Tandem Shipping



Shipping a Tandem Bicycle
(Archived from 2002)

Here's a picture of our tandem packed to fit into an Amtrak shipping box:

packedtandem.jpg (249226 bytes)

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 service.

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 foot. 

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

bullet1-50 pounds, $31
bullet50-100 pounds, $39
bullet$0.39/pound for every pound over 100
bulletShipments that are light for the size (like a tandem) use a weight calculated by (L x W x H)/216

One tandem box, remove both wheels

bullet69 x 39 x 9
bullet112 pounds (according to Amtrak formula)
bulletselected option

Two tandem boxes, remove front wheel only

bullet80 x 39 x 9
bullet127 pounds (according to Amtrak formula)
bullettoo bulky to drive to airport - price is getting up there too

Two tandem boxes, keep both wheels on

bullet98 x 39 x 9
bullet155 pounds (according to Amtrak formula)
bullettoo expensive!!!

KHS tandem box (from local bike shop after they built up a KHS tandem)

bullet80 x 27 x 9
bullet90 pounds (according to Amtrak formula)
bulletbox not tall enough when removing the front wheel only

Two regular bike boxes taped together, remove both wheels

bullet69 x 27 x 9
bullet78 pounds (according to Amtrak formula)
bulletbox still not tall enough, even when removing both wheels


Page Last Edited (though probably not for content): 14 September 2010