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  1. #1
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Bike Friday Tikit on Amtrak

    I'm taking the train to DC in a couple of weeks, and I;m considering bringing my Tikit along. I'm a little concerned, because the folded size is bigger than the Dahon Curve I've brought in the past.

    Anyone successfully bring a Tikit on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor? Did the bike fit in the overhead racks end luggage closet? Were you hassled by a conductor? Did you need a cover?
    Last edited by neilfein; 01-26-11 at 09:59 AM.
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  2. #2
    lbj
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    I don't know about the Bike Friday, but I commute daily with a Montague folding bike on Amtrak in the Northeast - I don't have a cover, I've never been hassled by a conductor, and I just put the folded bike in the luggage compartment at the front of the car. And since I'm pretty sure that your bike is smaller than a Montague, I think you should be fine.

  3. #3
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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  4. #4
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lbj View Post
    I don't know about the Bike Friday, but I commute daily with a Montague folding bike on Amtrak in the Northeast - I don't have a cover, I've never been hassled by a conductor, and I just put the folded bike in the luggage compartment at the front of the car. And since I'm pretty sure that your bike is smaller than a Montague, I think you should be fine.
    If I may ask, how large is your bike when folded? (And I was hassled by a conductor while on that route, with my Dahon in an Ikea bag.)
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  5. #5
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    I showed up at an Amtrak station witha Xootr Swift and they just laughed at me. tikit probably folds smaller, but they told me it has to "fold down to the size of a wheel" for the Acela trains.
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  6. #6
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    Amtrak's entire policy is:

    Folding bicycles may be brought aboard certain passenger cars as carry-on baggage. Only true folding bicycles (bicycles specifically designed to fold up into a compact assembly) are acceptable. Generally, these bikes have frame latches allowing the frame to be collapsed, and small wheels. Regular bikes of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bikes, and may not be stored as folding bikes aboard trains. You must fold up your folding bicycle before boarding the train. You may store the bike only in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level). You may not store bikes in overhead racks.

    This guy claims that this policy specifically includes Acela's cars, which are the toughest situation. I think the Tikit will easily count as "compact assembly", though yeah, I imagine the Swift would not. But you probably want to check first. And cover the bike. For example this guy says he's been thrown off twice for having a folding bike.
    Last edited by feijai; 01-25-11 at 08:00 PM.

  7. #7
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    Tikit on Amtrak

    I've only ridden a short segment and generally it's in the middle of the night (11pm, after the last commuter rail train) so take this with a grain of salt

    I've had no problems whatsoever with the tikit uncovered. On the other hand, I haven't had any problems with my 20" Pocket Llama either (and that is not a very compact fold) The train's usually not very crowded at this hour, but I've have definitely wheeled it on-board in a very visible manner and when I'm on the train I've left my bike out in very plain view of the conductors.

    In short, same as lbj. No problems in the northeast.

  8. #8
    low and laid back atom bomb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    I showed up at an Amtrak station witha Xootr Swift and they just laughed at me.
    After the laughter subsided, did they allow you to take the Swift on the train? Or was the laughter the kind that just says no?
    Atom Bomb

  9. #9
    lbj
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    If I may ask, how large is your bike when folded? (And I was hassled by a conductor while on that route, with my Dahon in an Ikea bag.)
    Folded, my bike is 36x28x12 - or that's what the specs say anyway, I haven't actually measured it. You take the front wheel off when it's folded up - maybe that's why they don't give me a hard time? I don't know.

  10. #10
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    @mtlamin

    i experience the same agents as you geographically with my xootr, they are a little surly sometimes, but they simply ask me to fold it, i show them, everything is ok. never been denied boarding or kicked off of amtrak train for my bike.

    i've ridden amtrak in mass/nh/maine for about 40 trips, most short, some long distance, no hesitations what so ever. usually very accommodating. i've also ridden one acela and about 10 rides in connecticut and rhode island area on amtrak, no problems, a few asked me to fold before they sold me the ticket.

    @neilfein,

    i usually stow right outside the car end luggage compartments, in front of handicapped seats. sometimes i put the narrow xootr in the closet for hanging suits. i stored my brompton overhead a few times, but very heavy, awkward, i'd rather leave it at end of aisle, even if it was officially allowed.

    i think you are safe. a good feeler is to go to ticket agent from where you are leaving, with bike folded, ask to buy a ticket without talking about the folder in your hand and see how they react. stating "can i bring it on" is setting you up for rejection.

  11. #11
    member duende's Avatar
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    Amtrak

    I was doing so well with Amtrak that I had gotten an Amtrak credit card that would give me free travel with it. So I did not think to bring a copy this time any of the info I had already gleaned on a trip to Charleston SC. Getting there was fine, but when I went for my 10 pm return train, I stumbled when going up the ramp and, instead of helping me up, the conductor ordered me off the train. Neither he nor either of the ticket agents had ever heard of folding bikes being carry on items on Amtrak.

    I do think I would have been fine if I had had my things in a backpack instead of in my panniers being bungee corded together in an unwieldy form. Either way, you get two carry on items.

    Leaving there, I pedaled to the nearest hotel and got online to find only the wording that folders are allowed "on certain trains", which worried me that some other a-hole conductor would kick me off again, so I paid the $25 to ship it in a box to be sure I got home the next day. Amtrak did reimburse me with a voucher for just a bit less than the extra hotel stay and the extra price for an updated ticket.

    The fact is that the only Amtrak train I can find that does not allow folding bikes as carry ons is the Car Train to Florida, where you must put them into your car. But the website is just stupidly ambiguous.

    Any way, print the following info for any Amtrak trip and you should be fine, no matter where on Amtrak ypu travel with a folding bike, either on trains or associated buses.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Thank you for contacting us.
    We apologize that it has taken longer than expected for us to reply. We have had an unusually high number of e-mail requests. Your patience is appreciated.

    We also apologize for the problem you encountered. We have forwarded your e-mail to our Customer Relations Department. They will contact you as soon as possible in the order that your e-mail was received.

    The department is experiencing an extremely higher than normal volume, due predominantly to weather related issues and personnel staffing. Please allow up to two to four weeks for a response.

    If your concern requires immediate attention, please call our toll free number 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) to speak with Customer Relations. Press '0' or say 'agent' to bypass the automated system and then ask for Customer Relations.
    Their hours are Monday to Friday, from 7:00am - 10:00pm (ET)

    Below is Amtrak's policy regarding folding bikes as carry on baggage:
    Bicycles as carry-on baggage - no tiedown space

    Folding bicycles and unicycles may be brought aboard passenger cars as carry-on baggage. Conditions:
    - Only true folding bicycles that are designed to fold into a compact assembly, or unicycles that can be disassembled to be of similar small size, are acceptable. Folding bicycles have small wheels and latches that let the frame fold up.
    - Folding bicycles/unicycles must be able to fold into a size no greater than 34" x 15" x 48"/860 mm x 380 mm x 1220 mm.
    - Regular bicycles of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bicycles, and may not be stored aboard the train as carry-on folding bicycles.
    - Folding bicycles and unicycles must be folded before boarding and will not count against the two-baggage carry-on limit.
    - Folding bicycles and unicycles may only be stored in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level).
    - folding bicycles/unicycles may not be in stored in overhead luggage racks, vestibules or in reserved (ticketed) bicycle racks on trains that have them.
    Amtrak disclaims liability for loss or damage to carry-on bicycles.
    We hope this information is useful.


    Sincerely,
    Patrice
    Amtrak Customer Service
    Amtrak.com | Stations | Routes | Deals | Plan a Trip | Help
    Amtrak is a registered service mark of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

    ________________________________________________

    BICYCLES ON AMTRAK THRUWAY BUSES:
    - AMTRAK THRUWAY BUSES THAT HANDLE CHECKED BAGGAGE WILL ALSO HANDLE REGULAR BICYCLES.

    - FOLDING BICYCLES MUST BE STORED IN THE BAGGAGE BINS
    UNDER THE PASSENGER AREA OF THE BUS -- NOT BROUGHT
    INTO THE PASSENGER AREA..

  12. #12
    member duende's Avatar
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    Holy crap, I just now noticed "- Folding bicycles and unicycles must be folded before boarding and will not count against the two-baggage carry-on limit." Still, I would not want to travel with too many extras.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    Interesting that they say folders must fit in 34"x15"x48".

    But I sense the conductors have almost complete discretion re: whether they let you on or not.

    The Xootr Swift for example can get that small in most of its configurations: http://www.xootr.com/swift-folded-dimensions.html

    but somehow I guess theywouldn't let me on with it ... maybe I'll try next time
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Observation...cover the bike and you should be good to go. Also make sure you can handle your baggage without assistance. I ride Amtrak regularly, however I have not done it with a folding bike. The only two runs I have taken a bike on have been between Fayeteville, NC and Boston. I shipped the bike ahead of time. The other route has been Fayetteville to Charleston and/or Savannah, and return. On all of those trips I boxed the bike and it traveled on the same train I did. I have seen two folders on recent trips, one between Richmond and Charleston and another between Philly and DC. One was in a Dahon case, the other was a Brompton in a soft bag/cover.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I used to ride Amtrak into and out of Chicago all the time with my Tikit. Here's what I learned.

    1. ALWAYS bring the folding bike policy. Some conductors don't care about the folding bikes and will welcome you with open arms, but others can be pretty cantankerous about bikes. Be polite when showing them the policy and they'll let you on the train with a minimum of fuss. If you don't have the policy with you, you can expect that some conductors will give you a hassle or force you to buy a bike ticket.

    2. There are three potential places to store your folding bike. 1) With the luggage, in the luggage rack. I usually put it in the lowest rack. 2) On some trains there are extra spaces for luggage behind a column of seats. 3) Despite what the policy states, some conductors will ask you to place your bike in the overhead.

    3. If you have the opportunity to cover the bike, do so. Yes, it's an extra hassle, but it could help you avoid problems. That said, I never covered my Tikit and had very few problems.

    One thing to note, most Amtrak are unfamiliar about the folding bike policy. When they give you a hard time about it, it's not because they just want to give you a hard time. There is a bike policy on Amtrak that requires that you purchase a bike ticket. This policy has been in place a lot longer than the folding bike policy. As Amtrak employees see more folding bikes, it will become less of an issue.

    For now, be sure to carry a copy of the policy with you... and be nice to the conductor no matter what he/she says or how he/she says it. It's better to swallow your pride a little than to be stranded somewhere waiting for the next train.

    --sam

  16. #16
    member duende's Avatar
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    I think that covering one's bike for a ride on Amtrak is a waste of time and money, as long as a person has the recommended copy of regulations. Also, I can roll mine if it is not covered. It's a lot easier than lugging it along.

    I do wish they would change the online info. It should say that folders are allowed on most trains, instead of certain ones. The only exception I am aware of is the Car Train, where it is a simple matter to keep them in the car. Looking at the Amtrak network of trains and buses. Anyway, I plan to avoid flying in the USA, hopefully forever.

  17. #17
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    Wow, deja vu. It's approaching almost 4 years since I first had issues w/ Amtrak and my folding bike and I thought it was all resolved & clear.

    In any case, from my own personal experience, NOTHING on the Amtrak web site is real in the eyes of the conductor. It is all about the Operations Manual (Conductor's rulebook), union rules and whatnot.

    So read and print out this:

    http://community.bikefriday.com/imag...akpolicy07.pdf

    And read this story about someone named Dave:

    http://community.bikefriday.com/amtrak

    Yes, conductors still have final say and discretion so better to be nice to them than argue about the rules.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    Nice job, Dave. You've made all our lives better. Thanks!

  19. #19
    low and laid back atom bomb's Avatar
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    Dave rules!
    Atom Bomb

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