This year I’ve purchased a few bikes that have needed to be shipped via freight courier and I’ve seen a few very poor attempts at packing them up. I have also sold a number of bikes myself that I have packed, I thought i’d share my process of wrapping and packing, it’s not hard, it really is a matter of asking yourself “if it were me opening this box to my new BMX, how would I like to to be packed.” Packing a bike well that you have sold is not only good karma it’s also good for your feedback score too. Everyone loves a little care and attention from their seller.
Things you’ll need:
1 x strong, sturdy bike box
Good quality packing tape, the clear tape I find is best
Cling film wrap
Foam sheet, bubble wrap and possibly 1 x pool noodle
Step 1 – Getting the right box
The best place to get your box is your local bike shop. Most bike shops give bike boxes away for free. You may have to rummage through their recycling skip, but it’s not that bad. The boxes are specifically made for shipping bikes, and most shops will have a number of sizes that will suit your needs. Measure the bike length from the front hub axle to the end of the rear tyre. Then measure the height from the front hub axle to the top of the head stem. Use your measurements to pick the right size box and also choose a box that has kept as much of its shape with as little damage as possible. Once home you’ll probably have to re-tape it up.
NOTE: If your box is too big, you’ll need more packing around the bike and you’ll be paying extra freight costs for no reason.
Step 2 – Preparing the bike before wrapping
Assuming you have the right sized box for your bike, you’ll need to semi-dismantle the bike. Remove the front wheel, handlebars, pedals and seat post. Make sure you put all nuts and bolts back on the parts you remove. Turn the forks and stem around so they face backwards. If the bike has v-brakes or cantilevers, place a rubber band over the brake pads to pull the arms in and keep them from flopping around.
Step 3 – Wrapping the bike and parts
For frames that have a fresh paint job, this is where you use the pool noodle. Cut the noodle into lengths that will fit along the main bike tubing. Slice down one length of the piece of noodle and place around the frame. It’s good to do the top tube, seat tube, bottom tube and as many other parts as you can. Wrap the frame in cling wrap making sure all of your noodle lengths stay in place. Keep the wrapping random and go around a few times building up the layers. Individually wrap each of the removed parts with the cling wrap. Before you wrap the front wheel, fold two pieces of cardboard in two and place them over the exposed axle ends. Wrap them together. Leave cable end to last. That way they will not be pressed directly against the frame. After you have done a couple of layers, add extra foam or bubble wrap to the head stem and base of the forks wrap them together with cling film.
Step 4 – Preparing the box
Add extra layers of cardboard into the base of the box where the forks will be placed. If your box is too big, this is a good time to add the extra packing you need to the base of the box that will sit beneath the bike.
Step 5 – Packing the box
Place the largest parts in the box first. Start with the frame, add extra packing as you go. Add the front wheel and other smaller parts down the side in the gaps. Z or concertina fold your packing pieces of cardboard, they will unfold easier and fill the spaces better. Where you need tight packing fold the cardboard normally.
Step 6 – Taping up the box
Close up the top of the box and add a couple of lengths of tap to hold it shut. The key here is to turn the box on it’s end and tape around the whole box. Repeat at both ends and also through the middle. You will use more tape but this is a lot stronger than just running a few pieces of tape along the length. Once you have secured the box by taping around it, then add tape to app the joins.
There you have it a finished job. The receiver or customer will be very happy that you’ve taken some time and care in their new bike. Measure your box and write the measurement on the box, take a photo of the measurement with your phone. It’s an easy way to keep the measurement handy for when you are booking the courier.
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