to just refusing to buy a bike that is going to be packed by a bike shop from now on.
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Old 11-14-20, 05:06 PM
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Yikes. I would hope not since I would have felt comfortable buying a bike “packed by a bike shop” but I can see your point. I’ve had a few subpar experiences with shops that I then stayed away from and who knows what caliber of shop is doing the packing.
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Old 11-14-20, 05:06 PM
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I have sold two bikes that were packed for me by two different LBS. One went to Colorado and one went to Arizona. Both bikes arrived safely and both buyers were impressed with the quality of the packing job. YMMV.
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Old 11-14-20, 05:09 PM
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The vast majority of bikes that arrive in knocked down condition to a local shop today, have little in common with a classic bike to be boxed.
They might have the plastic filler for the fork.
A long time ago in internet years, John Barron had a image sequence of a NOS Masi from Italy being unpacked.
That is probably the best visual reference for how it was done and done well. (even then, one had brake cable housing damage adjacent to the seat lug.)
I always assume it is a turn on the roulette wheel that a bike is reasonably packed.
Doing it right is not super time consuming, does take some planning.
Shops don't think vintage well.
I have not bought a bike requiring shipping in a while, in review, I will say, 3 packed well, 1 terrible and I was just LUCKY, and another four packed poorly that included damage- scratches, Dents, axles gnawing onto a seat tube finish, bent forks... bent derailleur hangars (where the bike was in the smallest cog... no thinking that maybe shifting to the largest inboard cog and large chainring might protect other items and create a compact package? I won't even rant about handlebars and stems... Oh, yes, those missing Campagnolo brake adjusters. It was not necessary to unhook them....
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Old 11-14-20, 05:16 PM
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packing

Make sure to insist on insurance from anyone shipping a high value item to you. Also, keep all receipts.
TR
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Old 11-14-20, 08:44 PM
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That's a bummer - sorry to hear it

Because it all comes down to one individual whom I am never likely to meet (let alone hold accountable), I'll never consider a shipped bike sale - nor ship one I'm selling - ever again. The chances are simply too great that something is going to happen and the reason we spend the big bux (original finish) is ruined by some slob who probably couldn't care less.

I've turned down three buyers in the last year when I was trying to move the Sparrow on as a full bike. Understandably it wasn't getting much play locally but there were interested parties at my asking price from MT. However, I was adamant that I wouldn't ship because I didn't want to take a chance on damage; they are already thin on the ground.

I broke it down instead. Sold all the parts and to be honest, I feel a bit more comfortable about the possibility of shipping the frame and fork only. Nothing to scrape against the frame in the box, but there's always the possibility of rough handling still damaging the paint or - worse - bending the metal. Sooooo....I don't know.

Seems to me any bike purchase involving shipping is going to be a risk. No matter how well something's been packed, things happen.

DD

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Old 11-14-20, 08:48 PM
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This is often an unwinnable war, I have had 20 bikes and frames shipped and have shipped a few. I always insure them and it has paid off many times but now that Bikeflights uses UPS, it is harder and doesn't really help enough when an original specimen is hurt.

I have had them that were packed very well and still damaged and some that were thrown in a box with little packing and came through unscathed.

The insurance is cheap and a bargain IMO, but good packing often creates an oversize, heavier and more $$$ shipment.

The Merckx frame came from Australia and the packing scared me as it was custom fit/hacked/built to minimize cost, but worked ok, almost got the front edge of the top of the headtube/HS cup, should have been protected better, close call.

It was a trade so I had to ship the small Merckx to him.

No way in H**L I would let an LBS pack it without a guarantee in writing.

His, $90 AUS post






Mine, about $150 by Bike Flights with Insurance





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Old 11-14-20, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac


Most of us would agree the packing job on that was pretty damn good - but even so, this ^ happened. Exactly the kind of example I mean when I say if a bike is shipped, there's the potential for anything to happen to it.

DD
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Old 11-14-20, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude
Most of us would agree the packing job on that was pretty damn good - but even so, this ^ happened. Exactly the kind of example I mean when I say if a bike is shipped, there's the potential for anything to happen to it.

DD
Absolutely, like I said, that boxing scared the heck out of me, wasn't surprised, just glad it was no damage, missed it by that much.

Steve said mine had no compromises what so ever but your right no way to guarantee anything, roll the dice.

FWIW I always factor that in so the few sad moments have been a little less disappointing.
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Old 11-14-20, 09:52 PM
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Shipping Horrors

Bike shop packer/shipper is like a box of See’s Candies, you never know what you will get.
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Old 11-14-20, 10:01 PM
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My experience is similar to @BlueDevil63. The worst packing job was from a bike shop, done by their guy who was the local "vintage" expert; parts missing, holes punched through the box by QR skewer and handlebars, pedals and saddle loose in the box... and he charged more than quoted!

On the other hand I received a bike packed by a Seattle shop that was packed exceptionally well.

But then private party packing is always a crapshoot too.

Brent
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Old 11-14-20, 10:05 PM
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I bought a beautiful Waterford single speed off EBay a few years ago. The seller stated he was a former bike shop owner and had the Waterford frame custom made then used high end parts to complete the bike. It was shipped using BikeFlights. The seat tube lug was not padded nor protected with packing material. The seat lug got bent during transit. I carefully bent it back praying the tip wouldn’t snap off! Fortunately I was able to straighten out the lug and insert the seat post in the frame.

I bought a Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub wheel from the UK from EBay. After waiting about 3 months for the wheel, I was notified it was ready for pick up at my post office. The wheel looked like it was covered with Saran Wrap. No box, no cardboard, nothing expect plastic wrap covering the tire, rim, spokes, hub and axle. You could tell it was a bike wheel and could see the tire on the rim and the shifter and cable for the wheel under the clear plastic wrap. I was not expecting that. I’m glad the wheel came with a tire mounted otherwise the rim could have been damaged.

What can you do? We’re at the mercy of the seller and the shipper.

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Old 11-14-20, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac
Absolutely, like I said, that boxing scared the heck out of me, wasn't surprised, just glad it was no damage, missed it by that much.
I get it - this was the way my old Spinella/Olympia arrived after its hop from France to the US:



Kinda scary looking, ain't it? No issues with the frame whatsoever. Go figure.

DD
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Old 11-14-20, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude
I get it - this was the way my old Spinella/Olympia arrived after its hop from France to the US:



Kinda scary looking, ain't it? No issues with the frame whatsoever. Go figure.

DD
I think the saran wrap is a good way to go, contains and bolsters at the same time, the cardboard with that tight over it is several times tougher than the two by themselves IMO.
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Old 11-14-20, 10:43 PM
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I've packed dozens of bikes over the years as a tech, always used the padding from 2 new bike builds for extra protection but honestly the UPS elephants can do exceptional damage regardless of how hard you try. Also had to stop people from doing lousy jobs and pointed out where they needed to make things better. I just packed one of my own tandems off, really nice shape Cdale, I pulled most of the major parts off and the wheels, both seats, stoker bar, chains and pedals went in a different box so even if they ended up kicked around or damaged they wouldn't take the frame with them. The frame was completely wrapped in pipe foam, the front bars were strapped to the reinforcing tube and the rear der was unbolted, wrapped in a piece of sheet foam and ziptied to the inside of the stay to protect the hanger. I made the frame box 2 inches wider, 3 inches longer and 2 inches taller and allowed the frame to rattle around inside so if something hit the box the frame would move instead of denting. Showed up perfect shape. If I was shipping a classic I'd never trust a shop, some of us really cared a lot and others just wanted to fit it in the box one way or another.
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Old 11-14-20, 11:05 PM
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Its like so many things, it has to at least come from within, from the top or both.
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Old 11-14-20, 11:42 PM
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I'll chime in to agree with those who have noted that shipping bikes is something that always comes with a degree of risk. I've been a receiver of bikes, a private sender, I've packed bikes when working in shops, and currently work for a retailer that ships new bikes that have been professionally packed, so I've seen my share of bikes in boxes. Ultimately shippers will always find some way to damage a small percentage of bikes no matter how well they're packaged. I suppose if cost was no object the risk could be brought down to near zero by shipping every bike in a hard plastic shell, but that would be disproportionately expensive for most bikes and frames, and ordinary cardboard boxes are sufficient 99% of the time if a bike is packed acceptably well.
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Old 11-14-20, 11:50 PM
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Hi folks,
I’ve shipped several bikes & frames within the US without issue. I use merziac’s method plus. Lots of pipe foam as well as a slightly oversized box that allows for styrofoam blocks; front, rear & sides. Using a rectangular box also helps. I have gotten a few from the UK that were well packed and undamaged. All packed by the seller who knew what they were doing. Personally, wouldn’t trust a shop.

Cheers,
Van
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Old 11-15-20, 12:10 AM
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It's always scary, whether I'm waiting on something packed by somebody else, or sending something out I've packed well. It's kinda obvious that if you've got loose parts rattling around inside the box, with no protection for the frame, yadda yadda yadda, chances for damage even with smooth shipping is high. Most of the damage I've received has been from shippers' rough handling.

Best/worst was shipping bikes back to Jersey after a show in Los Angeles, via UPS. Everything made it back OK, but one box clearly had a forklift fork puncture clear through the middle of the box. Luckily it missed the frame entirely, how it didn't nuke any spokes/rims or anything else is beyond me. I had no idea UPS would be using a forklift on a shipment like that, but I had a fair amount of forklift experience in the warehouse, and know what those holes mean.

Then there was my pre-ship mint Hetchins, packed by the seller's LBS, allegedly well. I'll never know, because FedEx absolutely trashed the original box, then reboxed it standing upright on the rear wheel, kinda like how you'd ship a refrigerator. Cobbled the box together from two boxes. All kinds of parts loose, rear wheel not even in the dropouts. Box went back and forth between Birmingham (origin) and FedEx/Memphis at least 3 times. I figure neither location wanted to take responsibility for it, so they just kept ping-ponging it between them. Came through cosmetically a little less minty, front rim was dented beyond use, fork blades were off 5-6mm fore-aft. Seller gave me a hard time, wanted me to make a claim through FedEx, I eventually got him to understand his only two options were to give me a partial refund and I'd keep the bike, or give me a full refund and he'd get it back. I got the partial, Peter Weigle straightened the forks, I had the hubs re-rimmed, and it still looks respectable.

But just goes to show, ya never know what'll happen between there and here.

The Box. I was pretty disappointed when I laid my eyes on this. Not how you expect a complete bike to arrive:


The Vertical Hetchins. Don't think I'd have kept it if the head tube weren't padded.


Loose wheel, loose chain.


F'd-up fork blades---I'm truly forked!


Turned out OK in the end. This is pretty much current build, I did change a lot of the components, but I'm keeping the originals for if/when it moves on.


Head tube damage was minimal. Foam pipe insulation for the win!
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Old 11-15-20, 12:24 AM
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My last bike in a box was 95% ok. The fork was turned backward and the disc caliper ate a hole in the box. This was packed by a bike shop. Clearly just a mistake. Everything else was well armored.





The two prior to that were factory direct (a Priority and a Diamondback full suspension) and perfect.

All were packed with fork installed, rear wheel installed, front wheel off, handlebar removed. Stem out for the Priority, faceplate off for the others, maintaining the headset intact. Fork reversed and seat out. The DB had a rear derailleur and it was removed and zip tied to the frame. Two layer foam and cardboard wrap on frame tubes, parts zip tied to frame. Not the most compact, but safe.

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Old 11-15-20, 12:35 AM
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Well I have shipped about 30-40 bikes and received a similar number in the last 15 years. I have shipped a Confente, a Masi Special, 6 or 7 Masi GCs, a handful of Bianchi Specialissimas, and Super Leggeras, half a dozen Paramounts, half a dozen PX10s, you get the picture. No bike that I have shipped has ever been damaged. I received all the above bikes plus every one in my signature and a bunch more. Here are a couple pics of the last one I received that was packed by a bike shop. Here you can see the freewheel packed right up against the seat tube with a layer of bubble wrap for protection.

Oh and no fork protection and instead of removing the seat just jam it down in the seat tube and this happens:


I've deleted all my other pictures (I take lots of pictures for the insurance or Ebay claim) but there have been lots (like a dozen) packed by a bike shop and damaged because of poor packing not UPS/Fedex manhandling.

My packing (this one going to Italy)::





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Old 11-15-20, 02:35 AM
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I used to zip-tie my foam, now just use electrical tape. I find it a little faster, and I'm less likely to scratch myself reaching into the box getting everything all settled. I don't do the cross-x with the tape anymore, not necessary, just eats up time and tape. I think that photo is at least 10yrs old, you can tall because my shop floor is clean and, especially, visible. No longer.

And I'll often brace the dropouts with 1/4" threaded stock and nuts/bolts, especially on the higher-value stuff.

And I bought myself a ginormous manual box stapler a long time ago, use lots of staples, especially if I need to cut down a bike box for a frame. No pix of the stapler handy.





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Old 11-15-20, 03:09 AM
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^^^^^ The tape, zip tie conundrum has confounded me as well. If the zip ties are tight enough to keep the insulation in place, you risk damaging the frame cutting them off.

My last frame I even used masking tape so it can just be torn open so I used a lot.

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Old 11-15-20, 03:44 AM
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This is how I packed my bikes for shipping, built the box to (just) fit inside the postal max dimensions. I used this more than once, different bikes, some just shipping and some for flights.

If I were to ship a frame I would build another, simpler - this one has those flatpack screw/cylindrical bolt things for the lid, and I would just screw a block of wood to the inside wall to use as wheel mounts. I would also put some padded blocks under the head and upper seat tubes. Wood screws all around, still probably more time and materials would cost more than cardboard but you get the value back in peace of mind.

Oh, and padding on the tubes - the bike in the pic is just a rider, so it never got that much love.


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Old 11-15-20, 08:35 AM
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I think there are 2 simple rules to shipping. 1, the most important, ensure nothing moves within the package with a drop test. 2, if you can't do rule 1, have padding between items that may rub.

Rules 1 and 2 will do nothing to prevent a catastrophic impact, but barring a steel box, nothing will.

I made a reusable box made of plastic corrugated for shipping the 1920s Frejus. Round trip Chicago to LA, no problems.




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