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Old 03-15-12, 01:27 AM   #1
TheHen
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Amtrak Box Shrinks

Well, those HUGE bike boxes that Amtrak supplies have been shrunk. My local station got their new shipment of bike boxes in this week and they are noticeably smaller than what they replaced. As near as I could tell, they didn't lose much height, but the width is a few inches less and the length has also been knocked down. This shouldn't affect too many folks, but if you ride a 63 cm bike with a long wheelbase, you may be in for a surprise. Also, if you have a long stem and wide/deep bars, you should be prepared to do a bit more fiddling around with them to make the front end fit into the box.

I look forward to the day when they don't supply boxes because bikes ride on proper racks instead of in boxes. In the meantime, I'm pleased with Amtrak's willingness to accommodate bikes.
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Old 03-15-12, 02:26 AM   #2
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Ouch...I ride XL bikes (60cm+). I wonder what the reasoning was for the downsized boxes? I hope my station still has some of the old ones I have a bike that needs to go up to Boston a bit later this spring.

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Old 03-15-12, 04:33 AM   #3
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Just bought ticket to Whitefish Mt for June 1 great divide tour . Hope my 17" mtb fits .

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Old 03-15-12, 07:14 AM   #4
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Ouch...I ride XL bikes (60cm+).
I am in the same boat. 60cm LHT with 46cm bars. My guess is that little (if any) thought went into the change. It was likely price and/or availability driven. I work with people at Amtrak on various issues/projects, but I wouldn't know who to call on this one.

The best thing to do right now would be for people to make their opinions know to Amtrak.

OP: What station?
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Old 03-15-12, 07:58 AM   #5
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Well, those HUGE bike boxes that Amtrak supplies have been shrunk. My local station got their new shipment of bike boxes in this week and they are noticeably smaller than what they replaced. As near as I could tell, they didn't lose much height, but the width is a few inches less and the length has also been knocked down. This shouldn't affect too many folks, but if you ride a 63 cm bike with a long wheelbase, you may be in for a surprise. Also, if you have a long stem and wide/deep bars, you should be prepared to do a bit more fiddling around with them to make the front end fit into the box.

I look forward to the day when they don't supply boxes because bikes ride on proper racks instead of in boxes. In the meantime, I'm pleased with Amtrak's willingness to accommodate bikes.

Any chance that you could get the actual measurements? I tried calling my local station ( ROC ), and they, as always, never, ever answer their phone.
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Old 03-15-12, 08:48 AM   #6
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Bummer - especially on the length. Most travelers have longer touring bikes so I don't quite understand the move. The last time I used one my old Specialized Expedition was pushing out the ends of the box to fit. If I would have had metal fenders instead of plastic it wouldn't have made it. It is only a 58cm bike so it isn't huge.

I hope they tend to hang on to the used old versions like some stations do. Nice because they usually give them to you for free.
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Old 03-15-12, 10:37 AM   #7
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Just bought ticket to Whitefish Mt for June 1 great divide tour . Hope my 17" mtb fits .

Thom
That's where I want to go. How far are you going?
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Old 03-15-12, 11:26 AM   #8
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That's where I want to go. How far are you going?
Till I run out of money :0)
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Old 03-15-12, 11:47 AM   #9
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Pick up one of those spacer pieces at the LBS, in case you have to remove the front wheel.

and a 'keeper' if you have disc brakes..
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Old 03-16-12, 12:26 AM   #10
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Remember, the original box really was large. I could almost fit my tandem in one, but not quite. For most reasonably normal bikes, you will still be able to fit it into the box without much trouble. However, you won't have that extra six inches of length that you did last year nor will the bars fit without a bit of effort if you have a very long stem, but that is easily dealt with. The cardboard also seems a bit wimpier. That wouldn't make any difference at all if the baggage handlers would resist the urge to lay them on their side and then stack things on top of them.

I'll try to stop by and get some measurements when I am able. The station that got the new ones that I referred to is in Eugene, OR. (Yes, the station that is notorious for "forgetting" to take your bike off the train when you come to town.)
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Old 03-16-12, 04:45 AM   #11
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That's where I want to go. How far are you going?
You have a start date ??? I hope 30 to 45 days of riding
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Old 03-16-12, 06:05 AM   #12
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The stupidity of Amtrack and their policies on bicycles just amazes me. Why not just allow you to roll on your bike on any train? Oh, wait, I can hear their excuses now: Safety issues, schedule issues, and safety issues. If commuter trains all over the world can accommodate roll-on bicycles, there's no reason Amtrack can't do the same thing.
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Old 03-16-12, 08:41 AM   #13
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The stupidity of Amtrack and their policies on bicycles just amazes me. Why not just allow you to roll on your bike on any train? Oh, wait, I can hear their excuses now: Safety issues, schedule issues, and safety issues. If commuter trains all over the world can accommodate roll-on bicycles, there's no reason Amtrack can't do the same thing.
One issue is revenue. As configured, most Amtrak equipment does not have sufficient space for bikes. Seats would have to be removed, and bikes don't buy tickets. As I am sure you are aware, our country subsidizes public transportation far less than many other countries, so every dime of revenue is important, especially in rail, where fixed costs are high.

Unfortunately, Amtrak inheritted an aging fleet of baggage cars from the assets of the railroads that it grew out of. Over the years, many of those cars have reached the end of their useful lives. Many have been retired. Amtrak labor is very expensive. Throw that on top of having to maintain baggage cars from the 50s and it adds up quickly. New cars are very expensive. Again, it's a money thing.

Also, literally "rolling" a bike into a passenger or baggage car isn't really possible in most cases. Most Amtrak stations outside the Northeast Corridor (the line between Boston and D.C.) don't have high level platforms. This means the bike must be lifted into the passnger or baggage car. The latter has no steps. Unless there is a baggage handler at a station (most stations don't have checked baggage service and thus no baggage handler), the passenger must get himself and his bike up into the baggage car so it can be secured. There are definitely some safety concerns there.

Some commuter agencies in the U.S. (e.g., New Jersey Transit, PATH, Metra Rail in the Chicago area and SEPTA in Philly and its 'burbs) prohibit bikes during peak hours for safety and revenue reasons. Unfortunately, New Jersey Transit just recently revised its bike on train policy. You can no longer board or alight at stations that do not have high level platforms. My suspicion is that this change resulted from a legal claim or two. Someone who gets smacked in the head with a bike or has a bike dropped on them by an alighting passenger is likely to sue.
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Old 03-19-12, 09:55 PM   #14
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Any chance that you could get the actual measurements? I tried calling my local station ( ROC ), and they, as always, never, ever answer their phone.
Try calling the next couple of numbers up. xyz - abc1, xyz - abc2, etc. They usually have gotten phone numbers in a bloc and the next couple of numbers are usually the other desks at the station. When these ring they assume it is an internal call and actually pick up.
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Old 04-02-12, 11:48 AM   #15
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TheHen: Did you ever get a chance to get measurements of the new boxes? A local CrazyGuy user indicates that after checking with our station, the boxes are the same size as always: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...1&nested=0&v=U
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Old 04-30-12, 09:19 AM   #16
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Resurrecting this in case there is any new info. Seems like so far only the OP has encountered smaller boxes. I'm taking a short trip that involves Amtrak, and I measured my bike. Seems like the stated dimensions (
69 x 41 x 8.5 inches) will be cutting it close for me. Uncut steerer tube makes that the non-negotiable high point on my bike, close to the height limit assuming I remove the stem rather than simply turn the bars. Wide bottom bracket has me concerned about needing to remove my cranks rather than my pedals. And the length seemed the most problematic. With the rear fender, it's a very close thing. It's difficult to imagine a smaller box working for me.
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