How to Mail a Bike
Shipping your bicycle is no easy task
Whether you're moving house or sold your bicycle on ebay it needs to be shipped correctly or you may even be looking at taking your bike with you on a training camp without wanting to buy a heavy, expensive bicycle suitcase. Mailing a bicycle is relatively simple to do and doing it right will mean that when shipping your bike it gets there in the same condition it was sent.
Items you'll need to mail your bicycle
Bicycle specific box
Allen (Hex) Keys
Packing materials (Bubblewarp, styrofoam, pipe protectors, newspaper)
Sprocket set (if you have locking wheel nuts)
Chain remover tool
A bicycle box for mailing
Shipping a bicycle. Step 1 Get yourself a bicycle box or suitcase
The first step is to get yourself an adequate size box or bicycle seatcase which you can use for sending your bike safely. If you've sold your bicycle or want to send it somewhere as a one-off you can usually pick up a bicycle box from your local bike shop. Often they'll happily hand over a box to you if they have one however it's always courteous to buy a few items from them as well- they're a business after all!
If you're looking at shipping your bike on a regular basis it may be worthwhile to purchase yourself a bicycle suitcase. They are heavy duty and designed for shipping a bicycle regualrly and safely. It may be for a yearly training camp or competitions and a good bicycle box is as worthwhile an investment as that top of the range carbon fibre frameset.
Mailing your bike step 2: Give it a good clean
A dirty, messy bike can lead to corrosion and damage to the working parts and frame therefore it's important to ensure you keep your bicycle clean in general.
If you're mailing your bike because you've sold it and want some great feedback regarding the purchase you need to wow the buyer when they take your bicycle out of it's box so it really needs to go into the box clean.
Also it's worthwhile to note that a clean bicycle is much less likely to damage the box and lead to potential risk of damage to the bicycle itself while shipping if the box collapses. Grease can seap into the sides of a box therefore increasing the likelihood of the box collapsing on itself or the sides ripping under any pressure which can lead to damage to the bike and it's parts.
Make sure you clean your bicycle before mailing for effective shipping.
Make sure it's clean before you start breaking down your bicycle for mailing
Shipping your bicycle step 3: Break it down for travel
To disassemble your bicycle remove your front wheel using either it's quick release or a sprocket set to remove the locking nuts. To avoid damage remove the skewer from the front wheel and store it somewhere safe.
Also remove your handlebars from the stem using a hex key (allen wrench) and wrap your handlebars in bubble wrap. There should not be a need to disconnect the cables from the bars.
You should be able to drop your saddle as low as possible however be prepared to remove your seatpost if required for transport.
Bicycle mailing step 4. Packing your bike in the box or suitcase
Most bicycle boxes should allow you to slide the bicycle into the box with the rear wheel still in place within the dropouts. Before doing this it's recommended to remove your chain by unhooking a link using a chain remover tool or if it has a fast link (ie a Sram Powerlink) simply unhook the link. If you haven't cleaned your bicycle you'll know about it now!
If you're using a bicycle suitcase it's likely the you will need to remove your rear wheel from the dropouts. Pay attention to using any blocks that the manufacturer provides between the drop-outs as these will prevent any 'pinching together' of the dropouts and damage to the frame. Many bicycle suitcases will also have an internal frame for you to attach your frameset to for during travel.
It's recommended to wrap your frame (with or without rear wheel) in bubble wrap as a protective layer prior to sliding it into the box or case.
Step 5: Putting the wheels into your bike mailing box
If you're shipping your bicycle in a box you can now wrap your front wheel (minus the skewer you removed earlier) in bubble wrap and slide it into your box to the side of the forks and front of the frame. Ideally the wheel should have a small amount of pressure in the tyres to provide some shock absorbing properties. Once in place at the side of your frame you can use some packing tape to fix the wheel in place and hold everything today.
Mailing your bicycle step 6: Add additional packing materials
Just because you've wrapped your bicycle in bubble wrap doesn't mean it's fully protected so consider using some additional lightweight packaging materials to give additional bicycle protection for shipping. Consider using more bubble wrap, styrofoam, old newspapers and anything that's lightweight and provides protection for your beloved bicycle.
Step 7: Weigh and measure your bicycle shipping box
Make a note of the sizes and weight of your box as you will need these to ensure you're quoted the right price when you contact any carriers for quotes to ship your bike.
You're going to need the height, width and length of your box for shipping your bike
If you're struggling to weight your bicycle consider using a simple set of bathroom scales as these will give a good approximate weight of your bicycle in it's box. Many people when selling bicycles on eBay make the mistake of not making a note of the correct weight before quoting a shipping charges amount.
Step 8: Who can you use to ship your bicycle?
Which companies can you use to mail your bicycle?
UPS (United Parcel Service)
US Postal Service (USPS)
Kuehne Und Nagel
Bicycle Suitcases and Boxes available at Amazon for mailing your bike
A heavy duty bicycle case- ideal for mailing worldwide. Expensive but worth the money to protect you're beloved carbon bicycle for years of shipping and travel
The ultimate bicycle shipping box. Corrugated cardboard and internal skeleton to protect your bicycle