Reading multiple advice on how to pack a bike in a cardboard box for shipping, I have always read to "remove the handlebar" or alternatively "loosen it and rotate it by 90 degrees".

Since my bike has a straight handlebar (like this one) enter image description here

I wonder why not simply removing the front wheel and turning the handlebar and the fork by 90 degrees?

  • I'd still loosen and turn them to protect those grips.
    – andy256
    Jan 6, 2017 at 8:37
  • I find that I can get my 29er MTB in a bike box without rotating or removing the bars. Instead I remove both front and rear wheel (and you can also unbolt the deraileur to protect it) and then turn the bars sideways as you suggest. However, your mudguards/fenders may be damaged by this approach.
    – brendan
    Jan 6, 2017 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


Two reasons, one major and one a little more subtle.

Majorly, most adult bikes won't come close to fitting in a standard, non-oversize bike shipping box if you just turn the bars and fork as you describe. What counts as oversize and how much more it costs will vary depending on where you are in the world and the carrier, but you'll need a significantly bigger box and that will generally be more expensive.

Second, if you have the fork turned in the box, only one fork end will be contacting the bottom, which will prevent the fork from being able to sit flat on the bottom of the box and will cause loads on the box to have more of a tendency to side-load the fork, the direction it's weak in. The normal way of sticking a plastic fork block in the fork ends which then sits flat against the bottom actually does a lot to keep forks from getting crushed.

  • 2
    Good point. Also note the sideways facing fork will not be centered, the rake means it will rest to side as well.
    – Criggie
    Jan 6, 2017 at 8:46

Although rotating your mounted bar 90deg reduces the width of the bike (viewed front ways). A lot of bike boxes are not long enough to cater for the additional length of the bar when turned 90deg - lengthways. Drop-bar and flat-wide mountain bike bars can be long enough and shaped awkwardly enough to also damage the top tube when rotated in a mounted position.

Another point to add - is some bikes have carbon steerer tubes and damage could occur if the bar remains mounted.

In your instance rotating the bar 90 deg is effectively the same as loosening and rotating since the bar appears to easily clear the top tube.

  • 2
    Simply rotating the bar will not reduce its contribution to overall length. Jan 6, 2017 at 12:40
  • Don't think I ever wrote that - did I?
    – OraNob
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:50
  • I suspect that Daniel is just making a clarifying comment, since you say a similar thing in your answer. Maybe edit to make that aspect clear?
    – andy256
    Jan 9, 2017 at 1:23

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