6 Steps to Shipping a Bike

After spending the winter getting all our cycle gear together we had to figure out a way to get the bikes to our starting point in London, England.

There are basically two methods of shipping a bike; breaking it down and boxing it up, or sliding it into a bag. After researching both methods, and weighing the pros and the cons of each, we decided to go with the bagging method. Not only does it require less taking apart of the bike but there is a theory that if baggage handlers can see that it’s a bike then they will be more careful with it – plus they can’t be stacked like when they are in a box.

You can use any heavy duty plastic bag – it’s finding one that’s big enough that is the tough part. We found these at Wiggle.com and had them sent to us. They are quite a thick polyurethane and stand up well to baggage handling.

Packing them up turned out to be pretty easy.

Shipping a bikeProtect the derailleur. This isn’t a necessary step but we know from experience that derailleur hangers are easily bent and a bent derailleur can quickly derail a good day. :) It’s held on with just one bolt so comes off really easily. We then just wrapped it in bubble wrap and taped it to the frame for safe keeping.

shipping a bikeTurn the handlebars. Simply loosen the headset and turn the handlebars for a narrower profile. We also turned them under to protect them just a little more.

Shipping a bike.Reduce the tire pressure. This is an airline requirement. They don’t have to be flat – just take out enough air to allow for expansion in different air pressure environments.

Shipping a bike.Secure the front wheel. We taped the front tire to the frame just to stop it from wiggling about too much and make it a little easier to handle.

Shipping a bike.Remove the pedals. Use a pedal wrench to remove the pedals so they don’t stick out through the plastic bag.

Shipping a bike.Bag it up. The bag is just that – a massive plastic bag open at one end. Simply push the bike into the bag, fold over the end, and tape it all up. We used a LOT of tape – we didn’t want any flappy bits and wanted it to be as secure as possible. Once it was all wrapped we realized that one handle bar end looked a little exposed so we cut down a juice bottle and taped it to the end. For the second bike we placed the juice bottle protection inside the plastic wrap. Don’t forget to add some identification! We printed up labels with our name, destination address, and phone number so that they would be reunited with us if they got lost along the way. (Use a transparent report keeper to protect the paper label.)

Shipping a bike.

The bikes have taken one flight since being packed up and they survived quite well. All we need to do for our upcoming flight to London (tomorrow!!) is check on the taping and switch out the address label to our London destination.

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9 Responses to “6 Steps to Shipping a Bike”

  1. Leigh Says:

    What a grand adventure you’re off to have.I bet you have a great time.

    I shipped a bike from Vancouver through to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania via London and it arrived in one piece. The box was jammed with stuff as well but no problems as all. I wish you the same good luck I had.
    Leigh recently posted..Cycling the Annapolis Royal Area of Nova Scotia

  2. Ali Says:

    I can NOT imagine having to do this! I hope they make it across the pond in one piece. Looking forward to hearing about your cycling trip!
    Ali recently posted..Should We Expect People in Other Countries to Speak English?

  3. Candice - Desert to Jungle Says:

    I recently brought my bike to Thailand from Dubai. The most challenging bit was navigating a luggage trolley with it on! I took it into a bike shop in Dubai and they took it apart and boxed it up then I did the same in Thailand. I didn’t have the time, tool or know how to do it myself so well done you two!
    Candice – Desert to Jungle recently posted..Oman – Dhows, Dunes and Dolphins in Musandam

  4. Oliver Says:

    Excellent post! I have been travelling by air before while taking the bike along, but unfortunately didn’t put as much attention and thought towards wrapping and packing it as you. Even though I have to admit it has been a matter of time as well, going top the airport BY BIKE actually… :)
    Thanks for sharing Gillian and I already look forward to following your ride and I hope you made it to London sound and safe! No doubt about the bikes though… ;)
    Oliver recently posted..Wander & Travel ~ Hilaire Belloc

  5. Arti Says:

    Best Wishes on what promises to be a grand tour for you, really excited for you! Have a nice day Gillian :)
    Arti recently posted..Things to do in Melbourne, Australia: Fitzroy Gardens, Captain Cook’s Cottage, etc.

  6. Eric Says:

    More riding less writing! ;-) Have an awesome adventure!

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