Best way to transport a bike?
February 12, 2013 9:07 PM   Subscribe

What is the best/most economical way to transport a bike without driving it? I am trying to move a bike from LA to SF.
posted by nathanm to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you moving by road? Is it a fancy bike or can it afford to be unprotected and sit in the heap of everything else your moving (say, in a moving truck with all your furniture)? If you're shipping it separately from your housewares, you may like to pack it in a bike case, bag, or cardboard box. (If it originally came in a box, you can use that.) I'd recommend a hard case or box since I'm not sure a bag would protect it (I'm unfamiliar with bike bags though.) Your LBS may have a spare box kicking around they could give you or sell you for a small price if you don't have one with you, and that would save considerably on that cost. I'm not sure which shipping method would be least expensive, but you may want to look into shipping via bus or train although I don't know how insurance options work with that.
posted by mayurasana at 9:17 PM on February 12, 2013

If you're shipping the bike for a race, call your local triathlon/cycling club. Many clubs arrange to have a company transport all the club bikes for popular races.

If you're just moving or selling, then go to your local bike shop and have them pack and ship. They know how to do it safely and economically.
posted by 26.2 at 9:21 PM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

The best way is to ride it.

If that's not feasible, and you're going with it, try Amtrak. It looks like you'll need to have your bike boxed up, which usually requires removing the pedals and loosening and turning the handlebars 90 degrees. Amtrak may or may not have boxes for you. You'll have to check with them.

If you're not going with it, many bike shops offer a packing and shipping service. They can ship to a shop in SF, who can reassemble the bike for you.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:22 PM on February 12, 2013

It could depend on how much you value the bike. Ship it UPS, but make sure it is carefully packed & insured. If you don't feel competent to do so after reading some instructions, then bring it to your local bike shop & have them pack it for you.
If you are traveling there via bus or train yourself & the bike will basically be in your care, you can be less elaborate w/ your packing. Amtrak is a good deal- I took 3 high-end bikes from SF to Chicago & it cost $10 each.
posted by TDIpod at 9:49 PM on February 12, 2013

Can the LA person meet it? How about arranging it with someone on craigslist in the "rideshare" section? There are always a zillion people going back and forth between LA & San Francisco.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:02 PM on February 12, 2013

I would ride it there :).

If you can't do that, pay a bike shop to pack it and ship it. When I've done this packing has been like $50 and shipping $50-75.
posted by bradbane at 10:39 PM on February 12, 2013

I’ve had bike shops ship bikes and it worked out great. I can’t remember what it cost, but less than $100.
posted by bongo_x at 10:53 PM on February 12, 2013

Call your local bike shop. They can package it up into a standard box for you, if you don't want to do this yourself, and then advise on best carrier and shipping options, because they do to this all the time. As a reference, bike shops here in Seattle charge in the neighborhood of $40 to take your bike, disassemble it as needed, and safely pack it into standard cardboard box, which they will provide for free. Then it should cost less then $100, and maybe even less then $50 to ship the box by UPS or Fedex from LA to SF.

Advanced option: go to the bike shop and ask them for a free box. Package up the bike yourself. You will save $40, and it might be a fun project, but if this is your first time, don't expect it to be quick.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:47 PM on February 12, 2013

I've taken my bike between New York and Chicago twice now, both times via Amtrak. If you'd be gutted to find a new scratch on your bike, I recommend buying some foam pipe insulation to cover the tubes. Just measure your inner diameter beforehand, so you get the right width for each tube and enough length to cover everything. If you pay a shop to do the packing, you can just hand them the pre-cut lengths; otherwise, it's no big deal to pop them on yourself before you seal the box.
posted by d. z. wang at 4:35 AM on February 13, 2013

Maybe the OP could clarify if this is a motorcycle or bicycle, because it sounds to me like this is concerning a motorcycle.
posted by ssg at 8:31 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

The easiest way is to sell it in LA and buy a new one in SF. Keep in mind what it would cost to ship and deduct that from the upgrade price to keep your mental accounting accurate.
posted by chairface at 9:12 AM on February 13, 2013

ssg the others had it right, I meant bicycle
posted by nathanm at 11:53 AM on February 13, 2013

In that case, Amtrak is probably the best option. If you want to ship the bike by courier, you'll need to take it apart and fit it in a not-too-big box (like the ones that new bikes come in) because you'll pay too much otherwise. If you ship it via Amtrak, they will sell you a much larger box the requires much less bike disassembly for $15 (or sometimes they will give you such a box that someone else used and left behind). Much less hassle to us Amtrak.
posted by ssg at 10:42 PM on February 13, 2013

Just saw this featured on cool tools.
posted by bluloo at 7:47 PM on February 16, 2013

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