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  1. #1
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    Shipping bike via Amtrak Express -- $67 flat rate!

    I've checked bikes on Amtrak as checked baggage before (in the Amtrak bike boxes) and it has worked out well. It is inexpensive (I think $20) and the boxes are easy to pack because they are so big, and the bike is right there when you get off the train and easy to assemble.

    We are going to San Diego next month and we might want to bring our bikes with rather than rent. But we are not taking the train, instead we are flying (and not via Southwest), so the charge would be quite high to ship our bikes as baggage on the airline.

    FedEx quoted me a rate of around $100 each way to ship a bike from our home in Minnesota to San Diego. Not bad and I already have a home made box.

    But today I called Amtrak Express to see what their charge would be from Minneapolis to San Diego (both cities have checked baggage service). The agent told me it was a flat rate of $67. Very reasonable and you can use their huge boxes! So this is a good alternative to airline baggage fees IF the origin and the destination have checked baggage service with Amtrak. Unfortunately the number of cities that have checked baggage service with Amtrak is fairly small, around 100 or so according to Amtrak's website. You can buy the boxes from Amtrak, I think they are $15, but sometimes they have used ones lying around and don't charge for them at the station.

    Anyway, I thought this might be of interest.

  2. #2
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    You may be able to use shipbikes.com (which uses fedex). With them, we spent less than $100 (including $3000 insurance) to ship to SD from (near) NYC.

    With Amtrak, I'd guess you'd have to go to the station to pick the bikes up (that might not be very convenient).

    I rented a bike from "stayclassy" for $100/week. It was a decent 105-equipped Raliegh Revenio.

    "Bike Revolution" (downtown) also rents.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 01-14-13 at 11:13 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the information. I did not know about shipbikes or the cool triangular box they sell, and I appreciate the information about rentals in San Diego.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZephyr View Post
    Thanks for the information. I did not know about shipbikes or the cool triangular box they sell, and I appreciate the information about rentals in San Diego.
    You're welcome.

    Keep in mind that the size of the box has the most effect on the cost of shipping not the weight (for reasonable/expected weights).

    The "ebike" box shipbikes.com sells is going to be cheaper than the slice-of-cake box.

    We were shipping a bike in a Thule 699 box (for <$100 to SD from NYC).

    http://www.thule.com/en-US/US/Produc...ke-Travel-Case

    What you should do is understand how fedex charges for different box sizes and run the shipping costs for the various boxes you are looking at.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Amtrak info. Did not know about the fixed rate for express.

    Check with Greyhound express also. Hundreds of drop off points. Not as finicky about box size. Very reasonable.

    I've done both Amtrak and Greyhound. The box arrived in better shape with Greyhound.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I still use Amtrak for shipping bikes up and down the East Coast on a regular basis. My daughter shipped all of her household goods from Seattle to Boston using Amtrak, including two bicycles. Cheaper than renting a van or car for the trip east.

    Haven't used Greyhound freight in quite a few years so not sure how well that works anymore.

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  7. #7
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    $100 from Minnesota sounds a bit high. Are they over-sized? You might want to go to Fedex's site and check yourself.

    Does AmTrak store your bike till you get there? If so, it is a pretty good deal. No need to worry about a ship to address. The downside is less options for drop off. There is a FeEx office right over the hillside from me while the Amtrak station is in the city where I need to worry about parking.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  8. #8
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    if amtrak shipping is as confused and mismanaged as their passenger service i'd kiss my bike goodbye before loading.

    OTOH does Greyhound do shipping?

    ... just checked. they've got something called Greyhound PackageExpress. might be worth looking into.

  9. #9
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    Greyhound makes way more stops, making it more apt to reload and loose stuff.

  10. #10
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    OP: Did you inquire as to whether Amtrak Express is available at all stations with checked baggage service? Not surprisingly, their web site is not clear on that point. It says that Amtrak Express is available between more than 100 cities, but it does not say that this corresponds to all stations where checked baggage service is available. In other words, Amtrak Express may only be available between a subset of stations where checked baggage service is availabe.

    There is one notable exception explained on the site: You cannot originate Amtrak Express shipment from NY's Penn Station.

    http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1241267371736


    Huey: I have both ridden Amtrak with my bike (including twice across the country) and shipped it when not a passenger. Never had one problem. And have you ever ridden the Northeast Corridor? Almost always a nice experience. Sure beats driving, flying or taking the bus between places like D.C., Philly, NYC and Boston.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
    Greyhound makes way more stops, making it more apt to reload and loose stuff.
    I've shipped packages from the east coast to the SF Bay Area via Greyhound twice. In both cases, the (very large, 60-80lb) boxes ended up in San Jose within 3-5 days. Shipping cost was less than $90 each time. The boxes definitely looked banged around, but the contents were in good shape. I doubt Greyhound would lose something but, as I understand it, they generally don't guarantee shipping times so it's possible that your package might not get put on the correct bus which could increase shipping times by a day or two.

  12. #12
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    I did call Amtrak and gave them the two city pairs of Minneapolis to San Diego. The agent confirmed that service was available between them, which I expected -- both stations have checked baggage service, and both are large stations, with San Diego being one of the busier stations outside of the Northeast Corridor.

    I did use the Fed Ex website (and UPS) to get the quote, which was $98 for Fed Ex -- the box is an ugly heavy wooden bike box that I made that is intentionally just under 89 dimensional inches -- and the quote is consistent with what it cost when I shipped my bike down to Atlanta a couple of years ago -- that was around $75 each way -- and San Diego is farther from Minnesota than Atlanta. Part of the cost must be the value of the bike -- if I don'tt declare the value of the bike the price does go down to around $80.

    I checked into Greyhound Express -- more expensive than Amtrak in this case. But it would be an option to keep in mind, particularly in the many areas that don't have Amtrak checked baggage or roll on bicycle service.

    In the end I might just rent a bike in San Diego. But I wanted to share the information about the Amtrak Express service here because I thought it might be of interest to forum readers and contributors. Maybe it will be a good option for someone in the right circumstances. And even though I have been a user of Amtrak since its inception, and have used it to bring my bike along with me a number of times, using Amtrak Express is something I had never thought to consider before.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=hueyhoolihan;15157750]if amtrak shipping is as confused and mismanaged as their passenger service i'd kiss my bike goodbye before loading. /QUOTE]

    Did you have a bad experience (or do you have any experience) using Amtrak to ship a bike either as Express or as checked baggage?

  14. #14
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    Update: we ended up renting bikes for $75/week from Bike Revolution in San Diego. They were Bianchi Cortinas -- just simple hybrids with a triple crank and an 8 speed cassette -- and they worked well. Everything was well adjusted, the folks at the bike shop were helpful, the bikes came with pump, repair kit, lock, and helmet, and they were perfectly decent bikes (although we brought our own seats along).

  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldZephyr View Post
    Update: we ended up renting bikes for $75/week from Bike Revolution in San Diego. They were Bianchi Cortinas -- just simple hybrids with a triple crank and an 8 speed cassette -- and they worked well. Everything was well adjusted, the folks at the bike shop were helpful, the bikes came with pump, repair kit, lock, and helmet, and they were perfectly decent bikes (although we brought our own seats along).
    Glad that worked out for youl.

    My wife and I are on opposite sides of the size spectrum so getting rental bikes to fit sometimes can be a challenge. I ride 64cm and she rides 42cm.

    FWIW Just shipped my daughter and my son their respective bikes. My son's went Amtrak from Fayetteville, NC to Boston, MA via Amtrak. My daughter's went via FedEx to WA with a substantial discount from my bride's work ID.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    What you should do is understand how fedex charges for different box sizes and run the shipping costs for the various boxes you are looking at.
    This is a good point. We used FedX last summer to ship our bikes from Oregon to Michigan. My wife's bike, small frame with couplers, cost $67 but mine was $160. There was not a whole lot of difference in the box sizes. Mine was just over the arbitrary box size and my wife's was just under. I am talking about a difference of approximately 3"!

  17. #17
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    I mis-read your airline choice. You said you were not flying Southwest. Of all the airlines, I have had the best luck with them. They only charge $50, and sometimes you get a gate agent who just lets it through without paying. I secretly suspect they have a few cyclists among their employees. One time one of them grumbled something like "If golf clubs are free, your bike is free."

    Here is a shameless plug. I run a small business rent road bikes from my home, and I deliver to South OC and North San Diego County. I have modern CAAD10's as well as vintage road racers from the 70's and 80's. Discounts are given to forumites! Check out the link, it is in my signature block
    Road bike rental in Dana Point and other parts of South Orange County, California
    www.riverstonecycles.com

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