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Ira in Chi 10-30-04 09:38 AM

I'm not sure how well this fits, but I figure some of you may have insight on the topic.

Commuter trains in Chicago have a strict "no bikes" policy. You can, however, carry on folding bikes in bags. I don't own a folding bike, but am pretty sure that a full-sized bike would be permitted if partially dissasembled and carried in the proper bag. Does anyone know of a light cloth bag designed for bike transport? The SciCon Travel Plus is cool, but I'd like to stuff the thing into a messenger bag once I got to my location. There is a European product called TranZBag, I don't think it is distributed in the US. It is also quite large. I would be almost more interested to hear from anyone who has designed their own bag for this purpose, or who knows of on-line plans.

hoogie 10-30-04 06:09 PM

try groundeffects tardis bag ... i use it for travelling ... it is good!
Look at the bottom of this page ...

RainmanP 11-01-04 08:31 AM

There is probably a little more to this than just putting the bike in a bag. Even in a travel bag a regular bike is going to be much larger than a folder so the size may still be an issue. And packing a bike in a travel bag requires quite a bit of breakdown - wheels off, pedals off, bar turned to side and down. It doesn't take all that long to break things down and put back together, but certainly more than I would want to deal with 4 times per day.

Depending on your situation and the length of the ride from the train stop to your workplace you might consider what a couple of other train commuters have reported doing. Get a beater bike, like an old 10 speed if you prefer a road bike or a mtb to leave locked up at the train stop near your workplace. Sure it's a risk, but that's why you use a $10-20 beater from Salvation Army or other thrift shop. If you only have a fairly short ride it doesn't even matter if it fits that well.

Guest 11-02-04 01:38 AM

It won't work. Actually, you will have to really disguise the bike so they don't know it's a bike when you prepare to board. If you can disguise it and you don't say anything and they don't guess, you're in the clear. But if you get on the train with your bike, even if it's partially disassembled (as I found out this summer when I went to the burbs), they won't let you on. You have to make that reservation in advance and pay the $5, and then again, that's only on the weekends. Metra sucks.

Dunno about this one- the conductors seem to be pretty sharp, so stay on your toes, and make sure they can't tell it's a bike, but don't be surprised if they stop you anyway and kick you off. Good luck.


markw 11-02-04 02:06 AM

That's a good way to promote riding in. If traffic is anything like it was 8 years ago when I lived there, you'll spend alot of time sitting. :) I wonder how much congestion would be relieved if they _allowed_ bikes on the Metra.

Guest 11-02-04 07:36 AM

What would be nice is if they had one compartment only for bikes, complete with bike hooks and a way you can secure your bikes and have it locked up tight. That would be ideal, and would promote riding.

CTA is much better. You can take a folding bike on the train anytime, and you don't have to wrap it up, just fold it and get on. Normal bikes are allowed on the train anytime on weekends, and on weekdays, just prohibited during rush hours, which is understandable, since it's usually SRO if you're headed into the downtown area.


SAB 11-02-04 08:21 AM

The NYC Metro is pretty good. Regular bikes on subways are OK anytime, although during rush hour the people next to you will hate it! On the commuter rail standard bikes are allowed anytime except rush hours. A separable frame bike or a folder are allowed anytime.

Ira in Chi 11-02-04 01:57 PM

The Groundeffects Tardis is impressive. 3' x 4' is a pretty small package. I've carried on a frame backpack that wasn't much smaller. I'm going to copy their design and see how well it works. I'm interested in racing my track bike in Kenosha next summer, and it would be great to ride up on the train.

Ira in Chi 11-20-04 03:55 PM

So I went ahead and made a bag. It is canvas, about 2.5' by 3.5', and has a zipper at the top. If I strap the wheels to the side of the frame, remove the seat and pedals, and put the bars in my messenger bag, I can slip the bike inside with room to spare. Materials cost $30. I have a peice of seatbelt that ties to the frame on either end, so the bag is not supporting the bike, only concealing it.

I tested this thing out for the first time on a bus from Chicago to Madison, WI. I rode to the station with the bike bag in my messenger bag, dissasembled and packed the bike in about 5 minutes, and waited for the bus. Their policy is that you pay $10 extra to bike an assembled bike, and only $5 if it is in a box. They treated my bag like a regular peice of luggage and I payed nothing. It took another 5 min. to assemble the thing on the other end. I had the same experience on the way home, the bike road for free. Nothing was damaged, dinged, or scratched. My next test is to actually take it on the Metra. They have a reputation for being hardasses, so this will really prove the bag's worth. I'll post some pics of the trip.

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