Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12-07-09, 12:05 PM   #1
reversegear
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Ventura County, CA
Bikes: Steve Rex, Santana
Posts: 144
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Tandems on European Trains

I am toying with the idea of taking a tour before Paris Brest Paris 2011. Yes I know it is way into the future, but the first qualifier is less than a month away so it is on my mind. Not only that, if I am going to pull this off I need to start saving my pennies today and I am trying to come up with an estimated total cost.

It will be a small expedition since we would have two adults, two kids, two tandems - one coupled, one not.

My read of the website http://www.seat61.com/index.html indicates that most European trains flat out don't take tandems. I am guessing that there is a way, just not an easy one.

I am considering flying into Amsterdam, riding towards Paris, shuttling to Nantes and riding the Loire Valley and then shuttling from, say, Orleans to Paris. We will have camping gear, so two fully loaded tandems (and one trailer) need transport.

My US "minivan" can accommodate everything without a problem, but I am thinking the train would be easier & cheaper if I can get the uncoupled tandem on. Also the thought of driving a behemoth like a US sized minivan into Paris frightens me.

The question is the "shuttles". Train or rental van?
reversegear is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-09, 02:01 AM   #2
Chris_W
Likes to Ride Far
 
Chris_W's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Switzerland
Bikes: road, commuter/tourer, hardtail MTB, touring tandem, cargo, folder
Posts: 2,268
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
We've taken our tandem on a lot of Swiss trains, and a few French ones. So, I can confirm that there is not a universal policy banning tandems from all French trains. However, whether it is feasible or not really depends on the specific train, and there is a lot of variation in that. Our tandem has couplers, and more often than not we split off the front third (easy to do if the couplers are in front of the captain's seat tube) to hang each part vertically from the hooks that are only high enough for single bikes. On some trains, there is an area for horizontal bike storage, and then the tandem normally fits without any disassembly, on some lines we know that this will be the case, but a lot of the time we don't know this until the train arrives. Some trains even have a goods wagon or guard's section where bikes should go, separate from the passenger compartments. These normally have loads of room, and so are not a problem with a complete tandem. Not knowing what to expect when the train arrives, and having a tandem without couplers could be a problem.

In France, you will probably have a choice between taking a TGV (fast train) or a standard regional train. Most TGVs have a bicycle compartment (but not all). The TGVs that I've used have all had hooks on the ceiling, with enough hanging space for single bikes, there may be enough space to put a complete tandem, or two, next to the wall in the small bicycle compartment, but I don't know whether they would allow this. You have to pay and reseverve the bicycle space on the TGVs, but not on the regional trains. The TGV passenger tickets will also cost more than the tickets for the regular trains, but some times you can get a special price for the TGV online, particularly if you book a couple of months ahead of time.

My best advice would be to try to contact the TGV (who operate the fast trains) and SNCF (who operate the regional trains) and see if they can offer you any info. However, don't be surprised if you have a hard time getting anything out of them. I also just found a useful link, with links to other info on taking bikes on trains in Europe, some of them specific to France, see here, in particular, there is a report from someone who successfully, but with some hassle, took a complete tandem on some regional trains in France.

Best of luck!
Chris_W is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-09, 08:08 PM   #3
reversegear
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Ventura County, CA
Bikes: Steve Rex, Santana
Posts: 144
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It sounds like your experience with the French trains is not much different than mine here in the US. Basically, with a non-coupled tandem you have no idea if you can get the bike on until the train shows up and you actually get on. It all depends upon which cars make up the train, how many people are on it and how the conductor feels that day. All they can tell you is that you definitely might able to get the bike on the train.

I have some friends that are fluent in French and I will try to get some info out directly out of TGV or the SNCF.
reversegear is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-09, 03:17 AM   #4
pel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Perth WA
Bikes:
Posts: 177
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We took our uncoupled C'dale mountain tandem on Swiss, German, French and Italian trains. We were able to get on all trains marked for bicycles and others not marked. We asked when buying tickets. Some had ample room and others not eg when we squashed across a corridor because we could not get around the corner into the bike comparment. No problem we simply lifted the bike above our shoulders to allow the coffee vendor to pass and eventually had the tandem vertically in a corner. But we were on no problem except for the height of some trains in relation to the platform. One was at least a metre up. At one point we had to change platforms at the last moment down and up steps with the trailer and all panniers - we made it.

In short in can be done with little notice but knowing ahead of time what to expect helps.
pel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-09-09, 12:56 PM   #5
VaultGuru
Senior Member
 
VaultGuru's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Fair Oaks,CA
Bikes: Kestrel RT1000 & Calfee Tandem
Posts: 736
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Having only experience with a coupled tandem in two suitcases, I can't offer much insight. I can tell you that it was difficult for us in Italy because they want you to store oversized luggage (tandem) in the car entry/exit area. There is no room in the passenger area. We couldn't find any cars that were marked specifically for accepting bikes.

Question for those with experience. If you are putting your tandem on a train that does accept bikes, do they just get stacked together? If so, do you pad your frame so it won't get trashed?
VaultGuru is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-17, 03:31 AM   #6
WPH
Senior Member
 
WPH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Bikes: 2015 Apollo Syncro tandem, 2006 Scott CR1 SL (still a beastie race bike), 1993 Trek T200, 2006 Fuji Absolute Le, 2000 Thorn Club Tour
Posts: 223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Do we have any more input on this topic?

Especially interested on options for taking the tandem on Italian trains...
WPH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-17, 09:50 AM   #7
car knocker
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Bikes:
Posts: 31
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by WPH View Post
Do we have any more input on this topic?

Especially interested on options for taking the tandem on Italian trains...
We were in France in May with our tandem. No problem taking it in the suitcases as carry on baggage. Used the soft sided backpack case without the stiffeners ,wheels in a round wheel bag. Biggest problem was walking thru the Paris metro system with those 2 bags and 2 panniers,much too heavy!
car knocker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-17, 12:12 PM   #8
merlinextraligh
pan y agua
 
merlinextraligh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Jacksonville
Bikes: Wilier Zero 7; Merlin Extralight; Co-Motion Robusta; Schwinn Paramount; Motobecane Phantom Cross; Cervelo P2; Motebecane Ti Fly 29er; Calfee Dragonfly Tandem
Posts: 30,175
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 762 Post(s)
Its a been awhile since we traveled on a train in Europe with our tandem. Our experience was you could travel with a full size tandem on the "local" trains, but not on the highspeed such as the TGV
__________________
You could fall off a cliff and die.
You could get lost and die.
You could hit a tree and die.
OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.
merlinextraligh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-17, 02:21 AM   #9
Chancy
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: (near)New Orleans, LA.
Bikes: S&S Santana Arriva & uncoupled Arriva
Posts: 33
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
We've taken our tandem on trains in Europe many times. In 2014 we took it on a train from Ancora, Italy to Rome and then later, from Rome to Florence Italy. No problems really. Once in Czechia (Czech Republic) the conductor told me the tandem was too big for the "bike car" and we put it in the cargo car (they allowed me to put it in and tie it off). As Merlinextralight said, use local and regional trains. To my knowledge no bikes are allowed on the high speed trains in Europe.


Tailwinds,
Charlie
2016 Santana Beyond
Chancy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-16-17, 07:41 PM   #10
WPH
Senior Member
 
WPH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Bikes: 2015 Apollo Syncro tandem, 2006 Scott CR1 SL (still a beastie race bike), 1993 Trek T200, 2006 Fuji Absolute Le, 2000 Thorn Club Tour
Posts: 223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chancy View Post
We've taken our tandem on trains in Europe many times. In 2014 we took it on a train from Ancora, Italy to Rome and then later, from Rome to Florence Italy. No problems really. Once in Czechia (Czech Republic) the conductor told me the tandem was too big for the "bike car" and we put it in the cargo car (they allowed me to put it in and tie it off). As Merlinextralight said, use local and regional trains. To my knowledge no bikes are allowed on the high speed trains in Europe.


Tailwinds,
Charlie
2016 Santana Beyond
Thanks very much for the updates!

Charlie I take your tailwinds and give a downhill right back at ya!
WPH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-17, 03:40 PM   #11
Chris_W
Likes to Ride Far
 
Chris_W's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Switzerland
Bikes: road, commuter/tourer, hardtail MTB, touring tandem, cargo, folder
Posts: 2,268
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chancy View Post
To my knowledge no bikes are allowed on the high speed trains in Europe.
This is a very sweeping and inaccurate comment. The situation is different in every country and for every train service. The only general statement that can be made is that bike transport on European high-speed trains has generally been improving in the 12 years that I've been living in Switzerland. I'm living car-free, so I use the trains a lot, normally with a single bike, occasionally with a tandem that has couplers and so can be treated as two single bikes when necessary.

The French TGVs have certainly improved over the past few years, with trains that can transport fully assembled bikes increasing in number. This year, the website for online booking of TGV tickets finally allows bikes to be added (when the train has a bike compartment), whereas before this had to be done by an agent at the station. On the Geneva/Lausanne to Paris route, the bike compartment is now so large that a complete tandem could be carried, but I know that it's different in the TGVs that service most other routes.

Even on TGVs that cannot take fully assembled bikes, bikes in bags are allowed up to certain dimensions. The dimensions would not be enough to fit a complete tandem frame, but last autumn we took our coupled tandem to Barcelona on a TGV from Lyon, with the tandem taken apart and carried in one simple bike bag that is made for train travel (https://www.tranzbag.com/de/produkte...-tranzbag.html) and one extra large garbage bag for the wheels. Once there, we threw the garbage bag away and folded up the bike bag (it weighs about 1 kg) and carried it in a pannier as we cycled home to Switzerland.

This summer, we took a trip to the Dolomites with two single bikes. We used Swiss trains to get to the Engadin valley near there, then rode the rest of the way (most Swiss trains are very easy to use with any type of bike, but check at the station because there are a few exceptions). To get home, we reserved bike places on the Italian high-speed train that was going from Verona to Innsbruck (which had a separate goods wagon for the bikes that would have easily taken a complete tandem), and then on the Austrian high-speed service that went from Innsbruck to Zurich (where there were hooks that could only take single bikes).

The German ICE trains have always been the worst for bike transport, not even allowing bikes that are broken down and carried in special bags; I've heard that there is continual pressure to change this, but I don't know if it yet has. Fortunately, there is one level of express train just below the ICE trains that normally does have bike spaces and that operates on many of the same routes and isa not that much slower than the ICEs.
Chris_W is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-17, 08:10 PM   #12
WPH
Senior Member
 
WPH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Bikes: 2015 Apollo Syncro tandem, 2006 Scott CR1 SL (still a beastie race bike), 1993 Trek T200, 2006 Fuji Absolute Le, 2000 Thorn Club Tour
Posts: 223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
The only general statement that can be made is that bike transport on European high-speed trains has generally been improving in the 12 years that I've been living in Switzerland.

The French TGVs have certainly improved over the past few years, with trains that can transport fully assembled bikes increasing in number.
Well that is good news.

I took the single bike on a TGV (which was a bike-carrying service) in 2007 between Clermont-Ferrand and Paris. The train had originated at some point further south and was already very full when it arrived. The conductor accepted the bike but the storage area was very small and already full of huge suitcases. I ended up putting the bike in an un-used kitchen, an extremely difficult process.

In 2004 I took a 'co-rail' (next step down from TGV?) from Caen to Paris. Technically un-bagged bikes were not permitted but the conductor was nice and let me stand the bike up on its rear wheel in an entryway. Lifting the bike from the platform onto the train through a narrow doorway was hard.

In 2000 I took a fast intercity train from Munich to Frankfurt with the single tourer. Dead easy, a large and mostly unused carriage at the front with seats and heaps of bike hooks. The conductor initially wanted me to put the bike on the overhead hook but relented when I started to take luggage off, and instead I strapped the whole lot to a rail. I always carry a couple of long straps for moments like that.

Overall, looking at the routes we are considering, if public transport is necessary for some reason, local trains will be fine. But sometimes it is necessary to take a fast train back to the airport city with the machinery.

We are hoping to go between say Munich and Milan the next time, so probably no need for a fast train, but the problem arises of finding a tandem box in Milan... Was thinking of taking an Envirobike box (apparently available in Australia) to Munich, then shipping it to a hotel in Milan? Ideas stolen from this post: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=497956&v=Ch

Now just have to sell a kidney to pay for it all!


Cheers


Will
WPH is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:27 AM.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    get answers from real people!
Click to start entering your question.
I HAVE A QUESTION