The Pros & Cons of Shipping your Bike

Riding your bike is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new place. Planning on riding with us, San Juan Huts, you'll likely be asking the question: Should I fly with my bike, ship it, or should I go cross country to my destination? Which bike case should I use? Box or case? What are the pros and cons to my options? Taking a road trip would be my choice, but not everyone can get a week off of work plus time it takes to get to your destination.

First of all, there is always a risk to both flying with your bike or shipping your bike. The chances of something happening to your bike (especially if you pack it properly) are usually pretty low. Here is a great video by Global Mountain Bike Network on how they ship a bike in a plain cardboard box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EeI3ZokAeY

Shipping Your Bike (in the US)

PROS:

  • Makes your travel day easier, a less stressful travel
  • Not dragging your bike through the airport and dealing with a big case
  • You will likely save some money

CONS:

  • It's likely that your bike will be handled and moved around more than if you fly with it so good packing is important
  • Not having your bike for a few days while it is in route

When you are shipping with a large shipping company, you will need to make sure that you either pack the bike yourself or have your local bike shop pack it for you

The most common shipping companies are FedEx and UPS. Rates will vary depending on where you plan to ship your bike, keep in mind that the dimensions of your case will be more of a factor in the shipping rate than the weight . Weight is a part of the equation but sometimes an extra inch on your box can raise your rate by $50. This is especially true with Fed Ex. Going through a company like Bikeflights.com is great way to keep the rates down because they work specifically with FedEx and receive and offer a lower shipping rate, than if you shipped it on your own. We hear many good things of Bikeflights.com. Shipbike.com is another company that only deals with shipping bikes with competitive prices.

Also when shipping you need to make sure you insure it, in case anything happens you are protected. It is very important to insure your bike for the replacement value.

Time Frame

How much time do you have? If shipping standard ground in the U.S., you will need to allow between 5-7 days to have your bike delivered to your destination. (in the US) As a general rule, plan to drop it off a week in advance (account for holidays >too).

3-day shipping is great but the rates will obviously go up with a package as large as a bike. If you do have a second bike, then it's easy to ship your bike early to make sure there are no issues with delayed delivery. If your bike shipment is time sensitive, it's always good double check with the company and get a guaranteed delivery date.

Cost to Ship Ground

Prices can vary. Some of this depends on whether the person at the desk rounds 1 inch up or down. Also adding the declared value will tack on extra $ but not as much as one would expect. On the cheap side, expect to pay around $60 to have your bike shipped one way. $75-$90 is about average and if you have a very awkward bike case.

Packing

Most all of the bike companies ship new bikes in cardboard bike boxes. They are extremely well packed and it's the only cost effective way for a bike company to ship thousands of bikes to many different destinations.

Cardboard: Free from your local bike ship, cost effective and light. Hard Case: They are very protective, with a little more weight. There is a website that caters to shipping bikes called www.aircaddy.com. It's around $200 for the box, but you can reuse it. Bikeflights and Shipbike.com both offer different types of boxes as well on their websites.You want to make sure you take off important bits and zip-tie them to bike, so nothing gets damaged.

Flying with your bike

Flying with your bike can be great because it's traveling with you and you'll have it immediately upon arrival of your destination. Similar to shipping your bike, you'll want to make sure that you pack up your bike.

Pros

  • It's traveling with you so you don't have the downtime without a bike that you'd have if you shipped it.
  • -Handled less than shipping, so less risk of damage to your bike.
  • -If you fly with a good airline, you'll pay as little as $50 each way.

Cons

  • Bike case can be an issue once you arrive at your destination
  • Can be cumbersome to travel with
  • Some airline bike fees can be extremely high ($200+each way)
  • A lost baggage/bike can throw a wrench in your plans. Soft cases are nice to travel with because your can pack them tight.

If you need help with assembling bike after shipping I've called around the areas of our bike hut trips and these are the going rates:

Boot Doctors: $75 Velorution Cycles: $45 Chili Pepper Bikes: $60 Poison Spider: $60

When choosing whether or not to ship, fly, or drive the long haul with your bike really depends on the specific details of your travel, as well as personal preference. Both shipping and flying require additional equipment/materials beyond just the bike itself. Neither option is less expensive under all circumstances - total cost will depend on your destination, the size of your case/box, the airline/carrier you choose, and whether you opt for shipping insurance. Regardless of which option you choose - if you are going on a trip and your bike is coming with you, you’re doing something right!