How to Pack a Bike in a Box

I pack and ship bikes a few times a year at Hugga HQ. The bikes are going back after a review or I sold them on eBay or direct. I took a couple photos with my iPhone during the last pack on Friday. As our readers know, I pack my travel bike in a case like a demonstration project of spatial relationships.

The technique for a bike box is to pack it like the factory does. Save the packing from the last bike received or use pipe insulation, construction paper, and thick cable ties.

Cable Tied

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Packed like a pro.

  • Bars removed and turned into the fork, wrapped in a plastic bag.
  • Thick cable ties hold it together.
  • Front wheel tied to frame – foam protects tubes.
  • Fork drop-out protector.
  • Axle protectors go into the front wheel and on both sides of the rear stays.
  • Shift chain to big ring and then release the tension on the cables.
  • Turn stem inward.
  • Packed in box retrieved from a bike shop.

Construction Paper on Cranks

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Protects the finish on the crank.

Sharp, Pointy Plastic Dulled

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Unless you’ve got a cable-tie gun to cut the tie right at the buckle, dull the sharp edges with a file or Dremel tool.

Touch Points

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Note all the open space in the box and just a few touch points at the wheel, bar, and cranks. You could get some chalk line powder, dust the box, and see where those points are or just look at the dents in the box. I use about a half roll of tape reinforcing the box and tapping up the touch points.

Unless maybe a badger jumps into the box in route to make a nest and rips all the packing apart, there isn’t much to scratch the bike. If you had custom paint or more fragile paint, cover all the tubes in pipe insulation.

Ground Transportation

I shipped the bike UPS and the dimensions were 51x7x31. 7 inches wide puts the box in oversize Category 2 and much less expensive than category 3 at 8 inches wide. Expect to pay ~$40 to $50 and a by-dimension-shipping weight of 35 pounds. I insured the bike at 2K.

Good Luck Charm

Wish your bike good travels. Some arrive with good luck charms. A ladybug crawled out of the brake caliper while building up another bike last night. That’s not a native bug. It caught a ride from California to us.


I set it free in the backyard.

The photos on Flickr are annotated with notes.


More photos of the UPS pick up.

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