Whether you’re traveling cross-country or heading to another continent for your next triathlon, you need to get your bike there safely too. If you aren’t going far, you can use a triathlon bike rack on your vehicle.
But what happens when you’re flying somewhere? What’s the best way to get your bike to your destination safely?
There are two options: checking your bike in as luggage on the plane or shipping it with a private company. We recommend shipping it privately for safety.
But how much does it cost to pack and ship a bike? This may be your biggest concern.
We’ve addressed some common questions to put your mind at ease before your next triathlon trip.
How To Ship Your Bike
It’s up to you to do your research and find the best options near you. If you’re traveling across the US, chances are you’ll be able to ship your bike from your nearest bike store.
Don’t automatically assume that’s the best way, though. You do get dedicated bike shipping companies, or you can go for a normal shipping company.
If you choose a bike shipping business, they’ll generally be able to pack your bike safely and effectively for you. If you’re using a normal shipping company, we recommend packing your bike yourself so you know it’s safe.
You can always check your bike in on the plane if you’re flying to your destination. Most cyclists aren’t so keen on this, though, as you never quite know how your bike may be treated.
What are the Benefits of Shipping a Bike?
Typically, shipping your bike separately is a lot less stress and hassle than trying to take it with you on the plane. If you’re driving, shipping could be a good option if you don’t have a bike rack or just don’t have space for your bike in the car.
It also saves you the cost of a triathlon bike cover or travel bag. These can be surprisingly expensive, so it saves you a bit of an extra cost.
What are the Disadvantages?
Depending on the company and the airline, there’s a chance that shipping your bike may be a little more expensive than checking it in on the airplane.
There’s also a small chance of your bike being damaged in transit, although there’s just as much chance of this happening on a plane.
For many, disassembling their bike, getting a box, and packing it up can be daunting and time-consuming. This is usually the biggest disadvantage.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Bike?
This really depends on the shipping company you choose and how well you package it. You can find good deals from $50 upwards.
$50 – $250
$50 is an average price for short-distance shipping. The further your bike needs to go, the higher the price will rise.
When working with this budget, you’ll usually need to package your bike in a smaller, lighter box and you’ll also have to pack it yourself. The shipping is generally slower, so make sure you send it in advance.
Upwards of $250
If you want the safest, fastest, long-distance shipping, expect to pay $250 or more.
This usually includes professional packing in a tougher and sturdier box, quick shipping, and almost any distance you can think of.
What Services Ship Bikes and How Does It Work?
There are many companies out there that will pack and ship your bike reliably. Here are a few that you can count on:
Many of them have resources like videos to help you disassemble your bike and pack it safely. They’ll send you a box that’s appropriate for your bike once you open an order.
Once your bike is ready for collection, they’ll send their courier to collect it from you and ship it to your chosen destination. Prices start at around $50 for short-distance shipping.
Should I Buy Insurance?
However you choose to ship your bike, we recommend that you invest in bike insurance. All bike shipping companies offer insurance plans, so you can send your bike off with peace of mind.
If you’re planning on taking your bike on the plane, you may need to research some insurance options. But we recommend taking this extra step so you can rest assured that your bike will be covered no matter what happens.
What Does It Cost to Take My Bike on a Plane?
The price for taking your bike on the plane will vary depending on the airline. We’ve seen prices from $30 up to $150.
While taking your bike with you on the plane may seem like the more convenient choice, if you’re paying a chunk for it you may as well choose a dedicated shipping company that will package your bike professionally for the price.
How Do I Package My Bike for Shipping?
Choosing a Box
The best piece of advice when it comes to packaging your bike to be shipped is to choose a box designed for bikes to be packed in.
Choosing a generic box means your bike will be subject to damage, as the box isn’t designed to protect fragile and expensive equipment.
You can find a special bicycle box pretty easily. Amazon has multiple choices, starting at around $10.
Your local bike store should also stock boxes, ranging in price from $10 t0 $20. Or, you can get a box sent to you from the bike shipping company you choose.
Disassembling the Bike
Disassembling your bike may sound like a scary and daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re shipping it with a professional or taking it on the flight with you, you need to disassemble it. You can’t ship a fully-assembled bike anywhere.
Your local bike shop or bike shipping companies often offer disassembly at a fee. If you want to do it yourself, you can save a few bucks and make sure it’s packaged to your own standards.
Start by removing the seat. Next, remove the handlebars and the front wheel. Then, remove the pedals. It may be a good idea to place your bike on a stand to make disassembling it easier.
Packing the Bike
You’ll need to wrap every part of the bike before packing it in the box. You don’t want anything rubbing or banging against something else and causing damage.
You can wrap it in towels, cloth, old clothes, bubble wrap, or whatever else you have on hand. Make sure every item is wrapped before being placed in the box.
It’s also a good idea to place something soft, like clothes, in the gaps between each part in the box. This way, nothing can move around within the box and cause friction or damage.
Make sure you close the box and seal it securely. Duct tape works well, but you may opt for airport-style, full wrapping to make it more secure.
Common Mistakes When Shipping a Bike
If you’ve never shipped your bike before, it can be easy to make small mistakes.
Not all mistakes lead to huge problems, but you never know when one small mistake may lead to damage to your bike.
The biggest mistake is not taking the time to pack your bike properly and safely into its box. Closely followed by choosing the wrong box!
Neglecting to wrap your bike parts safely and securely can lead to them rubbing up against each other and scratching or chipping.
Also, if there’s too much space inside the box between the parts, they may slide around and damage each other.
Not Buying Insurance
Not investing in insurance has the potential to be a huge mistake. It’s the kind of thing that you buy and hope you never have to use, but there’s always the chance of something happening and needing that coverage.
Neglecting to buy insurance can be an extremely costly mistake if you’re unlucky enough to have something happen to your bike in transit. Rather buy it and not need it, than not buy it and need it.
Sending It Too Late
This is a mistake you only ever make once! If you’re careful from the start, though, you may never have to worry about it.
If you leave your shipping too late, there’s a chance that your bike may not arrive in time for your event.
This can be a big problem. You’re forced to either pull out of the event or borrow a bike from someone.
Even if you do manage to borrow a bike, you’ve never trained on it, it’s not set up for you and your body, and you may not have the knowledge or experience to deal with the particular equipment the bike is kitted out with.
Make sure you have an understanding of how long shipping could take to your destination. Send your bike in advance so there’s minimal chance of problems with it getting there in time.
If possible, try to arrive a few days before your event so you can pick your bike up safely, or make a plan if there’s a delay.