I’ve shipped two bicycles with BikeFlights. The first time went off without a hitch, although most recently, I experienced a delivery delay that wasn’t related to BikeFlights. Instead, I had to work directly with the carrier, which was also a positive experience.
And while BikeFlights might not always offer the lowest rates, they do deliver superb customer support and come with almost wholly positive online customer feedback.
Ease of Use
- The BikeFlights.com website makes obtaining quotes and creating a shipping label quick and easy
- Much lower rates compared to going directly through UPS or FedEx
- Detailed information available on the site to answer many common questions
- Offers high-quality, suspension-based bike boxes
- Ships internationally
- Can accommodate Type I and Type III electric bicycles
- Good firsthand experience
- Mostly positive online customer feedback
- Limited customer service availability during off-hours
- Only ships via UPS
- When receiving basic quotes online, competitor ShipBikes was meaningfully less expensive
User Review( votes)
BikeFlights can help you ship your bicycle quickly, securely, and meaningfully less expensive than going directly through UPS or FedEx. I’ll talk about my experience with them and how they compare to similar services.
Updated October 2, 2019
Since 2009, BikeFlights advertises they’ve helped more than 600,000 cyclists ship their bikes, wheels, and gear all over the world.
Combined with their “great rates, excellent service, and premium protection with every shipment,” we’re told that the BikeFlights.com team is “cyclists serving cyclists.”
Should you use them, though? What’s the difference between BikeFlights and a standard carrier like UPS or FedEx? Are they the only bike-specific shipping options? I’ll answer your questions here.
How Does BikeFlights Work?
Using BikeFlights to get your bike from point A to point B involves three main steps:
Let’s take a closer look at each one below.
Preparing & Packing Your Bike
When using BikeFlights, you’re responsible for sourcing your own shipping container and packing materials.
The company sells corrugated plastic bicycle shipping boxes in their online store, which they advertise feature “a variety of fork and dropout spacers to protect your frame and fork,” along with bungees that “help safely suspend and secure your bike within the box.”
Although they’re currently out of stock, a company representative reached out to let me know they’re working on making new cardboard boxes available.
Another easy option is to call your local bike shop (LBS), most of who have used bike boxes in good condition that they’ll sell very cheap (or even offer for free in many instances). Keep in mind that you’ll still have to source your own padding from a local home improvement or hardware store. Check out BikeFlight’s How to Pack a Bike page for more details.
The third option is to have your LBS handle the entire process, including breaking down your bike, wrapping foam padding around crucial areas of your frame, securing pivot points with zip ties, and adding brake spacers where needed.
Although I shipped a standard model, BikeFlights can accommodate Class 1 (under 750W, limited to 20mph, pedal-assist) and Class 3 (under 750W, limited to 28mph, pedal-assist) electric bicycles. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to reach out to their Support Team if you plan to ship your e-bike with its battery.
Weight-wise, BikeFlights can accommodate bikes that weigh up to 150 pounds (68 kg). If you attempt to ship a bicycle that exceeds this weight—or that has a length greater than 108 inches (274 cm), or size over 165 inches (419 cm)—you will be charged a penalty of US$850.00.
Shipping Your Bike With BikeFlights
After quickly setting up your account, you’ll place an order, which consists of entering shipping locations and dates; your package type, dimensions, and weight, and whether or not it includes batteries. You’ll finalize everything by choosing your shipping method (Ground, Express, or Freight) and entering a credit card number.
After paying, you’ll receive your shipping labels by email within 30 minutes. You’ll also find your labels in your BikeFlights account, as long as you’re within 30 days of shipping.
Simply print out your labels, place one inside your box or case, adhere the other to the exterior using packing tape, and you’re ready to go. You can choose to have BikeFlights’ carrier (UPS) pick up your box for an additional fee, or you can drop it off at the UPS Store location of your choice for no additional charge.
You can then utilize your UPS tracking number to keep tabs on your shipment until it arrives safe and sound. If for some reason you miss delivery of your package, BikeFlights recommends reaching out to them directly for help.
“Given our relationship with the carrier,” they told me, “we can often get your package delivered (or picked up) sooner than you can arrange directly with the carrier yourself. “
Outside of BikeFlights’ business hours, you’ll have to contact UPS directly to reschedule, which typically occurs the following day (more soon).
Finally, BikeFlights saves your previous searches and shipments, along with your bikes and boxes, addresses, and payment methods for faster future shipping.
BikeFlight’s Shipping Policy, Guarantee, & Protection Plan
Every bicycle shipped through BikeFlights is covered by $100 Premium Protection, which the website indicates “protects your bike against accidental damage or loss up to the lesser of the amount you purchase and the actual market value of the bike.”
In my conversation with customer support, BikeFlights emphasize this protection is not insurance, and that it’s administered directly by the company in the event of a claim.
Pro tip: Make sure you read through Section 7 “Know the Gaps” of BikeFlights’ Shipping Policy page, so you understand what their Premium Protection covers, and what it doesn’t.
When setting up your shipment, you can choose to increase this limit, which will increase your overall rate as well. We’ll continue talking about this topic in the next section.
How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Bike With BikeFlights?
According to the BikeFlights website, they primarily calculate your shipping rates based on the package’s size, which is a combination of length, width, height, and weight.
As such, you’ll get the lowest rates when your shipment’s size is less than or equal to 130 inches, or 330 cm, “where Size = L+(2xW) + (2xH).”
Then, there’s the cost of your bike box and related packaging. You can potentially add to this (if applicable) pickup fees, residential delivery fees, the amount of Premium Protection you purchased, as well as clearance fees.
Although BikeFlights offers meaningfully lower rates than going directly through UPS or FedEx (more soon), these rates are strictly related to shipments made within the US. On the other hand, the website emphasizes that you’ll pay exponentially higher prices if you need to ship your bike internationally.
The calculator on their website is a handy tool for gauging your shipping costs in advance.
My Experience Using BikeFlights’ Bicycle Shipping Service
The High-Level Details: Past, Processing, & Price
I’ve used BikeFlights twice: once to ship a Yeti SB4.5 mountain bike from Denver, CO to Bend, OR, and most recently to ship my Canyon gravel bike from Houston, TX to Denver.
Each time, I relied on local bike shops for boxing, packaging, and otherwise providing the bikes with as much protection as possible during transit, which charged about $75. I also dropped the bikes off at UPS Stores, so I didn’t pay the $15 pick up fee.
Along these lines, I re-learned that UPS Store hours can vary widely by location, so finding one open past 2:30p required some driving around, mostly due to the relatively rural area where we were staying at the time.
Price-wise, my box measured 54” L x 9” W x 31” H, weighed 35 pounds, and totaled $116.40: $85.95 for actual shipping costs, and $30.45 for $2,100 worth of Premium Protection.
Hiccups in the Shipping Process
I had everything dropped off at the UPS Store by Friday afternoon, although it didn’t actually ship until Monday, with an expected arrival by EOD Wednesday.
Unfortunately, the driver couldn’t locate the address, which didn’t reflect in UPS’s online system until 7 pm local time—several hours after they passed through the neighborhood, far too late to request a re-delivery attempt the same day, and after BikeFlights’ customer support had gone home for the day.
Fortunately, after a few calls spent speaking with friendly UPS support staff, I was able to have my bike delivered the following morning by 10:30a.
My Bottom Line About BikeFlights
Overall, I’ve found that the BikeFlights website is super easy to use, and allows you to obtain quotes and place orders in minutes. Their system also automatically saves your previous searches, which is handy if you’re getting quotes from multiple carriers.
After your order’s placed, BikeFlights’ website automatically sends you a confirmation email, along with another email with your shipping label attached. You’ll then receive notifications once your bike’s shipped and delivered, which largely makes it a hands-off process after your bike’s boxed and dropped off at UPS.
The only potential downside, in my experience, is that BikeFlights has limited customer services hours. So if a problem occurs when they’re closed, quickly handling the issue falls on you and your carrier’s shoulders.
This begs the question: Why not just use a freight carrier directly? As you’ll see next, a lot of it comes down to price.
BikeFlights vs. ShipBikes, UPS, & FedEx
I used my bike box dimensions from earlier (54” L x 9” W x 31” H, 35 lbs), and obtained quotes from BikeFlights’ biggest competitors, with Ground shipping (3-5 days in transit) and declared value of $2,100 (when applicable).
Here’s how they compared:
|BikeFlights.com||$116.40||Pick up service $15 extra, 150 lb max weight, only uses UPS (you can drop off at UPS store locations). Limited customer service support available after hours.|
|ShipBikes||$79.98||Pick up service $5 extra, 60 lb max weight, offers GPS trackers with shipments, ships through FedEx, similar customer support hours as BikeFlights|
|UPS||$209.51||Billable weight 91 lbs|
|FedEx||$220.88||Billable weight 109 lbs|
Price-wise, we can see that ShipBikes comes in $36.42 lower than BikeFlights, which is more than 30% less expensive. ShipBikes’ $5 pick up fee is less than BikeFlights’, too, and they offer individual GPS trackers with their shipments ($40–$63 extra) and unique triangular AirCaddy boxes.
However, ShipBikes has a 60-pound weight limit, their website doesn’t feel quite as slick or as up-to-date as BikeFlights, and they only ship via FedEx, so locations could be limited based on where you live.
Speaking of price, we can see in our table above that BikeFlights’ rates are significantly lower than going directly through UPS or FedEx, even though you’ll end up shipping your bike through the very same carriers. Why is this?
The biggest reason is that these carriers calculate a bike’s billable weight based on the size of its packaging—known as “dimensional weight,” which doesn’t necessarily correlate with its real-world weight. Here’s how the FedEx website describes it:
Measurements “affect a package’s density, which is the amount of space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight. For each shipment, your charge is based on the dimensional weight or actual weight of the package — whichever is greater.”
Instead, I learned after speaking with their support staff that BikeFlights has exclusive deals with these carriers, based on the volume of business they bring related to bike boxes and similar sized packages—business they might not have otherwise. As a result, BikeFlights passes these significant savings along to their customers.
Let’s wrap everything up and come to a conclusion about BikeFlights.
Should You Ship Your Bicycle Through BikeFlights?
Although they might not be the lowest-priced bike-specific shipping service available, BikeFlights have been around for many years, comes with mostly positive online feedback from other cyclists, offers stellar customer support, and they’re infinitely less expensive than going through UPS or FedEx directly.
If you find that their prices meet your needs, I think it’s almost certain that you’ll have a similarly positive experience as me.
Speaking of which, share your knowledge and personal experience about BikeFlights by leaving a comment, a review—or both—below!
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Absolutely terrible. I shipped my bike 3 weeks ahead of time from Kentucky to Colorado. 3 weeks later, the bike still had not arrived. Shipped by UPS to Chicago, then Denver, then New York, then back to Denver, bounced around various locations in the Rocky Mountains, then eventually back to Kentucky. UPS tracking was useless, a problem I have never encountered before. How do you loose a bike box? One that was insured for $3000? Someone opened the box, removed all the packing, cut all the zip ties, and shoved the whole thing back in the box. The bike floated loose, there were holes in the box, and it was severely damaged. And almost 3 months later we are still in the midst of the insurance claim process. Their insurance process is lengthy, and even though my bike shop says there is over $3000 of damage they are somehow telling me they only owe me $1400. Absolutely infuriating. I don't think I will ever ship a bike again.