Transporting Recumbent Trike on Trains?



A

Artemisia

Guest
As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
Widdershins.

Next week, we are going on our first major excursion together, a self-
guided tour of Provence and the Luberon looping out of Avignon.

But first, I have to get from the Paris region to Avignon. No problem
- there's a TGV direct.

Now, all the demons break loose. Since the end of March, I have been
trying to make sense of the SNCF and its regulations regarding the
transport of this vessel. They have plenty of provisions for transport
of bikes and make much pretence of being bike-friendly, but there is a
tizzy-fit on every level when I mention the tricyle. The category of
trike for adults does not exist in their little minds.

I spent last Saturday taking the trike apart and putting it back
together, as Proof of Concept. The frame part, with the seat, front
wheels and fenders off, fits into a loose bag, forming an irregular
mass with the three longest dimensions about 1m10 X 1m X 70cms. This
mass is extremely unwieldy and fragile. There is no handle to take it
by, and all the prominent parts that you could grab are delicate -
chain, dérailleur, steering, etc. I could compact it with packing tape
and try to devise some sort of carry-handle out of the same, but would
probably need to put cardboard round the gears and fragile twoggly
bits, which could increase mass. The wheels, fenders and seat go into
a large portmanteau suitcase which will also have to take all my
clothes and personal effects for the trip.

"Bicycles", dsimounted and put in a bike bag, can travel for free in
the baggage section of the TGV, but their dimensions must not exceed
1m20 X 90 cms. That barely covers my two longest dimensions and does
not take into account the third dimension. This solution would require
arriving perhaps 90 minutes early at the station and carefully
dismounting and packing the bike on the quai.

There is also a door-to-door bike shipping service, which would add
some 100 euros to the cost of travelling and quite a few constraints
because they only pick up and deliver in standard working hours, which
means a risk of not having the bike on the start of my voyage, a
Sunday, after a Saturday, after a Friday which is a Bank Holiday. But
this service has a very rigid concept of "bike", because the bikes get
put in racks, and every time I discuss my special problem I get
stonewalled. I do not want to pay for and reserve this service,
spending days at home waiting for the pick-up (being all too well
acquainted with the unbelievable jenfoutisme of French services in
general), only to have it refused at the last minute (which apparently
they can do).

I have phoned two Darths of the Scorpion FX in the South of France to
ask them how the trike can be transported. They are totally adamant
that the whole point of the folding trike is that it goes on the
train, and "all I have to do" is put it in a bag. They say they have
30 customers or whatever who have never had any problems taking the
bike on the train. Well, they would say that. My own Darth in Paris,
much more circumspect, points out that the Scorpion FX is guaranteed
to go into the back of a Smart Car, and nothing else.

I don't drive, or I'd consider investing in a Smart just in order to
get Widdershins to starting point.

Anyone have experiences in this area?

EFR
Ile de France
 
P

PoB

Guest

>"Artemisia" <[email protected]> wrote in message
>news:[email protected]m...
>As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
>associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
>Widdershins.......


<snippage>

>Anyone have experiences in this area?


Not living there, alas no, but when I needed to transport my bent (2 wheels
only) on a train, and given the level of hostility towards velocipedes in
the chemin de fer over here, I trundled it down to my station a few days
before I was going, and discussed it with the staff, and we decided it was
going to be okay.

Is this a possibility for you?

cheers,

pOB
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:

> Now, all the demons break loose. Since the end of March, I have been
> trying to make sense of the SNCF and its regulations regarding the
> transport of this vessel. They have plenty of provisions for transport
> of bikes and make much pretence of being bike-friendly, but there is a
> tizzy-fit on every level when I mention the tricyle. The category of
> trike for adults does not exist in their little minds.


Not uncommon, because very few people transport them. In the UK it's
the case that trikes are typically outlawed in cycle carrying policies,
and what this boils down to is you're probably looking at carrying it as
a package.

> I spent last Saturday taking the trike apart and putting it back
> together, as Proof of Concept. The frame part, with the seat, front
> wheels and fenders off, fits into a loose bag, forming an irregular
> mass with the three longest dimensions about 1m10 X 1m X 70cms. This
> mass is extremely unwieldy and fragile. There is no handle to take it
> by, and all the prominent parts that you could grab are delicate -
> chain, dérailleur, steering, etc.


Unwieldy, certainly, but fragile? Bike chains are incredibly strong,
steering handlebars are strong metal tubes. Derailleurs, yes, they're
fragile, but the rest of the bike isn't, and the frame is very strong.
On HPVel's website, the chap putting an fx into the back of a Smart car
certainly has one hand on the frame. As long as you don't grab the
derailleur it should be okay.

> I have phoned two Darths of the Scorpion FX in the South of France to
> ask them how the trike can be transported. They are totally adamant
> that the whole point of the folding trike is that it goes on the
> train, and "all I have to do" is put it in a bag. They say they have
> 30 customers or whatever who have never had any problems taking the
> bike on the train. Well, they would say that. My own Darth in Paris,
> much more circumspect, points out that the Scorpion FX is guaranteed
> to go into the back of a Smart Car, and nothing else.


I have found in the UK that the way forwards is not to put too much
faith in the small print being stuck to. For example, the East Coast
main line used to be run by a company called GNER, who had specifically
banned recumbents from their services. My wife and I knew that, but
booked them on and turned up anyway, and the staff on the ground were
very helpful and there was no trouble getting us to the start of our
tours, and back home again.

In practice your trike, folded and bagged, will take up less room than a
lot of other stuff people put on trains (prams/buggies being a pretty
obvious example), so as long as you do bag it and don't travel when
there's a big crush for space I /suspect/ it won't be a problem. But of
course that's not a guarantee (I'm not familiar with SNCF and how
helpful or otherwise their staff typically are)... one thing I don't
like about trikes, folding or otherwise, is they're a lot harder to
transport by train than a bike, and sometimes if you do get a stickler
for small print then you could be screwed.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
Peter Clinch wrote

> I have found in the UK that the way forwards is not to put too much
> faith in the small print being stuck to.  


and PoB wrote:

> I trundled it down to my station a few days
> before I was going, and discussed it with the staff, and we decided it was
> going to be okay.


> Is this a possibility for you?


What it boils down to, is that I am entirely at the whim of chance -
the staff that happens to be on duty that day, the number of other
people on that wagon of the train and how much luggage they have, and
how large their luggage is.

I have already spent three evenings at the train station, minutely
discussing this issue with the staff there, showing pictures,
specifying measurements. I have also extensively dialogued with the
baggage service and the transport company used by the baggage service.
In every case, the answer is, un coup si, un coup non. There _are_ no
clear guidelines. It could pass without so much as a comment, or I
could end up left on the quai with 1000€ of non-refundable holiday
that I am not able to take.

But you pretty much confirm that the situation is the same in the UK.

Thanks,

EFR
Ile de France
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:

> What it boils down to, is that I am entirely at the whim of chance -
> the staff that happens to be on duty that day, the number of other
> people on that wagon of the train and how much luggage they have, and
> how large their luggage is.


Up to a point... the thing about the whim of chance is you can stack the
odds, so if you're leaving on a Monday morning, don't do it before 10:00
when trains are more likely to be crowded, and so on. The same staff
tend to be working at the same times on given days at a given station,
so if they'll play ball once you can be reasonably confident they'll
play ball again.

It's also the case that if you can prove it works once then you, and the
staff, will be in a better position, so rather than risk all at holiday
time, well before then take a train one or more stops up the line and
then cycle home. That could be a very pleasant day out and a proof of
concept as well, as well as letting you sort out teething problems of
reassembly out in "the wild" with an easy bail-out if it all goes wrong.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
A

Andy Leighton

Guest
On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 03:23:47 -0700 (PDT), Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:
> "Bicycles", dsimounted and put in a bike bag, can travel for free in
> the baggage section of the TGV, but their dimensions must not exceed
> 1m20 X 90 cms. That barely covers my two longest dimensions and does
> not take into account the third dimension. This solution would require
> arriving perhaps 90 minutes early at the station and carefully
> dismounting and packing the bike on the quai.


According to the website you should be able to get the Scorpion down to
103 x 83 x 69 cm which is pretty compact. I am sure when SNCF quote the
size they are quoting length and width and ignoring height. With some
extra protection around the derailleurs and some stabilisation you
may be able to arrange the Scorpion so it sits with the longest
axis vertically. Whatever you do it should fit in a bike shaped gap
with ease.

Of course that doesn't mean that it will get on the TGV if you get a
jobsworth.

Are the rules for the slower trains the same or more lenient?

--
Andy Leighton => [email protected]
"The Lord is my shepherd, but we still lost the sheep dog trials"
- Robert Rankin, _They Came And Ate Us_
 
D

dkahn400

Guest
On Apr 23, 2:22 pm, Peter Clinch <[email protected]> wrote:

> It's also the case that if you can prove it works once then you, and the
> staff, will be in a better position, so rather than risk all at holiday
> time, well before then take a train one or more stops up the line and
> then cycle home.  That could be a very pleasant day out and a proof of
> concept as well, as well as letting you sort out teething problems of
> reassembly out in "the wild" with an easy bail-out if it all goes wrong.


What an elegantly simple idea!

--
Dave...
 
G

gotbent

Guest
"Peter Clinch" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]
> Artemisia wrote:
>
>> What it boils down to, is that I am entirely at the whim of chance -
>> the staff that happens to be on duty that day, the number of other
>> people on that wagon of the train and how much luggage they have, and
>> how large their luggage is.

>
> Up to a point... the thing about the whim of chance is you can stack the
> odds, so if you're leaving on a Monday morning, don't do it before 10:00
> when trains are more likely to be crowded, and so on. The same staff
> tend to be working at the same times on given days at a given station,
> so if they'll play ball once you can be reasonably confident they'll
> play ball again.
>
> It's also the case that if you can prove it works once then you, and the
> staff, will be in a better position, so rather than risk all at holiday
> time, well before then take a train one or more stops up the line and
> then cycle home. That could be a very pleasant day out and a proof of
> concept as well, as well as letting you sort out teething problems of
> reassembly out in "the wild" with an easy bail-out if it all goes wrong.
>
> Pete.
> --
> Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
> Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
> Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
> net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/


In addition to a demonstration of proof of concept, sometimes a bit of
vigorish (a tip/bribe) can go a long ways in circumventing petty
beaureaucratic problems. IMHO if you slipped the head porter a tenner, he'd
find a place on the train for the trike and put it safely aboard himself.
gotbent aka frvtr


** Posted from http://www.teranews.com **
 
T

Tom Sherman

Guest
gotbent aka frvtr wrote:
> "Peter Clinch" <[email protected]> wrote in message
> news:[email protected]
>> Artemisia wrote:
>>
>>> What it boils down to, is that I am entirely at the whim of chance -
>>> the staff that happens to be on duty that day, the number of other
>>> people on that wagon of the train and how much luggage they have, and
>>> how large their luggage is.

>> Up to a point... the thing about the whim of chance is you can stack the
>> odds, so if you're leaving on a Monday morning, don't do it before 10:00
>> when trains are more likely to be crowded, and so on. The same staff
>> tend to be working at the same times on given days at a given station,
>> so if they'll play ball once you can be reasonably confident they'll
>> play ball again.
>>
>> It's also the case that if you can prove it works once then you, and the
>> staff, will be in a better position, so rather than risk all at holiday
>> time, well before then take a train one or more stops up the line and
>> then cycle home. That could be a very pleasant day out and a proof of
>> concept as well, as well as letting you sort out teething problems of
>> reassembly out in "the wild" with an easy bail-out if it all goes wrong.

>
> In addition to a demonstration of proof of concept, sometimes a bit of
> vigorish (a tip/bribe) can go a long ways in circumventing petty
> beaureaucratic problems. IMHO if you slipped the head porter a tenner, he'd
> find a place on the train for the trike and put it safely aboard himself.


Does that work on Metra: <http://www.metrarail.com/>?

--
Tom Sherman - Holstein-Friesland Bovinia
The weather is here, wish you were beautiful
 
A

Andy Leighton

Guest
On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 14:26:00 -0500, gotbent <[email protected]> wrote:
> In addition to a demonstration of proof of concept, sometimes a bit of
> vigorish (a tip/bribe) can go a long ways in circumventing petty
> beaureaucratic problems.


I would be wary about trying that especially in France. If I was
refused I might ask if it was possible to get it about the train as
paid luggage.

--
Andy Leighton => [email protected]
"The Lord is my shepherd, but we still lost the sheep dog trials"
- Robert Rankin, _They Came And Ate Us_
 
On Apr 23, 1:38 pm, Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:

> What it boils down to, is that I am entirely at the whim of chance -
> the staff that happens to be on duty that day, the number of other
> people on that wagon of the train and how much luggage they have, and
> how large their luggage is.
>
> I have already spent three evenings at the train station, minutely
> discussing this issue with the staff there, showing pictures,
> specifying measurements. I have also extensively dialogued with the
> baggage service and the transport company used by the baggage service.
> In every case, the answer is, un coup si, un coup non.


Have you considered flying? We're in a similar (possibly slightly
worse) position with our tandem. Most trains explicitly won't take it,
there's a possibility that a few will. However, it fits within most
airline rules for transporting a bike, so that's a much more reliable
option. A trike may be more problematic, but it's worth a look.

I know it seems a bit silly when you have such a good TGV network, but
if it can guarantee your holiday it's worth looking at.

> It could pass without so much as a comment, or I
> could end up left on the quai with 1000€ of non-refundable holiday
> that I am not able to take.


That's a horrible position to be in. You want to be happy and
optimistic setting off on your holiday, not worrying about whether you
will get on the train.

Let us know how you solve it and send us a ride report.

Rob
 
D

DennisTheBald

Guest
yes, it is a matter of their whim.

In your preparatory visit have you been able to discern any of their
vices? I mean to suggest that a small non-cash bribe may be the
ticket of the day, e.g "would it fit if I took these cigars out and
left them behind?

Of course you risk running afoul of the personnel schedule and there
is always the cheap cigar fois pas to trip you up.
 
C

Chalo

Guest
Artemisia wrote:
>
> As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
> associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
> Widdershins.
>
> Next week, we are going on our first major excursion together, a self-
> guided tour of Provence and the Luberon looping out of Avignon.
>
> But first, I have to get from the Paris region to Avignon.


I would be derelict in my responsibilities if I did not inform you of
the customary way to "load" a recumbent on a train:

Lay the machine across the rails before the train arrives at the
station. Then board as usual. Enjoy your trip.

No need to thank me; it's my pleasure to oblige.

Chalo
 
T

Tom Sherman

Guest
Upright chauvinist Chalo Colina wrote:
> Artemisia wrote:
>> As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
>> associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
>> Widdershins.
>>
>> Next week, we are going on our first major excursion together, a self-
>> guided tour of Provence and the Luberon looping out of Avignon.
>>
>> But first, I have to get from the Paris region to Avignon.

>
> I would be derelict in my responsibilities if I did not inform you of
> the customary way to "load" a recumbent on a train:
>
> Lay the machine across the rails before the train arrives at the
> station. Then board as usual. Enjoy your trip.
>

I thought that was how one converted a regular upright into a tall-bike?

> No need to thank me; it's my pleasure to oblige.
>

Having your head higher than walking height on a bicycle causes poor
brain function. Recline at a low height, and full faculties return.

--
Tom Sherman - Holstein-Friesland Bovinia
The weather is here, wish you were beautiful
 
J

Jon Bendtsen

Guest
Artemisia wrote:
> As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
> associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
> Widdershins.
>
> Next week, we are going on our first major excursion together, a self-
> guided tour of Provence and the Luberon looping out of Avignon.
>
> But first, I have to get from the Paris region to Avignon. No problem
> - there's a TGV direct.
>
> Now, all the demons break loose. Since the end of March, I have been
> trying to make sense of the SNCF and its regulations regarding the
> transport of this vessel. They have plenty of provisions for transport
> of bikes and make much pretence of being bike-friendly, but there is a
> tizzy-fit on every level when I mention the tricyle. The category of
> trike for adults does not exist in their little minds.


I talked to someone who had a leitra yesterday, and they
said they just asked for 2 bicycle tickets when they toke
the train. They were going down to something in Germany,
probably a bike conference. So try to order 2 bicycle tickets


JonB
 
M

Mike Jacoubowsky

Guest
=====================
"Bicycles", dsimounted and put in a bike bag, can travel for free in
the baggage section of the TGV, but their dimensions must not exceed
1m20 X 90 cms. That barely covers my two longest dimensions and does
not take into account the third dimension. This solution would require
arriving perhaps 90 minutes early at the station and carefully
dismounting and packing the bike on the quai.
=====================
You have no other choice but to expect to have to do so. Having used the TGV
many times, including this past July with my son, carrying two bikes, I can
assure you that they will not hassle you if your bike is encased in a "bike
haus" (bike bag) of the dimensions you mention (120x90cm). A bag, *not* a
box. It doesn't matter that it's terribly awkward to deal with. It doesn't
matter that you're going to have to spend a fair amount of time taking it
apart and putting it back together. It doesn't matter that it's likely to
get pretty dinged up.

What matters is that that's what you have to EXPECT you'll be required to
do. You are 100% at the mercy of the SNCF staff, many of whom have nothing
better to do than tell you that you are not allowed on the train with your
bike because it doesn't meet regulations. Even on a train that has plenty of
space.

The fact that your bike must fit into a bike haus doesn't mean they have a
special place on the train to carry it. They don't. On a crowded train, it
will fit in between the cars, stacked in front of one of the two doors. As
you approach each station, you're going to have to figure out which side
passengers get on & off (it changes) and move your bike from one door to the
other (thankfully, there aren't many stops on a TGV).

The "local" trains can get interesting too. They'll often have a baggage car
at the end, where you hand up your bike, and they'll tell you that they'll
offload it for you at the end of the line (if that's where your stop is).
Don't trust them. There was nobody at the baggage car as we rolled into
Angouleme, with a 9 minute connection time for the TGV to Paris. After a
minute waiting for someone to show, we decided it was safer to just get into
the baggage car and haul them out ourselves. Within seconds of us exiting
the train, it left the station. Had we waited any longer to retrieve our
bikes, they would have been on their way to someplace else.

Expect an adventure! Could be that all will go easily, but plan for
otherwise and things will go OK. And, of course, print out all relevant info
from the SNCF pages, and attach them to your bags on the outside. That could
be one reason we got nary a glance from the coductors, while others did.
Just place the sheets in plastic binder page thingees.

--Mike Jacoubowsky
Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReaction.com
Redwood City & Los Altos, CA USA


"Artemisia" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
As some may remember, I am since last November the proud human
associate of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion FX folding recumbent tricycle,
Widdershins.

Next week, we are going on our first major excursion together, a self-
guided tour of Provence and the Luberon looping out of Avignon.

But first, I have to get from the Paris region to Avignon. No problem
- there's a TGV direct.

Now, all the demons break loose. Since the end of March, I have been
trying to make sense of the SNCF and its regulations regarding the
transport of this vessel. They have plenty of provisions for transport
of bikes and make much pretence of being bike-friendly, but there is a
tizzy-fit on every level when I mention the tricyle. The category of
trike for adults does not exist in their little minds.

I spent last Saturday taking the trike apart and putting it back
together, as Proof of Concept. The frame part, with the seat, front
wheels and fenders off, fits into a loose bag, forming an irregular
mass with the three longest dimensions about 1m10 X 1m X 70cms. This
mass is extremely unwieldy and fragile. There is no handle to take it
by, and all the prominent parts that you could grab are delicate -
chain, dérailleur, steering, etc. I could compact it with packing tape
and try to devise some sort of carry-handle out of the same, but would
probably need to put cardboard round the gears and fragile twoggly
bits, which could increase mass. The wheels, fenders and seat go into
a large portmanteau suitcase which will also have to take all my
clothes and personal effects for the trip.

"Bicycles", dsimounted and put in a bike bag, can travel for free in
the baggage section of the TGV, but their dimensions must not exceed
1m20 X 90 cms. That barely covers my two longest dimensions and does
not take into account the third dimension. This solution would require
arriving perhaps 90 minutes early at the station and carefully
dismounting and packing the bike on the quai.

There is also a door-to-door bike shipping service, which would add
some 100 euros to the cost of travelling and quite a few constraints
because they only pick up and deliver in standard working hours, which
means a risk of not having the bike on the start of my voyage, a
Sunday, after a Saturday, after a Friday which is a Bank Holiday. But
this service has a very rigid concept of "bike", because the bikes get
put in racks, and every time I discuss my special problem I get
stonewalled. I do not want to pay for and reserve this service,
spending days at home waiting for the pick-up (being all too well
acquainted with the unbelievable jenfoutisme of French services in
general), only to have it refused at the last minute (which apparently
they can do).

I have phoned two Darths of the Scorpion FX in the South of France to
ask them how the trike can be transported. They are totally adamant
that the whole point of the folding trike is that it goes on the
train, and "all I have to do" is put it in a bag. They say they have
30 customers or whatever who have never had any problems taking the
bike on the train. Well, they would say that. My own Darth in Paris,
much more circumspect, points out that the Scorpion FX is guaranteed
to go into the back of a Smart Car, and nothing else.

I don't drive, or I'd consider investing in a Smart just in order to
get Widdershins to starting point.

Anyone have experiences in this area?

EFR
Ile de France
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 23 avr, 16:03, dkahn400 <[email protected]> wrote:
> What an elegantly simple idea!


Er, not exactly. The "next stop down the line" is Lyons!!

EFR
Ile de France
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:
> On 23 avr, 16:03, dkahn400 <[email protected]> wrote:
>> What an elegantly simple idea!

>
> Er, not exactly. The "next stop down the line" is Lyons!!


What, /all/ the trains out of that station don't stop any place
closer than that?

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 26 avr, 20:29, Peter Clinch <[email protected]> wrote:
> What, /all/ the trains out of that station don't stop any place
> closer than that?


The station in question deals exclusively with TGV lines.

Apart from that, the area around here is terrible for cycling, hence
my need to get away from it.

EFR
Ile de France