Bike shipping is easy once you’ve learned the basics. In this article, we’ll cover the best way to ship a bike, shipping costs, and where to get a good bike box. In addition to all of that, we’ll also share the most common bike shipping blunder we see. So, whether you’re exploring bicycle tours or planning for an Ironman triathlon, The Complete Bike Shipping Guide for 2023 has everything you need to coordinate a successful shipment.
Choose a topic to get started. We recommend starting with the basics.
- Bike Shipping Basics
- Bike Insurance
- Boxes and Packing
- Shipping to Cycling Events
- Bike Shipping Blunders
Bike Shipping Basics
The basics of shipping a bike include: shipping types and shipping services. Let’s briefly discuss each one.
Both FedEx and UPS offer bicycle shipping. If you’re traveling, you also have the option to bring your bike on the plane. However, most pro cyclists and triathletes choose to ship their bike because lugging a bike case through a busy airport is hard work and baggage fees are expensive. If that weren’t reason enough, TSA inspections often result in damage due to poor repacking. All things considered, the cost and convenience of shipping makes it the best method.
A bicycle shipping service can save you a lot of money on the cost of shipping. Your package size, travel distance and delivery type will impact the cost but, compared to retail prices, a bicycle shipping service is your best option. Overnight Bikes and BikeFlights are the two most popular bike shipping services today.
Overnight Bikes offers preferred price, flat-rate shipping. The service has become a favorite among triathletes and pro cyclists. Members pay a fee to join and receive flat-rate shipping with FedEx Priority Overnight® service. Overnight Bikes ships anywhere in the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska.
BikeFlights offers preferred price UPS ground service. Rates vary based on your package size, weight, travel distance and delivery type.
Shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS don’t offer shipping insurance. Declared value isn’t the same thing as insurance. The difference is that with declared value the carrier’s liability will not exceed the repair cost, depreciated value or replacement cost, whichever is less.
Velosurance, Spoke, Markel and Sundays offer stand-alone, bicycle insurance to cover damage or loss. Bicycle insurance or a comparable rider on your homeowners policy is recommended. For a deep dive into the pros and cons of buying bike insurance, read Is bike insurance worth it?
Bike Boxes and Packing
There are two kinds of bike boxes: recyclable cardboard and reusable hard or soft cases. A well-packed bike is the key to preventing damage during shipping.
Bike Boxes (Recyclable)
You can get a recyclable cardboard bike box from several sources. FedEx offers a bike box for that’s large enough to fit most bikes. Other sources for cardboard bike boxes include those offered by ShipBikes and BikeFlights. Both are suitable for safe, reliable bike shipping. If you’re hoping to get your hands on a free bike box we recommend checking with your local bike shop.
Bike Cases (Reusable)
There are several reusable bike travel bags and hard cases designed to fit road, triathlon, mountain and cyclocross bikes. Overnight Bikes has a bike case directory that includes over 25 bike travel bags and hard cases that are already pre-approved for the company’s preferred price, flat-rate shipping program.
Bike Packing Services
The team at your local bike shop will be happy to pack your bicycle for you. If you happen to have a Velofix mobile bike shop in your area they’ll come to you. Either way, there’s peace of mind that comes with having an experienced professional pack your bike for you.
To plan accordingly, reach out to your local bike shop about a week before your ship date. If you’re using a bike shipping service you can print your shipping label and ask your local bike shop to tape on your box or case. Both Overnight Bikes and BikeFlights will let you schedule a pickup when your bike is ready to be shipped.
Successful shipping to and from an event depends on how you prioritize cost, convenience, speed and risk. These are the four main considerations.
For triathlons and other cycling competitions there are obvious benefits to next day delivery. For instance, keeping your bike longer leading up to the race will impact your ability to peak for your ‘A’ race. To get an objective review of triathlon bike shipping services, read Triathlon Bike Shipping Services.
If you’re shipping to an event, ask the event organizer if they have a suggested ‘ship-to’ location. If not, you can always ship to your hotel, a FedEx or UPS holding location, or a local bike shop. Shipping to a local bike shop is helpful because they can assemble your bike for you. When shipping to yourself in care of a hotel, carrier location or local bike shop, remember to have your ID present at pick up.
Bike Shipping Blunders
The most common bike shipping mistake we see is poor packing. If you’re going to do it yourself take the time to learn how to do it properly. Search YouTube for videos on how to pack a bike. Otherwise, it’s worth the cost to have a professional do it for you.
In this article, we’ve covered everything from the basics to the blunders. We’ve outlined bike shipping services and listed sources for recyclable boxes and reusable hard cases. We’ve also gone over insurance and packing services.
Now that you know how to coordinate a successful shipment, you’re ready to ship a bike. If you have any questions about Overnight Bikes, get in touch.
If you liked this article, share it with your cycling group on Facebook or Strava.