There are three ways to do triathlon bike shipping: box and ship, fully-assembled transport, and checked bag. But which way is best? For instance, some triathlon bike shipping services focus on convenience. Some focus on delivery speed. Some advertise the lowest price. And some are all about reliability. In other words, you need to compare cost, convenience, delivery speed and risk.
In this article, we’ll compare Overnight Bikes, TriBike Transport, BikeFlights and the airlines. Our goal is to look objectively at the pros and cons of each service so you can choose your favorite.
Overnight Bikes offers preferred price, flat-rate shipping. The service has become a favorite among triathletes, including multiple Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Members pay a fee to join and receive flat-rate shipping with FedEx Priority Overnight® service anywhere in the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska.
For triathletes, overnight shipping overcomes two big hurdles. First, it respects your training schedule so you can peak for your ‘A’ race. Second, it comes with peace of mind. In other words, the less time your bike is in transit the less likely it is to be damaged, delayed or lost.
Overnight Bikes also has a bike case directory that includes over 25 bike travel bags and hard cases that are pre-approved for their bike shipping program.
In summary, the benefits of Overnight Bikes include:
- Bike case friendly
- Simple, transparent pricing
- Next day delivery
- Safer shipping
Overnight Bikes doesn’t declare a shipment value to the carrier. Instead, members are encouraged to carry a stand-alone insurance policy. Providers like Velosurance, Sundays, and Spoke offer insurance protection against theft, loss, damage, and personal liability. You may also be able to add coverage through your existing homeowners policy.
TriBike Transport is best known for its fully-assembled shipping service. Drop your bike off at one of their partner bike shops and pick up a day or two before the race.
As a triathlete, you already have a lot on your mind. So, fully-assembled bike transport is means there’s one less thing to think about. TriBike Transport also offers race day and after-the-race service, which is inline with their mission to ease the burden surrounding event-driven bike shipping.
In summary, the benefits of TriBike Transport include:
- Fully-assembled bike transport
- On-site delivery
- Easy handoff after the race
TriBike Transport promotes the convenience of fully-assembled triathlon bike shipping. However, some disassembly is required prior to drop off. For instance, you’ll need to remove pedals, computers, seat post mounted carbon fiber hydration systems, and rear solid disc wheels before your bike can be shipped.
If you don’t live in a major metro area you’ll have to drive to the nearest TBT partner location for drop off and pickup. TBT’s 1-4 week pre-race drop off requirement is another consideration.
BikeFlights offers preferred price UPS ground service. Rates vary based on your package size, weight, travel distance and delivery type.
UPS Ground shipping headlines the BikeFlights service. Uniquely, BikeFlights also offers international shipping.
As a box and ship service, packing and reassembly are the obvious trade offs. Also, multi-day ground service requires you to surrender your bike sooner than you might like. Rugged ground transit also has a greater risk of damage, so be sure to pack your bike safely.
Most airlines allow you to travel with your bike. However, depending on the carrier and destination, fees and requirements can vary greatly.
Flying with your bike maximizes your time to train before the race. The benefits of flying with your bike include:
- Same-day delivery
- International service
Bike travel cases are bulky and heavy. This makes it impossible to move easily through busy airports. But TSA inspections are of greater concern. TSA is rightly concerned with the safety of passengers. However, they aren’t as concerned with the safety of bicycles in the cargo area.
The unfortunate reality of flying with your bike is that there’s no way to be confident of its condition upon arrival.
The airlines are still an option for triathletes who place a high value on time to train. Depending on your priorities and budget, the benefits may outweigh the risk and inconvenience.
Successful triathlon bike shipping comes down to cost, convenience, delivery speed and risk. Each of the bike shipping services we covered is designed to appeal to the needs of specific athletes within the triathlon community.
Just 20 years ago triathletes had no choice but to fly with their bike. Then in 2005, TriBike Transport came onto the scene with fully-assembled shipping. In 2009, BikeFlights entered the fray offering box and ship ground service. Last, but not least, Overnight Bikes has introduced next day service, balanced with convenience, cost and reliability.
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