How do I ship a bike?
What logistics companies are there for bike transport?
Currently it is possible to ship bicycles with 4 major logistics companies: FedEx, UPS, DHL and DHL-Express. DHL Express is not a special shipping method from DHL, but DHL and DHL Express are 2 separately operating transport companies.
Which of the 4 transport companies is the cheapest for shipping bicycles depends on several factors:
- Bike box size
- Destination country
- Shipping time
- Additional feature (insurance, time accuracy, . )
Which bike box do you need?
When shipping a bike, it is not the weight of the bike that matters, but the girth and volumetric weight. The girth is calculated from the size of the box in which the bike is packed (= L + 2xW + 2xH). The prices are mainly based on the volumetric weight (= L x W x H / 5. 000) calculated. A smaller bike naturally needs a smaller box. If you want to pack your bike in a small box, you have to disassemble it into many individual parts.
The dimensions of a bicycle box
We recommend a box with length = 160 cm, height = 80 cm and width = 20 cm. This results in a girth of 360 cm. The box is large enough that you only need to remove the front wheel and the saddle from a bicycle and screw in the handlebars. On the other hand, the box is small enough not to exceed DHL's maximum size of 360 cm for bulky goods. But be careful: If the box bulges because the bike was not packed well, the girth can quickly be exceeded and the transport costs will then increase significantly.
How much does bike shipping cost?
If you would like to ship your bike within Germany, DHL offers around €50 incl. Transport insurance up to 2. 500 € the cheapest solution. The shipping time is up to 3 working days. If it has to be quicker and the bike box needs to be delivered in just one working day, DHL Express is the best option. With DHL Express, pickup and delivery times are also more accurate. However, the costs are more than 140 €. With UPS and FedEx, shipping within Germany costs more than €150 and is therefore not so well suited for private shipping.
Shipping to other European countries is a bit more complicated. If you would like to send your bike box to Italy with a girth of 360 cm, this is no longer possible with DHL, as DHL only accepts a maximum size of 300 cm for bulky goods. You can disassemble your bike to fit in a smaller box with a 300cm girth and then ship it with DHL for just over €110. However, the buyer will have the same work to do when building the bike as you do. Packing a bike in a box with a girth of 300 cm is therefore something for hobbyists. If you want to stick to your 360 cm girth, UPS is the cheapest option for private shipping at around €220. DHL Express then costs around €480 and FedEx is even more expensive.
For worldwide shipping, the prices increase significantly and are also country-specific. For example, shipping to the US costs €560 with DHL Express, and that is the cheapest price out of the 4 logistic companies. If a bicycle box with a goods value of more than 1. 000 € sent to the USA, an export declaration is also required. In addition, the buyer (recipient) from a goods value of 2. $000 to declare the bike yourself.
What shipping material do you need for safe bike shipping?
Bike boxes can be ordered online and cost between €15 and €20. You can also check with a bike shop, as they often have boxes left over from their deliveries. But you have to make sure that the bike box is not damaged from the first use and that it is the right size. It is also important that the cardboard has a sufficiently thick wall for stability.
The bike must never be simply packed in the box, otherwise there is a risk that the bike will be damaged during transport. You should use foam tubes to protect the frame and fork. The circuit and the sprockets should be covered with bubble wrap. The fork must be protected with a spacer because the front wheel has to be removed and good stability is no longer given. If this spacer is missing, the fork can bend slightly during transport and holes can also appear in the box and the cardboard wall can tear.
How is a bicycle securely packed?
Even if the bike is insured, it's very annoying if it gets damaged in transit. And bicycles can be damaged very quickly during transport. Unprotected fork ends can quickly bend without the front wheel. Individual bicycle parts can scratch the frame if it is not adequately covered. And the sensitive rear derailleurs need protection, otherwise they are quickly bent.
With all the protection, it is still important to note that the bike must not exceed the dimensions of the box. The standard width of 20 cm in particular is a challenge. The rear derailleur should therefore always be set to a large cog.
In order to pack the bike securely, the following steps are necessary:
1. Protect front wheell
The front wheel must be removed and the quick release removed. The quick release should be wrapped in bubble wrap. Protective caps should be placed on each side of the hub to protect the front wheel.
Protective caps for the front wheel
2. Protect Fork
A spacer must be inserted between the fork ends to prevent the fork from bending during transport. Otherwise, the pointed ends of the forks can also damage the box.
Spacers for the fork
3. Pack saddle and pedals
The pedals and the saddle along with the seat post must be dismantled and wrapped in bubble wrap individually.
Removing the seat post
4. Screw in the handlebars and stem
The stem must be loosened and then rotated 90° to the side. The handlebars must then be loosened and rotated 90° downwards. Finally, both screws must be tightened again so that the handlebar remains in its position. Depending on the shape and size of the handlebars, sometimes the handlebars have to be removed completely. The handlebars should then be attached to the frame, preferably with cable ties.
Loosening of the stem
5. Protect Bike
Frame, fork and handlebars must be completely protected with foam tubes. The rear derailleurs with the sprockets are covered with bubble wrap.
6. Pack bike box
Finally, everything is packed into the bicycle box. This must be sealed well with packing tape. It is important to ensure that the bicycle box does not bulge. Bulges can increase shipping costs.
Packed bike box
For safe bike shipping, you need to get the right bike box (about €20) and packing materials (about €5) so that the bike can be safely packed into the box. So the material costs are about 25 €. In addition, there are the transport costs within Germany (50 €, DHL), within the EU (about 220 €, UPS) or worldwide (500 - 700 €, DHL Express). To ensure that the bike survives the transport undamaged, it is essential that the bike is packed securely.