Have you recently sold a bicycle? You’re excited to get someone else into the biking lifestyle, but you’re concerned about logistics. After all, how exactly do you ship a bike? With a bike box, of course!
How big is a bike box? Most bike boxes are 43x11x32, but others can be bigger, such as 53x29x9 or 54x28x8.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about bike box-sizing so you can ship with confidence.
What Is a Bike Box?
If this is your first time selling a bike, then it’s best to get acquainted with bike boxes, as you’ll need one.
A bike box is simply a box that’s sizeable enough to house a bicycle. It’s considered a specialty box, which is made to ship specifically-shaped items like flat-screen TVs, artwork, guitars, golf bags and clubs, laptops, tablets, and yes, bicycles.
Most bike boxes will be made of cardboard. You can purchase your own bike box from almost any shipping company. FedEx, for instance, sells theirs for $24.99. UPS says they offer many box sizes and types through their UPS Store but doesn’t list prices.
It is worth mentioning that bike boxes refer to more than just shipping your bike. When riding, bike boxes are painted areas near an intersection or traffic lane that get you out of direct traffic during red lights. They’re undoubtedly handy to have, but they’re not the kind of bike boxes we’re talking about in this article.
How Big Is a Bike Box?
With most bikes weighing between 15 and 19 pounds, you may wonder how big of a box you need for shipping. It should be at least 43x11x32. This is the base bike box size. A box this big should not surpass the international shipping size limit.
Boxes can be even bigger, but not by much. FedEx sells bike boxes that are 54x28x8. According to FedEx, a bike box of this size “fits most bicycles and other flat or narrow items.” We wouldn’t recommend you go any bigger than the above FedEx bike box size, though. Otherwise, you might be prohibited from shipping your bike.
Why Box Size Varies
Why are there bike box size fluctuations? You have to remember that not all bikes have the same measurements. If we’re talking about a kid’s bike, for instance, then even a 43x11x32 bike box might be too big. You can just add some extra packaging (more on this later) to prevent the bike from rattling around. It’s better to have a box that’s too big than too small, though.
Then there are mid-sized bikes, such as mountain or road bikes. These are the bikes that most shippers like UPS and FedEx have in mind when they sell their bike boxes. Finally, there are recumbent bikes, which are among the most sizeable bicycles around. If you have one of these that you plan to ship, then you might have to get a bike box that’s slightly bigger than average.
Bikes can have frames that are extra, extra small (XXS), extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, and extra, extra large (XXL). The easiest way to tell which size bike you need is to reference your height.
If you’re between 4’11” and 5’3″, then you should get a bike that’s 13 to 15 inches long. If you’re up to 5’7″, then the bike should be no more than 16 inches. Once you close in on six feet, like if you’re 5’7″ through 5’11”, then you need a bike that’s at least 17 inches long.
If you’re over six foot, your bike should be 17 to 19 inches. Those who measure 6’2″ or 6’4″ should seek out a bike that’s 19 to 21 inches. Finally, if you’re over 6’4″, your bike should be more than 21 inches long.
What Are the Bike Box Dimensions for Airlines?
Sometimes, you might not be able to ship your bike using FedEx or UPS. You might have to transport it via plane instead. If you do, then you’ll need to know the bike box dimensions for airlines.
Now, the box size requirements can certainly differ from airline to airline. We recommend you contact your specific airline before you plan to ship the bike out and ask about which bike box sizes are permissible. This will prevent you from wasting your time and your money since you won’t buy a box that’s too small or too big.
On average, most permissible bike boxes on airlines should be under 62 inches when you add up the width, height, and length. You can surpass 62 inches by a smidge, but at that point, the box gets categorized as baggage or luggage. Why does this matter? You’re paying tons more to ship if your box fits into that category.
What about the weight? Many airlines will only ship bikes that are 50 pounds and under. That means if you have a large bike, you’ll have to find an alternate shipping method.
Also of note, many airlines do not want you to ship your bike in a cardboard box. That makes transporting a bike via plane difficult but not impossible.
How to Pack Your Bike for Shipping
If you’re not going to ship your bike on a plane, then you can use a good ol’ cardboard bike box. How do you prepare the box for safe shipping without risking any damage to the bike?
You’ll need to know how to pack the bike. For this, you’ll need the following items:
- Bike box
- Packing peanuts or foam
- Bubble wrap
- Wheel bags
- Accessory bag
- Disc brake spacers
- Axle spacers
- Zip ties
- Packing tape
- Foam tubing
- Torx wrenches
- Allen wrenches
Here are the steps to follow to prep your bike.
Step #1: Start with the bike pedals. Using one of the wrenches listed above, take the pedals off. You’ll want to move the left pedal clockwise because it has reverse threading. The right pedal does not. Instead, it’s regular threading there. That means you have to turn it counter-clockwise. You should keep both the pedals in the accessory bag.
Step #2: Next, you want to take the wheels off. You might need to use your brake calipers and brake pad spacer for disc brake bikes.
Step #3: Take off your disc rotors. This is only necessary for bikes that have disc brakes. If yours does, then take them off the wheel one by one. Your disc rotors can also go in the accessory bag. If you don’t have disc brakes, then disregard this step.
Step #4: After that, you want to move onto the bottle cages. At this point, you should also take off attachments like GPS units, mini pumps, frame bags, and fenders. Keep them all in the accessory bag (if they fit; if not, store them elsewhere).
Step #6: Now it’s time for the bike handlebars. First, you want to track where the position of the handlebars is with a pen or marker. The mark where the handlebars can be reattached will be helpful for the recipient of the bike. Then, over by the stem, take the handlebars off. Make sure you don’t remove the stem itself. Otherwise, the bike’s head tube will lose its bearing compression.
Step #7: Take off the seat post next. Again, use marker or tape to track the saddle height for the bike recipient. Before you continue, make sure the seat collar is tight.
Step #8: Move on to the derailleur, taking this off as well.
Step #9: Now it’s time to use your foam tubing. Cover the fork and the frame using the tubing. Your zip ties can keep the foam in place. Make sure you do the same for your brake levers, shift levers, handlebars, derailleur, and seat post.
Step #10: In addition to the foam tubing, you should also cover the fork and the frame of the bike using plastic spacers. You can buy these online or even make your own with PVC plastic. Adhere them to the fork and rear dropouts.
Step #11: Check the accessory bag. In there, you should now find bike assembly tools, pedals, bottle cages, and disc rotors. If you’re missing any of these, make sure they’re in the bag before you proceed.
With all the parts of the bike disassembled and taken care of, now you can arrange them in the bike box so they fit. You want to start with the frame and handlebars, then the wheels. Everything should be wrapped in foam, bubble wrap, or both. This will prevent the pieces from rubbing up against each other and possibly causing damage.
If there’s loose space in the box, large blocks of foam cut to fill in the gaps will prevent bike part movement. To ensure you’ve packed your box right, try jostling it around a bit. Do you hear anything shaking or moving? If you do, then try packing everything again so it’s tighter. If nothing moves, then congrats! You’re done!
Bike boxes are used to ship a bike across the country to a lucky recipient. They’re often made of cardboard and come in a few sizes. This is to accommodate various bikes, such as small children’s bikes and large recumbent bikes.
While deconstructing and packing up your bike isn’t the easiest task in the world, it ensures the bike will get to the recipient in one piece. Good luck!