Before preparing a shipping container, the actual item being shipped must first be prepared.  This is important, since the prepared item will need to be measured for length, width and height.

The Peugeot PX10, pictured to the right, is prepared for overseas shipment, and broken down a great deal more than is required for most ground shipments.

The most important thing to keep in mind, when preparing anything for shipping, is that nothing inside the container should be allowed to move around.  The entire unit should fit snugly, and, preferably in one piece, into the box.  And, getting everything together, as a single piece, and prepared to fit snugly, is a bit of a time consuming trick.

Chances are, there are as many different ways to pack an item, as there are items.  With this in mind, the suggestions offered here, are not cast in stone.  What works for one packing job, will not always work for another.  So, be flexible, as you read and do.  Innovation will play a major role in your packing effort.

Start by stripping a bicycle down, to the point where it will fit into the box size, allowed by your shipping supplier.  In the case of the Peugeot, and knowing it had to travel overseas, in a box that did not exceed 118" (length + girth).  This meant that, at the very lease, the bars, crank rings, wheels, pedals and front brake calliper, had to be removed.

The rear derailleur was also of concern, since it tends to stick way out and, perhaps, in harm's way.  With this in mind, and to facilitate the packing itself, the rear derailleur was removed.  That left a, pretty much, bare frame set, that could not be made shorter, lower or narrower.  That is the initial target.

Next, turn the forks backward, and brace both them and the stays with fork/stay blocks, usually available (free) at most local bike shops.  With the frame set stripped in the above fashion, wrap the tubes, stays and fork blades with rolled up heavy cardboard, the same weight used to fabricate the bicycle box to begin with.  This is why a second box will come in handy.

Cut lengths of cardboard parallel to the corrugations.  Make up a dozen or so, all full box/flap height, and about five inches wide.  Thinner ones can be prepared for the stays, if you wish.  Once prepared, select a single piece, and gauge the length it needs to be against the tube it is to be installed on.

Cut a piece of cardboard, to the determined length, and then proceed to fold, along the corrugations, until a tube is formed.  Try to get a smooth tube with as many folds as you can.  Once the cardboard tube is prepared, tie wrap it securely into place. Securely - it should not be able to move around on the painted or chrome plated surface.

Repeat this procedure until the entire frame and fork set is protected.

Next, select the biggest items to go into the box, and there are only four - the frame set, two wheels and the handlebar/stem/brake lever assembly.  Place the cardboard wrapped frame and fork set into your uncut box with forks turned backward.  Now, gently fiddle around, with one wheel at a time, and then add the other, until you can find a way, to locate them both to the frame set, while still falling within the container's length, height and width requirements.  At this point, you are defining length, primarily.

Once the big item locations are determined, tie wrap them securely into place.  Always use extra padding at points where a big item attaches to the frame or fork.  The extra padding, just wadded up pieces of heavy cardboard, will serve to reduce any chance of impact damaging the delicate tubes of a high end bicycle.

With the wheels and bars attached, place the unit into the box and determine length.  Prepare the box to this determined length.  Then, with the prepared unit still in the box, determine height and prepare the top of the box in accordance with that height.  Place the unit in the box, and begin adding smaller items, once again ensuring that they are secured to the frame or fork set, when possible.

CAUTION:  When attaching anything to a frame or fork, do your best to ensure that a direct impact, on that item, will not be transmitted directly at a frame tube, fork blade or stay.  And, always use plenty of padding, between any item and the tube, to which it is secured.

Once everything, that can be attached with tie wraps, is attached, all that is left to do is put any loose items into the box, once again ensuring that they cannot move around, banging into this and that, inside the box.  Use the Poor Man's Bubble wrap to help pad items.  Again, there is no hard and fast rule about how to do this.

By now the shipping container will have been modified to accept the bicycle, or frame set, which has already been prepared for shipping.  If all has gone according to plan, the prepared bike will slip into the box will little room to spare.  And little room to spare is good.  One does not want the bicycle flopping around inside the box.  That will create shipping problems, that will lead to container damage and possible contents damage.

Slip the bike or frame set into the box.  If there is room to move, forward and back, wedge the ends with a piece, or two, of the spare bicycle box that you picked up at the LBS.  Take a full height piece of bike box, cut to just fit the inside width of the prepared container.

Fold this piece of cardboard in half, and push the folded edge into the container, wedging one end of the bicycle or frame.  Turn your attention to the other end, and wedge it in exactly the same manner.  It might be necessary to use more than one wedge on each end to get a snug fit.

Though it is wise to ensure that the prepared bicycle and parts are all a single unit, it is not likely that that will be the case.  More often than not, some items need to be inserted separately, the saddle being a perfect example.  It is no problem to have loose items in a shipping container, provided that they do not move around or come into contact with the bicycle or any other secured part.

Poor Man's Bubble Wrap, combines newspaper and a plastic grocery bag.  The crumpled up paper acts as padding, and, the bag itself, once tied closed, actually traps air, forming a big air bubble inside the bag.  Any impact to the shipping container, will be partially absorbed by the air bubble and then by the newspaper.  Finally, after impact, the paper will expand, drawing air back into the bag, patiently awaiting the next rough handling episode.

With everything in the box, secure the lid, ensuring that any steering hear or seat lug flap holes are lined up and doing their job.  Ensure the wedges are in place and that all padding is where is should be. Nothing should be able to move around, independently.  Double check your work site, to ensure that you did not forget something, large or small.  Double check again, because it is easy to miss an item, if one is not careful.

When satisfied that all is as it should be, close the lid, tape it shut and apply a label.  Place the label on the top of the box.  The label should indicate that the contents are FRAGILE and you can even put THIS SIDE UP INDICATORS, if you wish.  Generally, these are already on a bicycle box.

And that is about that.  Take packed bicycle to the appropriate shipper, lick a big and pricey stamp and the bicycle is away.  Contact the recipient, inform him/her of the fact that their purchase is on its way, and give them the tracking number information they, and you, will need to keep track of the bicycle's journey from here to there.