5

Exactly as per the title. This is surprisingly hard for me to google.

I found one estimate of about 10 pounds, and the tech at my LBS "guesses" that a standard 30 x 8 x 53 box weighs 2 pounds. For long distance shipping, that much of weight difference can save a lot.

  • I find a bike bag works well. It has the advantage that it looks flimsy, whereas a box looks tougher but isn't really. – andy256 Aug 29 '14 at 4:42
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    Rose, the German mailorder company sell a cardboard bikebox. It weighs 6.2kg according to their website. rosebikes.co.uk/article/… – Carel Aug 29 '14 at 15:34
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    That box isn't just a box though - it has separate compartments and other things which most bike boxes don't have. But it might be more accurate depending on what packing material you have in there. – Batman Aug 29 '14 at 16:26
8

First, I'll give you an estimate on the weight of a cardboard box. Then, you can read the side notes at the end of this answer to see why the weight is a relatively irrelevant quantity.

EDIT: This link sells a bike box and lists the weight as 7.40 lbs. The rest of this answer gives you a way to estimate this, as well as tells you why this whole problem is irrelevant from a cost perspective.

According to this link, the density of cardboard is approximately 30-90 kg/m^3 or 0.03-0.09 grams per cubic centimeter.

Now, lets estimate the amount of cardboard in a box. Say each side of the box has thickness T centimeters, and the sides of the box are L,W,H in centimeters. Then, the volume of the cardboard in the box is 2*T*(L*W+L*H+W*H), so the mass of cardboard in the box is density*volume of cardboard or between 0.03*2*T*(L*W+L*H+W*H) and 0.09*2*T*(L*W+L*H+W*H) grams.

Now, lets estimate the dimensions of a box to ship a bike. According to this thread, the typical bike box is about L=130 cm long, W=18 cm wide and H=79 cm height. For thickness, to make the numbers a bit easy, lets say the cardboard is T=1 cm thick (this is significantly thicker than most bike boxes I've seen).

Plugging into the formula, we get a range of approximately 800-2500 grams for the box (1.75 to 5.5 pounds).

I suspect the thickness of the box is closer to half a centimeter (which would halve the estimate) and the density is probably on the higher end of the scale (but probably not 0.09 grams/cm^3). So, I'd guess the weight is closer to 3 pounds.

The simple solution is to take a scale, and a bike box and weigh it.

Side note 1: The dimensions from that thread are only slightly different from your box, and the values come out to be nearly the same.

Side note 2: With carriers like UPS and Fedex, the expense of a shipping bicycle is not primarily the weight, but the fact that a bike box has large dimensions, so it can count as an oversized package [and paying the LBS to pack it]. For small packages of the same weight, note that the cost of shipping will be significantly lower (go to the UPS shipping calculator and put in your source and destination with a small box, say, 10 in x 10 in x 10 in weighing 50 pounds versus a bike box weighing 50 pounds). UPS calls this dimensional weight, so for your bike box, it will charge you assuming that your package weighs ~75 pounds even if your bike weighs 10 pounds packed. So, I guess you can fill your bike box with some rocks or something cause you're paying for 75 pounds even if you don't use it anyway!

  • ... and if you're shipping a velomobile it's even worse. It counts as a "volumetric weight" of a tonne or so, making it very expensive to ship. I could have taken it as luggage on the bus for less (including my ticket), because for some reason buses don't seem to care. Also, the courier driver expected to need a forklift to load it. – Móż Aug 29 '14 at 1:34
  • I would upvote this if you had found an actual thickness for the cardboard. Clearly 1 cm is way off, and even .5 cm seems too thick. I would bet cardboard boxes come in standard thicknesses and the industry probably publishes those numbers somewhere. – Carey Gregory Aug 29 '14 at 2:05
  • It depends on the type of cardboard. The Home Depot moving boxes in my living room are probably close to a half cm in thickness. In any case, if you had a real box, you could measure it and plug it into the estimate if you didn't want to weigh it, and the whole exercise is relatively pointless due to side note 2. If someone does have the actual thickness and density (which will be printed somewhere on the box), they could plug it in. The extra thickness also somewhat fudge factors in the repeated flaps and what not. – Batman Aug 29 '14 at 2:11
  • Actually, looking at that link I edited in (Uline Model S-4878), half cm is not too far off. I'd guess the primary discrepency is most likely the density of cardboard and not accounting for the full overlap flaps. – Batman Aug 29 '14 at 2:26
6

A bike box measuring 51.5"x7.5”x32" weighs 7.3 pounds

As weighed on digital platform scale with accuracy to 0.05 pounds

4

No mystery here; I simply weighed a Specialized bike box (Allez Sprint came in it). My workplace shares a building (and recycling bin) with a bike shop. It was much easier and simpler to weigh the box than for me to do a bunch of calculations or google searching. And the answer is really about the same as Batman's answer above (before all the calculations.). My box weighed 7.3 pounds. For estimated BikeFlights shipping weight purposes I added the weight of my bike as shipped to the weight of the box and added a couple pounds for packing material.

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