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Shipping a Bike Home

Old 08-18-15, 10:32 AM
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PiLigand
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Shipping a Bike Home

So I'm looking to do an extended tour this fall. I will be riding from my front door and out to the west coast for a couple months. Being in new england, I have no intention of riding home in November/December, so the plan is to get out west, then ship the bike and unnecessary baggage home and fly home myself. Assuming I know that I'll have a to spend a couple hundred dollars on this, is there anything specifically that I have no know in do's and don'ts?

Can I roll into a bike shop and just ask if they offer such a service? What is the chance of a "yes?"
Or, should I be prepared to find materials and package it myself and send it off before heading to the airport?

Any input would be helpful. I expect to spend some money on this, but would like to minimize where possible. Thanks!

(steel touring 700c road bike. Front and rear panniers, -1 that will probably be airline luggage. maybe 50 lb total?)
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Old 08-18-15, 10:55 AM
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Yeah, any bike shop should be able to take care of it for you. Or you could fly Southwest and pay $75 for the bike to fly, but have to pack it yourself, and then the crux can be getting it and your other luggage to the airport. But if you stay at an airport hotel, they might have a shuttle.

you can also use shippers like bikeflights.com or shipbikes.com to provide a box and pickup service - but that might be tricky if you don't have an address for them to ship to.

what city are you ending in?
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Old 08-18-15, 11:03 AM
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Check out bikeflights.com I have used them twice. This past June I paid $46 to ship from Philly to Rapid, City, SD. That was for a CrateWorks plastic box with an overestimated weight of box and contents (60cm Surly LHT, bike, racks and packing material) of 60 lbs. Shipping was four days. Last year I paid $76 from Philly to Missoula, MT. Same box, same contents plus a stove and fuel bottle, all estimated at 70 lbs.

Depends on the shop. I have made pre-arrangements with the shops I have used because I travelled during busier times. If you know your destination, search for shops in the area and call them to see what they offer. If you decide on one, you might call and get on the schedule a week or so before your expected arrival date if the shop thinks that would be a good idea. How quickly you can get served often depends on the area and how busy the shop thinks it will be. When I went to Missoula last year I used the local REI. They wanted at least a week to assemble the bike because I was arriving not that long after their spring sale, when they typically sell a lot of bike. Also, the time of year I was arriving coincided with when the weather usually stayed nice for stretches, prompting people to bring their bikes in for service. Boxing has cost between $40 and $50.

And exactly where on the west coast and via what general route? Depending on how things go, you could run into some wet/cold/snowy weather in places out west even in mid-October.
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Old 08-18-15, 11:09 AM
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Good point about Southwest. If ground transportation to the airport with a boxed bike won't be an issue, you could box it yourself or have a shop do it and then fly Southwest. Their bike fee of $75 will likely be equal to if not less than what you pay using something like bikeflights.

Bikeflights is pretty easy. Once you have an idea of dimensions and weight, you can purchase shipping and they will email you the label about 10 days before your scheduled ship date. If your ship date is less than 10 days from the day you purchase, the label is emailed to you in about 20 min. You can take the boxed bike to any FedEx/Kinko's location or (for $5 more) have it picked up at a bike shop. The only real issue is having access to a computer with a printer. When I shipped back from Rapid City in June I used the local library.
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Old 08-18-15, 11:09 AM
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My Local Shop does that all the time .. tear-down Labor to box it up + the actual cost UPS charges on the bill the shop pays ,
is charged to your credit card, when the monthly bill arrives ..
you can ship it to another bike shop and they can reassemble it.

UPS picks them up from shop I have no Idea about bikeflights.com or shipbikes.com,
it maybe in major metropolitan areas they offer the pickup service, they have no presence out here.

you may have to backtrack to PDX to be in their service area. bike flights has home offices there, it seems .

google cannot find shipbikes dot com ..

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Old 08-18-15, 11:36 AM
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Interesting. OP here.

I'm a much more experience camper than tourer, so I'm not terribly worried about weather as it is. I'm also smart enough to go home if I need to. But if all goes well, I expect to get from Maine to San Diego or maybe san diego and back to Las Vegas (if I'm feeling froggy) by mid-November. I don't really expect to have a printer or address there to work with. I'd be psyched to just bring it in to a bike shop. Followup question: will they ship to my house? I'm also a mechanic and I really don't need the bike reassembled. I will also be flying back to Maine in November where I don't expert to really need the bike (I'll have others anyways), so it would still seem to me to just ship it back as that would be easiest and to just let it arrive whenever it does.

Thanks for the input all! I'm going to look into bikeflights anyways for good measure.
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Old 08-18-15, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by PiLigand View Post
Can I roll into a bike shop and just ask if they offer such a service? What is the chance of a "yes?"
I have done that a number of times and that answer was always yes. A couple times they acted like they had never done it before, but still said yes. The cost was $40-60 for the shop to do the packing and another $40-60 for UPS. The shop always got a much better rate from UPS than you would get walking into a UPS or FedEx store. The total for packing and shipping was never much more or less than $100.

It is kind of nice to dump off the bike at the end of the tour and be able to just hop on a bus/train/plane without dealing with packing the bike and lugging it to the airport the bike.
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Old 08-18-15, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by PiLigand View Post
Followup question: will they ship to my house?
Yes that is what I have always had them do.
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Old 08-18-15, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by PiLigand View Post
I don't really expect to have a printer or address there to work with. I'd be psyched to just bring it in to a bike shop.
Let me clarify: A service like bikeflights is nothing more than a discount outlet for FedEx shipping. They have a contract with FedEx that allows them to offer discounted rates. You purchase shipping through them and get a pre-paid FedEx shipping label. Whether you ship through them or simply have the LBS ship the bike on its own, a pickup address will still be needed because the shipping company needs to know where to pick up the bike. You will likely save money over having the shop arrange for the shipping, especially if the shop uses UPS and not FedEx. I have found UPS' rates to be appreciably higher when I have had a LBS arrange the shipping on its own using that service.

And yes, you can ship the bike to your house. However, because of its value they might not leave it at the door if no one is home. That might not be a problem for you.
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Old 08-18-15, 01:03 PM
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Awesome. You guys are super helpful. Thanks much!
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