Transporting bikes to tour start/end
I’ve just returned from a fab week riding Scottish coast 2 coast [Kyle of Lochalsh to Stonehaven] offroad.
Easily the worst part of the week was not the midges or the 2 surprise downpours, but transporting the bikes for our group of 8 from London to Edinburgh and back using LNER.
I’m keen to go to Scotland again and do more, but would prefer to avoid the stress caused by the wretched railway cupboard for the bikes. I’ve no objection to transporting my own carcass by rail, for people I think its a great way to travel.
Does anyone know of any ‘taxi service’ for bikes that might transport 8 mtbs from London to Scotland and back for a reasonable fee. Preferably one that does not require the bikes to be disassembled and reassembled, or boxed.
Failing that, I think I’ll just start planning tours using trains that don’t use the wretched cupboard system. Anyone know if any of the long distance lines use something more civilised?
ThanksPosted 1 month ago
There used to be a company who did just that, a van and trailer set up. Muat be some out there and between 8 or so probably cheaper than a train.Posted 1 month ago
Exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. Any clues as to what the name might be? I’ve tried using a well known search engine, but it just pushes the big courier firms.Posted 1 month ago
The Sleeper has loads of bike space. And it’s probably cheaper than paying one person to drive a van across the whole country.Posted 1 month ago
Maybe these guys know of similar companies elsewhere?Posted 1 month ago
I used to work in a bike transport company based in Inverness. The furthest I ever took anyone was to Carlisle (and that was a one-off). That was a group of 6 (riders, bikes and bags) and it was very expensive. You sooon hit all sorts of issues around multiple drivers, vehicle size, insurance and other costs. I suspect it would be A LOT more than you think it would. Not having the bikes boxed also means thay take up a lot more space and need more careful handling. If you’re not travelling with the bikes then a smaller vehicle is possible but you’re then looking at needing somewhere to store them in any interval between them arriving and you arriving.
We looked at all of the possibilities and just came to the conclusion that the costs were unaffordable for the vast majority of potential customers, even if we tried to schedule it so that we could do multiple customers in one run and somehow get them all to co-ordinate their plans.
For many customers we just did a bike build/store service, even arranging the courier from our end. The customer would box up their bike (or get a shop to do it for them), we’d unbox, build and test the bike in our workshop and then the customer would pick it up from us. In reverse, we had our own very large boxes that saved any major disassembly and then just had them shipped back to customers (or their nominated shop). We did hundreds per year like that and the service seemed to work realy well. This was mainly based on LEJOG/JOGLE riders but also worked for the likes of the NC500.Posted 1 month ago
I think you should press LNER to follow ScotRail’s lead with this:
I don’t know about the cupboards your on about but as above sleeper has (or had) a full on luggage van. EasyPosted 1 month ago
As @scotroutes says, you soon run into a whole load of hassle around costs, logistics and pick up/drop off points. It usually works out cheaper to just hire a van on a one-way if necessary. If there’s space for everyone and the kit then great but if not, get a couple of people to drive everyone’s bikes and kit while the rest of you fly/get the train.
Gives you loads more flexibility around where you go and when.Posted 1 month ago
Depending how much support you want, Sportive HQ might be able to help, or know someone who can.Posted 1 month ago
I think you should press LNER to follow ScotRail’s lead with this:
Abellio have just placed a tender for someone to convert the existing Edinburgh/Glasgow to Inverness/Aberdeen trains so that they can carry between 12 and 20 bikes (depending on number of units).
What is this bike cupboard thing, and why does it cause stress? Main problem I’ve had is getting a bike reservation in the first place, but once on it’s been ok.
Old sleeper with the old school guards van used to be great, but I’m not sure what the situation is with the new trains?
How long did the C2C take by the way? And do you have a handy route link? Would like to try that sometime.Posted 1 month ago
Thanks Greybeard, this is exactly what I’d like to see on all trains. Me and lots of other people I expect.
I have already written a polite yet firmly worded message to LNER about what exactly is wrong with the “service” and I don’t expect to hear anything back, as I susoect they already know.
There doesn’t appear to be any sort of Bike-Rail forum or committee as I’ve seen with other train companies in other areas.
So I will ask LNER about the Scotrail initiative, but I’m not holding my breath.Posted 1 month ago
@paul0, the bike cupboard is literally that, a cupboard the same size as the tiny non-disabled toilet, in which you are supposed to get two bikes hanging vertically by the front wheel from a high hook. If your bike is anything other than a stripped-down road bike with narrow bars and no luggage its really hard to get them in and in my experience (on LNER and GWR) takes ages to do.
The problems are caused by the height and design of the hook, and the smallness of the cupboard in both dimensions, the lack of opening door space, and the size of modern MTBs. It makes the struggle to get a bike space in the first place seem like the easy bit!
The Scottish c2c was amazing. We went from near Corran on the West coast to Stonehaven in 7 cycling days. An average each day of around 40 miles and 3000ft climbing. Each day brought its own challenges and own joys. Used Trailbrakes as our luggage movers and gpx providers. Would do similar again. Haven’t quite sorted out the tracking gpxs etc but can pm you if you’d like more details.Posted 1 month ago
@scotroutes – brilliant news! Someone has understood that there is a problem.Posted 1 month ago
Thanks all for your suggestions.
To sum up, there is no-one doing this commercially for a sensible fee. Long gone are the happy hours I spent sitting in the guards van in the 70s and being thrown out when the mail came in.
Solutions appear to be:
1. get the sleeper
2. get a mate with a van and two days to spare
3. just put up with it and hope that someone taller than you can help hang up the bike
If anyone knows of any pressure groups dealing with LNER and/or GWR, I’d love to join.Posted 1 month ago
If anyone knows of any pressure groups dealing with LNER and/or GWR, I’d love to join.
Also worth a letter to the train companies themselves. They’ll come back with some copy/paste about how they endeavour to serve everyone and possibly a bit of blame on the rolling stock they have but other countries seem to manage this fine so it’s basically just political will.Posted 1 month ago
What is this bike cupboard thing, and why does it cause stress
What larfingiraffe said. There’s just about room for two road bikes, but that’s it. A mtb wheel won’t fit in the hook, and flat or riser bars are too wide. You have to hope that no-one else wants the second space so you can angle your bike across.
I miss Intercity 125s, which had a proper bike compartment. It’s progress, apparently.Posted 1 month ago
Old sleeper with the old school guards van used to be great
Yep, bring back the guard’s van.Posted 1 month ago
To sum up, there is no-one doing this commercially for a sensible fee.
Define “sensible”. Particularly long road journey.
As a canoe paddler/outdoor centre I’ve done some shuttles and drop-off. The maths is simple: commercial vehicle with trailer or onboard storage = 50p per mile, often more. Driver wages = £100-130 a day. Factor in some restrictions for safety on driving hours.
To drive London to FtWilliam is a continuous 10 hour drive in a commercial vehicle, so with breaks that’s 12-13 hours, £130 driver, £250 mileage, one way, so £760 return. Seems reasonable.
Edit: the driver also needs to factor in a night accommodation at each end, plus what do they do while you all ride bikes?Posted 1 month ago
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