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Bike shipping: How to pack a bike for shipping

bicycle leans against a wall

Whether you’ve finally decided to take that dream cycling trip across Europe, or you’re moving to a new city and want to take your trusty road bike with you, there are plenty of occasions to ship a bike. But sometimes, it’s a white-knuckle ride. From damaged seat tubes to bent frames and twisted dropouts, there are plenty of opportunities for your bike to get damaged along the way.

Tips for how to ship a bike

Even though it can be a bit of a challenge, the vulnerabilities that come with mailing a bike shouldn’t deter you from bike shipping. You just need to take a few extra precautions. Follow these steps to learn how to ship a bike safely and securely:

  1. Take care of the pedals

Making your bike as narrow as possible is one of the best ways to reduce potential damage. Pedals can make your bike too wide and may poke through the box, which can leave them susceptible to getting banged up and broken. Remove them and the rear derailleur using a pedal spanner, and wrap them up in bubble wrap. 

  1. Remove the saddle and front wheel

The saddle is another area of vulnerability, as it could potentially be damaged during transit. Like the pedals and rear derailleur, remove your saddle and wrap it up with bubble wrap.

  1. Use a fork spacer

Fork spacers—a small tool which stops your forks from flexing—can effectively stop your bike’s legs from being crushed or bent by weight on top of them. That’s especially useful if your bike package ends up flat with other packages stacked on top of it.

  1. Loosen up the handlebars

If your handlebars are left in their regular, horizontal position, it’s possible for them to get caught on something during shipping. By loosening and rotating the handle bars so they align with your bike frame, you can keep everything tight and reduce the potential for damage. Depending on the size of your bike (mountain bikers, this means you) the stem may need to be removed. In these instances, just strap the handlebars to the top tube of your bike.

  1. Bubble wrap the rear wheel axle

The sharp ends of your bike’s rear wheel axle can poke through the box, leaving them exposed to damage. Reduce the likelihood of this happening by covering them with a protective layer of bubble wrap.

  1. Use foam pipe insulation

It’s always possible for your bike frame to get scratched during transit, which is why an extra layer of protection is always worthwhile. Foam pipe insulation for your bike frame is a great way of not only preventing scratches, but also adding a little extra cushioning.

  1. Partially deflate the tires

You should leave your tires partially inflated when you mail a bike. Some people believe that depressurization can cause your tires to explode, but that’s generally not the case. Instead, leaving your tires partially inflated helps protect the rims from scratches. You should also keep your chain on the ring, rather than removing it, as this protects the teeth from getting bent.

After you’ve prepared your bike for shipping, it’s time to package it up. Find out how to pack a bike for shipping with these four simple steps: 

  1. Use an appropriately-sized box

First, you need to find the right size box. Obviously, this depends on what type of bike you have to ship, as a child’s bike will require a different size box than an XXL adventure mountain bike. The UPS Packaging Advisor can help you find out exactly what size box you need.

  1. Cover the bottom with bubble wrap

By covering up the bottom of the box with bubble wrap or packaging peanuts, you can add a little bit of extra cushioning which will reduce the effect of impacts and knocks during transit.

  1. Fill up the empty space

After you’ve placed your bike in the box, it’s time to fill up all the empty space with loose fill packaging or packing peanuts. This stops your bike from sliding around, keeping it secure.

  1. Seal the box

Finally, it’s time to seal up the box. Use tape and wrap each seam with several layers to make the entire package as secure as possible.

Head to Your Local The UPS Store® Location

Now that you know how to pack a bike for shipping, you should head over to your local The UPS Store location. Not only can you find all the necessary packaging supplies for bike shipping—from packaging peanuts and tape, to cushioning and bubble wrap—but The UPS Store Certified Packing Experts® can pack the bike for you and make sure that it’s ready to be shipped.  

Final word

Whether you’re shipping a folding bike or a child’s tricycle, you can avoid a lot of headaches by taking a couple of simple precautions. Find your nearest The UPS Store location and let the professionals handle bike shipping for you.

Ready to get started? 

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