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Shipping your bike abroad

When I realised that I wasn’t doing much cycling commuting thanks to my new role at work I thought the best idea would be to send my trusty commuter bike to the farm in Croatia so that I could explore and get some miles in on our annual family holidays. In a house full of manic children it would also act as an essential relief valve. With my partners blessing I set about getting the bike ready for its new home in Croatia.

The first thing to do was to move the bike away from a commuter and back towards an actual road bike. Although there are plenty of tools on the farm, they are most suitable for fixing tractors and not delicate road bikes. The bike had to be in perfect working condition and not require much more than basic maintenance for the foreseeable future.

I speak about the bike in another blog but just briefly this bike was an absolute beast, capable of handling the worst that Scottish roads had ever thrown at it and still pedal on. It was not some high maintenance carbon prima donna but a bike made of a proper metal. It had served me well and now it was time for it to enjoy its twilight years in the sun.

I stripped the bike down and gave each component the love and attention that it deserved. Anything that could be restored was cleaned and put back on the bike and anything that couldn’t was replaced.

The first thing to be replaced was the crank shaft that had long went from a smooth operator to a grinder. The front and rear mechs were replaced as were the gear and brake cables. It is amazing how even changing a cable improves the performance. A new block was put on the new back wheel. The brakes themselves were replaced.

This was essentially a new bike on a six year old frame. The finishing touch was some shiny new bar tape and with it the bike was ready to roll. Well obviously it wasn’t. My certificate might say engineer but there was still many nights of adjustments left to get the bike ready for the open road.

Having made all of these upgrades and fixes the bike was riding as well as the day I bought it all those years ago, so to celebrate my success I immediately had to dismantle it all and somehow fit it into a box ready for shipping.

Getting the bike ready for its trip across the continent. Having got the bike back into tip-top condition it was not fun pulling it all apart again to be stuffed into a box.

I decided against buying an actual bike box due to the costs and instead popped into my local bike shop and asked if they could leave aside one of the boxes that their bikes come in. They duly obliged and now the process of packing my delicate bike could begin.

I went to my local hardware store and bought plenty of bubble wrap and pipe insulator material which proved excellent for the frame itself.

The bike just about squeezed into the old bike box from the LBS and was protected as much as humanly possible. I felt pretty confident that with all that padding it would survive the journey.

In order to fit the bike in the box I had to remove the handlebars and the wheels. I wanted to remove the rear derailleur also since it was the most delicate part of the bike but unfortunately the screws had seized and I ran out of time before the bike was picked-up for shipping. I made a little cage to fit round the derailleur and used most of my bubble wrap protecting this area.

With the frame protected I squeezed it into the box and put the wheels alongside the frame in places where they would do the least amount of damage. Don’t forget to let the air out of your tires before shipping your bike by air unless you want to replace exploded tires when you arrive.

With the bike packed in the box I also squeezed in a helmet that would be staying over in Croatia and various other cycling related tools and equipment that would be needed. It would have been a shame to let all that empty space go to waste!

I used ParcelHero to ship the bike, my research was basically driven by whoever was the cheapest. I obviously cast my net pretty wide but with some quotes I received I would have been better simply buying a new and better bike over in Croatia. Through this company it cost me £117.47 to ship the bike to Croatia which I thought was pretty reasonable.

The service was also easy to use; they provided detailed instructions on how to label the box and everything was tracked through their website.

They picked my bike up at my home address on the 2nd of August and it reached its destination on the farm in Vojnic on the 13th of August, which was well before I was due to fly across to meet it. Altogether it was pretty seamless and stress-free which is not would I would say about packing the bike and taking it to the airport with me when you take into account all the other luggage required when travelling with two young children.

Most importantly, the bike survived the journey to Croatia. Everything I needed to reassemble the bike had been shipped in the box with it just in case I forgot to pack something in the rush of getting to the airport which would have spelled disaster for any cycling. Twenty minutes later and the bike was ready to hit the Croatian roads and enjoy its well deserved retirement in the sunshine.

My bike made it to the farm without any damage and within twenty minutes was ready for the open roads. I was powered by some of that homemade grappa in the background.


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