I will be moving across the country for work later this year. Work normally organizes the whole move and they hire a third part to come and pack the whole house.
I am trying to get everyone’s experience on what works best for packing and transporting a full set of bikes. We have 5 bikes in our house and of course I am interested on protecting the frame and components. I haven’t talked to the moving company but I am guessing they won’t “pack” the bikes in boxes, but instead just put them in a truck.
I have thought about the following options:
I thought about buying pool noodles and covering the majority of the frame with noodles to protect anything from rubbing or hitting the frames.
Go to bike shop and get a whole bunch of boxes and disassemble the bikes and fit them into the boxes.
I’ve moved many times in the last few years, but I’m always the one doing the packing. Personally, even if the moving company was packing for me, I’d pack my own bikes.
My usual procedure is to put as many bikes as possible on the roof of my car. I have one travel case, so it gets a bike. For any leftover bikes (more with each move, it seems ) I partly disassemble and put in bike boxes with enough padding to make me feel comfortable.
My wife’s aluminum commuter isn’t as fragile/ precious as our carbon, and for a couple moves I’ve attached it to the wheel-on trainer and strapped it down in the back of the truck with a blanket draped over it. One time I attached my seasucker to the inside of the truck and hung two bikes in the empty space there.
Whatever you do, I would strongly advise against letting the moving company handle it.
I’ve moved a ton. Always too many bikes than I can move in my own car so the rest went in the moving trucks.
I just pack them into bike boxes. Pad them well. The bike shop will give you tons of cardboard and foam wrap to pack them in. If they don’t (but they should, it’s all garbaged when they unbox a bike) use plumbing insulation. I put “fragile” packing tape and marked them “top load only.” No issues.
Pack all the small bits into seperate boxes. Pedals, bottle cages, bolts, etc. Anything that could sneak out of a damaged box.
No way I’d send them loose even if you wrap them in foam.
Don’t forget to tension the chains so they don’t slip and scratch either the frame or outside of the crankset when rattled non-stop for hours. For that many bikes, there’s no need to buy chain keepers.
I use the Pedro’s Chain Keeper but that’s just one bike.
I’m sure big ringing it and zip tying/taping the slack to a foam/towel protected chain stay would be fine.
If you box them up, I’d buy some packing stickers that say something like “DO NOT STACK THIS SIDE” and “THIS WAY UP” so they don’t put dining chairs on the large side that’ll maybe puncture or deform the unsupported areas causing damage.
Find out from the moving company who is responsible for damage if they pack the bikes versus if you pack the bikes. In either case, take lots of before pictures just in case, and create a detailed inventory for each bike listing every component and have pictures just in case something happens and you need to claim damages.
When we moved from southern AZ to the Bay Area of CA, we had a bunch of things we didn’t let the moving company touch. Our bikes were in that pile (along with jewelry, important papers, musical instruments, and other things we didn’t want to risk losing). We rented a u-haul and drove that. We negotiated with my new work/agency that managed the move to cover the u-haul and a rental car until our cars were delivered.
You could also negotiate with the moving agency to have your bikes professionally boxed for you, to keep them safe with the moving company if you prefer to do it that way. You can negotiate all sorts of things that you think are important. Also, FYI, on that same move, they had a carpenter come out to professionally crate the TV and the glass top for one of our desks, so that’s kind of a standard thing.
When we moved cross country my other half removed the RD/handlebars/seat post (if necessary) and then worked with the packer to pack them securely into TV boxes. We provided receipts for extra coverage as high value items. All 4 carbon bikes arrived safely - we unpacked them completely before the movers left in case there was any damage.
Remember to read the moving contract—you have a very limited time during which you can claim damage and may be limited to only making a single claim with all listed items. This time limit has usually been much shorter than it takes us to unpack. I’ve always just moved bikes and any other unique or valuable items myself in my car.
Considering your options, using pool noodles to cover the frame and prevent rubbing or hitting sounds like a clever idea. It can provide some extra protection during the move. Another option you mentioned is disassembling the bikes and packing them into boxes from a bike shop. That could be a good solution if you prefer to have more control over the packing process.
As for letting the moving company take care of it, it’s worth discussing with them directly to understand their approach. They may have experience in handling bikes and can provide specific guidance on how they plan to transport them securely.
In addition, if you’re open to exploring alternative options, you could also consider reaching out to helpers with van available. Sometimes local individuals or small businesses can offer personalized moving services and may have experience with transporting bikes safely.
Having used pipe insulation for its intended purpose, I’d suggest using two thicknesses of it, starting with the size of the tube to be covered, and then using the second size for the outside of that first layer. At least on things like seat/chain stays and top and bottom tube. I’d also recommend something like a roof rack fork mount to hold the fork solidly at the correct spacing, and pack the blades well too.
The bike shops I’ve worked at offered bike packing services, and since they unpack a lot of bikes, they did a good job packing up customer’s bikes. I don’t know what their liability would be though for damages. That said, we rarely got any bikes that were damaged in shipping. I haven’t done any long distance moves since university, so haven’t had to worry about it. One local rider did a cross country move and hired a van that he drove packed with bikes and other stuff behind his wife and the rest was packed/shipped professionally. It worked for them. They arrived a day or two before the movers.
I wanted to follow up now that we have finished our move and settled in, just in case somebody is thinking about moving with bikes.
Overall the process and move went well for us. The bikes are in perfect condition.
Here is the process we did:
1- my company was going to pay for the whole move so this might be a bit overkill since it cost me practically nothing.
2- contacted the insurance company for the move and provided them with a high value declaration for each bike since they were above $5k.
3- they sent a third party company specializing on wood crates to measure the bikes. They were task with creating 2 crates.
4- made a detailed video of the condition of the bike (just in case). bought pool noodles and cut them to size. Disassembled wheels, handlebars and pedals.
5- everything go packaged in pool noodles and furniture mats and then in a dedicated, made to size crate. Bike and wheels.