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Rinko Bikes on Amtrak

Old 03-23-20, 01:15 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
For those that remove a fork from a frame for packing, I find that it is very helpful to make sure I put all the headset parts back on the steerer tube in the correct order and orientation. And keep them on the steerer tube with a rubber band. Plus, I keep a photo of that on my phone. Then if I have forgotten any part of the procedure, a quick glance at my phone is all I need to get things right.
That's a good idea (says the guy who had to have a bike mechanic re-stack my fork correctly)!
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Old 01-12-22, 09:16 AM
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Re-visiting this thread to find and print out the Amtrak baggage-handling rule book attached to post # 19, as I prepare for a spring tour along the Ohio River. One thing that I forgot to mention before that could save someone a bit of grief:

When I flew out of Memphis (after taking the train from New York to Savannah, and riding from there to Memphis), I uneventfully checked my rinko-packed bike for an upcharge of $75--fair enough, I figured. The bike has an easily-removed faceplate stem, so I took it off the handlebars to prevent it from poking through the plastic bag, and stuck it in my carry-on bag.

At the security checkpoint, it took me awhile to notice that people who had been behind me in line were being sent by while I was kept waiting, and that there were three or four people clustered around the x-ray machine. "What's going on?" I asked. The woman told me to be patient.

A few minutes later she came up to me holding the stem in her hand as if it were a handgun. She said "when we see something like this on an x-ray, it really gets our attention." Oh. Lesson learned. Since then I have made it a point to leave the stem with the frame.

Since someone asked, I bought the big 6-mil bags from some industrial supply company I found on the internet--I forget the name. I had to buy 20 of them, I think, at a cost of something like $60. I can be reincarnated twice and still have a lifetime supply. But even if that happens, I doubt that I'll be able to find the damn things.
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Old 01-12-22, 09:46 AM
  #28  
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I'm confused, it's a quill stem with a removable faceplate?

I'm not sure I would put that on an airplane as shown, it's pretty easy to bend the crap out of a head tube. Much to my chagrin.
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Old 01-12-22, 09:52 AM
  #29  
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They also get very excited with ball bearings because those could be BBs and everyone knows that could blow up the plane (yes, seriously.....Orlando)
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Old 01-12-22, 01:25 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I'm confused, it's a quill stem with a removable faceplate?

I'm not sure I would put that on an airplane as shown, it's pretty easy to bend the crap out of a head tube. Much to my chagrin.
Yes, a quill stem with a removable faceplate.

Sorry about your head tube. I can only say that I have had a 100% success rate in shipping my bike that way by plane. That is, I did it once, and it arrived undamaged.

But before trying it, I read a long online discussion about the plastic-bag-on-an-airline method of shipping, which seems to be pretty widely used. It was interesting. There were some informed comments from a couple of people who actually worked as airline baggage handlers.

The consensus seemed to be that no matter how you pack it (unless it's in some kind of a hard case, which is a logistical nightmare on a point-to-point tour), shipping a bike is always a little bit of a crap shoot. If a bike is packed in a cardboard bike box, it's probably going to end up lying flat on the bottom of a cart with a bunch of suitcases, etc., piled on top of it. A cardboard box is no guarantee of an intact bike.

A bike in an oddly-shaped plastic bag, on the other hand, can't go on the bottom of a cart. It more or less has to go on top, where (one hopes) it's less likely to get crushed. Also, as one of the airline baggage handlers noted, the people who work for the airlines don't want to smash stuff--it's just that they have to work fast and make quick decisions about what goes where. If they can see through the plastic bag that there's a bike inside, they will do what they can to go easy on it.

Basically, you pay your money and you take your choice. Anytime you go on a tour, there's a chance that your bike is going to get smashed or crashed or stolen somewhere along the way. The only way to be sure that won't happen is to stay home.
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Old 01-12-22, 01:40 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
They also get very excited with ball bearings because those could be BBs and everyone knows that could blow up the plane (yes, seriously.....Orlando)
Ball bearings...man!

On the other hand, I once flew with a carry-on bag that contained about a dozen 42-tooth triplizer chainrings in it. I was braced for trouble, figuring that the TSA would interpret them as ninja throwing stars, or some damn thing.

In the event, the guy running the x-ray machine just glanced over at me and said, "Wow, that's a lot of chainrings." But this was at the airport in Portland, Oregon, where everyone rides a bike. No doubt they would have tazed me in Orlando.
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Old 01-12-22, 03:40 PM
  #32  
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I'm shocked it was $75 to check the bike. I've traveled with my bike on Amtrak and it was very cheap. 10-20. Didn't catch my attention it was so low. But I've only gone on Amtrak with bike-accommodating cars. One time the special car was there and had space. Another time it was supposed to be there but wasn't and I just put my bike in the cafe car and they said it was fine.
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Old 01-12-22, 05:20 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
I'm shocked it was $75 to check the bike. I've traveled with my bike on Amtrak and it was very cheap. 10-20. Didn't catch my attention it was so low. But I've only gone on Amtrak with bike-accommodating cars. One time the special car was there and had space. Another time it was supposed to be there but wasn't and I just put my bike in the cafe car and they said it was fine.
My last post could have been clearer, I guess. I took Amtrak from New York to Savannah, carrying the bike on for free. The $75 charge was on the return flight from Memphis to Burlington, Vermont, on Delta Airlines. I could have returned on Amtrak via Chicago, but didn't want to spend two days on the train.
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Old 01-12-22, 05:21 PM
  #34  
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I was confused about the $75, but I figured out that was for the plane ride.
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Old 01-12-22, 09:10 PM
  #35  
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I thought Delta charged more than $75 before they dropped the oversize fees for bikes, I was assuming it was Southwest at that price. But I could be wrong on Delta fees since I only checked my S&S bike with them, I was only curious how much I was saving at the time by avoiding the oversize fee.
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Old 01-13-22, 07:59 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I thought Delta charged more than $75 before they dropped the oversize fees for bikes, I was assuming it was Southwest at that price. But I could be wrong on Delta fees since I only checked my S&S bike with them, I was only curious how much I was saving at the time by avoiding the oversize fee.
This was in March of 2019. As I recall, when I plunked the packed-up bike onto the airline scale (that's it on the scale in the photo above) the woman initially mentioned a much higher price when I admitted that it was a bike--$150, I think. I had expected as much. But then she looked at her rate sheet or something and said, in a surprised voice, "Whoa! I guess it's only going to be $75."

You can believe that I did not demand an explanation. I just said, okay, that sounds good to me. Not sure what the situation is now--that's the one time I flew with a bike.
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Old 01-13-22, 08:20 AM
  #37  
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It used to be as long as the dimensions were under 62 inches and weight was under 50 pounds, there was no baggage fee UNLESS you admitted you had a bike, then, United at least would wack you for 150 bucks each way. I once had 3 hours before my flight and decided to ask a Supervisor to go over the rules with me. The language of their rules does not exclude bikes to free checked baggage when under 50 lbs and 62 inches BUT once the Agent enters "Bicycle"......the fee is automatic. Even the Supervisor's Manager could not override it. I suggested that riding a bike is like playing the tuba.......sheepishly, she entered as such and no charge. At the time, I had Global Services FF status, so, they were trying to help me.

I put my recumbent frame into a snowboard container and it was free domestically as long as they did not know it was a bike. I even semi-lied once. They asked what it was and I said I am designing a contraption that you can use sitting down. "cool" No fee.

I have tried to figure Amtrak out WRT bikes. Very confusing. Most stations do not handle luggage. Some trains do not have luggage cars. Some have places for bikes. Others don't.
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Old 01-13-22, 08:57 AM
  #38  
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Airlines charge for any luggage at all, even if it's a barbie suitcase. So sometimes I have gotten charged for another suitcase, sometimes it has been free. Either way, it's better than $200 or 200 euro
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Old 01-13-22, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Airlines charge for any luggage at all, even if it's a barbie suitcase. So sometimes I have gotten charged for another suitcase, sometimes it has been free. Either way, it's better than $200 or 200 euro
Southwest I believe still has two free checked bags, or free as long as under 62 inches. I flew Southwest in 2018, my folding bike was in my S&S case (62 inches), and I had a second checked bag. And a carry on. No baggage fees for that trip. At that time Southwest had a $75 fee for a bike over 62 inches that I did not need to pay.

As far as I know, Delta and American both still do not charge extra for oversize fees on bikes but do charge for the bike as luggage, or at least that has been their policy for a year or two. I think United recently also dropped the oversize fees for bikes, but still would charge for the bike as a piece of luggage.

But, fees come and go, I do not know what their fees are now and I have no plans to research it at this time.

And maximum sizes still exist, each airline is different.

The only time I have paid a fee for bike transport on an airline was with my S&S bike, it was charged at the regular luggage rates but since it was 62 inches, no extra oversize fees. Those trips were international.
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Old 01-13-22, 11:37 AM
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The max size is pretty amazing though. There are very large bike cases, someone that posts here has one. They can always refuse to take it if they don't wanna, but unless it's a regional flight I can't imagine that happening.
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Old 01-13-22, 12:06 PM
  #41  
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I should have also commented on weight, most airlines will still hold you to the 50 pound or 23kg limit. I have never flown one of the airlines that has a 20kg limit, but I know such airlines exist.

A luggage scale is the traveler's best friend.


Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The max size is pretty amazing though. There are very large bike cases, someone that posts here has one. They can always refuse to take it if they don't wanna, but unless it's a regional flight I can't imagine that happening.
Yeah, there recently was a long thread on the touring board, someone wanted to use an Amtrak box which exceeded the max size limit for the airline of his choice.
Anyone ever use an Amtrak bike box as checked luggage on an airline?

Amtrak boxes are big enough you leave both wheels on. Photo below is my medium duty touring bike just before I put it in the Amtrak box.



If it looks out of proportion, those are 26 inch wheels and 50 mm tires. And a 61 cm frame.

You are not supposed to have anything on the bike in the Amtrak box, at least that is Amtrak policy, but two empty water bottles and two empty panniers are not going to bother them.

I always like to take a photo of my bike before it goes in the box for documentation of the condition.
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Old 01-13-22, 02:21 PM
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What did you do with the stuff that had been in the panniers?
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Old 01-13-22, 02:48 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
What did you do with the stuff that had been in the panniers?
The bike went in a box, stuff that had been in panniers got checked in another bag or as a carry one. Amtrak also has a 50 pound limit, so you can't pack that much stuff in the box with the bike. I just found it easier to pack fewer panniers in the duffle that was checked, thus put two empty panniers on the bike, that also was done to cushion the bike some so it did not rattle around in the box as much.

The photo below is from a different trip, we got off the train in Portland OR, took a bus to Astoria, photo was while waiting for the bus at the Portland Amtrak station. The black duffle with red ends was my carry on, the duffle with blue ends under it was my checked bag. Those two duffles then lived in the bottom of one of my panniers for about six weeks before they were re-used to ride another train home. The other bags were my touring partner's.




Both of those Amtrak trips were before the new roll on roll off option. When I took those trips the only option was to box up your bikes. But now on most routes, Amtrak has bike racks in a luggage car, you can reserve a spot in the rack and avoid boxing it.
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Old 01-13-22, 02:53 PM
  #44  
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Trash bags make good liners (sleeping bag) and can be used to as makeshift luggage. It is also pretty easy to obtain a decent contractor bag when touring. Low budget but I have no shame.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:23 PM
  #45  
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At the end of my Pacific Coast trip, this was my carry on luggage to take on the train. For a two day train ride, your carry on is more than you typically would take a a carry on.



I have used those mesh duffels for lots of trips, they were cheap, very light weight, pack down to nearly nothing empty. I have three big mesh duffles like that.

Some people carry their panniers onto the train, but some stations hold you to the published limit on number of pieces of luggage, so it is a good idea to be ready for that.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:30 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
...I have tried to figure Amtrak out WRT bikes. Very confusing. Most stations do not handle luggage. Some trains do not have luggage cars. Some have places for bikes. Others don't.
Well, that's the point of rinko-packing the bike. As far as I have been able to determine, ALL Amtrak trains everywhere allow you to carry on a folding bike at no added charge.
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Old 01-13-22, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
Well, that's the point of rinko-packing the bike. As far as I have been able to determine, ALL Amtrak trains everywhere allow you to carry on a folding bike at no added charge.
Or, one could use duffle bags and carry them in the bottom of their panniers for the duration of the tour. I have a small foldable bike.

It is statements like this one from Amtrak that was behind me saying it is confusing....


https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboardOnly certain passenger cars can accommodate folding bicycles as carry-on baggage, otherwise they must be checked.
You can't check baggage at all stations nor on all trains. So, I don't think your take is 100% accurate.
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Old 01-13-22, 07:58 PM
  #48  
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The only Amtrak trains I have ridden were long distance trains. But I think the commuter trains on the East Coast might have different rules for what you carry on the train.

A lot of Amtrak employees do not even understand their own rules. So, it is a good idea to carry a copy of the rules if you have a folding bike. And if your bike does not fold, but will fit in the same size space, it is up to you to argue your case.

And I have had their phone staff give me stupid answers that were obviously wrong.
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Old 01-14-22, 07:30 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post

It is statements like this one from Amtrak that was behind me saying it is confusing....



You can't check baggage at all stations nor on all trains. So, I don't think your take is 100% accurate.
I think the confusion stems from the fact that Amtrak has been pretty steadily becoming more bike-friendly (maybe they they've realized that this is an area where they can compete with the airlines), but a lot of the old information is still floating around in print and on the internet.

Here's a condensed version of Amtrak's current folding-bike policy. I bolded the key line:


Folding Bikes as Carry-on Baggage

Folding bicycles under the dimensions of 34" x 15" x 48" (860 x 380 x 1120 mm) will be allowed onboard all trains in lieu of a piece of baggage.

Only certain passenger cars can accommodate folding bicycles as carry-on baggage, otherwise they must be checked.

Only true folding bicycles (bicycles specifically designed to fold up into a compact assembly) are acceptable. Generally, these bikes have frame latches allowing the frame to be collapsed, and small wheels. Regular bikes of any size, with or without wheels, are not considered folding bikes, and may not be stored as folding bikes aboard trains.

You must fold up your folding bicycle before boarding the train. You may store the bike only in luggage storage areas at the end of the car (or, in Superliners, on the lower level). You may not store bikes in overhead racks.


Note that the second line explains that although folding bikes are allowed on all trains, they're only allowed in certain cars on any individual train. Not sure what they do when 25 cyclists show up with folding bikes on the same day. I suppose that could happen on a nice Friday afternoon when everyone wants to take the train from DC to Cumberland, Maryland to ride the C&O/GAP Trail. But I can't see it happening often as a general thing.

Pretty sure it would be a first-come, first-served situation.
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Old 01-14-22, 07:44 AM
  #50  
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Bikes: 1966 Dawes Double Blue, 1976 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1975 Raleigh Sprite 27, 1980 Univega Viva Sport, 1971 Gitane Tour de France, 1984 Lotus Classique, 1976 Motobecane Grand Record

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Making the same point, here's a news article:

https://bikeportland.org/2013/12/18/...arry-ons-98779

Again, all trains in the Amtrak system accept folding bikes as carry-on luggage (in lieu of one bag).

In other words, Amtrak can't complain about your folding bike coming as a carry on. In theory, they could claim that a rinko-packed bike is not a "true folding bike," although they don't have any reason to do so that I can see.
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