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  1. #1
    Senior Member GrandaddyBiker's Avatar
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    Bike for Amtrak Train

    Does anyone make a folding bike that will fold small enough to go on an Amtrak train as a Carry-On baggage? The reason I am asking is there are some stations that do not have checked baggage service. The size limit for Carry-On is 28Ē x 22Ē x 11Ē (71 x 56 x 28 cm).

    I know that the selling point of some folding bikes is that they can be folded in 15 seconds. I do not care about that. If I was in that big of a hurry I would not be using a bike. Once I get off that train I donít care if it takes 10 sec or 10 minutes to get the bike ready to ride. So I was thinking if I took the wheels off before I folded it that would get the folded size down some. They allow 2 carry-on bags of the size I mentioned. Maybe the wheels could go in a separate bag.

    I have never built a frame but I believe I could. My dad taught me to weld when I was a teenager and that was long, long ago. If they donít sell a bike that will fold that small maybe I could make one. Give me a good welder and Iíll fix anything but the crack of dawn.
    When I ride my destination is the ride itself. So I always get to where I am going.

  2. #2
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    See the thread "Folding bike size on Amtrack East Coast lines" earlier this year and Amtrak Operations Standards Update 07-15 (http://transalt.org/files/resources/..._policy_07.pdf).

    -HANK RYAN-
    Norman, Oklahoma USA
    DISCLOSURE: I have an ownership interest in an independent bike shop that is an authorized dealer for Raleigh, Dahon, Tern & Brompton.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GrandaddyBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HGR3inOK View Post
    See the thread "Folding bike size on Amtrack East Coast lines" earlier this year and Amtrak Operations Standards Update 07-15 (http://transalt.org/files/resources/..._policy_07.pdf).

    -HANK RYAN-
    Norman, Oklahoma USA
    Problem solved with just one reply. Thanks

    I was not aware of the policy change. I was in an Amtrak station today and they had 2 lines painted on the wall and a rectangle line painted on the floor with a sign that read, if your Carry on does not fit inside these lines you cannot take it aboard the train. I knew that not many folding bike would fit inside those lines.

    Even thought I could do the work myself I know that building a bike would cost far more that buying a factory made bike. Thanks again.
    When I ride my destination is the ride itself. So I always get to where I am going.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    I've carried stuff on amtrak that clearly exceeds their size limits. In practice, if you can get it onboard yourself, the conductors don't care.

  5. #5
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    I have gotten on a train at a station where the Amtrak employee did not know the rules but wanted to be more strict than the rules specify. If I was going to take a folding bike on a train as carry-on, I would print off that policy and pack it with the bike in case I needed to pull it out and "educate" the Amtrak employee.

    HGR3inOK, thanks for posting that link. Very helpful.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    I have gotten on a train at a station where the Amtrak employee did not know the rules but wanted to be more strict than the rules specify. If I was going to take a folding bike on a train as carry-on, I would print off that policy and pack it with the bike in case I needed to pull it out and "educate" the Amtrak employee.

    HGR3inOK, thanks for posting that link. Very helpful.
    Interesting - I just came back yesterday from a trip that originated in NYP, on a totally full train, and there were two women in front of me that had boxes that were at least four feet tall, PLUS a bunch of regular luggage that was clearly oversize for carry-ons. In spite of that, the conductor even offered to help them stow it. :-)
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  7. #7
    my nice bike is at home kraftwerk's Avatar
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    Some of the conductors are as friendly people as you will ever meet. The Problem with Amtrack is the infrastructure:
    In Switzerland they have bike racks on every train. Sometimes you have to pay for bringing your bike on depending on which train but there is always some way to roll your bike onto the train, even a fully loaded touring bike. Kids bikes and strollers anything goes! Complain to Amtrack, write your congressman...

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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftwerk View Post
    Some of the conductors are as friendly people as you will ever meet. The Problem with Amtrack is the infrastructure:
    In Switzerland they have bike racks on every train. Sometimes you have to pay for bringing your bike on depending on which train but there is always some way to roll your bike onto the train, even a fully loaded touring bike. Kids bikes and strollers anything goes! Complain to Amtrack, write your congressman...
    Develop public transport infrastructure in the USA?

  9. #9
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    I just learned that Amtrak is changing luggage policies. I am not researching further at this time, but I offer this link to a series of posts on the bike touring forum:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...baggage-policy

  10. #10
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    I just learned that Amtrak is changing luggage policies. I am not researching further at this time, but I offer this link...
    The OP wanted to know about folding bicycles as carry-on baggage aboard Amtrak. Your post deals with baggage checked in the train's baggage car.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  11. #11
    Senior Member jobtraklite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HGR3inOK View Post
    See the thread "Folding bike size on Amtrack East Coast lines" earlier this year and Amtrak Operations Standards Update 07-15 (http://transalt.org/files/resources/..._policy_07.pdf).
    When I purchased a folder 3 years ago, I made a practice of carrying this document with me. But after traveling all over the country via Amtrak with the folder, I haven't found it to be necessary.

    However, in view of the recent change in checked baggage policy, I did double check the folder policy at http://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard. It hasn't changed.

    One comment about the policy I linked to. It states: "Folding bicycles may be brought aboard certain passenger cars as carry-on baggage", adding the phrase "aboard certain passenger cars", with out being specific. Viewliner (single level) sleeping cars can be a problem. They don't have community luggage racks; and folders won't fit in the room. But I've always been able to sneak my bike into the community rack in an adjacent coach.

    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    I've carried stuff on amtrak that clearly exceeds their size limits. In practice, if you can get it onboard yourself, the conductors don't care.
    This is pretty close to the rule Amtrak veterans state: if you can schlep it on board without causing a problem, you are OK. But if there is nowhere to put the luggage, it can be a problem.

    Last winter my wife and I were boarding the California Zephyr in Chicago for the last leg of a trip home from Florida. We each had an "airline legal" suitcase containing, unbeknownst to anyone else, folding bikes. Even though we had boarded first due to our senior citizen status, the coach luggage rack was already full. Someone had taken advantage of red cap service to board early with 3 large tupperware containers, taking up all the space. The conductor started to kick us off but relented. Ironically, the 62 total inches was less than Amtrak's total inches, but one dimension was 2 inches bigger than one of Amtrak's dimensions. So I guess the conductor was technically correct.

  12. #12
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    I stowed my Brompton in the overhead bin on a recent NYC to Baltimore trip on the NE Regional. Had it in the black bag, it looked just like any other piece of luggage. So slick. Big part of the reason for me getting a Brompton was in order to do just this.

  13. #13
    Senior Member jobtraklite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgold View Post
    I stowed my Brompton in the overhead bin on a recent NYC to Baltimore trip on the NE Regional. Had it in the black bag, it looked just like any other piece of luggage. So slick. Big part of the reason for me getting a Brompton was in order to do just this.
    I was about to ask whether it is necessary to camouflage folders on the NE Regionals. Then I remembered that the policy that I linked to above expressly states that you may not store bikes in overhead racks.

    Incidentally, they are called overhead racks because the term bin conjures up the tiny space you find on airliners.

  14. #14
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    OK, now I understand why no one travels by train in America. Carry on allowances? Checked luggage? You may as well fly.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefmcg View Post
    OK, now I understand why no one travels by train in America. Carry on allowances? Checked luggage? You may as well fly.
    These are all very recent, actually, and are a reaction to increased ridership. Train travel in the Northeast, at least, is still at least a megaflopdoodle times better than flying.

    I have to admit that I regret not having used Amtrak more for bike tours while the service was less popular...
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  16. #16
    Senior Member jobtraklite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefmcg View Post
    OK, now I understand why no one travels by train in America. Carry on allowances? Checked luggage? You may as well fly.
    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    These are all very recent, actually, and are a reaction to increased ridership.
    Being from London, jefmcg can be forgiven for not being aware that he is repeating a sound bite from the anti-rail, anti-bike-as-transportation, anti-walking lobby. Other than that crowd, now-a-days when someone says "no one travels by train", they are usually being sarcastic, mimicking someone who couldn't find the nearest train station if they had to.

    Train travel in the Northeast, at least, is still at least a megaflopdoodle times better than flying.
    Not just the Northeast. I just returned from a bike ride from Chicago to north of Milwaukee and back. To get home I took the Illinois Zephyr. Despite a 6th car being added to the train, it was still crowded. And Quincy, at 40,000 population is the largest stop on the line.

    I have to admit that I regret not having used Amtrak more for bike tours while the service was less popular...
    Yeh, the last time we took City of New Orleans, the luggage rack in the sleeper was full; and the attendant had to put our folders in the handicap room.

    If you are flexible, check out Amsnag to try to avoid high bucket fares.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandaddyBiker View Post
    I was in an Amtrak station today and they had 2 lines painted on the wall and a rectangle line painted on the floor with a sign that read, if your Carry on does not fit inside these lines you cannot take it aboard the train. I knew that not many folding bike would fit inside those lines
    One of the first things I did with my Brompton was take it to an Amtrak station and place it in that very rectangle. It fit except for a little angle that sticks above the line denoting maximum height.

    Never actually took the bike on Amtrak, though.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jobtraklite View Post
    Being from London, jefmcg can be forgiven for not being aware that he is repeating a sound bite from the anti-rail, anti-bike-as-transportation, anti-walking lobby. Other than that crowd, now-a-days when someone says "no one travels by train", they are usually being sarcastic, mimicking someone who couldn't find the nearest train station if they had to.
    Strange assumption, that I should refer to a cliche i didn't know (kind of like assuming I'm a "he", I guess). I've heard that expression, which is why I used it. Travelling by train should be the best way to get about, but it so often isn't. However, one of the nice things about trains is the simplicity of boarding, disembarking, getting on your way. If you are required to check a bag, can't (officially) board with a suitcase at certain stations etc etc, then if I was in the US I doubt I'd use Amtrak. If people do use it, then great, but it really doesn't seem customer focused to me.

    Not that the UK trains are that great: I rarely use them for anything except an occasional commute, or getting back from a ride. They are mostly too expensive and slow to be a practical. Eurostar is brilliant, though.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member jobtraklite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefmcg View Post
    Strange assumption, that I should refer to a cliche i didn't know (kind of like assuming I'm a "he", I guess).
    Sorry, just joking.

    If you are required to check a bag, can't (officially) board with a suitcase at certain stations etc etc, then if I was in the US I doubt I'd use Amtrak.
    Being from London, you are forgiven for thinking this. Both statements are incorrect. It is correct, however, to say you can't check a bag at certain stations.

    The recent policy change involved only checked baggage; and in reality it only affected people trying to use Amtrak as a free moving van. The carry-on baggage rule seems to be that if you can schlep it on board without causing a disturbance, you are good to go.

    Amtrak has a long way to go; but IMO it's the only civilized way to travel, along with bicycle of course.

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