Shipping a Tandem Bicycle
(Archived from 2002)
Here's a picture of our tandem packed to fit into an Amtrak shipping box:
Here's some of our research on trying to get a tandem from Los Angeles to
Providence for our tandem tour (although we haven't done the tour yet, this is
written in past tense for consistency's sake).
We would have considered the "bikes fly free" programs from Adventure
Cycling or the League of American
Bicyclists, but taking the tandem along on our tour was an idea that came up
after we got the tickets (and I don't think our really cheap tickets would have
qualified for either of those programs anyway).
So we were faced with paying the $60 charge on Delta each way for taking a
bike on board (other airlines only charge $50 each way), or finding other
alternatives. Amtrak offers express
shipping between its stations in certain cities - a good option if you're
flying into a city with a station that offers the service. Our tour
started in Providence and ended in Boston - both are cities that offer the
We decided to go with Amtrak - not only because it was cheaper, but we didn't
have to deal with getting it to and from airports. Our flight from Los
Angeles put us into Providence around 10 PM. Rather than mess with
assembling the tandem at that hour or fitting the huge box in a hotel shuttle
van, we were able to take the shuttle (without tandem) for the 8 mile drive from
T.F. Green Airport to our hotel in downtown Providence. The next morning
we picked up the tandem at the Amtrak station only 1/2 mile away.
This arrangement also worked well for the end of the tour in Boston.
The ferry from Provincetown (in Cape Cod) returned us not too far from the
Amtrak depot in South Station - we bought a bike box from Amtrak (for $7) and
shipped off the tandem, while we enjoyed the rest of our time off in the city on
The bike boxes provided by Delta and Amtrak were similar in size (Delta's 69
x 39 x 9 vs. Amtrak's 69.5 x 39.75 x 8.75), so no problems there choosing one
over the other.
We didn't spend much time researching shipping by Greyhound
bus, but a quick check on the website showed a quote of $76 each way for a 69 x
39 x 9 parcel. There's a 50% student discount, but the Amtrak option
worked out better for us.
Below is a breakdown of the specific packing options we considered. Our
tandem is a bit bulkier than most, as we have a retrofitted Softride beam added
to the rear stoker position, so the height of the box has to compensate for it.
Oh, I forgot to mention that a tandem is too large to be shipped by UPS.
But door-to-door shipping can be done by Danzas
- Santana Cycles has a special discount
rate with them.
Shipping by Amtrak, Los Angeles to Providence, or Boston to Los Angeles