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How to Box a Bike

Bike Packing Instructions

Follow these 11 essential steps to properly packing your bicycle for shipping.

1. Frame and Fork

Wrap each tube with dense foam padding and secure it into place to prevent scratches, dings and dents.

  • For bikes with external cables, add a layer of soft, smooth cloth between the frame and cables to keep cables from scratching the finish.
  • For bikes with thin tubes, add an outer layer of foam, cardboard or hard plastic to areas likely to contact a wheel or other components.


2. Rear Derailleur and Hanger

Protect them from contacting the side of the box.

  • Remove derailleur and hanger (if possible) and wrap them in dense padding. Then secure to the inside of frame; or
  • Shift the rear derailleur to the easiest gear and install plastic derailleur guard.

3. Wheels

Remove wheels and protect axles and cassette from damaging the box or other contents.

  • Remove skewers and thru-axles whenever possible.
  • If your wheels have rotors, remove them to prevent bending.
  • Install plastic end caps over axle ends on either side of the hubs and cover cassette with dense padding or felt secured into place.
  • Pad wheels with foam or slide wheels into padded wheel bags.

4. Dropouts

Install spacers between frame and fork dropouts to protect ends from damaging the box and to prevent frame and fork compression. Spacer options include the following:

  • Plastic spacers - like those used by manufacturers . Secure in place with tape.
  • Threaded axles with nuts.
  • ½" diameter PVC pipe cut to length and secured into place with skewer or thru-axle.
  • Old hubs.

5. Stem, Handlebars, Shift and Brake Levers

Remove stem and/or handlebars as necessary and prevent them from contacting the sides of the box.

  • Wrap all parts in dense foam and secure it into place.
  • Position handlebars so that all shift and brake levers face inward, away from the sides of the box or case.

6. Disc Brakes

Keep disc brake pads separated while wheels are off.

  • Use a pad spreader to maintain disc brake separation.
  • For calipers that extend beyond the back dropout of a bike, also remove the caliper from the frame, pad it and secure it to inside of the frame.

7. Seat and Seatpost

Remove, pad with foam and secure to keep the seatpost to keep it from damaging the box or other contents.

8. Pedals

Remove pedals and place in small parts bag. Reminder: Right pedal has a regular thread (counter-clockwise to loosen), while the left pedal is reverse threaded (clockwise to loosen).

9. Accessories

Remove bottle cages, fenders and racks to protect them from contacting the side of the box or other contents and damaging themselves or the frame’s bosses. Stow all small pieces and hardware together in a sealed small parts bag.

10. Shake

Place bike and all contents into the box, close up the box and shake it. If you hear rattling or the clinging of loose items, re-open the box and pad accordingly. You are ready to ship when shaking the box is silent.

11. Label

Affix and place three labels: 2 outside and 1 inside.

  1. Firmly affix two copies of the shipping label to opposite sides of box using self-adhesive pouches or packing tape. If using packing tape, cover all four edges of the label with the tape but not the barcode itself.
  2. If shipping in a bike travel case, attach your labels using shipping luggage tags, and then zip tie the tags to your case. If you do not have a luggage tag see our video on making a luggage tag from an old race number.
  3. Place a backup copy of the label inside the box or case in the event that external labels get accidentally damaged or removed.
  4. Make sure there are no other tracking labels on the outside of the box or case.