In what’s shaping up to be a trend, Cannondale has announced that their bikes are starting to ship in 100% plastic-free packaging. Not only that, but they’ll come mostly assembled, cutting down on shop labor time, and they say they’ll be better protected during transit, too!

While riding a bike is an extremely eco-friendly transportation option for people, getting bikes safely to the shop or end user has massive room for improvement. Many bikes are packed using a LOT of single-use plastic, from zip-ties to axle and rotor guards. Even the packing tape used to seal the boxes is plastic.

cannondale plastic free bicycle packaging is fully recyclable

Now, Cannondale is switching to 100% cardboard packaging inside and out, with rice tape holding things in place. The result should help us all sleep ride a little easier, and hopefully push other brands to follow suit. Here’s the key points from their press release:

100 % Recyclable Materials
At its European assembly facility in Oldenzaal, Netherlands, Cannondale has eliminated use of all plastic tape, plastic bags, foam, PVC, and zip ties from its bicycle packaging. All bikes are shipping from this facility using only FSC-Certified cardboard; natural, plant-based inks; and the tape used is biodegradable fiber reinforced paper tape. Following a successful phase one implementation of this program in Europe, Cannondale will apply these learnings into other regions globally.

Better Protection
Cannondale bicycles will be better protected and safe in transit. Rice tape will be used to protect the frames from damage while cardboard disc brake rotor protectors, wheel sleeves, and multi-functional wedge inserts will be used to keep the bikes protected and in place in the box.

Faster Assembly
Cannondale bicycles assembled in Oldenzaal are also shipping 95% assembled, cutting build time by at least half once out of the box. Brakes and gears will already be adjusted with the brake hoses attached. Additionally, if a bike is equipped with a fender and rack, it will be shipped with the front wheel on, making assembly even faster.

They’re starting in Europe, but will be rolling out the program globally over time.

cannondale plastic free bicycle packaging is fully recyclable

Anyone else?

Who else is making their packaging more environmentally responsible? Vaast launched with plastic-free packaging, and Trek recently announced a similar initiative (though it hasn’t launched yet). The GoPro HERO9 comes in an almost plastic-free package. Kitsbow has told us they’re looking at non-plastic bag options for their clothes, too.


  1. Tom on

    Nice, what about fully recyclable bikes?! Carbon fiber looks great and allows innovative forms but it is not readily recyclable and has a fairly limited lifespan. Metals are not a huge weight and stiffness penalty and are endlessly recyclable.

      • Tom on

        I stand corrected, I am no expert on this! The theory on CF frames appears to be, accidental damage aside, they should out live the owner. However my personal experience is that I know of far more instances of cracked CF frames than of metal ones. Again this is just in my experience.

        Durability aside, the point still stands metal framed bikes are readily recyclable.

  2. Mic C. on

    SRAM and Shimano should take notice. Their component boxes are full of useless plastics molds, bags zips, and foams.
    Each bike build, ends with a pile of their plastic junk.

    Campagnolo, probably being European, has much cleaner packaged components already.

  3. Mark on

    How does this affect the size of the box? With wheels on, it looks like they’d be paying a higher price for shipping through the usual package delivery companies unless they’ve gone away from the usual dimensional weight pricing structure. Even using other delivery companies, shipping is usually dependent on volume: shipping container size, pallet dimensions. It’s not like bike boxes are as dense as other goods.

    Not that price is the the deciding factor in going with this packaging. They are spending more to do the Right Thing, which also takes strong commitment.

    • Collin S on

      This would be an interesting life cycle analysis for carbon output regarding the decreased shipping efficiency vs the reduction of plastic. Say you can normally fit 40 (pulling the number out of my…) bikes in a UPS truck leaving the Cannondale warehouse, and now, you can only fit 30. Since Cannondale will be presumably selling the same number of bikes, this means more trucks have to be used to deliver these new boxes.

      That being said, having the front wheel on will protect the frame, and more importantly the fork way more than standard practices. Cervello back in the day had an issue where a random number of forks would break. There was no correction between lot numbers and such. Eventually through their testing, they determined that if the box was dropped a certain way, the fork would take a big impact and result in a small crack in the fork that would eventually lead a complete fracture. They literally did this by climbing up a ladder and dropping a boxed bike and finally were able to get a crack to form.

      This box would make that a non issue as any dropping would be similar to what’s experienced in actual riding.

  4. Mark on

    Being a service tech, I would much prefer seeing less-built bicycles show up. Factory assembly is often poor and the assembled nature of it masks safety issues like loose bottom brackets, poorly assembled headsets, and tangled internal cabling.
    Case in point- a very well known boutique brand sent me several gravel bikes that were mostly assembled, but without the anti-rattle sheathing on the internal brake hoses and shift cables. Disassembling the bike, installing the hoses and charging the manufacturer for barbs and cables took exponentially longer than building the bike would have taken. The pinch bolts on the cranks were also not tightened to spec.

    • josh on

      Here here!

      At our shop, every bike gets its headset disassembled and greased. Same with bottom brackets. Most hubs need attention as well, and tangled internal shift cables are all too common. Wheels are never true, and often out of dish.

      Sometimes, I wish manufacturers would simply ship me a pile of components instead of a hastily assembled mess, saving at least the wasted disassembly time between unboxing and rolling a properly built bike onto the sales floor.

    • John on

      Apple already announced reduced packaging this year when they stopped including those little 5-watt chargers in the boxes with their iPhones (a good move, IMO).

  5. MaraudingWalrus on

    This also seems like a step that would come before a consumer-direct shift in the business model. Packaging looks a lot like how the Raleighs and Diamondbacks that were ordered by customers online and sent to our shop for assembly would show up.


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