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  1. #1
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    Help please - travelling to Europe with road bikes?

    Next fall, I'm travelling to Italy for several weeks, and want to do as much riding as I can while I'm there. Unfortunately, renting is not much of an option. I'm 6'5" and ride a 64cm frame that has numerous extra equipment on it to accomodate my size (I really need a custom frame, more like 66-67cm). On the other end, my GF rides a 48cm that is just a tad too big, but it's the smallest frame we could find, and we've fit her pretty well on it. Sounds comical, but true.

    Anyway, we're concerned about the logistics of getting the bike cases around Italy. Can anyone who has travelled to Europe with bikes comment on ease of getting bikes into rental cars, on trains etc etc. Was it worth bringing the bikes along? Did you have difficulty getting from place to place? We're planning some 2-3 day trips into bigger cities (most of vacation is going to be more out in the country) and will need to store the bikes for short stretches, how easy is that to do?

    Thanks for any comments, ideas, help, or anything you can tell me.

  2. #2
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    How about a bikefriday.com?

    I have only rented cars in the UK and Ireland, They always seemed too small to contains two bikes.

    My parents are very proud of the fact they can go on extended trips to euro with nothing more than one flight bag (purse sized shoulder bag) each. Of course they are staying with relatives or at hotels. Still the less you carry the easier it will be for you.

    It has been a while since I went to Rome and Naples. The Naples trafic was the most inpossible gridlock I have ever seen, like a parquet floor with zero observance of any light or sign. Rome was fast, a little crazy, but recognizeable.

    Unless the purpose of your trip is cycling, I wouldn't burden myself.

  3. #3
    Fahren auf den Autobahn craign04's Avatar
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    yes be sure to look into booking a space on a bicycle car, if you sit in the regular cars with a bike case the ticket checkers tend to get a little annoyed that there is this huge case in the regular passenger compartments, at least in germany. Who knows in italy though... they cant even keep their trains running on time.
    Ivan Basso can really climb. It is being true, he is not having to carry the extra added weight of a male penis, but he is still a good climber.

  4. #4
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    Train + bike sounds to me the best and most economical option unless you are planning to go places too remote, too far from train stations.

    As someone mentioned above, you'll likely rent the equivalent of a civic or accord at best which will limit your carrying options to a trunk rack (what will you do with the bike cases? - even in a larger size car, they may not fit).

    Investigate thoroughly the terms of access to Italian train services such as dates and times where traveling is restricted with bikes or large luggages.

    Good luck, and bon voyage, I envy you!

  5. #5
    Senior Citizen Discount fixedfiend's Avatar
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    check with cycling clubs that do yearly tours. They have shops that outfit you with a bicycle of your choice. much easier than lugging your own around.

  6. #6
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    It is worth bringing your bike. The highspeed trains often don't accomodate bikes,a nd you can be at the whim of the conducter. As for rental cars, while the cars are small, lots of them are hatch backs with folding seats so you can usually find something that works. I've rented a Renault Scenic that works well.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Doug Campbell's Avatar
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    After much anguish I sold two of my bikes and bought a Bike Friday custom fitted to me. The reason that I did it is because I was struggling with the same issues as you. With regard to rental cars, I have only rented in England, the price of a rental vehicle that will hold two full size bikes is literally 2 1/2 to 3 times as much as a compact car. I figure that the Bike Friday will pay for itsself (eventually) by savings in car rentals and the fact that I won't have to shovel money at airlines everytime that I transport a bike within the U.S. If only somebody could figure out how to put a bike in a giant golf club bag we could take them along on airplanes for free.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderboy
    Next fall, I'm travelling to Italy for several weeks, and want to do as much riding as I can while I'm there. Unfortunately, renting is not much of an option. I'm 6'5" and ride a 64cm frame that has numerous extra equipment on it to accomodate my size (I really need a custom frame, more like 66-67cm). On the other end, my GF rides a 48cm that is just a tad too big, but it's the smallest frame we could find, and we've fit her pretty well on it. Sounds comical, but true.

    Anyway, we're concerned about the logistics of getting the bike cases around Italy. Can anyone who has travelled to Europe with bikes comment on ease of getting bikes into rental cars, on trains etc etc. Was it worth bringing the bikes along? Did you have difficulty getting from place to place? We're planning some 2-3 day trips into bigger cities (most of vacation is going to be more out in the country) and will need to store the bikes for short stretches, how easy is that to do?

    Thanks for any comments, ideas, help, or anything you can tell me.
    The problem with taking your bikes on trains in Italy is that you will be limited to only the slowest trains and the commuter local trains. They may or may not run as frequently in the middle of the day too, so you will definitely be limited to where you can and can't go. I got a Bike Friday after my first trip using my full sized bike didn't go as well as it could have. With the Bike Friday, I can fold it up and fit it into the suitcase (sold separately, but fits the Bike Friday and some extra bike gear and doubles as a trailer also), then take the fast trains and instead of taking 4- 5 hours, it's only a 1- 2 hour trip tops. If you don't want to purchase a folding bike, and you don't want to modify your current bike with s & s couplers, then just get a rental car and purchase a carrier for the bikes to latch to the back of your car (but bring sturdy locks to lock everything down).

    You can store your bikes easily at any train station. They have deposits where you can drop your luggage for a fee per day or per hour. I would still lock up your bike, just in case, but I've checked my bike for a day or two, as well as luggage, and I've never had a problem.

    Koffee

  9. #9
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    P.S. Also, I highly recommend Swiss Air. They handled my bikes better than any airline I've taken (British Air, Air France, United, Airitalia), and they are the most comfortable plane I've ever taken too (get a flight with their new Boeing planes... they have televisions at every seat, you can control your in flight movies, shows, news casts, etc. And their food is very good too.

    Koffee

  10. #10
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    And (sorry) additionally, when I brought my bike to Swiss Air, they didn't even require a hard shelled case. They just hand carried my bike bag to the plane. It was awesome.

    Koffee

  11. #11
    Velo Tourist
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    I say take your bikes and use the trains. It is the best way to get around in France, Germany, and Spain. These journals are provided for your reference.

    http://www.dulcinea.crazyguyonabike.com
    http://www.hermann.crazyguyonabike.com
    http://www.clovis.crazyguyonabike.com

  12. #12
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    Yeah, but he's going to Italy. He will absolutely not get his bikes on any trains other than the slow ones and the commuter trains. It can sometimes be a pain. Well, unless you have a folder bike, at least. I never had a problem with my folder bike.

    Koffee

  13. #13
    SAB
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    High speed trains will generally not check oversize bags, including bike cases. The regular trains will take them, most often requiring a reservation (my experience in France and Spain). Most taxis will not hold bike boxes (even the full-size ones in the US). You'll need to find a mini-van taxicab or rent minivans. I have had excellent luck in Europe with minivans made by Opal, Citroen, Ford, and Reneault fitting up to three full-size bike boxes in the back. However, I have recently obtained a bike built with S and S Machine's BT couplers. The frame is full-size, but collapses to fit into a more standard-sized hard suitcase. It will go anywhere with no reservation or fee. Fits in the backseat or trunk of even the smallest European car. This may be an option for this trip or in the future.

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