CyclingSite Logo  
Collected Wisdom



  CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom >Miscellaneous Info > Shipping Bikes
    Tell me about shipping my bike.  
    I don't know if this question is more appropriately directed to Cycle Oregon personnel or The Bike Gallery personnel, so here goes: Will somebody totally reassemble my bike (for a fee is understood) when UPS deposits it to Cycle Oregon at LaGrande [CO 12], and then totally break it down and box it up to ready it for UPS to bring it back home to me? If my dear, sweet and unbelievably patient hubby were to see this, he would say, "Penny is not exactly what you would call a mechanical genius!" And I'd agree with him! If the answer to my question is a yes, what is the fee, please? Another question: do I correctly understand from the Handbook that Cycle Oregon boxes will be available for shipping my bike back home, and what is the cost of the box, please? (I'm assuming the box used to ship it up there won't be available for return shipping . . .). Thanks in advance for a reply. :-)

Penny Overdier

In the past, bike assembly and disassembly for CO shipping has been a mix of do-it-yourself, and getting help from the bike mechanics. For the mechanically challenged, the bike mechanics have been available. There is never a charge for the labor they do on CO. (That said, many people feed their kitty for after hours relaxing. They work very hard and for long hours.)

I have only shipped my bike twice (#8 and #10) and then only to the start. I have no experience with UPS shipping of bikes so I will have to rely on the others to fill in those gaps. I doubt if there is a charge for the box, but someone else who is better informed on this should speak up.

I HAVE seen personal boxes at the beginning and end. Many times those boxes are hard side cases. The owners of those boxes must have a way to retrieve them at the end of the ride. Most people just use the cardboard boxes.

Curt Coleman

Traveling from Florida I take my hard cargo case and bike to my local dealer who disassembles the bike and packs it for me. I have foam tubing that they wrap around my frame etc. I take my case with me to the airport and check it in as luggage (so far no xtra charges). Cycleoregon bike mechanics help put the bike together at the start there was no charge but I tipped them. CO will let you store your case while on tour. Last year at the finish CO mechanics took it apart and packed it for me and I UPS's (approx. $45.00) my case to my local bike shop so they could reassemble it for me. UPS personnel & trucks were available at the finish. This trip I while take my case as baggage to and from Portland. Hope this helps.

Barb Bergin

PS Mark Your handlebar stem & seat post.

Yes, the CO mechanics will help at the start and the end, but don't take advantage of them.

Spend a night at home packing your bike and it will be sort-of easy for you to put it back together in LaGrande [CO 12]. Learn by doing. Then when it comes time to pack the bike for the return trip, you'll have the packing down to a science and be more mechanically aware of how your bike works.

And UPS will have boxes at the end to ship the bikes back.

One last tip. I always ship my bike with UPS's two-day service. It costs a few dollars more, but it gets your bike to Oregon with time to spare and you can track its progress via the UPS shipping number and their web site.


A rather late response to your inquiry about shipping your bike, which may also be helpful to any others doing this for the first time:

Bicycling Magazine, Dec. '98 pp. 86-87 "How to Box a Bike"

I flew home (San Diego) last February and shipped my bike ahead via UPS to one of my brothers. It was reassembled and waiting for me when I got there. After I flew back to Colorado and my brother (who had never taken down or put back up a bike prior to mine) mentioned to his son the formidable task ahead of him, his son brought him the magazine issue. Scott packed it, precisely following the pictured instructions and shipped it to "my" bike shop, where it was reassembled for me. When I went to pick it up the guys asked me if I knew who packed it. My answer, "well, yeah, sorta, why, was it really messed up?" On the contrary, they told me they had NEVER seen a bike packed so well! So, of course, I then told them my brother packed it! And I passed along the compliment to Scott. If you know somebody who has back issues, you're in luck. Otherwise your Public Library probably has it on microfische and you can print it off a reader.

Penny (I hope the above helps) Overdier

If you belong to one of several cycling organizations, you can have your bike "fly for free". One such organization is Adventure Cycling, out of Missoula, Montana. They are a large organization and supply many things a cyclist can use, including many cycling specific maps of the U.S.

Robert Fox

A year ago I traveled from Portland, Oregon to Hawaii for Wheeling Hawaii. As a member of the local bike club, I was able to rent a hard plastic bike case from the club for $5. It worked great, although it was difficult at times to maneuver my gear bag AND the bike case, even though it had wheels. There were lots of people to help though, and I made it there and back. The bike did need to be somewhat disassembled to fit in the case. I appreciated having my own bike on the ride, especially since the rentals went fast on the big island and some of the late comers didn't even have triple cranks on their rentals (that's important to me, I know some of you can climb walls without them).

Anyway, that process went well for me. It did cost $50 each way to pay for the bike case on the plane. UPS would have been cheaper, but the logistics of picking up the bike and then shipping it back home seemed more difficult.

I just recently shipped a friend's bike to her from here in Vancouver, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota via UPS. That was her favorite old trusty bike and it got to her safe and sound. It cost about $30 to ship. We just got a bike box from REI and put the bike in it and off it went. Simple.

Ann Morrow

Back to Top

Some thoughts on transporting a bicycle, based on a few experiences. 1.) Boxing and bringing the bike by air is the most expensive (International may be different!) It is also the most inconvenient. 2.) If you take the bike along as baggage, no matter the cost, you must contend with the size of the package. You have to disassemble and pack the bike, then get the damn thing to the airport, drag it through the terminal, then at your destination, you have to again transport a large box or plastic case to the starting point and reassemble. 3.) The most hassle- free arrangement is to take the bike to your local bike shop, tell them to pack and UPS it to your startup town, and there you can usually arrange for another bike shop or mechanic to unpack and reassemble it for you. This has never cost me more that $50.

Daryle Alwine

Some additional thoughts on bike transporting: Although I have never shipped my bike via UPS for Cycle Oregon, I have heard more than a few horror stories about people who did (they're probably pounding away on their keyboards this very second) and their bikes did not get there on time (or at all)---fortunately Bike Gallery and Bob's have come through with replacements but it's not quite the same. I wonder if this may have had something to do with the size of the towns where we start? UPS service a little shaky in the smaller burgs? So maybe a solution would be to ship the bikes to PDX and then transport from there to Paisley. As for a bike shop/mechanic in Paisley, is there one there, I don't remember? I wouldn't count on BG or Bob's for re-assembly on Saturday but maybe...

And believe it or not, this is not to denigrate UPS. A friend of mine works for them and they work hard for their money. Just a word of caution, that's all.



Cycle Oregon will have boxes for shipping bikes via UPS. A representative from UPS will be at the finish to process shipping of bikes.

The boxes used for bus passengers are oversized so that only the handlebars need to be turned and the pedals removed.

To meet the maximum size restrictions for UPS shipping wheels and seats frequently need to be removed.


Brian Harney
Ride Director, CO XIII

[ Packing bikes for CO bus riders: ]

Many people are there putting bikes in boxes and can help. Pedal wrenches are circulating, as are magic markers to put your name on the box. Mark the height of your seat stem and handlebar stem in advance. There are mechanics to help with reassembly though you need to make some effort yourself. It's doable.

Amy Ream

About all you have to do to box your bike is remove the pedals and turn the handlebars. Try using a piece of cellophane tape to mark your handlebar height, if you're afraid that it will get messed up in the process. People are available with tools and skills to _help_ the mechanically disinclined.

Amy C. Buondonno

My wife and I plan on riding the bus to the Cycle Oregon start line for the first time and we're wondering if Cycle Oregon supplies the box's for the bikes, In our case a Tandem. If anyone knows the answer to this question it would be most helpful.

Jim Morrow
Team Tangerine Scream

Yes. For tandems we typically use two boxes. The box size is 69x9x40. We also have tape and markers to put your name on the box. Each tractor trailer holds 250 bikes, each bus 44 passengers. See you in Paisley. [CO 13]

Cycle Oregon

The answer is "Yes, CO does supply bike boxes." For tandems, you will need to use two, cutting one end off both, and taping them together for the longer bike. The two times I used the bus, they had tape and markers.

Having used the bus to the start, I found it to be a good experience. I enjoy the relaxation of not having to drive. Also, the energy level of all riders is high, and infectious.

One thing to check out is whether they will have a lunch stop. For CO-8 (Athena), they did not, but for CO-10 they did have a typical CO box lunch - for a much longer ride. From Portland, it is a long ride to Paisley - so if you want more than they provide, you should plan ahead.

Curt Coleman

There will be plenty of people at the bus area who will help and guide you in getting your bike prepped and packed. Essentially, the process involves removing pedals (pedal wrenches - or wrencher - will be available), releasing the brake cables, and turning the handlebars 90 degrees so as to fit in the box. (Again, the appropriate wrenches will be there.)

Flat (new) boxes will be there, as well as packing tape and marking pens. It all goes rather quickly.

You may wish to put some items in with the bike, such as helmet, and other bulky things that would be a nuisance to tote on the bus trip.

Curt Coleman

RE: Shipping a Bike

The best way to do it is to rent a hard bike case from your Local Bike Shop (LBS) it's usually fairly cheap for a week or so. If you plan on doing these type of trips in future, most people check out what's on sale new/used and purchase one.

Second best is again the LBS who can pack your bike in a re-cycled cardboard shipping box they received from whatever companies they buy from. Since they do this stuff all the time including returning bikes to builder, they know exactly what to do to make it arrive undamaged.

The LBS also throws away these boxes so if you prefer to do it yourself and have some tools (a pedal wrench is a must) have at it. If you do the latter, make sure that you also get a set of hub plugs (plastic piece that fits into the fork and rear drop-out where your wheels normally go. This protects both areas from side pressure since UPS and others don't always stow the boxes upright.

Cycle O at the start always have a crew of bike mechanics that can help set up the bike for you.

Lastly, if your bike is currently set up the way you want, notes should be taken regarding seat height, fore/aft position and angle, handlebar height, position etc. so you can return everything to where it is now and avoid potential overuse problems due to a new position. You can also make a small mark with a marker.

Hope this helps you.
Sal G

Back to Top

I am a nurseryperson and send plants UPS, but only because I have no choice; if there is a way that your bike could be destroyed in its box, I have total confidence that UPS can find it. On the other hand I flew from Portland to Atlanta in June on Delta with my long wheelbase recumbent which needed 2 shipping boxes together and was totally unwieldy (and I did have to pay extra), but going both ways I got put at the front of massive check-in lines to facilitate my getting the bike on the plane. And the bike came thru perfectly.

Good luck.
Lucile Whitman

The exact details escape me, but there were at least two shipping foul-ups at LaGrande last year [CO XII].

One was a mis-addressed box which was completely overlooked at LaGrande until closer inspection occurred later. I believe the rider had to ride an unfamiliar bike one day.

In lieu of precise information, the other was a missed/delayed shipment (UPS), which, I believe resulted in the bike being delivered to _*LaGrande*_ two cycling days later. The result was three days on an unfamiliar loaner bike, and a special automobile trip back to LaGrande.

The good news is that loaner bikes are available. The bad news is that the likelihood of the loaner being exactly like yours is very low.

The worst case scenario is a much delayed arrival, being forced to ride a bike you are unfamiliar with, and aggravating travel to pick it up. It CAN happen - and does.

Be cautious. Ask questions like "what if it doesn't get there when you say it will?" If you can do it, ship early to a specific
location, and have it waiting there for you. There is no such thing as close timing when shipping UPS to a remote location like Paisley - if, indeed they ship there.

If you can avoid shipping it to Paisley, do so. Ship it to a specific location in Portland, then put it on the trucks that go with
the busses.

Like Lucille says in another part of this thread, it may be best to pay extra, lug it around, and have it on the plane with you.

In any case, be sure it is well packed. Bike shops can help with this, and often can provide a box.

Curt Coleman

One of the lost bikes last year was mine. Curt was right on when he said the loaners may not fit. I was grateful for the offered loaner, which I only rode on Day One, and not the whole day at that. There really is nothing like your own bike.

Spinal surgery 16 years ago took its toll on my neck flexibility and the loaner and I just weren't meant for each other. I rode to the lunch stop and my neck and upper back were finished for the day. UPS was NOT responsible for my "lost" bike. Somehow the name printed in great big letters with a wide tip marker on the box containing my bike was a man's name, last name beginning with a "B." When I finally got through to UPS Monday afternoon to track the whereabouts of my bike I was given the date and time of day it was delivered to CO at LaGrande, days before I got there! When I got to camp in the afternoon I went to CO headquarters and gave them the info---turned out there was an unclaimed box on one of the trucks and the tracking number identified it as containing my bike, yipee! Having shared all this, I'll share one last idea: print your first and last name on the shipping box yourself in a very prominent place with a big permanent marker.

Happy trails,
Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

I second what Curt says about there being the possibility that UPS will foul things up and get your bike to Paisley a day or two late. It has happened.

BUT the airlines are just as likely to screw up too, or maybe more so. A colleague of mine took four people and four bikes to Italy this summer on the plane, to see Giro d'Italia. Two of the bikes were lost -- fortunately, on the way home, not on the way out. They showed up a couple of days late.

The problem with bringing your bike on the plane with you is that if it gets lost, there is no time to do anything about it. If you send it UPS to Paisley, you will have to send it off many days ahead of time, and that does allow UPS some leeway to correct their mistakes, should they occur. In addition to the two bikes that didn't make it last year, many, many hundreds made it to LaGrande just fine.

I have also had varying experiences with the airlines not knowing their own rules about how to pack a bike. Having called ahead, and been told that I should NOT box my bike, but should make sure that it could be wheeled onto the plane, I arrived at the check-in counter (on Christmas day, yet) only to be told that the airline would not take it without a box. Get it in writing.

Probably the safest solution is to send your bike to Portland a couple of days early, addressed to the house of one of the "Team", so that you get advance warning of damage or screw-ups and can get help in setting them right. Then, catch the CO bus from Portland.

Andrew Black

I’ve gone to Florida...Minnesota...Texas...Colorado all with bike on plane and never any problems...(knock on wood). Also have used UPS to Colorado and to Minnesota. I live in Washington D.C. My philosophy is how much time do I have? Do I really want to lug it around an airport and...How much money do I really want to spend? Both ways are equal in my book for different reasons.


I worked for UPS for a while unloading boxes. If you go that way, pack it extra well!!! However, as Andrew points out, if the airline screws up, there's no time to fix it. I would go with Andrew and ship it early.

Tanya Schroder

Isn't there an organization that has a sweet deal with the airlines for flying your bike at a reasonable price?


It's Adventure Cycling Association, call them at 800-721-8719.

Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

If anyone would like a great article (with pictures) about how to box a bike for shipping, look at the Dec. '98 issue of Bicycling magazine. Probably can be found on micro fische at public libraries.

Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

    Back to Top  
  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom >Miscellaneous Info > Shipping Bikes  

Copyright 2003, Artist's Touch or by original content developer.

CyclingSite Home Page General Info Photo Album Lists & Articles CO at a Glance CO Collected Wisdom CO History Bike Rides Stories & Humor Guest Book Collected Wisdom Home Page Back Up Next Site Map Insights Touring Info On the Road Cycling Concerns In Camp Other Services What to Take Bikes Bike Equipment Camp Equipment Clothes What Else? How to Pack Training Miscellaneous Info Bike Maintenance Bike Workstands Car Racks Shipping Bikes