How to pack a frame | Shipping Worldwide

How to pack a frame | Shipping Worldwide

About 10 years ago, I did a ‘how to’ pack and ship a frame overseas for two reasons.  Initially it served as a guide for people I was buying FROM and I hoped that it meant I minimised the chance of unexpected ‘surprises’.  It also was a way to manoeuvre around the rules of sending oversize items through the post.

I must have done this hundreds of times.

This is not a ‘how to’ but a 'how I used to' pack and ship a frame to its new owner.  If you’ve got 20c to add, leave it in the comments.  I’ve just about see every method of how to and HOW NOT TO send something in the post.

If I have learnt anything for buying and selling things online its to describe as accurately as possible, take lots of sharp and clear photos, don’t embellish anything, and understate the condition.

Unfortunately most people selling items on the black market are ‘hand balling a headache’.  There is a reason there are selling it and they want it gone for as much as they can get for it.  My golden rule is if it’s too good to be true, it generally is.

Back to the original topic.

What you need:

  • Bike box
  • Sharpie
  • Stanley knife
  • Tape
  • Bubble wrap

I sourced the bike box from my local bike shop, and the rest of the items can be sourced from just about anywhere.  I typically use half a roll of wrap per frame which is about $20 in material.

Before I get to the stage of wrapping the frame I will go over the paint with a light car polish, the chrome with autosol, and then bike protector so it leaves in the best condition possible.  It also gives me a chance to discover any blemishes, dents,  or issues that the buyer should be aware of.


99% of the time I ship frame and fork only. This Eddy Merckx MXL Pista was my own personal bike and the headset and BB were part of the ‘deal’. Still slightly kickin myself for letting her go as there are so many great rides it has carried me on, but it’s going to a very good home on permenant loan so I tell myself.

I always remove all the old grease, check the bearing surfaces so if there are any issues I can relay them to avoid the kind of ‘surprises’ I hate.


Some bubble wrap comes perforated in 40cm lengths which I use and makes life a little easier.

For each of the extremities I take a 2m length, folder it in half, and then in half on the other plane. Now you have 4 layers of bubble wrap ready to go.  This with go around the frame a few times, and finish off with tape. This method avoid any tape leaving residue on the frame.

I start with headtube, then seat cluster, and then BB.  No rhyme or reason why.

The next step involves a 20c part or one you can make from the top fold of cardboard on the box YET this small part could be the difference between the frame arriving the same condition, or heartbreak.   If you don’t have the correct frame spacer, here is one that is just as effective.

Measure up.

Standard widths are 120mm (track), 126mm (road frames up to late 80s), 130mm modern road.


Voila!  Frame spacer to avoid the frame spacing becoming 90mm after having another box stacked on it.

Old track axles, hubs or nuts and bolts from the hardware are also alternatives.

Once in place, wrap the back end with bubble wrap.


This tip may well help you lower your volumetric weight charged at the post office.   I also find giving your agent chocolates and being pleasant goes a long way.  It was no different when I was a bike courier.   A smile will go a mile on the road.

Get the sharpie out.

Outline the frame, and then cut to the shape of the frame.

Leave the rear and front of the box intact.

If you have any other bits and bobs, wrap them, bag them and tag them.


Mummify the remaining exposed tubes, wrap the fork like Tuttenkhamen and place in the box.

Cut cardboard from the excess to cover any shortcomings.  I double up the cardboard for a little more protection.

Ready to go.

I use Australia Post almost exclusively because they are awesome.  Reliable, inexpensive and EMS International Express Post takes 4-7 days and has tracking and confirmation of delivery.


Half a roll used and ready for the next.

The process takes about half an hour if you aren’t in a hurry and have some tunes to distract you.