Packing a Bike for Shipping

Packing a Bike for Shipping
You’ve decided that a distant adventure is in your future and that you want to share the adventure with your bike. You’ve obtained a bike box or bag to pack it in for shipping, either with you on the airplane or to be sent ahead to meet you there. Now all you need to do is pack your friend in such a manner as to ensure that it arrives unscathed. While you can’t foresee or prevent airline luggage abuse, you can make sure your bike is well packed for the trip by following these bits of advice.

If you’ve never travelled with your bike before, the first thing you need to know is that you’ll have to take it significantly apart. You could hire a bike shop to dismantle and pack it for you (and hire one at your destination to put it back together), but it’s really not hard to do. In the process, you’ll get to know your bike better and be more comfortable with working on it. All you need is a few basic tools such as hex keys (allen wrenches), a pedal wrench, and screwdrivers.

Before you start, give your bike a good cleaning. It probably needs it anyway, and doing so will make the whole process easier. Once it’s clean, consider wrapping the frame tubes in bubble wrap or pipe insulation to protect them from dings as you work on it and as it travels.

If you’re travelling by air, deflate your tires to about 25 psi so they won’t burst as the outside air pressure changes. You’ll also likely need to remove your front wheel so that the bike will fit in your box or bag. I strongly recommend putting a fork-spacer block between the front forks to keep them from getting bent during travel. This block can be as simple as a 1” x 1” piece of wood the same length as the distance between the bottom ends of your forks. A screw in either end of the block will help keep it in place. You may need to use some ingenuity to ensure it doesn’t fall out.

Remove the pedals, seat and seat post, and handlebars. The handlebars will still be attached by the brake and shifter cables, so be careful not to let it dangle or damage the cables. If you have racks or fenders, you may also need to remove those to get the bike to fit in your chosen box or bag. If you’re container came with additional bags to protect the components, by all means use them. (My Skinz Protective Gear bag came with bags or covers for the front wheel, seat and seat post, pedals, and handlebars.)

With the bike disassembled, lay it on its right side in the box or bag. Level the crank arms and secure them so that they can’t turn out of position. Rotate the front forks 90 degrees so they lay flat. Lay the front tire on the left side of the bike so that the axle is between the top tube and down tube and the front tire is basically in line with the rear tire. You’re trying to keep the profile of the bike as small as possible. Next, lay the handlebars over the front tire and along the top tube so that it takes up the least possible room. Fit everything else in around the bike in such a manner that nothing is rubbing or banging together. If necessary, add extra padding for protection. Make sure you haven’t left anything out. You’d miss your pedals if you forgot them now!

With a bit of practice, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can take your bike apart and pack it. Putting it back together at your destination is just as easy – if you didn’t forget to bring your tools with you! Don’t let fears of travelling with your bike keep you from exploring the world.

Ride safe and have fun!

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