For what it's worth, a few people have suggested I do a bicycle packing tutorial. Today I packed a bike, and remembered to shoot some pictures, so here we go. Choose for yourself if it's worthwhile to you. I have a lot of respect for old machinery of any kind. For instance, this one is 100 years old, and I would feel terrible if something happened to it in shipping that I could have prevented with a few more minutes of care or a couple more dollars worth of packing materials.
I make sure I have a good sturdy bicycle box to ship the bike in before I ever start taking the bike apart. I like Specialized and Trek boxes. They are very sturdy and I have a good source for them a few miles away. This one even has reinforced end handle holes. When I got this box, I grabbed a second for a spare and put it up in the garage rafters for next time. This one was broken down flat, so I re-glued the bottom with Loctite Professional Spray Adhesive. I'll do the same with the top when it's all packed and ready to ship.
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I put the bike on a stand and slowly start taking it apart - pedals, saddle and post, front wheel and front fender, drop stand on older bikes (because it's wider than the box). I usually have some kind of small box laying around that I can put the pedals, handlebar stem, front axle (I always remove it from the wheel to keep it from scratching painted parts), grips, and other little things in. I wrap them all individually inside that box.
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I rotated the bike upside down to take off the stand and front fender, because I'm old and I like to stand up straight if I can.
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I use cheap foam pipe insulation from Lowe's or Home Depot on any frame tube I can get to. It's cheap insurance (avg. $2 per 6' section). The space between the tubes is wasted in the shipping box, so I usually wrap up the saddle real well and zip-tie it in that space. I've put other things in that space, too, depending on the bike's accessories.
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When I took off the fork, I put the bearings, nuts, and washers in a baggy and put those in the box of little parts, too. Then I wrapped the fork in bubble wrap and pipe insulation.
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I roll/fold up bubble wrap and squeeze it between the back tire and the fender to keep the fender from moving if it gets bumped. And I wrap bubble wrap around the dropstand clip.
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I bring the crank arm parallel to a frame tub and zip-tie it in place, never putting a zip-tie on a painted surface. It's always over bubble wrap or pipe insulation.
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I happened to have a pizza box from last night' s supper, so I wrapped the dropstand in bubble wrap and taped it inside the pizza box!
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I also pad the rear fender with several layers of bubble wrap, zip-tied in place over more bubble wrap to protect the rim.
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I keep leftover packing materials around for just such occasions and put a piece of dense Styrofoam in the bottom of the box to set the sprocket and bottom bracket on.
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After I set the main section of the bike in the box, then I pack the other wrapped/padded pieces around it. I put an extra thickness of cardboard or a corrugated plastic sheet between the sides and anything that might rub through. Handlebar is covered in pipe wrap, too.
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After all the pieces are in, I fill the voids to keep things from shifting. Empty plastic jugs make great space fillers, and you can adjust them by partially collapsing them and molding them around uneven shapes. With the cap tightened, they don't collapse any further and they hold whatever shape you've put them in! Then I fill in with plastic air packets, old bubble wrap, and anything else light and padded I have lying around.
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I put a copy of the shipping label inside, just in case the outside one gets torn off by FedEx or UPS, then I seal it up with the spray adhesive and it's ready to go.