How to Ship a Bike

Q: I just sold my bike on eBay and need to know how to ship it.

A: Shipping a bike can be a pain, which is why many people choose to have their LBS ship it for them.  However, having your LBS ship your bike for you can be a bigger problem and hassle than just doing it yourself, not to mention a more cost effective solution.  And you don’t have to risk negative eBay feedback from anxious buyers and slow bike shops.  Plus you can add a picture of the bike all securely packaged to your eBay listing for added value and ultimately a higher selling price.

The first step is acquiring a box.  You have two choices for this task.

1) Go to your LBS and ask them for a box as they usually have a stack from the bikes they order.  This is a free solution, but also involves hoping it fits your bike, resealing where they cut it open, and marking over the shipping labels and/or peeling them off.  Kind of a pain, but it is free.

2) Order a bike box from Uline or this one.  Sure, you have to order five or more, but they ship it right to your door and you can probably sell the others on Craigslist, use them for other bikes/moving, or start a small biz on the side shipping bikes for people to earn extra money for bike parts.

Next you need packing materials.  The frame and fork are the most important parts, so protecting them is vital.  A good, cheap solution is to use the foam that you wrap around plumbing pipes.  You can pick it up at any home improvement store and it comes in self-sealing or you can use a roll of duct tape (that you got from the dollar store) to secure it to each tube on the bike.

From there, it is simply a question of wrapping everything else you disassembled in some bubble wrap and placing it in the box and securing it with some tape.

As for shipping, it really depends on where you are shipping from and the destination.  Shipping stores are a great solution, as they will do a cost analysis for you and give you the best rate.  The alternative is to visit UPS and FEDEX’s sites for quotes and to arrange a pick-up.

Hypothetical Situation

You charge $80 for shipping on your complete bike listing on eBay and sell it.  You buy five bike boxes from Uline for $30$10 for foam, bubble wrap, and tape.  $30 shipping via UPS.  9/27/12 – At the time of this post, I shipped out a bike on eBay for $30. That is simply no longer the case. Depending on ship from and ship to, expect $60-120. Total cost = $70.  You are up $10 to apply toward your seller fees on eBay.  Extra credit you say?  You sell your remaining four boxes on Craigslist, for $5 each for another $20.  Not bad.


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