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Shipping Tips & Solutions

All the Tips You Need to Ship a Bike (or eBikes)

Wondering how to ship a bike? Here's everything you need to know from how to pack it, how to choose a courier, and how to deal with eBike shipments!
All the Tips You Need to Ship a Bike (or eBikes)
Jules

By Jules

 

June 11, 2020

There are plenty of occasions where you may find yourself needing to know how to ship a bike. For instance, you may be an eCommerce retailer sending it to your customers, you may be shipping it to take part in a bike race competition some miles away, or just send it as a gift to your loved one.

Given its awkward shape and size, you may find yourself in the middle of not knowing how to ship a bike! The truth is that packaging your bike for shipping can be a nerve-wracking process that requires planning, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

But it is worth it, especially when you think of the vulnerabilities of damage, from bent frames to damaged seat tubes, and twisted dropouts, that a bike can be exposed to in transit if not packaged properly. So, there is no way around it! If you need your precious touring machine to ship safely and securely, you need to know how to ship a bike.

This article gives you step-by-step instructions on how to ship a bike, the packaging supplies you need to prepare your bike for shipping, how to disassemble and package it, the cost of shipping your bike, and how you can protect and track your bike shipment.

Sunrise Rides
Photo by Jonny Kennaugh 

Important Packing Supplies You’ll Need to Ship Your Bike

The first thing when figuring out how to ship a bike is to know the supplies you need to package it properly and protect it from scratches and damages. Here is a list of the supplies you need to gather to prep your ride for shipping.

  • Bike shipping box or bag
  • Pedal wrench
  • Foam padding
  • Bubble wrap
  • PVC tubing to protect the frame
  • Zip ties
  • Extra cardboard for padding
  • Shipping tape
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Pad spacers( for hydraulic disc brakes)

Steps For Disassembling a Bike For Shipping

The next thing you need to know to solve the puzzle of how to ship a bike is to do some disassembling to narrow your bike and reduce its height, as well as keep fragile parts protected.

Here are the steps for disassembling your bike for shipping:

  1. Use foam pipe insulation: The frame of your bike risks getting scratched during disassembling or on transit. To prevent this, add a little extra cushioning with an extra layer of foam pipe insulation.
  2. Disassemble the pedals, seat, and Seatpost: use a pedal spanner to unscrew the pedals, seat, and the Seatpost. Wrap them up in bubble wrap and set aside. The aim here is to make your bike as narrow as possible and reduce its height so that it won’t poke through the box.
  3. Remove and pack the handlebars: You can either loosen your handlebars and rotate them to align with your bike’s frame or remove the stem and position it parallel to the top tube. Make sure the brake levers face inwards to avoid any contact with sides of your bike shipping box. Pad the handlebars as needed and tape, or zip tie to the top tube of your bike.
  4. Remove the wheels: Remove the front wheel. Most bike shipping boxes will accommodate a bike with the rear wheel attached, so you don't have to remove it.  Pad the wheel with foam and bubble wrap or use a padded wheel bag. Remove rotators, thru-axles and skewers, and pad with foam or wrap with bubble wrap. Cover the cassette on the rear wheel with form or padding, and install end caps over the axle ends on both wheels or wrap them with bubble wrap.
  5. Rear derailleur and Hanger: remove the derailleur and hanger and wrap them in dense padding. Zip tie or tape them inside of the frame.
  6. Disc brakes: you need to keep the brake pads separated after removing the wheels. Use a pad spreader to achieve this. You also need to keep the calipers that extend beyond the back dropout of the bike from getting damaged or punching through the box. Remove them, pad, and secure to the inside of the frame.
  7. Dropouts: fork dropouts can get compressed and damage the box or other components. To prevent this, install a plastic spacer, or PVC pipe between the fork dropouts.
  8. Partially deflate the tires: deflating your tires completely can make the rims get scratched on transit. To prevent this, make sure that your tires are only partially deflated to protect the rims. Also, keep the chain on the ring to protect the teeth from getting bent.

How to Pack a Bike For Shipping

In deciding how to ship a bike, you need to make your mind on assembled bicycles vs disassembled bicycles. Disassembling your bike reduces its vulnerability to damage, and helps reduce the dimensional weight, hence keeping the shipping cost low.

You may need to enquire from your shipping carrier on whether they ship assembled bicycles and the costs involved. Most carriers will not ship your bike assembled and you may not find a bike shipping box that will accommodate it.

Here is how to pack a bike for shipping:

  1. Find the appropriate bike shipping box depending on the size of your bike. You can get one for free from your local bike shop or purchase one online on your courier's website.
  2. Cover the bottom of the box with bubble wrap, cardboard or packaging peanuts to reduce the impact of knocks on transit.
  3. Make sure that the frame is well protected with plumbing insulation, and that all the other parts are well padded with foam and bubble wrap.
  4. Place the frame along with the rear wheel into your bike shipping box first.
  5. Place the other parts into the shipping box carefully, by sliding them as close to the frame as possible.
  6. Fill up any space on the box with packing peanuts or cardboard to make sure that all parts are intact in their position.
  7. Close the box and secure the flaps by applying several coats of tape.
  8. Print out a shipping label from your couriers' website, and tape it securely on the side of the box.

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Bike?

There is no one-size-fits-all price when it comes to the cost of shipping a bike as this depends on the courier company you use, delivery speed, weight and dimensions of your package, and the destination you are sending it to. To find the cheapest way to ship a bike, you need to use a shipping rate calculator to compare rates from different couriers.

Here is an approximation cost for shipping a 29lb mountain bike in a 43 x 11 x 32 inches bike shipping box from Brooklyn, New York to Miami, Florida. This excludes the cost of packaging, insurance, or any other freight and handling surcharges that may apply to your shipment.

Shipping a bike with USPS

  • USPS :$160.55 in 7 days

Shipping a bike with FedEx:

  • FedEx Ground: $142.31 in 5 days
  • FedEx Express Saver: $433.99 in 5 days
  • FedEx 2Day: $616.06 in 4days

Shipping a bike with UPS

  • UPS Ground: $101.97 in 3 days
  • UPS 3 Day Select: $373.37 in 3days
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: $620.70 in 2 days
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: $772.53 in 1 day

Shipping a bike with DHL

DHL offers competitive rates for international shipping, and if you want to mail a bike overseas, you may need to use this carrier. Here is DHL’s cost for mailing the same 29lb bike from New York to Hong Kong in the same bike shipping box.

  • DHL Express Worldwide: $370.25

Protecting and Tracking a Bike Shipment

  • Insurance: insuring your bike on transit will cover you for any damages, or loss. Insurance will be very useful when shipping your bike internationally.
  • Tracking: tracking your package minimizes its chances of getting lost, misplaced, or being delivered to the wrong address. Make sure to track your bike shipment to avoid any delivery inconveniences.
  • Customs information: when shipping your bike internationally, you need to make sure that all the customs forms and documents are filled correctly to avoid situations where your package will be held in customs and occasion further delays.
  • What happens if your package is damaged or lost: if you had your bike shipment insured, the insurance will cover the loss. Otherwise, you may need to file a claim with the courier and  they will tell you their stand on your claim

Shipping a bike is pretty similar to shipping other products. The only difference is that there is a bit of disassembling of parts, and you need to make sure that every part is well-padded and secured in its position with bubble wrap or zip ties. If you can get that right, then you know how to ship a bike!

What About an ebike?

Tower electric bike.
Photo by Tower Electric Bikes / Unsplash

With consumers becoming more environmentally conscious, there’s been a huge growth in demand for eco-friendly transport options, including eBikes. The sale of electronic bicycles grew eightfold between 2014 and 2018 and generated over $77.1 million in 2017. If you're involved in creating and selling eBikes, then it's important you understand how to ship them properly, as the process is different from ordinary bikes.

How to Ship Electric Bikes with Lithium Batteries

For anyone working with eBikes, shipping is a major consideration. More specifically, it’s shipping electric bike batteries that’s the problem. That’s because most eBikes use huge lithium batteries, which most couriers consider to be dangerous goods. So, if you’re planning to ship eBikes with their batteries installed, there are a lot of hoops you’ll have to jump through first.

Even if your chosen courier allows you to ship your eBike with its lithium batteries, there are several requirements you’ll need to meet before they’ll accept your shipment.

First, you’ll need to work out if you want to ship lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries. Most carriers will accept shipments with lithium-ion batteries, because these are commonly used in consumer electronics like laptops, portable gaming devices, and phones.

For example, DHL Express will accept these shipments, as long as they’re carefully packaged in accordance with their guidelines. However, lithium metal batteries are considered more dangerous and, as a result, most couriers won’t accept shipments that contain these.

Either way, you’ll still need to follow certain guidelines to ship an electronic bike with Lithium Batteries, such as:

  • Getting approval from the national authority before shipping a lithium battery weighing more than 35kgs
  • Ensuring the battery isn’t defective or damaged
  • The battery should be packed to prevent short-circuiting
  • The shipment should have a lithium battery shipping label and should be marked as dangerous goods

The size of your batteries will dictate what courier services you’ll be able to use and how you’ll be able to ship your eBike. For example, if the package contains less than 5kgs of lithium batteries and is packed in the eBike, then UPS will allow you to ship it by air without a Dangerous Goods contract; but, if the net weight of lithium batteries in the shipment is over 5kgs, you will need a Dangerous Goods contract.

For shipping electronic bike batteries, your eBike shipment will also need to be carefully packaged by someone who currently has a HazMat certification for preparing batteries for shipping. If you don’t have someone with HazMat certification on your team, you’ll need to find someone who does. Or, you can ask your courier about this - they may have someone who can handle the packing for you.

Getting the right documentation is important if you plan to ship your eBikes with their batteries. Here are just a few documents you may need to safely ship eBikes:

  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - This document contains information about potentially hazardous materials and the safe handling procedures for them. It’s required by airlines and couriers in order to approve shipping electronic bike batteries (and eBikes with batteries).
  • UN38.3 Certificate - This is a certificate that proves your battery has been tested according to UN guidelines and is safe to be transported. Certification takes 2-3 months and is valid for a year; carriers won’t accept your battery-containing eBike shipment without this.
  • Certificate for the Safe Transport of Goods - Some countries will want to see this certificate to verify that it’s safe to transport your eBike.
  • Certificate of Origin - Because taxes and duties are applied based on where goods are manufactured, some countries will want to see this document to properly understand what duties to levy on your shipment.

If you’re shipping internationally, customs paperwork will also be a big consideration.you’ll need to have all the correct information and harmonized codes filled out properly so that your shipment can enter the country without delay. All couriers will also require your shipment to have a Dangerous Goods label, so that it’s handled carefully while in transit.

When shipping electric bike batteries, you should remember to use sturdy packaging. Using padding material will help ensure that the bike doesn’t move while in transit, though you may also choose to use straps to keep everything in place.

In terms of cost, you should remember that eBikes are big and heavy, which means you should expect shipping to be expensive. You may also face increased costs if you’re shipping an electric bike battery in the eBike or if the parcel is considered oversized or odd-sized. To try and keep costs down, you can minimize the amount of packaging materials you use for the shipment without compromising its safety.

Related Post: How to Ship Car Parts

How to Ship eBikes without Lithium Batteries

Shipping eBikes without lithium batteries is far easier, because you remove the issues that crop up when dealing with dangerous goods; your eBike will ship like any other goods. By shipping the electric bike battery separately from the bike itself, you’ll automatically ensure safer shipping.

However, shipping eBikes this way means you’ll have to send the battery separately through a major courier like UPS, FedEx, or USPS, all of which have the expertise required to handle battery shipments. But, you’ll still have to deal with courier guidelines and restrictions for shipping lithium batteries.

The main thing is that you’ll want to pack the battery carefully. This may include:

  • Covering battery terminals with insulating, non-conductive materials
  • Placing the battery in sealed, non-conductive interior packaging
  • Using padding material to avoid shifting during transport

You’ll also need to talk to the courier about any special paperwork that needs to be done. For shipping an electric bike battery, you’ll need P1965 certification which states that the battery has been tested and deemed safe for transport.

Even if you’re shipping the eBike separately from its battery, you may still need to provide some of the paperwork mentioned in the previous section before a courier or airline will accept the shipment. Some couriers - such as UPS - may also ask you to sign a Dangerous Goods contract.

Cost is another consideration here. Shipping the battery separately from the eBike means you’ll be paying for two shipments. These costs can quickly add up, so you may want to factor this into your funding goals when you’re planning your campaign.

If you’re shipping by ocean, you should be aware that you’ll need to book a full container, even if you don’t use all the space, which can be expensive.

Further Considerations When Shipping eBikes

Ok, so you're still committed to shipping an eBike, well, there are a few other issues that you'll need to take into consideration, as they could complicate the process.

  • You should expect significant duties when trying to import eBikes into certain countries. Some, like the European Union, have imposed Anti-Dumping duties to prevent the market from being flooded with low-cost eBikes which would hurt local manufacturers.    
  • Transport regulations and certifications: depending on the country and the specs of the items, eBikes can be considered "motor vehicles" and subject to significant regulation.
  • Manufacturers will need the proper government and regulatory approvals to export eBikes. This is an important issue particularly in China.
  • The oversize nature of eBikes creates challenges in shipping. Many couriers cannot carry goods this large, and those that can ship them can be very expensive.

Bottom line, you need to do extensive research and cost calculations before you consider shipping eBikes.

Successfully Ship Your Bikes and Electric Bikes Around the World

As you can see, shipping a bike isn't too different from shipping any other product. You just have to know how to package them properly and select the right carrier. Things get a little more complicated if you want to ship an eBike, though again, it's entirely possible to do this safely.

Either way, Easyship can help you get your bike wherever it needs to go. You can use our platform to access cost-effective shipping solutions for a regular bike, or speak to our team for assistance or guidance for shipping eBikes.

Sign up for a free account today and speak to your account manager about your bike shipping needs! The account will come with a range of useful automated shipping rules and functions that will make the process much smoother for you.

This blog post was updated on August 7, 2020 to reflect new information.