International shipping heartbreak/does your seller know how to pack a frame?

Friends I have a cautionary tale for all of you.

Last week I was forwarded a link to a great deal on a 650B rando frame on ebay and I jumped on it. The seller responded promptly to all communication and posted the frame within a day of me paying for the frame, everything is going well so far.

I went to the post office today to pick up the frame and when the box came out I started to worry. There were holes in either side around the bottom bracket and box was pretty beat up. I had planned to take the box straight to Commuter Cycles as those guys were almost as excited about the frame as I was, and Im glad i did.

When we pulled the frame out of the box it was pretty clear that there were no frame savers between the drop outs or fork ends. After we got the frame unwrapped (there was plenty of wrapping around the frame) we put the alignment jig on and the rear triangle was about 15mm out and it seems that the non drive side chain stay had been crimped in, the derailleur hanger is bent and the forks are out of alignment.

I’ve just messaged the seller and I’m waiting to hear back, but my advice is that when you’re buying a frame from someone you don’t know make sure that they know how to pack a frame. Better to potentially insult someone’s pride/knowledge than to end up with a fucked frame and the headache of trying to sort out the logistics of getting a refund/part refund/negative feedback/etc.

Well timed with this recent post on fyxo.

Fun times.


hope the fix wont be too much on your pocket erle, or at least the seller we pay for it.


That sucks dude. I just got an email from SmartSend telling me the carton size on the bike I had sent to me the other week was 7cm wider and I have to pay an additional $53. I still have the box and it’s the size stated. Will take it all the way to small claims if I have to. Cnuts.

Sorry to hear. So is it recoverable?

It might be but I’m waiting to hear back from the guy before i snap the stay trying to cold set it. If it does break I could possibly get Paconi to put in a new stay but then I’d probably lose the internal wire routing for the rear light (which is the least of my worries).

Sorry to hear this as well, where did the frame come from?

I sent all 9 of my bikes from the US to Oz, not a single one was damaged. All tubes were meticulous wrapped with pipe insulation, this stuff is great!

Dude, that seriously sucks. Sorry to hear that bud. I hope the seller is not a dick about it. Who doesn’t pack a frame with framesavers?! I mean, Christ, if you know how to strip a bike you would have assumed they might know how to pack it… jezz.

I feel for you dude. Hope it turns out to be a good-news story in the end.

When i bought a exe bike that required shipping, i emailed the seller a url link to a “how to pack a bike in a box” blog site. Might have been telling the dude how to suck eggs, but no tears when the bike arrived.

That sucks Erle, I hope things work out as best as they can regarding this frame.

On the other side of the coin it’s amazing at how many punters are so tight arsed about paying an extra $10 or $15 for some beefy packing (pipe insulation, bubble wrap, gaffer tape) materials and full insurance. I’d list all the details for shipping and insurance costs on any frame auctions I’ve had and so many people would ask about cheaper shipping options stating they can send a frame for $20 vs. the $35 I was charging. To which I’d usually respond “do me a favour, don’t bid on my auctions and get fucked”. At the end of the day as a seller I’m the one who’s fucked if a frame is damaged as the buyer will make a claim through ebay and I’ll have to eat the cost for the damaged item as well as pay to get the frame shipped back to me.

No point buying anything unless it’s well packed and prevention is worth a lot compared to frame repairs and repaint. These things get thrown around, squashed, end up with other stuff piled on them and regularly get jammed on conveyor belts. If you wouldn’t toss a packed frame from a first floor balcony then it’s not safe to send via mail or courier.

Fyxo’s treatise on packing sending a frame is excellent and is to be highly commended. I’d add a couple of slight additions. You’ve really gotta add some gaffer tape or heavy packing tape to the external seams or flaps of the box. Regular masking or sticky tape can easily come undone or tear and if it’s going overseas via airmail the cargo temperatures can vary greatly (often quite cold) which can also weaken ordinary sticky tape adhesive.

I’d also suggest that the square box needs to be shaped to fit in with Oz post’s 140cm girth rule. Girth = 2 x sides + top and bottom. The peep’s at my post office are very anal and measure everything not matter how sweet I am with them and I know them on a first name basis. Anything larger than a 54cm frame become quite difficult to get under the girth rule so I shape the box narrower at the top so it’s about 6cm wide (as opposed to Andy’s standard square box which is about 12-15cm wide at the top) - see pic. The other sizing rule is a max length of 105cm. Most Oz Post clerks will measure the longest length diagonally from dropouts to headtube/toptube joint (it’s very tight). They’ll measure girth around the middle kind like standover height without the wheels (top + side + bottom + other side = 140cm or less). The reality is you can’t post a pair of wheels via Oz post whether local or o/seas.

Fwiw, most bike shops couldn’t pack a frame to save their ass.

Fuckin’ Yanks. Feel free to tell those ₪₪₪₪s that we can send them a frame, yet if they tried to send the same package back to us it won’t fit through their USPS size rule. For all their whingeing and hoops we have to jump through you’d think the rules should be even both ways but it isn’t.

Lastly, I’m always amazed at how much people haggle and lowball at swap meets and when buying bikes in person, yet they’ll pay a premium for online purchases not knowing if the pics accurately convey the condition of the frame and risk the uncertainty of a seller that doesn’t pack a frame or the chance of it getting damaged in transit. I see this all the time and find it baffling. A frameset in your hands is always worth a lot more imo.

/end of rant

i am happy to buy on ebay, i will never sell on ebay again

selling things on ebay is just inviting all sorts of drama into your life that you dont need

happy to sell locally for less money, or just not sell at all - i have surprised myself with the ‘shit ive been meaning to get rid of’ for years that i end up using and would have had to buy again

All valid points, Spirito, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons today.

I’m happy to say that after some careful cold setting by experienced hands, things are looking good. The seller was quite helpful and happy to cover any repairs. A few more tweaks and it’ll be ready for a quick build and test ride.

And fuckers who are too cheap to pay for Express Post, but and then whinge when Aust Post take 5 days to get their package to them because they choose to live in Shitsville, in some out of the way corner of the country.

That’s excellent news. Holla if you need a hand or advice re: wheels or parts. I look forward to seeing what you’ve had heart in mouth moments about.

Must be related to those cnuts who wait 5 or 6 days to pay, to then email the day after asking if the item has been posted and what’s taking so long?
Gotta laugh (or buy firearms).

Yah. I don’t get that?!?! When I win an eBay auction, I pay straight away. Always. If you don’t have the cash, don’t bid?

I have bought a two premium frames from well known European/Uk sellers, and have received frames virtually unwrapped flapping around in a box. Amazingly no damage. I have have probably 3 better packed frames arrive with the derailleur hanger bent upward. To really protect a frame requires quite a bit of effort, and that seems rarely present. The main complaint I get is that my frames take a long time to unwrap. It takes about an hour to wrap and package a frame in my experience, and that is way too much effort for most.

As someone who has received a frame sent by spirito i would suggest that the complaints made to rogerrabbit could be echoed for his packaging. but i was more amazed that he fit a frame and fork in such a small box and had it so well wrapped.

plus (and more importantly) i was so damn excited to see the frame that it was such a great experience to slowly unwrap the box’s contents and examine each. sorta like a great meal, you want to savour each part rather than rush the whole thing down in a couple of bites.

I’ve also see erle’s frame and it is matched in both its understatement and fineness. he was very calm considering the condition it was received in!