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Old 01-22-08, 08:44 PM   #1
jharte
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Xtracycle on Amtrak?

Just curious if anyone has an Xtra for touring and tried to board an Amtrak. I've been thinking about the Xtra for quite a while (or the new BD) but I also like the idea of rolling onto an Amtrak once in a while. I have a feeling it wouldn't go over very well at the station.

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Old 01-22-08, 08:58 PM   #2
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Depends on the train. The big cross country trains require that you box up your bicycle and charge extra to transport it. Some of the regional lines may allow unboxed bicycles at no extra charge. I believe the california coaster may allow bikes on.

I met a couple of guys out of Cincinnati that got around the extra bicycle charge by putting their bikes inside huge hockey gear bags, with the wheels removed of course. Amtrak was supposed to charge extra for oversized luggage too, but they let these guys on. I don't think you're going to be able to fit an extracycle in a bag though. And i wouldn't advise for anyone to try. I think one of the derailers was bent in the process of stuffing the bikes in the bags.
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Old 01-23-08, 03:22 AM   #3
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That would be interesting to travel by train and bring a bike, when I think about it in my early travels that would of made good sense. Well for the future I will have to give that a try. I was thinking about it when I traveled to Cincinnati but instead left my bike in a garage with a camera, a false sense of security for sure though the simplest solution was to plan ahead that bike was stolen because of my lack of awareness. It is good to know they are offered in local routes at the very least. What are some of the routes you have travelled via amtrak while carrying your bicycle?
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Old 01-23-08, 06:26 AM   #4
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I don't know BUT Amtrak is seeking bicyclist input on this very issue. Well maybe not xtracycle but bikes on trains. I'll look up the info and get back to you. Charlie
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Old 01-23-08, 06:38 AM   #5
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Here's a link that might help
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/artic...7&query=amtrak

Amtrak wants to set up trains to different cities w/ cars for "FULLY ASSEMBLED BIKES" not boxed. So an xtracyle would probably OK. SO people, read this story and contact them. It would be cool to take a train to some town w/ bike, tour around the town and return home. Or bike to another town then take the train home! Charlie
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Old 01-23-08, 06:42 AM   #6
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I'm looking forward to taking my bike with me to Portland and will be riding Amtrack... mind you...my bike fits in a suitcase.

I can see that transporting an xtra cycle would pose some challenges.
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Old 01-23-08, 12:13 PM   #7
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Here's a link that might help
http://www.baltimorespokes.org/artic...7&query=amtrak

Amtrak wants to set up trains to different cities w/ cars for "FULLY ASSEMBLED BIKES" not boxed. So an xtracyle would probably OK. SO people, read this story and contact them. It would be cool to take a train to some town w/ bike, tour around the town and return home. Or bike to another town then take the train home! Charlie
To clarify a bit about the MD bike train movement. Larry at ridethisbike.com approached the state about having a bike car on Amtrak. And the State (MD) is very interested in this and wants to know what routes (that meet certain criteria) cyclists are interested in (the route that follows the C&O and Great Allegheny Passage seems to be the hands down winner here for the first trial.)

I assume you can email Larry to make suggestions for other states but the route suggestions have to meet the criteria outlined in the BaltimoreSpokes article.

Generally speaking a Xtracycle can go the same places a regular bike can go but in the worse case scenario take the front wheel off and you now have a bike that is the same length as a regular bike with both wheels on (this works for bike racks on buses.)
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Old 01-23-08, 06:14 PM   #8
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To clarify a bit about the MD bike train movement. Larry at ridethisbike.com approached the state about having a bike car on Amtrak. And the State (MD) is very interested in this and wants to know what routes (that meet certain criteria) cyclists are interested in (the route that follows the C&O and Great Allegheny Passage seems to be the hands down winner here for the first trial.)

I assume you can email Larry to make suggestions for other states but the route suggestions have to meet the criteria outlined in the BaltimoreSpokes article.

Generally speaking a Xtracycle can go the same places a regular bike can go but in the worse case scenario take the front wheel off and you now have a bike that is the same length as a regular bike with both wheels on (this works for bike racks on buses.)
My bad, sorry!! Only Maryland, that's a shame.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:28 PM   #9
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To clarify a bit about the MD bike train movement. Larry at ridethisbike.com approached the state about having a bike car on Amtrak. And the State (MD) is very interested in this and wants to know what routes (that meet certain criteria) cyclists are interested in (the route that follows the C&O and Great Allegheny Passage seems to be the hands down winner here for the first trial.)
I went back to spokes and reread my mistake. The article said Maryland stations already manned by Amtrak employees. This would be Baltimore and BWI Airport for certain. I don't think Cumberland is a manned station. This has always been a problem for the C&O canal ride. Many people would box their bike to transport BUT it is not manned so they can't unload them. I could be wrong but think this is so. This would also leave DC out, which is a great destination not to mention Pittsburgh. I can't think of any other manned stations in Maryland.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jharte View Post
Just curious if anyone has an Xtra for touring and tried to board an Amtrak. I've been thinking about the Xtra for quite a while (or the new BD) but I also like the idea of rolling onto an Amtrak once in a while. I have a feeling it wouldn't go over very well at the station.

Jerry H
I crossed paths with an Xtracycle employee on a tour, and asked him about this (I was wondering myself).

He said they -- the people at company headquarters in NSJ -- have done it quite a bit, in traveling between NSJ and SF. He picked up the bike (there is a grip/balance point that he went to on the frame) and demonstrated. 'No harder than with a conventional bike, really' was the gist of the demonstration. 'Just carry it onto the train like this.'

Those Amtrak cars (the ones on the route that they frequented) have bike racks.

He said the racks worked, as I recall (though there may be some kind of trick to fitting the Xtra and getting them to stay [it's been a little while, and I don't remember that part in detail] -- but it was basically quite doable and easy).

Some Amtrak cars let you put your bike (unpacked -- just carrying it on and wheeling it around inside) in places other than the racks (especially if the racks are full). I've put fully loaded touring bikes in those racks; and I've seen people wheel their bikes inside and park them next to their seats, on the lower level.

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Some trains and employees are more bike friendly and bike-ready than others. Some are more casual and laissez-faire than others.

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Old 01-23-08, 07:58 PM   #11
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My bad, sorry!! Only Maryland, that's a shame.
There is nothing preventing other states from picking up this ball and running with it, which is what I thought your intent was. I just want to make sure that I am not getting any out of state emails that I can't help with.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:21 PM   #12
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I went back to spokes and reread my mistake. The article said Maryland stations already manned by Amtrak employees. This would be Baltimore and BWI Airport for certain. I don't think Cumberland is a manned station. This has always been a problem for the C&O canal ride. Many people would box their bike to transport BUT it is not manned so they can't unload them. I could be wrong but think this is so. This would also leave DC out, which is a great destination not to mention Pittsburgh. I can't think of any other manned stations in Maryland.
Greg is the main bike advocate behind this I am just the disseminator and collector of information (per his request.) This is what he wrote (in part):

The Capitol Limited parallels not only the GAP from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, but the C&O Canal Towpath Trail (and the Western Maryland Rail Trail) from Cumberland to Washington, DC. It presents the possibility of a rail out-bike back trip on all or part of the Pittsburgh to Washington length, or just service to Cumberland to ride locally there.

The Capitol Limited stops at Washington(WAS), Harper's Ferry (HFY), Cumberland (***), Connellville, PA (COV), and Pittsburgh (PGH), although only Washington and Pittsburgh have checked baggage service. Amtrak has some experience with the bike train concept, as the state of Vermont subsidized the presence of a baggage car on the Vermonter, which was used for ski equipment in winter and bikes in summer. I think it has been discontinued, but I'm not sure. California cyclists use the LA to San Diego service extensively to augment all or part of the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway ride.

Closer to home, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers a ride up, bike back service between Cumberland and Frostburg, and I know that some local cyclists use the light rail line to supplement local rides.


Note: *** is the forums dirty word filter in action, nothing offensive meant or implied on my part.
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Old 01-24-08, 12:51 AM   #13
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It is great to hear that Maryland might get access for bikes on more trains. Here in California all in-state Amtrak trains and thru-way buses allow bicycles un-boxed. Last time I rode to L.A. from San Francisco, I took the San Juaquin route home and didn't have to box the bike. Granted half the trip was on a bus and took 12 hours to get home it was way more fun than flying. You can take Amtrak services all the way to Arcata or Ashland, OR without boxing the bike. (I hope Arnold doesn't take money away from Amtrak during this year's budget like he is talking about with the state parks)
Sadly on long distance trains that travel between states (California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, City of New Orleans, etc) you must box up bikes and can only use stations that have checked baggage. Luckily the Amtrak boxes are huge, just take the pedals off and turn the handlebars. So if the Xtracycle without the front tire is the same length as a regular bike you shouldn't have a problem.
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Old 01-24-08, 08:03 AM   #14
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What about security? Do you lock the bikes up to a rack on the train? Or do you just trust that no one will be taking a bike that's not their's?
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Old 01-24-08, 12:16 PM   #15
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I guess you have to have a certain amount of trust when it comes to taking your bike un-boxed on Amtrak. I've never locked my bike on Amtrak when un-boxed, but tend to sit near the bike, though between stops it is totally o.k. to move around, get a snack, etc.
On my train trips across the U.S. (a long time ago) before I cycled, I would leave my backpack in the luggage rack which is away from seat and never had anything stolen.
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Old 01-24-08, 08:27 PM   #16
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One thing to think about is that Homeland Security officers periodically look at luggage that is stowed on trains, just as they do on airplanes. So if you plan on bringing anything that they might not like to find, such as fuel canisters or cannabis, I would try to keep it close to you. Not to give anyone ideas, or anything.
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Old 01-25-08, 12:19 AM   #17
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FWIW Homeland Security had no problem with my fuel canisters when I bike toured in to see the fireworks in DC.
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Old 01-25-08, 09:51 PM   #18
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Wow. Go out of town for a couple of days and try to find your post!

It's been a couple of years since I've had my bike on the Amtrak (not an Xtra). I really didn't have any issues then. I took the panniers off and snapped them together like luggage (fuel cannisters, too). The didn't use any type of bike rack. They just rolled my bike between a couple of seats and left it there. I did have to pay an extra $10.00 charge for the bike.

A rail car for bikes would be awesome. I'll have to do some more digging. The train from KC to Alton, IL was pretty bike friendly.

Travel by bike and train is really quite nice. I'm planning a couple this year. If the Xtra didn't become an issue, that would be a SWEET DEAL.

Jerry H
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Old 01-26-08, 07:12 AM   #19
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Wow. Go out of town for a couple of days and try to find your post!

It's been a couple of years since I've had my bike on the Amtrak (not an Xtra). I really didn't have any issues then. I took the panniers off and snapped them together like luggage (fuel cannisters, too). The didn't use any type of bike rack. They just rolled my bike between a couple of seats and left it there. I did have to pay an extra $10.00 charge for the bike.

A rail car for bikes would be awesome. I'll have to do some more digging. The train from KC to Alton, IL was pretty bike friendly.

Travel by bike and train is really quite nice. I'm planning a couple this year. If the Xtra didn't become an issue, that would be a SWEET DEAL.

Jerry H
So a lot of Amtrak trains allow bikes fully assembled. I wonder why the policy varies so much!
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Old 01-26-08, 02:43 PM   #20
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What about security? Do you lock the bikes up to a rack on the train? Or do you just trust that no one will be taking a bike that's not their's?
I've locked mine to the racks (which, on those trains, position the bikes vertically) just in case; always kept valuables with me; made the panniers hard to remove; and kept an eye on the bike, especially at stops. Between stops, I watched things more or less vigilantly depending on who was around.

Apparently, some people have had problems on Amtrak -- just like most everywhere else.
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