Shipping a Bike: How to Travel With Your Bicycle

Airlines made $5 billion in profit from baggage fees in 2018. Anyone looking to travel with large gear on a plane needs to pack smart. If you’re trying to fly with your bike, things can get complicated real fast.

Trying to tour with your bike requires a lot of prep-work to avoid getting burnt on fees. Shipping a bike is possible through a variety of methods. You can hand ship it like any other package, store it as an extra check bag, or have someone else handle it all for you.

If you have the luxury of going with option three, you can skip ahead. Everyone else, consider your options carefully. This guide can safely secure your bike without sacrificing too much time or money.

Flying With Your Bike

Sometimes, flying with your bike is cheaper than shipping it. This is going to depend on the destination and the type of bike you have. If you have a full-sized bike in a special bike case, some airlines might charge you extra.

If you have a foldable bike that is no bigger than standard luggage, you could come out paying nothing (Southwest Airlines) as your second check bag.

Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, and United will charge you additional fees for your check bags. If you’re going overseas, expect to pay even more from airlines like KLM, British Airways, and Cathay Airlines.

Travel By Train

You may think that traveling by train is the least expensive option for shipping a bike with you, but it’s often not. For one, trains are expensive in the U.S. You get to your destination much later and pay more.

The irony here is that trains have a bike service on some routes. Stowing away a bike may only cost you $10 on Amtrak, for example. Bike boxes are sold at Amtrak, too, so at the very least you can use them for shipping materials.

When you reach Europe, though, it’s a different story. Biking is way more accessible and so are the trains. As long as you’re traveling on low-traffic commuter trains, you shouldn’t expect to pay high bike fees or bother with boxing it up.

Shipping a Bike

Planning ahead and shipping a bike to your destination is smart and can save you some money. Shipping a box with a major carrier is usually bad news, though. Bikes have gotten extremely light and compact, but not enough to dodge shipping fees.

Your bike, after it is packed into a box, is going to weight a lot and the dimensions will cause shipping rates to multiple. Insurance is often a huge premium, too. You’re best off going with smaller, experienced shipping service providers.  

Bike Shops

One of the more expensive, but least troublesome ways to ship your bike is with the help of a local bike shop. They’re going to have the most knowledge when it comes to disassembling and packaging your bike. It’s also possible that you could get your bike shipped to another shop at your destination.

Then, when you arrive, the other bike shop can professionally assemble everything, tear it down when you’re done, and you never get your hands dirty.

Needless to say, all this hands-on labor will cost a lot, but it reduces the chances of something failing on the bike. 

Bike Travel Cases

If you like the idea of traveling with your bike to every vacation or bike tour, you might want to invest in a travel case. This will significantly reduce the time spent packing it up and provide adequate protection. The top bike cases are between $300 and $600, but they’re worth it if you travel a lot.

The bike case materials and form will vary based on your needs. The sturdy, hard cases are more expensive and heavier. If you actually plan on carrying your bike over long treks, go with a soft-shell case that won’t add too much weight.

Packing It At Home

Shipping your bike off in a box is a delicate process. It requires intimate knowledge with your bike, proper packing materials, and time. If you think you have all of these three things, this could save you a lot of money.

There are plenty of detailed bike packing instructions and tutorials on the web, so we’ll just cover the basics. Use this as a sort of checklist to avoid skipping or forgetting to do things.

  1. Remove handlebars, rotate fork, and stem backward.
  2. Place bike chain on the highest gear.
  3. Remove pedals, seat post, and seat.
  4. Wrap handlebar, seat post, seat, and pedals in foam.
  5. Take off racks, bottle holders, lights, splash guards, and wrap them.
  6. Tight and tape together the smallest parts to reduce box travel.
  7. Label contents clearly and create a manifest.
  8. Remove all previous labels or barcodes if using an old box.
  9. Create two labels, one for the outside, spare on the inside.

If you follow these steps in order, your bike and your investment are secure. By taking every precaution and documenting it, you will avoid being denied insurance payouts. Packages get lost, stolen, and damaged all the time, if it happens to you then you’re covered with your preparation and proof.

Need It Now?

You have lots of options available if you’re shipping a bike. Don’t settle for subpar service or expensive shipping rates. There’s nothing special about shipping a bike if done correctly.

Don’t let other carriers tell you that your bike is a special exemption. Go with a shipping courier who is honest and fair with their rates. Need It Now courier service can get your bike where you need it, safe and efficient.

Get a free quote instantly or call us if you have any more questions about shipping logistics.