How To Travel With Your Bike

Today, traveling by taking your bike with you is perfectly achievable. You can carry your favorite two-wheeler on public transport like train or plane. Certain conditions must be met and precautions are taken, but more and more accommodations are taking place to facilitate the transport of the bicycle. So what are these conditions and what are these measures?

Traveling With Your Bike By Plane

Rules and advice for transporting your bike by plane

Airlines generally accept bicycles on board their planes, sometimes for a flat fee. These prices may vary from company to company. In general, it takes between € 15 and € 50 for European flights. Some companies that do not offer a flat-rate package can still accept bicycles. They will then weigh all of your luggage including your mount, the price increasing accordingly.

Before taking the plane with your bike, it is advisable to find out about the prices but also about the conditions requested. A reservation for the bicycle is required on some flights. You may also be asked to provide information about the bike to be loaded such as the height, length, weight or type of the bike. 

Precautions to be taken

Before taking the plane with your bike, you must always deflate the tires of your two-wheeler. This is a measure that all companies will ask of you. However, you can leave some air in your tires to avoid damage from possible impacts.

Removing the pedals is also a mandatory requirement by all companies, as is aligning the hanger with the frame . In order for the handlebar to be in line with the frame and the wheel, simply loosen the stem at the pivot. Once everything is aligned, do not forget to tighten well so that nothing moves. For added security, you can secure the hanger to the frame with a collar or string. 

Regarding the transmission, it is not compulsory but you can also remove the chain and the rear derailleur. These measures can prevent shocks or improper maneuvers by air personnel which could turn the components in the wrong direction.

To protect your saddle, you can remove it or cover it with a protective cover. However, if you really want your bike to be harmless, consider protecting it as much as possible, for example with pieces of cardboard or foam. You can place them in the most fragile areas such as the brake and gear levers. Don’t forget the main tubes, saddle, and derailleurs, if they are still on the bike. You can also bring a hard-wheeled bicycle suitcase. 

With its rigid shell, your bike is perfectly safe, well protected from blows. The interior of the case is compartmentalized so that the different parts of the bike do not get damaged.

For all the dismantled parts, remember to store them in saddlebags. You can also use a large canvas bag and keep them with you. Keep in mind that the heavier your cabin baggage, the less heavy the hold baggage will be. The prices for excess weight will thus be reduced, enough to save a few tickets.

Good to know: special baggage and surcharge

You should know that cases can vary widely between companies. The weight allowed in the hold may differ depending on several things:

  • From the airline
  • Departure and arrival countries
  • From the chosen class. In economy class, it will take between 20 and 30 kg.

In principle, if your bike and luggage do not exceed the total weight allowed, you will not have to pay anything. However, for each kilogram exceeding the total authorized weight, you may be taxed according to the conditions imposed. It can also happen that special baggage is taxed independently of the weight authorized in the hold, hence the interest in consulting the company beforehand.

If you are traveling heavy, you may want to consider sending some of your baggage in a parcel by post so as not to exceed the total weight allowed. Remember to check that the shipping prices are lower than the surcharge price.

Finally, be aware that if you inflate your tires with CO2 cartridges , they will not be allowed on the plane. They will not be accepted in the hold or in the cabin. Other more innocuous objects, even tools that you can carry for your trip and for your bike, are also prohibited on board. This is the case with corkscrews, knives (fixed or folding blade), scissors with blades exceeding 6 cm, cutters, matches and lighters. 

If you have these items in your possession and you care about them, be sure to find out what to do with them. Discover the list of prohibited items onboard a plane.

Traveling With Your Bike On The Train

For traveling holidays or a business trip, you can perfectly reserve your bike space at the same time as your train ticket. Of course, as with air travel, certain conditions and rules must be observed. You should know that if your bike is a folding bike (of the Brompton type), these rules may not apply. These bicycles are, in fact, considered as hand luggage and their boarding should therefore not pose any problem.

For non-folding bikes

If your bike isn’t folding, here’s all you need to know. Respect these rules and follow these little tips for the smooth running of your trip. Two solutions are available to you if you want to take your bike on the train.

Embark your folded or dismantled bike

You can choose to take your bike onboard a train if it is folded or dismantled. Under these conditions, it will be accepted free of charge on all trains and subject to availability. This solution will however require your frame to be stored in a cover . In this way, your bicycle will be considered as hand luggage. 

Please note that your bicycle, even with its cover, must always be labeled beforehand and must not exceed the maximum authorized dimensions. For information, these are 120 cm high and 90 cm wide.

Opt for trains equipped with dedicated spaces (identified by a bicycle pictogram)

The trains equipped with bicycle spaces dedicated to offer the possibility to ship your bike if it is not folded or removed. Only standard bikes are accepted on board these trains. If your bike is of another type (recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailer), you will need to find out beforehand about the conditions relating to its embarkation.

You should know that on board trains where bicycles are accepted, some boarding rules must be followed. You, as the owner of the bike, will be responsible for your mount. During your entire journey, you will be responsible for loading and unloading your bike. For less complications, the SNCF also recommends that you arrive at least 20 minutes before your train departs. So you will not be disturbed by other travelers and you will also not be a nuisance for them.

On board the train, you must also ensure that your bicycle does not obstruct traffic on board and does not generate any particular risk. To do this, it is recommended to always hold your bike in your hand, on board if possible but also in the enclosure of the stations. Finally, note that in case of high traffic, you will not be able to access the train with your bike. This measure was adopted in order to preserve the comfort and safety of all travelers.

Good to know: About regional trains

If you travel by regional train, be aware that the transport of bikes not dismantled in the TER is free. These can be suspended or placed in a space provided for this purpose. These locations will be accessible to you within the limits of available seats and cannot be reserved. If you want to take advantage of it, you might as well arrive early. Depending on the region, it may happen that the boarding methods are different. 

Bicycle transport is also permitted free of charge in some trams. But beware, here too certain conditions may apply.

Boarding the TGV

If your choice is the TGV and you want to embark your bike without folding or dismantling it, know that it is doable. Unlike the TER, you will also be able to reserve your location when ordering your ticket. This reservation is generally made for the sum of 10 €. However, if in a TGV, your bicycle is folded or dismantled and it is stored in a cover (respecting the maximum dimensions 120 x 90 cm), it may be considered as hand luggage. Its transport will then be free, always within the limits of available places.

Regarding Ile de France

If you travel by TRANSILIEN, you are also offered the possibility of free travel with your bike. From Monday to Friday before 6:30 a.m., between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and after 7:30 p.m. you can travel without any problem with your bike. Same thing on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. If your bike is folded and does not bother travelers, you will not have any problem when boarding it. However, in the event of high traffic, the measure stipulating that you cannot access the train with your bike will remain in force.

For trips abroad

If you take the Eurostar, be aware that from Paris, London and Brussels, you can choose between three options to be able to embark your bike.

  • Fold your bike and transport it in a bag
  • Use the baggage check-in service offered on the day of departure
  • Make a reservation in advance for a bike seat on the train

As far as travel by Thalys is concerned, your bicycle can also be accepted on trains. It will have to be folded or dismantled and always stored in a bag. Depending on the amount of luggage you have, you may be charged for transportation. It is therefore advisable to find out about all the existing conditions before taking your tickets.

Traveling With Your Bike By Car

The different bike carriers

The easiest way to transport a bike in your car is to equip yourself with a bike rack . To be installed on your vehicle, this equipment allows you to secure your bike to transport it on the road in complete safety.

Several models exist: on roof, on trunk or on towing ball. How to make the right choice ? Above all, it is important to know how many bikes you are going to be carrying. One or those of the whole family? Then think about the type of fixing. What is easier or more convenient for you? Transport time but also your budget are also criteria to take into consideration.

This is a bar to be fixed on the roof of the car . You can then take with you between 1 to 4 bikes simultaneously without having to dismantle them. The bicycle is attached by the wheels and tires via locking devices. This solution is to be preferred for short journeys ; however, it can be a source of slowing down because the wind resistance is greater.

  • Bike carrier in the trunk

If you want to avoid the wind that can be caused by the bicycle rack on the roof, there is the solution of the bicycle rack in the trunk. To do this, push the rear seats in and install a bicycle rack in the trunk instead. To be mounted on the rails, this system takes the form of a bar which hangs the bike by the fork. It is possible to install 1 to 3 cycles .

  • Bike carrier on trunk / tailgate

If you have passengers to transport in the back, opt instead for the bike carrier on the trunk or tailgate which allows you to carry between 1 to 4 bikes. Here, you have to pay attention to the compatibility of the bike carrier with your vehicle (model, year must be checked) . Note that this equipment may nevertheless interfere with visibility. It is therefore recommended to be careful when maneuvering and to place another sign plate on the back of your vehicle.

  • Hitch ball carrier

This system clips directly onto your vehicle if it is equipped with a hitch ball. This is the best solution if you have many bikes to transport over a long distance . The towing ball carrier is available in several versions: suspended, on platform or even as a car trailer . Some models are also suitable so as not to interfere with opening the trunk and tilt.

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