The Ultimate Guide to Triathlon Bike Shipping

The Ultimate Guide to Triathlon Bike Shipping

There are three ways to do triathlon bike shipping: box and ship, fully-assembled transport, and checked bag. But which is the best method? For instance, some triathlon bike shipping services focus on convenience. Some focus on delivery speed. Some advertise the lowest price. And some underscore reliability. In other words, we need to compare cost, convenience, delivery speed and risk.

The purpose of this article is to compare the services of Overnight Bikes, TriBike Transport, BikeFlights and the airlines. Our goal is to give you the facts you need to make an informed decision.

To compare the services listed above we chose Ironman triathlons in three different parts of the country. Why Ironman? For the simple reason that many triathletes plan their race schedule around Ironman events.

Overnight Bikes

Overnight Bikes

Overnight Bikes ships with FedEx Express to offer priority overnight delivery. If you drop-off at FedEx Office by 4:30pm your bike will be delivered the next business day by 10:30am.

Highlights

Next day delivery overcomes two major hurdles. First, it maximizes your time to train. Second, one day shipping comes with peace of mind. In particular, the less time your bike is in transit the less likely it is to be damaged, delayed or lost.

Highlight Summary:

    • Next business day delivery = more time to train
    • $99 flat rate shipping in the U.S., including Hawaii
    • Stress-free travel
    • Decreased risk of damage, delay or loss

Trade-Offs

Be mindful of the overall dimensions of your bike box because FedEx applies a hefty oversize fee if it’s greater than 130-inches length plus girth.

Overnight Bikes doesn’t declare a shipment value to the carrier. Therefore, members are encouraged to carry a stand-alone insurance policy. Providers like Velosurance offer insurance against theft, loss, damage, and liability. You may also be able to add coverage through your existing homeowners policy.

Trade-Off Summary:

    • Premium priced service ($250 membership fee)
    • Requires self-service or full-service packing
    • Requires on-location assembly
    • No insurance coverage

Cost

Membership to Overnight Bikes is $250 a year. Membership includes $99 flat-rate shipping and next business day delivery within the U.S., including Hawaii.

Now, let’s consider three sample shipments. For consistency, each shipment will originate from the same location (Spokane, WA) and ship to destinations in Florida, Hawaii and California.

Example A

From Spokane, WA
To Panama City Beach, FL
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type FedEx Priority Overnight
Delivery Speed 1 business day
Cost $198 round trip ($99 each way)

Example B

From Spokane, WA
To Honolulu, HI
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type FedEx Priority Overnight
Delivery Speed 1 business day
Cost $198 round trip ($99 each way)

Example C

From Spokane, WA
To Oceanside, CA
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type FedEx Priority Overnight
Delivery Speed 1 business day
Cost $198 round trip ($99 each way)

Bottom Line

The $250 membership is particularly appealing to serial triathletes. The more often you use the service the more economical it becomes.

TriBike Transport Triathlon Bike Shipping

TriBike Transport Triathlon Bike Shipping

TriBike Transport is best known for its fully-assembled triathlon bike shipping. Drop-off your bike at one of their partner bike shops and pick-up at Ironman Village a day or two before the race.

Highlights

Fully-assembled bike shipping is attractive because, as a triathlete, you already have a lot on your mind. 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.

Highlight Summary:

    • Stress-free travel
    • No packing necessary
    • Delivery directly to the race
    • Easy handoff after the race
    • Insurance coverage ($8 per add’l $1,000 of value)
    • Gear-bag service ($40)

Trade-Offs

The company promotes the convenience of fully-assembled triathlon bike shipping. However, some disassembly is required prior to drop-off. For example, pedals, computers, seat post mounted carbon fiber hydration systems, and rear solid disc wheels all need to be removed before your bike can be shipped.

Logistically, if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area you’ll have to travel to the nearest TBT partner to drop-off your bike. Unfortunately, that also means making a return trip after the race.

TBT’s 8-10 day pre-race drop-off requirement is another trade-off. If you value the time to train aspect of race preparation this puts a wrinkle in your plans.

Lastly, transit-risk is always a consideration when shipping a bike. As with any service, the more time your bike is in transit the greater the risk of damage, delay or loss.

Trade-Off Summary:

    • Premium priced service
    • No coast-to-coast service
    • Requires travel to a partner location for drop-off
    • Increased risk of damage or delay (due to time in transit)
    • 8-10 day delivery speed

Cost

TriBike Transport pricing covers round-trip transportation. TBT’s fully-assembled service ranges from $200 to $370. Add $8 per additional $1,000 of value for insurance, $40 for a gear bag and $25 for a wheel bag. For Ironman Hawaii, the base cost ranges from $440 to $515. TBT will either fly your bike or sail it in a shipping container across the Pacific.

Again, let’s look at three example shipments to compare price.

Example A

From Spokane, WA
To Panama City Beach, FL
Dimensions ——
Weight ——
Service Type ——
Delivery Speed ——
Cost ——

Example B

From Spokane, WA
To Honolulu, HI
Dimensions
Weight
Service Type Fully-assembled
Drop-Off Location 5 hour drive (Spokane to Seattle)
Delivery Speed 8-10 days
Cost $440 round-trip

Example C

From Spokane, WA
To Oceanside, CA
Dimensions
Weight
Service Type Fully-assembled
Drop-Off Location 5 hour drive (Spokane to Seattle)
Delivery Speed 8-10 days
Cost $360 round-trip

Bottom Line

If we account for travel expenses to a non-local partner shop, TriBike ranks as the most expensive and least convenient option for shipping your bike. Since 2005, TBT has earned a reputation for offering reliable end-to-end triathlon bike shipping. However, the demand for fully-assembled shipping is declining due to the rise of lower cost options.

BikeFlights Bicycle Shipping Service

BikeFlights

BikeFlights offers box-and-ship triathlon bike shipping through UPS Ground.

Highlights

Economical UPS Ground shipping headlines the BikeFlights service. As a convenience, BikeFlights offers scheduled pickups for an additional fee.

Highlight Summary:

    • Economical UPS Ground delivery
    • Stress-free travel
    • Scheduled pickups (add’l fee)
    • International shipping

Trade-Offs

As a box and ship service, packing and re-assembly are the obvious trade-offs. The UPS Ground service offered through BikeFlights requires you to surrender sooner than you might like. Another trade-off of UPS Ground delivery is the increased risk of damage, delay or loss which is a byproduct of multiple days on a truck.

Trade-Off Summary:

    • 3-5 day delivery
    • Increased risk of damage, delay, loss (due to transit time)
    • Requires self-service or full-service packing
    • Requires on-location assembly

Cost

Now, let’s review some a sample shipments to compare cost.

Example A

From Spokane, WA
To Panama City Beach, FL
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type UPS Ground
Delivery Speed 5 business days
Cost $168 round trip ($84 each way)

Example B

From Spokane, WA
To Honolulu, HI
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type UPS Ground
Delivery Speed 4 business days
Cost $550 round trip ($225 each way)

Example C

From Spokane, WA
To Oceanside, CA
Dimensions 43 x 11 x 32 inches
Weight 55 pounds
Service Type UPS Ground
Delivery Speed 3 business days
Cost $142 round trip ($71 each way)

Bottom Line

Of the four services, BikeFlights is the most economical option for bike shipping within the contiguous United States. However, it’s also among the slowest in terms of delivery speed. Notably, shipping a bike to Hawaii with BikeFlights ranks as the most expensive option.

Airlines

Airline Triathlon Bike Shipping

Most airlines allow you to travel with your bike. However, depending on the carrier and destination, the fees and requirements can vary greatly.

Highlights

Flying with your bike maximizes time to train before the race.

Highlight Summary:

    • Same-day delivery
    • International service

Trade-Offs

Bike travel cases are bulky and heavy. In fact, they make it impossible to move quickly through busy airports. But, of far greater concern is the likelihood of TSA inspection, which occur behind the scenes. TSA is rightly concerned with the safety of everyone on board. They are not, however, concerned with securely repacking your bike. So, if you fly, you should expect that TSA will open, unpack and examine your bike without securely repacking it.

The unfortunately reality of flying with your bike is that there’s no way to be confident of its condition upon arrival.

Trade-Off Summary:

    • TSA inspections
    • Hassle of airport loading/unloading
    • Uncertainty with respect to baggage fees
    • Requires self-service or full-service packing
    • Requires on-location assembly

Cost

The cost of flying with your bike can be as little as $30 each way and as much as $300 each way, depending on the airline. Due to the number of airlines we will have to settle for this broad price range and leave it up to you to consider the highlights and trade-offs.

Bottom Line

The airlines are still an option for triathletes who place a high value on time to train. Depending on your priorities, the benefits may outweigh the risk and inconvenience.

Recap

Successful triathlon bike shipping comes down to how you rank cost, convenience, delivery speed and risk. Our in-depth analysis reveals that each service is designed to appeal to the needs of specific athletes within the triathlon community.

Just 20 years ago triathletes had one option: to fly with your bike. Then in 2005, TriBike Transport came onto the scene with fully-assembled shipping. In 2009, BikeFlights entered the fray offering an economical box and ship option. Last, but not least, Overnight Bikes balances fast delivery with relative convenience, cost effectiveness and reliability.

If you liked this article, please let us know in the comments and share it with your cycling group on Facebook or Strava. If you have any questions about Overnight Bikes, let’s chat.

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