Bicycle Touring Experiences from United Kingdom

United Kingdom

On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who travel to United Kingdom (you can share your experiences here).

Table of Contents

Manchester, UK

Access: Road (easy)

Barkway, June 03, 2015

UK Rail

The situation on the South West Trains/Connex etc networks is pretty good, all electric longer distance trains have guards vans, and very frequent services.

Bikes go free on these. The problem, as one of your articles says, relates to the new Turbo-Diesels, which only carry 3 bikes and these spaces must be reserved the previous day at a cost of 3GB Pounds per bike.

Steve Loughran, June 03, 2015

UK Rail

On British Rail, you always have to handle your bike youself, no dismounting necessary. On IC trains you need to pre-book the bicylce before the train starts at its first station (i.e. day before is always OK), normally ca. 5 bikes/train allowed unless there is lots of other luggage prebooked.

On local trains, there is no problem taking a bicycle with you for free, the new generation of "regional" fast trains (e.g. Liverpool -Manchester -York -Hull or Swansea-Shrewsbury) only has space for one bicycle though.

BR are considered unreliable for European standards; especially on Sundays before 4PM when they do maintenance work your train might be an hour late. trains are frequent on the main lines (the worst InterCity line has a train every two hours) and fast for American standards, the East Coast main line (London-Edinburg) is fast for European standard as well (400 miles in just under 4 hours at least twice an hour).

You get to the station, most IC stations have lifts to get to the platform (if you can find it), find the luggage car (on the IC225 it is integrated into the engine {power for Americans}), put the bike inside, securing it with luggage straps can be useful. When you arrive at your destination, you get it out again (might take a while), put our panniers on it, and off you go.

Mr. Rolf-Martin Mantel, June 03, 2015

Cycling tours in london for holidays

London Cycle Holidays organizes self-guided tours by bicycle in London and South England. We offer you tours in London, Oxford, Cambridge and South England all year around.
A holiday with us represents a new and cool way of discovering London and South England: by bike you can discover the most beautiful Britsh cities and landscapes, even less unknown places. We previously organize everything for you: accomodation in the best hotels, bicycle and full equipment, roadmap, assistance and support. Then, the holiday is up to you and your group!

Niklas McKee, May 12, 2015

What different airlines charge for taking your bike with them

Up to date information about what different airlines charge for taking your bike on their planes.

Most European airlines are covered, as well as a few other big ones around the world.

Ian Smitton, August 27, 2012

Mobile Bike Repairs

Bicycle Nation offers a comprehensive array of bike repair and maintenance services with the added advantage that we are mobile.

Kavita Shah, March 29, 2012

Flying Easyjet with bikes

We have flown all over Europe by Easyjet with our tandem boxed. Easyjet cold not be more helpful as long as you can demonstrate that you're following their clear requirements (boxed, 32kg max).

We make a long box from two normal bike delivery boxes and parcel tape, with length able to accommodate the length of tandem without wheels. Dismantled bits are stored with padding around the frame. The total package weighs in at about 27kg. and fits in the standard x-ray machine.

When flying back from another airport we arrange (by internet) to collect empty boxes from a bike shop near our return airport, and allow time for preparation.

Always carry a copy of the Easyjet bike requirements so that you can diplomatically talk inexperienced staff through your demonstrably compliant package. Never use the word "tandem"; after all, it's a bi-cycle.

wkb21, February 21, 2012


Loking for nice places to travel to

Derot, November 21, 2011

Bicycle Travel Bags and Bicycle protector Bags. Law Rome

Rome Bike Bags continues to support the Bicycle Travel Bag indsutry needs celebrating their 15th year. The Bicycle Travel Bag or airline and rail travel continues to be the industry standard for ease of use and utility The Patented Bicycle Protector Bag is more popular than ever. Protect you bike form the elements when not in use. 1-888-ROME-BIK 310-791-6366 Law Rome

Law Rome, October 05, 2011

Bike damaged by easyjet

I have just flown from London to Basel with easyjet and they crushed my bike. Their attitude is 'not our responsibility'. They are refusing to pay the £1000 expenses I have incured due to their actions and tell me to claim of my insurence. As I was just about to start a cycling tour of the Danube it has made life a little difficult to say the least. Moral of the story, don't fly easyjet and insure to the limit.

Steve Hawkswell, September 07, 2011

Secure bike storage compound at Stoke on Trent station

Virgin Trains have begun a free bike storage scheme at this station, with a spacious locked room with CCTV being accessible 6am-11pm. Not sure whether you have to show a Virgin Train ticket first.

Val, July 08, 2011

Brompton folding bikes for hire at Stoke on Trent station

Virgin Trains have begun a bike hire scheme at this station - daily, weekly and monthly hire. It's aimed at their passengers who want to take a bike on board to use at the other end of the journey. Not sure whether you have to show a Virgin Train ticket first.

Val, July 08, 2011

UK Rail

Updating my own entry.

The definitive statement about bicycles on trains is:

Any journey complete with seat/bike reservations can be booked online with the following companies:

Chiltern, East Coast, London Midland, South Eastern, Southern

Bookings can be made up to 12 weeks before the day of travel.

Graham Hill, March 05, 2011

Train - Tandem - Edinburgh to New Castle

There is a high speed train from Edinburgh to New Castle that will let you roll on a tandem bicycle. Reservations are required.

G. Allen Morris III, December 15, 2010

looking for maps, collaborators online cycling project

Hiya, I am on sourcing out the best ways to travel with bikes and to this end have started my own project. I need maps of proven cycle routes all around Europe, detailing stop off points, cycle friendly accomodation, repair points and hospitable people along the way to make my journey easier.

glenn newland, November 07, 2010

Irish Ferries, SailRail

We booked return tickets from Bangor (Gwynedd) to Larne (NI) which cost £70.40 each. The ferry crossing alone on Irish Ferries "Jonathan Swift" fast ferry is £34 each way, so the rail part is almost free. The Irish Ferries website states £9 each way for bikes, but when we tried to pay at Holyhead, we were told that you didn't need to pay if you have a rail ticket.

Knowing that Irish Rail charge for bikes but Northern Ireland Railways don't, we enquired at Dublin Connolly if bike tickets were required on the cross border Enterprise service to Belfast. The booking clerk told us that as our train (the 15:20) was operated by NIR, there'd be no charge. If we'd caught the next one we'd have had to pay!

We returned from Portadown, the first stop after Belfast. The platform staff told us that they load the bikes into the DVT (which is at the Dublin end of the train) so we just had to board. There was no mention of a charge, we simply unloaded the bikes when we arrived at Connolly station. At Dublin Port we checked in for the "Jonathan Swift", no mention was made about payment for the bikes.

There's a maximum of two bikes per train on Arriva (four on the less frequent Virgin services). There were three of us, the conductor wasn't happy but reluctantly allowed us to remain on board.

One further point: the new diesel units in the Republic apparently have very limited cycle carrying capacity, I've not personally used them. Cyclists using anything other than the Belfast and Cork lines need to be aware of this.

Alan Crawshaw, June 17, 2010

Enno moved to a new e-mail adress again .........

Enno is still very much in touch with the world of traveling- commuting- and racing bicycles. Bike Fridays all around the place but 2 Birdy's ( Riese & Müller ) and 2 Serotta's as well. Oooops need extra locks on our frontdoor !

Enno Roosink, December 11, 2009

renting bicycles at the train station in Pasau

We managed to hire bicycles for a week from the train station at Passau, leaving the bikes at a pre arranged hotel in Vienna. The bikes were excellent although rather expensive, but a word of warning! We had to leave a deposit of 30 euros in cash for each lock. We were told that if we left our mastercard number we would get this back. However after sending numerous emails urging them to return the deposit we have not received a single reply. Apart from this it was a great week of cycling on the finest cycle route we have ever travelled on.

Roy Brett, October 15, 2009

Bikes on Spanish trains

I managed to get a bike back from Santiago in Galicia to the UK. You can't go on fast trains so either you have to take the night train and book the whole compartment, or you have to take two regional trains, changing at Leon. This is easy, but takes all day. Then it is unofficially possible to take bikes on the "Trenhotel" from Madrid to Paris: you probably need a bike bag, and you need to have fellow travellers who are reasonable and travelling relatively light, because even in a bag the bike takes up most of the space in the overhead rack. As long as you are lucky there, the Eurostar is easy to take bikes on for 25 euros.

Ali Cavalla, September 16, 2009

Easy Jet change of rules

Easy Jet have changed their bike policy. You still have the option of adding a bike into your luggage allowance but the bike can only weigh 12kg, any extra kilos and you pay the normal excess. My bike in a box weighs 20kg so that is an extra £72 on top of the £18.50!

sarah, July 30, 2009

Bike boxes at London airport; Lost bike - Alitalia.

In 2004 I flew from the states to London-Gatwick via U.S. Airways, spent a couple days, then flew London-Heathrow to Sofia Bulgaria via Alitalia (Italian Airline).

The U.S. Airways counterperson initially wanted to charge me for the bike, but I told him that bikes fly free international. He poked at the computer then asked to see my "Membership Card"(?) I assume he meant my LAB card, which I did not have on me. I told him it wasn't necessary on international flights. He checked with a supervisor, apologized and then allowed me to check my bike for free as one of my two checked items.

I abandoned my cardboard bike BOX (USD $10 - Amtrak) on arrival at Gatwick and purchased a new one at Heathrow. The airlines at Heathrow don't sell BOXes - they contract that to "Excess BAGgage Company" who operate few facilities and charge outrageous prices for BOXes. Allow plenty of time, because you'll be dragging your BOXed bike across terminals. Bring plenty of $$$, because they want a lot for their cardboard.

The BOX they supply is NOT the size I'm accustomed to - it's shorter in height and width but much wider. I had to remove the seat and wheels, but did NOT have to remove the pedals or turn the handlebars.

In retrospect I probably should have removed the pedals anyway because on the way back the pedals appear to have torn huge holes in the sides of the BOX.

Also, on the return trip, the bike did not show up in London. Alitalia filled out the "lost luggage" paperwork and assigned me a CASE number. I never could get an answer on the phone number they provided, but the website DID allow me to check on the status of my lost bike. After a couple of days it was delivered to my home in the USA, saving me the trouble of getting it home from the airport. I'm sure glad it was lost on the return trip instead of on the way out.

By the way, I believe "Excess BAGgage Co" charges 5 or 5-1/2 quid per item per day for storage.

(Oh yeah, the London Underground WILL give you a hassle if you bring your bike to Heathrow on the Tube. They're strict about which subways can carry bikes and which can't - some, such as the Picadilly line, which serves Heathrow, allow bikes only on certain segments. See the other articles here for instruction on biking to or from Heathrow.)

Adrian Hands, December 08, 2008

terminal 5

Two bikes on BA in clear polly theen bags from T5 to Geneva: check-in desk didn't mind, neither did the blokes at excess baggage but a BA jobsworth needed a lot of blagging to get past, claiming the bikes had to be in a box. Go from Gatwick.

patrick, November 15, 2008

Getting my bike to the UK

Any suggestions on taking a bike on Continental from the US to the UK? The box would be approx 60x50x10". Online, it said it would cost about $300 for this extra.

Any other alternatives to getting the bike to the UK safely and not as costly as $300?

Any shipping methods you would suggest with insurance and confirmation?
I am moving to the UK so rentals are not a possibility. Want to take my bike with me.

gtrekker2003, September 14, 2008

Ferry deals between England and continent

ferry ticket
to France, Spain and more online -
Chris, February 24, 2008

Bike Hire Scotland

Quality cycle hire and self-guided tours with delivery and collection service based in Inverness.
We are members of The Association of Cycle Traders and subscribe to the Cyclists Touring Club Cycle Hire Code.

Lindsay Mackiinnon, October 23, 2007

Rolling Across Europa

My site tells the story of my ride from Lviv, Ukraine to Napoli to London in 2006. (There's just a little info on Heathrow toward the end, plus mention of the Channel ferry I took.) There are many stories and photographs, with a lot of information for other travelers. Hopefully, others will find it helpful. I rode as an amateur and completed my route, which shows that you don't have to be a great cyclist to travel far (about 7900 km). The trip also raised a little money for HIV orphans in Ukraine, and I hope to do a longer ride in 2008 and raise a lot more!!

John Robinson, June 28, 2007

Leeds/Bradford Airport

Have not seen this airport mentioned on the site.

This is in the north of Engalnd, and is convenient for the Yorkshire Dales - an execptional, if hilly, place to tour.

I have never flow into this airport with a bike - I just know it from living nearby - but can confirm that there would be no problem at all cycling away from the airport building. At the first roundabout at the exit there is a choice of three roads, one fast but cycleable, another leading to a more built up area(either of these would get you to Leeds), or a third where you are already on to quieter pleasant roads which lead you towards the Yorkshire Dales via Otley.

Neil, February 27, 2007

bmi baby east midlands to palm 2006

28 Nov 2006 tljones
KeyWords: Airports, Airlines, Since, 9,11, Europe, Spain
Three of us went to majorca with BMIbaby from East Midlands to PALMA two weeks ago .I thought some people might like to know about the flights with bikes.
Before I travel I always crave specific information.There's nothing like an awkward train guard or check-in girl for spoiling your day.

The only instruction I could find said 'bicycles must be appropriately packed' which is as vague as could be. Other airlines give much more rigorous instructions.

The other two bikes were packed as in past years, with a bottomless cardboard box from the LBS (thus it pays to keep on good terms with the LBS) and the saddle and bars poking out, bars turned and pedals off. So it looks like a bike and the handlers can wheel it about. You could hardly say they were protected, but not likely to cause oil smears. They went through both ways without damage and were seen on the top of the luggage piles both ways.They were unceremoniously chucked on the conveyers into the planes, but not harmed.

So there may be something in the theory that if it is very like a bike it will get more careful treatment.I am told only two bikes damaged in 9 years of doing this in groups.

I packed mine like that but being a 25inch frame it looked rather exposed and I was afraid of being sent away from the check-in desk to try better, especially with the recent airline luggage fuss. So I took the wheels off, pedals off, carrier bag round the rear mech and chain and put it all in an Argos 25gbp unpadded bike bag with a couple of pieces of cardboard between wheels and frame. My chainwheel was rather vulnerable at the bottom of the bag.It seems someone banged it down on that rather hard because the outer chainring got bent.I rode on the inner only until finding just the right rock to beat the outer ring back to shape with.

At least with this method I was sure of not being turned away.

The panniers and backpacks went through without comment. I put each of my two pieces in a garden litter plastic bag, string tied the top wrote on the bags and tied on cardboard labels. Thus the straps and little pockets were contained in a smooth package. James Bond does not do this, because he is too self-conscious.

In the luggage hall we set up the bikes in 20 minutes. The cardboard wraps and my bag rolled up and were laid across the panniers.

I would say do not take a very valuable bike, do not take cheap allen keys, and take more than one set in the group, protect the chainwheel and rear mech (or remove them, but then you will take ages to get away from the airport). A big pump is a blessing. Travel very light. Take string and bungies. Buy a litre of water in the departure lounge.

If you're still awake let me add that cycling in Majorca is brilliant, at least off season. July/ august is probably different. Weather perfect, roads very quiet except in PALMA, drivers outstandingly careful except for the usual mobile phone problem. Our leader had a really good map from Stanfords.

terryj, December 01, 2006

Flying Stansted to Malaga with Easyjet

In May 2006 I arrived at Stansted with the bike, handlebars turned, pedals off, chain and gears protected with cardboard as I'd flown with RyanAir in Nov 2005. No they said. It had to be boxed and no I couldn't let go of my bike or the trolley with panniers to search for a box. I missed my flight and had to pay for another 6 hours later. Eventually I left the bike and bags in left luggage (2 items) caught a bus to a nearby village, got a box. The bus returning to Stansted wanted me to fold the box, but I didn't. I stuffed the bike in but had no tape, they said they'd secure it, but didn't. I arrived at night in Malaga, the airport bus had left and ordinary taxis wouldn't take the box so I had to get a grande taxi. It was a nightmare.

Jill Lundmark, November 03, 2006


A fantastic open-jaw trip out to Grenoble, over the Alps and home from Turin. Not possible with a bike box, and depended on Ryanair accepting the bare bike. They did, no damage either way, though I was told they were going to stop this - bad news. Hiccup coming back - the bike didn't go on the plane, but they did send it to my home 2 days later.

Harry Longman, September 15, 2006

Touring London on a bike

My boyfriend and I visited London recently, and rented bikes for our stay. Cycling round London is the best way to see this magnificent city from the ground, and find some cool spots off the beaten track, especially since the london transport system is way expensive and unreliable. We rnted out bikes from Banana Rent who have bikes outside South Kensington tube station.

me, June 21, 2006

Renting a bike in London

Here's another place to rent bikes in london:

They have really good mountain bikes located outside central london tube stations for 5 pounds per day.

Cool name too!!!!

Edward Armitage, June 21, 2006

Bicycle padded airline Bag

Still the best product out on the marketplace is the Bicycle Travel Bag from ROME Bike Bags, CA 310-791-6366, they ship the same day for procrastinators like myself who needed a bag in a hurry. The bag was used for a trip to france and was easily stored in a locker at the train station when I was riding. ***** Great price $129, give them a cal, I think the website is ask for Sandy.

Brian, May 26, 2006

Virgin Trains

Virgin operate two networks in the UK, I have travelled extensively on the Cross-Country routes which are very good for cyclists (The other network - West Coast Main Line - has different trains but probably similar facilities).

In theory you must book your bike reservation ahead but in practice you can board any train that your ticket is valid for. I've only seen cyclists turned away once when the bike capacity was full up - that was at a big city station (Bristol) in the rush hour. Most Virgin Cross Country services run at a half-hourly frequency except at the extremities of the network so it's not a complete disaster if you can't get on.

Virgin Cross Country Trains are called Voyagers (each one named after a famous traveller). Each train has a luggage space at one end with storage for 4 bikes hanging on hooks. You must take your bike to the end door on the train, it is the opposite end of the train from 1st Class and the departure board on the station platform will usually say whether First Class is at Front or Rear of the train, there's a big Number "1" displayed on the side of the 1st Class car and a small Bicycle symbol beside the Bike door at the other end of the train. The same car (Coach F) is the quiet coach and usually the least crowded and the first three or four seats in the car, on the left of the aisle, have extra legroom.

You can find out routes, check times and book tickets on Advance booking online can be a LOT cheaper than paying on the day. Virgin also have a network map on their own website via

Chris Rust, May 12, 2006

West Coast of Scotland

There are good train services from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Oban and Mallaig on the West Coast which are ideal jumping off points for ferry services to the Western Isles - great cycling supported by a comprehensive ferry network. The train journey itself is something of an epic - beautiful scenery and a bit of a trip back in time.

The only thing to remember is that, unlike most UK trains where you can usually just turn up and go with your bike even if the company say they require reservations, these services are very popular with cyclists and you MUST reserve a place for your bike, which you can do up to 2 hours ahead at the station or by phoning First Scotrail telesales on 08457 55 00 33 (You can make or change a reservation even if you are not buying a ticket at that time.) First Scotrail have a good
about their services for cyclists, including a rescue service if you are stranded by breakdown or accident.

If you travel to Scotland on the East Coast Mainline from England via Edinburgh you should change trains at Edinburgh even if your train is going on to Glasgow. There is a frequent service direct from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street whereas the through service from England goes to a different station in Glasgow.

On my own website I have an account of a cycling/camping tour of the western Isles with more information and links.

Chris Rust, May 12, 2006

Ferries in the West of Scotland

The West Coast of Scotland and the Western Isles is a wonderful area for cycling made even better by the comprehensive network of ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. Apart from anything else a CalMac ferry is a good place to connect with other cyclists. Cyclists have a privileged position at the front of the loading queue where they can enjoy the fresh sea air and feel superior to all the motorists waiting in their tin boxes.

You can find out about timetables, fares and special deals at their website:

Just one small warning. You can eat on CalMac ferries, the food is adequate but it is not a gourmet experience. Not a big problem but running out of bread at the start of a 6-hour trip to the outer Isles does seem a little bit inefficient. On the other hand that trip included seeing a very big school of dolphins charging exuberantly across our path. Experienced travellers on the long routes quickly grab a bench seat in the lounge where they can stretch out and sleep so have a couple of bags and jackets etc with you to do the same (by the time you have wandered around the ship to see what is the best place to sit you've missed it so grab your place first then go for a walk around)

I have an account of a cycle tour of the Western Isles on my website with more information about trains and ferries.

Chris Rust, May 12, 2006

Kudos to SAA

Good, clear bike policy. EUR60 London/South Africa. And free if you ride the Cape Argus Cycle Tour. Compare and contrast with the other carriers who ply that route; BA and Virgin both treat bikes as excess baggage. I know, was charged UKP700 by BA for one bike, one way. Never again.

David Love, March 23, 2006

Bike Hire and camping equipment on Arran

After browsing your excellent site I was wondering if you would like to add a link to our Adventure Centre in Brodick, Isle of Arran in Scotland? We offer road and mountain bikes for hire, and have an outdoor shop selling useful bits of equipment and spares. We get a lot of backpackers and trekkers here as it is a beautiful place to visit!

Lucy Gibbons, October 18, 2005

Easyjet require bikes to be bagged or boxed

Apparently Easyjet have had problems with unboxed/bagged bikes damaging their aircraft and now insist that all bikes are bagged or boxed.

At Liverpool airport it is possible to buy a bike bag from the information desk for 10 UKP. This is basically a huge polythene bag into which the bike will fit without taking bits off (apart from the pedals which is a requirement)although you'll have to undo the handlebars and turn them so they're flush with the bike. Make sure you tighten them up in this position. You'll need some means of sealing the bag: I take a roll of electricians insulating tape which does the job perfectly and is easy to remove afterwards.

The bag will fold up to a package about 20cm by 6cm weighing 750 grams so is small enough and light enough to carry in a pannier. However you'll need to fold it carefully so that you exclude all the air so it's probably best to lay it on the floor and fold it from the bottom (i.e. the sealed end) squeezing the air out as you go. If you do this in the arrivals lounge of any international airport you will probably attract the attention of other passengers who may think you're some kind of street artist. Just ignore them!

Richard Thorpe, September 23, 2005

Bike boxes, airports Dordogne


I've just come back from a great 10 day biking trip around the dordogne, France. I want to share some experiences that could save you some grief. I travelled out from Stanstead to Bergerac airport via Ryan Air. They don't provide boxes and charge £17 extra for a bike. I got a cardboard bike box from my local bike shop and put the bike in the box before setting off to Stansted. I improvised and used an old shopping trolley thing with wheels and put this on one end of the box. This mearnt that instead of it dragging on the floor it was on the wheels. It worked fine. I think if I had the option it would have been better to get someone to take me to the airport as it's quite stressful on trains with people getting on and off.

After checking my bike into the fragile items section, I could now relax, BTW they get you to sign a disclaimer that you agree they don't have to compensate you if it's damaged.

On arrival at Bergerac I was glad to see it was such a small little airfield and just a prefab luggage collection shack. The bike came out fine. I put the bike back together and it was fine. However I was so focussed on the bike that I forgot to think of protecting the panniers I had put into normal luggage. One of the hooks had broken off and was no where to be seen, so in future I'd recommend taping the panniers back to back to protect the hooks.

The whole luggage collection area was soon deserted as I finally got the bike going. When you ride out of Bergerac airport it's almost like your in the countryside and It was a gentle introduction to riding in France.

The other side of the coin though was my return flight from Bordeaux. In a sentence and I'm not exagerating it's a f**king nightmare to take a bike to Bordeaux Merignac airport or go back from Bordeaux Merignac. The reason is it's in the middle of area surrounded by industrial estates and industry and road works and all signs point to the motorway and you don't want to be riding down the motorway unless you've got a death wish. It is possible to get there via Merignac town on 1 road, I finally managed this and that was just a dry run before my flight to find out if I could get a bike box.

Anyway Air France will sell you a sturdy big bike box for 5 euros and 60 cents - Aug 2005 - ask at the ticket desk.

I didn't attempt to go by bike for my flight but instead took a taxi. I didn't fancy a 2nd outing fully loaded with panniers trying to duel it out with great big juggernaut trucks. I would advise going back via Bergerac or a small airport.

Gavin , August 27, 2005

UK, Bikes on Trains, Heathrow Express

This is regarding the Heathrow Express trains that go from Padington (London) to Heathrow Airport.

Bikes can be carried on this service free of charge. Bike places can not be booked. Your bike may not be allowed on at busy times (they were not very clear on when this is). For more details, call them on: +44(0)845 6001515

Chris CycleBear, July 30, 2005

UK, Bikes on Trains, Midland Mainline

Bike policies vary between train companies, so you'll have to contact them direct.

For Midland Mainline:
* No fee for carrying your bike * "Turbostar" trains can carry two bikes. These spaces can NOT be booked, so good luck! * "High Speed" trains can carry four bikes. These can be booked before your journey.

* For midland mainline's bike policy:

* To book your bike place on their trains:

    a. Visit any midland mainline train station, or...

    b. Call them on: +44(0)8457 125678

Chris CycleBear, July 30, 2005

Bikes on Aer Lingus and cycling in England

I just got back from my 6th trip to Ireland. Each time I've used Aer Lingus to fly direct Chicago to Dublin with my Trek 520. The Aer Lingus website says bikes coming from Amsterdam must be boxed, but it ONLY mentions boxes in that one place. So I've taken my bike unboxed to the Aer Lingus check-in a total of 12 times now (6 round-trips) and I've been able to have the bike rolled away each time. The only damage was a rear light being broken, and a couple of times one brake hood was twisted a bit. This time, Aer Lingus check-in staff in Chicago did check with a supervisor when I rolled my bike up, but they returned to help me without question. On the way back, the check-in person said I needed a box, but before I was finished saying that their website didn't seem to say that, the check-in person next to mine said that I didn't need a box. They asked if I could turn or remove the pedals, but my wrench for that in my other checked bag (a large sports duffle bag with 3 of my panniers) had already gone down the chute, so I didn't even do that. I think these days boxing a bike may not be safer; it's pretty easy for the baggage checkers to examine an unboxed bike, but poking around into a box with a bike seems to cause more problems. I had a friend fly Lufthansa from Chicago to Frankfurt (May 2005); he boxed his bike with a box provided at the airport, but the front axle dissapeared somewhere in flight.

From the Dublin airport, it's a 45 minute pedal into town; there is an attempt at provided a marked bike lane, although it's a bit hard to follow.

I took my bike on the ferry from Dublin to Liverpool (and returned the same way a week later), without problem; they didn't charge extra for the bike. I went on with the motorized traffic, and a crewmember helped me secure the bike to a wall with a lenght of rope; he seemed to do this all the time.

In England, I originally wanted to explore the "Trans-Pennine Trail," but had great difficulty finding maps despite website promises that they were widely available. Without map, the trail was very hard to follow; several times I just lost it at busy intersections, and I gave up and went on local roads through Manchester, not a relaxing way to ride. In Manchester, in the British Printing Office store, I bought a detailed guide to British canals, showing the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and its towpath. This was given a CTC Bike Touring Route Number, so I figured it would be fun to return that way. But after a pleasent first day, the second day the towpath turned into a narrow, rocky foot path, nothing I would call suitable for loaded touring even with knobby tires. Add rain to make the 6" rocks slippery, put the 6" wide path that was often grass-covered only two feet away from the edge of the canal, and you have another unpleasant ride. I went back to surface roads and even a train to return to Liverpool. The trains in West Yorkshire around Leeds all took bikes; there are train cars with a bicycle symbol marking the entrance to an area where there are two "Y" fittings on the wall that keep a bike upright with the aid of a bungee. No extra charge for bikes.

John Wager, July 21, 2005

Hire A Bicycle - Worldwide

The most comprehensive selection of bicycle, bike and cycle hire shops in the world. If you want to hire or rent a bicycle for a holiday, find a particular bicycle route or research tourism information for a particular country, Hire A Bicycle is here to help.

Webmaster, July 08, 2005

Virgin Trains

You have to book your bike on the train, but booking is free. My connection was late, but I arrived at the station early and asked if I could take an earlier train, with an unreserved space. The train manager was most helpful, carried the bike even though it wasn't reserved. I made my connection and arrived on time. Nothing but praise for Virgin

Mike Palmer, July 01, 2005

Lake District hotel where all cyclists are welcome

I am a keen cyclist either mountain biking or road bike and I have a Hotel in Windermere and I welcome cyclists. We have storage for your bikes and superb rooms you can tel on 01539446999.

Peter Reed, February 03, 2005

Eurostar with bagged bikes

Travelled by Eurostar London-Paris-London in April/May 2004 with two bikes.

We had home-made bike-bags (housses), and took the bagged-bikes on board as carry-on baggage.
We had pre-booked tickets on the Internet, and were not charged for the bikes (since technically they didn't exist, being carry-on baggage).

At London Waterloo, the bagged-bikes would not fit into the x-ray machine, and so were inspected manually - no-problem.
On the return, at Paris Gare-du-Nord, the same bagged-bikes fitted into the x-ray machine with no problem.

On board the Eurostar trains, there is no baggage car, and there was inadequate space for baggage in the carriages. On the first train, we put our bagged-bikes on some spare seats. On the return, we placed them in the entrance vestibule along with about 5 other large suitcases; this blocked access completely and was clearly a safety problem, but Eurostar appeared not to care!

Our home-made housses were made of rip-stop nylon, with a large zipper-closure, and with a pair of recycled skateboard-wheels attached to the bottom of the front forks. We removed the front-wheel, handlebar and pedals, and tied these to the frame; wrapped and tied the chain/deraillier; lowered the saddle, and inserted into the housse, which measured 135cm x 78cm.

It was relatively easy to roll the bagged-bike along the platforms, with two panniers and one handlebar bag slung together over the other shoulder.

Michael Watson, January 21, 2005

Air Canada YVR-LHR with bikes

We flew Air Canada, Vancouver to London and return in April/May 2004 with 2 bikes.

We rode to the terminal at Vancouver, and rode away from Heathrow on arrival (and vice-versa).

At each end we wheeled the bikes up to the check-in counter (with pedals removed, handlebar turned 90deg., saddle lowered and tires partially deflated). Each bike counted as one piece of checked-baggage. Two panniers inserted into a large garbage-bag counted as a second piece of baggage (Air Canada also have heavy-duty plastic bags available at check-in). And my handlebar bag, with an additional shoulder-strap counted as carry-on to take into the plane. All went as expected, with no damage. No charge for the bikes.

At London Heathrow, it is relatively easy to cycle out of the airport. There are clearly marked bike-lanes from the central terminal going through the left-side service tunnel under the runway (also used by taxis, but there isn't room to pass, just stay in the centre of the lane, and make the taxis wait behind, until you get out of the tunnel). The traffic in the central terminal area and on the perimeter roads is very busy; just wear a hi-viz vest, and be safely assertive with the traffic!

Michael Watson, January 21, 2005

Cycling Touring Club -- UK

The CTC website has link to current UK Brompton leaflet 'Cycling by Train' as pdf download from Nationalrail website.

The CTC shop now sells large HD polyethene bags for bagging up a bike to fly.

Dave Holladay -Transportation Management Solutions
Working for CTC - The National Cyclists' Organisation
on Public Transport Campaigns & Policy
at 69 Meadrow, Godalming GU7 3HS
Phone CTC HQ 0870 873 0060

Dave Holladay, December 30, 2004

London to Swansea to Ferry to Cork, Ireland

From London to Swansea, take train from Paddington (bought discounted ticket in advance, including a reservation for the bike and myself in the nearest car). You put the bike in the guard's car (in doubt, wait at the door, and they'll show you) where there are 5 bike racks with a velcro strap. It says not to lock your bike to the rack, but it may be a good idea to lock your wheels.

From Swansea, ride to the Swansea-Cork Ferry by the pedestrian gate to the port (across the bike bridge next to the Dylan Thomas Centre). You must reserve the Swansea-Cork ferry in advance (web site) and there's a charge for the bike. Check in with the cars.

It's an overnight trip, you arrive early in the morning, and it's something like 10 miles to Cork. Unfortunately it means you ride through narrow suburban roads (when they drive to work or school).

Guy Tiphane, June 25, 2004

Irish Ferries, SailRail

Took Irish Ferries "Ulysses" on a Sunday morning from Dublin to Holyhead. Bought a SailRail ticket to Birmingham for 39 Euros. Approach road in Dublin can be scary with a lot of big trucks, and your bike will share the space on floor #2 with them. Proceed to pedestrian check-in, they'll then direct you to the gate outside to ride to the ferry.

From Holyhead the train was crowded up to Chester and tourists had placed their suitcases in the 2-bike storage area. I creatively placed my bike on top of the suitcases, attaching the front wheel with a bungee cord to the bike pole. More suitcases came in at other stops, just kept smiling and being careful not to hurt anyone taking the bike out!

Guy Tiphane, June 25, 2004

British Airways: Bikes fly free!


I just returned from a trip (May 31, 2004) on British Airways, from Orlando to London and London to Rome and back to Orlando. My bike was in a cardboard box and was checked as regular baggage with no excess baggage charge. All the British Airways people were very nice about it also. I have flown accross the Atlantic previously with Northwest Airlines, KLM and Delta, and British Airways stands out as being a far more comfortable flight than the others. I know who I will fly next time to Europe, even it costs a bit more!

Joe, June 10, 2004

EasyJet now insist that bikes must be either boxed or bagged

We flew from Liverpool to Nice in May 2004, our bagged bikes were accepted but a cyclist who'd flown with EasyJet previously was shocked that they refused to take his bike. He took a taxi to the nearest Halfords for a discarded box and only then was allowed to travel.

Apart from this, EasyJet were excellent. We were not surcharged for our heavy tourers, panniers and tent and our bikes were unscathed.

Alan Crawshaw, June 01, 2004


I've just flown from Southampton to Salzburg and Bergerac with Flybe.

I took my bike and Bob trailer and everything went great.

Flybe ask that you take off the pedals, turn the handle bars around and remove the front wheel and attach it to the frame (I would suggest getting a plastic fork brace from your local bike shop so they don’t get damaged).

They charged £10 (15 Euro) for each flight, the Bob trailer went free as normal checked luggage.

David, June 01, 2004

London (Heathrow), UK

In addition to following the cycle paths next to various "A" roads between Heathrow and downtown London, it's possible to follow the towpath of the Grand Union Canal all the way into London.

The canal is accessed by a bike path descending from the middle of the Hayes Bull Bridge, and there is a good partly paved, partly dirt path alongside the canal all the way into London. It's open to cyclists and walkers, but not motor vehicles.

The canal forks shortly after descending from the Hayes Bull Bridge, the left fork is the Paddington Arm, which goes into central London (Paddington Station) and the right fork reaches the River Thames on the outskirts of London. There are signs, but be aware that the local juvenile delinquents like to vandalize the signs and turn them the wrong way.

The Hayes Bull Bridge is in the town of Hayes, reached by following cycle paths out of Heathrow and through Cranford. This is a very scenic, roundabout way of getting into London, great if you've got most of a day to get into London.

Mark Felber, May 30, 2004

London Heathrow Bike Box Storage

All four terminals at Heathrow have Left Luggage desks. For security reasons there are no luggage lockers. Information line: (020) 8745 5301.

I found this info while doing my research, I think it is more curent then the last entry on the subject I found here - hope it helps. The price remains £4 per item per 24 hours.

jon, May 11, 2004

British Airways

Official rules are here:

Mark Cathcart, April 26, 2004

Security confiscated my Allen key...

I was travelling to Italy for a cycling holiday last summer, and began by cycling to Gatwick.

At the airport, I checked in, then dismantled the bike - the usual - pedals off, handlebars sideways etc. I took the bike to the oversized baggage area, it was security cleared and all was well. Went off for a (free) shower and change before the flight without a care in the world.

At security, my tiny 5mm Allen key that I had used to make the bike flight-ready was confiscated, not allowed in hand baggage as it was a "tradesman's tool". I don't know how a Boeing 737 could be hijacked with such a harmless device, but rules are rules.

Anyway, the point was that at the other end I was not able to reassemble the bike (yes, at Milan Linate, no-one had an "English key" as they are called, eventually getting help from a friend). So this note is a reminder to check the tools in, or tape a spare key to the frame....

Chris, March 30, 2004

Beware BA's excess baggage police!

My wife and I recently flew to Cape Town to ride The Argus. We have made
similar trips several times before, using all the competing airlines; BA,
Virgin and SAA. And apart from one occasion where SAA charged £25 per bike,
money has never been mentioned.

Imagine our astonishment at Heathrow when BA's check-in clerk demanded
£1,100 (instantly reduced to £769.50) to take our bikes (packed in hard
cases) on board. One way, mind you. Sure, we were otherwise up to our 23kg
normal allowance, but there was no warning and no negotiation, certainly not with the steely eyed "Donata", BA's Duty Manager.

It was either pay up, leave the bikes at LHR or send them by air freight
(£500, no guaranteed delivery date). Decision required in 5 minutes. Talk
about having you by the balls!

Since the trip had been planned for months, we paid and went. But the
incident, plus the prospect of a re-run at Cape Town airport, cast a shadow
over an otherwise enjoyable 10 days. On our return, (normal service had by
now been resumed and no money changed hands), I checked all three airlines'
websites. SAA are explicit in asking EUR80 for each bike, Virgin reserves
all sorts of rights to charge up to 1.5% of the full one way economy fare,
and BA merely says that excess baggage charges apply, without enumerating

Given the disproportionate sums involved, is this an unfair business
practice, or merely arbitrary? Before I scream blue murder at BA's CEO, does anyone have similar experiences? TIA...

David Love, March 19, 2004

Bikes on Heathrow Express between Terms. 1, 2, 3 and Term.4

Here's another way out of London's Heathrow airport (Terminals 1, 2 or 3) by bike:

According to Heathrow's web-site
(click on 'Cycling')
you can take bikes for free on the Heathrow Express train, not only to Paddington Station in London, but also within the airport from the central station, serving Terminals 1, 2, and 3, under the airport to the end of the line at Terminal 4. The big advantage of doing this is that Terminal 4 is on the airport's perimeter, and that you therefore don't need to cycle through the tunnel to get out of the airport. Terminal 4 is at the south side of the airport, and a short 4 km ride to the nearest train station at Feltham (on the Waterloo and Clapham Junction lines).

The one drawback is that the bike must be bagged and treated as carry-on luggage. However if you are travelling by air to or from Terms. 1, 2, 3 your bike will be bagged anyway; all you have to do is put it on a luggage trolley and wheel it from the baggage reclaim area to the Heathrow Express platform nearby (BTW all passengers travel free on the Heathrow Express between Terms.1, 2, 3, and Term.4)

I am planning on doing the above soon. Can anyone confirm that this is actually possible?

High Flyer, November 19, 2003

S&S Machine Couplings

I have had a Thorn Discovery tandem since 1998 fitted with one set of S&S couplings so that it can be split into two pieces. Each piece fits into a purpose made travel bag with shoulder straps for ease of carrying. The bags are very strong, lightweight and flexible enough to roll up to 5 in diameter and 10 in long. Front half weighs 23 lbs and rear 27lbs. My wife carries the panniers and I the tool kit bag.I am 69 years old and my wife 73 years.

I have flown mostly with BA since they take bikes free, providing all up weight is not excessive. Destnations include Germany, Austria, Palma Mallorca, New York, Denver, Tampa. Yellow cabs in NY, high rise hotels and elevators. Taxis almost anywhere. Greyhound buses need a bit of care. Trains in UK of all varieties, Germany, Austria and Amtrak from NY to Tampa.It easily fits in my modest size car with a back seat folded down.

Airport passengers are fascinated to see me pick up the bags from the carousel and then proceed to assemble the tandem.

So far the tandem has only received very minor damage which is easily fixed.

These couplings enable my wife and I to travel almost anywhere with complete freedom and be self contained. However, it can be like taking the mother in law with us as "she" needs a lot of fuss and attention.

Hope this will give readers some encouragement. I am only too pleased to assist anyone if they need it.

Ron Harrop

Ron Harrop, Southampton, England, November 09, 2003

Touring website

Travelogue website covering England to Shanghai via Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Edward Genochio, October 16, 2003

Tour the United Kingdom

Just visited your excellent site. Just one little suggestion: if anyone wants to tour the United Kingdom, a very good place to start is the national cycling organisation, the CTC, web address

Richard Burton, October 05, 2003

Bikes to New Zealand from UK

We went from London to New Zealand via Los Angeles with two bikes plus camping gear. The weight allowance via the US is much better than going via the far east therefore avoiding excess baggage charges.

At Heathrow and Los Angeles we removed pedals and turned handlebars through 90 degrees and wheeled the bikes on. I think baggage handlers prefer this as it is easier for them to wheel a bike than carry a large box, it is also clear that it is a bike and we had no damage to our bikes.

From Christchurch to Brisbane we had to cover the bikes with two large polythene bags supplied by Quantas.

On the return trip from Brisbane to Heathrow via Auckland & Los Angeles we were told by Quantas to check in our bags (and tools) as normal and then go and get bike boxes from the large items loading area, we had to pay for these.

I kept one allen key out to allow us to remove the handlebars (pedals had already been removed) but despite this the boxes were too small for our touring bikes. At this point the baggage handlers said we could put our bikes on the plane without boxes and we had to sign a waiver just in case they were damaged. We were refunded the cost of the boxes and our bikes arrived in London without any problem.

I lost my allen key when I went through security -- a dangerous weapon. We were then supplied with metal knives and forks with our meal and a glass wine bottle!

All in all it went well, British Airways were very good but Quantas need to have some joined up thinking.

Brian Woodward, June 30, 2003

Ferry Belgium-Scotland

You can take your bike for free on the ferry from Zeebrugge to Rosyth.

No need to box it.

marc vanfleteren, June 08, 2003

Prestwick Airport (Ayrshire, West of Scotland)

Cycle paths in to and out of Prestwick Airport (at Ayrshire, West of Scotland).

All arrivals use the same building, and everyone leaves that building on foot in the same direction (to the West).

There's not a lot to this, really. I suggest cyclists move all their gear to the space beneath the escalators which give access to the bridge to the railway station. There, you may assemble your machines sheltered from any weather, with room to set out the gear, with good lighting, and with a constant stream of passers-by (lest anyone worries about security/safety).

To go anywhere by road from Prestwick Airport. Cross the car-park in front of the terminal building, bearing slightly to the right; this will bring you to the side of the main road, the A79. Cross this (busy) road by the pedestrian crossings and you are then immediately on Route 7 of the National Cycle Network.

To go North and East, turn right; to go South, turn left. You cannot go West. (Trying to would mean crossing a golf course, then the beach, then the open sea - next stop, Newfoundland. Not recommended.)

To go anywhere by rail from Prestwick Airport. At the time of writing, the lift from the Terminal Building's main concourse to the bridge over the busy A79 leading to the railway station was under construction/repair. When it is finished, if it mirrors the lift at the other end of the bridge, down to the platforms in the railway station, then beware - it will take just one bike at a time, and will be a tight squeeze, at that. Carrying a bike on the escalator to the bridge level is a matter of only 30 seconds.

Entering Prestwick Airport is the reverse of the above.

Iain Lang, May 16, 2003

Melbourne-Tokyo-Heathrow (Qantas/JAL)

In September 2002 I travelled to London for work, bringing my mountain bike with me. I was convinced by co-workers and friends to take it along. I bought a soft bag for it so it would survive ok, and I could haul it through London on the tube (and use around europe, and in the future), rather than a cardboard box that would knowing my luck fall apart on me. For anyone interested (in Australia), the bag came from Bigfoot Bags (, but no shops in Melbourne carried any bags, so had to go on recommendation from CBD Cycles.

Bike fitted in fine with wheels off, handlebar off, pedals off, and I cut up some PVC pipe and used my skewers to protect the rear frame/dropout, a bit of bubble wrap around the rear derailer and chainrings, and cable-tied anything I didn't want to move. Threw in my shoes, and cycle clothing for some padding, with tools and a lock. Total weight was 18kg on the scales at airport (I thought it should have been about 15kg, I was sus of the reading!) Word of advise I got from bikeshop owner who does lots of travelling, was don't overload the bag/or box, as if it is heavy, the baggage gorillas treat it worse, and need another gorilla to help them, and just throw it around....

Flew JAL, but Qantas operated the sector to Japan. Checked-in at Qantas counter, with 25kg suitcase, and my courierbag (worked as a pushie courier for a while) with about 20kg as carry-on. Check-in girl didn't care what it was too much, and insisted she fragile sticker it. It got stuck in the "un-usual shaped objects locked trolley", and I got everything on fine (with no extra baggage/bike tax 🙂 )

Tokyo, with JAL, the bike was transfered fine, nothing said by the check-in staff, who checked that my baggage was going to the right place.

I got to Heathrow, after 90 minutes to get through Immigration, and the bike bag was sitting beside the baggage belts (ie. seperatly taken out).

Qantas and JAL were great, no fuss, and bike made it to London without any damage - but it is a mountain bike (well converted to an urban road bike since the stint couriering), and has taken many big stacks, so should cope fine travelling anyhow....

I has glad I was talked into taking it, good bikes are expensive in the UK, great way to get around, and avoid the expensive public transport system here. And I am not going to be happy with a cheap and nasty bike, when I have a nice Giant I am used to riding!

Next adventure, taking to mainland Europe to get out of London!

Stuart, September 26, 2002


July 2002 flights.

Stansted to Biarritz and Perpignan to Stansted. Two bikes both ways. £15 charges paid in advance. handlebars turned, pedals removed, tyres deflated. Gears wrapped in bubble wrap on outward journey (not on return).

Very satisfied customers. Biarritz was excellent , bikes brought out before any other luggage. Stansted - no problems.

Will explore other destinations with Ryan to take bikes on a trip.

Roger Cortis, August 21, 2002

Sports Express


Try Sports Express for easy, hassle free travel. Picks up from wherever and delivers to wherever. No lugging to and from the airport AT ALL!!!!

Dave Williams, August 06, 2002

Bikes on Trains to London Stansted Airport; Buzz Airlines from Stansted

Bikes on trains to Stansted Airport:

Stansted Express from London Liverpool St: You are officially supposed to have a bike not measuring more than the size of their luggage racks - definitely a case of taking both wheels and luggage off.

Alternatives from London Liverpool St: (1) stopping train, just over an hour total from London Liverpool St, no restrictions I'm aware of. (2) Take a (faster and more frequent) train from London Liverpool St to Bishop's Stortford, and ride from there to the Airport (only 2 or 3 miles/15 mins).

Stansted from rest of country: (1) Central Trains run trains from all over central England to Stansted. They have spaces for two unloaded bikes which you are supposed to pre-book. We used these successfully Cambridge->Stansted. Just be warned that these Central trains sometimes run up to 1/2-hour / hour late - leave yourself buffer time. (2) Again, riding from either Stansted Mountfitchet station or Bishop's Stortford station to Stansted is 2-3 miles/15 mins, so cross-country travellers could use any more reliable service to get to Cambridge and then Cambridge->Stortford and ride.

Buzz airline (travelled Stansted->Bergerac->Stansted): Now charge £15 for carriage of bike, covers both directions if a return flight. You have to phone-book rather than website-book to register your bike, but this is supposed to guarantee its transport. Certainly we experienced no problems. Official packing policy quoted to me at July 02 was "deflate, take both wheels off and tape/attach them to bike" (nothing about turning handlebars flat and taking pedals off), but in my experience so much depends on the check-in staff you actually meet at the airport - we weren't asked to do any of these things, but preferred to detach front w and fasten over chain area, and turn handlebars flat, to protect bike.

No problems tho, and Buzz airline v friendly about it at both ends.

Dylan Reisenberger, July 14, 2002

Shannon airport, IRE (storing bike boxes)

Just got back from Ireland and would like to report that there is storage for bike boxes in "Lost Luggage" at Shannon airport. They charge a couple of Euro's a day, though they didn't end up charging me a thing. People were very friendly and accommodating.

Schatzi, April 27, 2002

Singapore Airlines

Flew from Manchester UK to Penang Malaysia

Used VK bike box which contained bike with pedals turned inwards, bars turned in and wheels removed.

Used pipe lagging on bike tubes. Packed case with other luggage/clothes. No problem checking in - was sent through on transfer.

Absolutely perfect -
Singapore airlines are A1!

spooky, April 20, 2002

Wales Uk

I live in Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom. Biking around Wales is very good with lots of off road and Bike trails. The problem is traveling on the British Rail. Most of the Trains only have space for 2 bikes which you have to book in advance. The staff are not very helpful when you try to book. so good luck.

dave palmer, January 08, 2002

Air France Damage Indifference Havana-Manchester

Flew 2 bikes from Havana to Manchester via Paris. Not boxed but well padded, as per AF's instructions.

Handlebars of one bike were badly bent, as if crushed. Air France agents (Servisair) refused to even give us the paperwork to make a claim as they said the bike was improperly packaged.

Bar ends and pedals were missing - presumed stolen as they were well secured. Servisair said it was nothing to do with them and to contact the police.

Sam Marshall, December 09, 2001

Chariots Await

A UK site devoted to all forms of transportation (mainly motorized). Busy, but interesting.
See it at

"Chariotsawait is about vehicles - vehicles of all kinds. Cars, boats and cycles. Bikes, planes and boards. If it goes, then we've got it."

Simon Courcha -- [email protected]

George Farnsworth, November 12, 2001

Bike Rental -- Scotland

Dear George

I found your site when surfing looking for search engine listings for our site: I noticed that our site is not (yet !) listed on your very interesting page. Could you please add it to your page as I feel that the service we offer will be of help to people looking for bike rentals & bike tours in Scotland. I hope you enjoy visiting our site and hope you will find us worthy of adding a link to on your page.

Peter Butterworth Tel: +44 (0) 131 556 5560 / 6868 / 1212

Peter Butterworth, July 14, 2001

Bikes on trains in the UK (Manchester)

Found on: [email protected]

In a message dated 5/8/01 4:31:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time, [email protected] writes:

In Greater Manchester you can take bikes on just about every local train, bar a few rush-hour services. It is free. After 0930 you can buy a day ranger ticket for £2.50 which gives unlimited rail travel within Greater Manchester. This would be an excellent means of transiting the urban sprawl. Train tickets are subsidised in several conurbations in the Midlands and North of England. Don't ride thru, train thru...

The train station at the Manchester airport (not the same as Manchester city) was one of the best and accessible stations we used. It is connected by a long skywalk with a Radisson hotel in the middle. The airport was also very accessible by roadway when we returned. Don't overlook Manchester as an entry/departure airport.

Joe Stafford Dallastown, PA

Joe & Carolyn Stafford, May 07, 2001

Bike Rentals -- Ireland

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

Just to finish up on this thread, I went to Ireland and rented a bike from a shop called Europa in Galway, across from the cathedral. I rented it at 6PM Friday and returned it 1PM Sunday, and it cost 11 pounds.

It was a city bike, not a touring bike. It had 700x35C tires, grip shifters, upright bars, and in fact it was a woman's frame style. So the choices were limited.

Nonetheless, on Saturday I did a fairly long loop (probably 75 miles at least) up the coast and then inland to Cong. Finally back to Galway via the town of Headford - the last 10-15 miles were on a narrow and busy road with virtually no shoulder to speak of.

I'd still be interested to know of a place which rents true touring bikes (droped handlebars, lightweight frame) as opposed to day trippers.

Otto Axel, May 07, 2001

UK Rail

Found on: [email protected]

For anyone interested in attempting to take a cycle by train in the UK the web site for A to B magazine has a list of information for the various rail companies at [update from Bob Wood]

It is said to be fully updated with summer 2001 information, but with the state of the railways over here at the moment you could be in for an eventful trip. I used to commute by rail and cycle until the rail company I used (Central Trains) decided to randomly not stop at my station. I have now moved house so as to be closer to work and avoid using the trains!

There used to be a leaflet available at rail stations over here that gave information on the policy of all the rail companies regarding carriage of cycles. It would be worth picking one up, as the rail company staff are not necessarily aware of their own company's policy in this respect.

Hope I've not put anyone off. If you come I'm sure you'll enjoy the cycling, just don't expect reliable trains!

Jon Skinner.

Jon Skinner, May 07, 2001

The C2C Guide

A website devoted to the C2C cycle route in the North of England intended to act as a resource centre for this excellent route, offering route tips and advice, accommodation listings, travellogues, tourist information and much, much more.

Dik Stoddart, March 04, 2001

London (Heathrow), UK

HEATHROW, see map has two terminal locations, a Terminal 1-3 complex inside the runway system, which one exits through a 1 km north/south tunnel, and Terminal 4, to the southeast and outside the runways.

There is a ~7km bikable route between the terminal areas; that is, the road North through the tunnel, East along Northern Perimeter Road, South along Eastchurch Road to Hatton Cross, and Southwest along Southern Perimeter Road to Terminal 4 - bike routes exit from this road.

See also this BAA schematic map - [Click on 'By Road' then 'Road Map'- see also 'Cycling' - Picture is North tunnel entrance].

The London Cycle Network has pdf files of the boroughs of Greater London. Download and print their hounslow.pdf for cycle paths in the Heathrow area.

Some route and map notes.

David Alexander, January 21, 2001

Chester to Dun Laoghaire Ferry vs. Train

Although I haven't used it for 2 years when we did our Irish tours it was actually cheaper to get a rail/ferry ticket combined from Chester to Dun Laoghaire (£24) return than go just as a foot passenger(£34). Although we used the train (needs booking for bikes)it would be worth booking it that way even if you drove to Holly head and never used the train ticket.

regards Les

Les Roberts, January 10, 2001

Bike Rental, trains in UK

Have you tried the CTC web site, they have a cycle hire document listing many places in the UK

Have you seen the document on UK travel by trains with your bike published by one of the rail organisations and Bromton


Bill, November 14, 2000

Trains to Stanstead Airport

Totally recommend using Stanstead as an alternate airport to Heathrow or Gatwick when flying from London but BE AWARE!!!! You can only put bikes on the "Stanstead Express" if you remove all luggage and REMOVE the WHEELS.

The alternative is the slow train - takes about an hour or so - where they generally provide a huge luggage van that will hold about 30 loaded bikes, or occasionally, they use these stupid carriages with 2 tiny slots for 2 unloaded bikes .

steve, November 05, 2000

Buzz Airlines - Buzzaway

Excellent.... We flew from Stanstead to - Toulouse with Buzz. They welcomed us and our bikes with open arms. No problems checking in and on the return trip all we had to do was let down the tyres, no removong pedals, etc......

10/10 for buzz. and 10/10 for Stanstead airport.

steve, November 05, 2000

EasyJet v. Ryanair

Excellent service from easyJet at London Luton when I arrived with a folded Brompton for their Belfast flight. They agreed that I could have it treated in the same way as child's pushchair (aka 'babybuggy') - just wheel it up to the aircarft steps and hand it over at the last minute - which I did. The bike was handed back to me - with a smile - as I went down the steps at the other end of the flight, in Belfast. No charge, of course.

Contrast this with the return jounrey I made from City of Derry airport to London Stansted with the surly Ryanair. They did reluctantly agree to the child's pushchair option - but when I got off at the other end refused to let me have the bike back. I watched helpless as the groundstaff hurled it into a luggage truck.

rory clyne, November 05, 2000

London Stanstead to Carcassonne with Ryanair

We drove (horrors!) to Stanstead, Ryanair charged us £15 each way for the privelige of taking our bikes, but weren't too concerended with the weight. The routine was the usual 'turn handlebars, remove pedals' sort of thing; no boxes required. After the return journey, we were informed that some of the bikes had been damaged, but all there appeared to be was a damaged mudguard (fender) which I can live with.

Carcassonne airport is marked as an 'aerodrome' on the map, and that would seem accurate, no worries about taking your bike out onto eight lanes of thundering traffic here; instead, we wheeled our way out to a relatively minor road and set off towards the Pyrenees...

Andrew Hayward, August 30, 2000

Manchester to Rimini with AirTours

Here's some info on AirTours (UK package tour company) who we flew with from Manchester (UK) this year.

Flew from Manchester to Rimini with AirTours (May 2000) - flight only, for a tour of the Marche region of Italy.

They charged a hefty (well I thought it was) £30 return for the bike. Usual minimalist things needed doing (pedals off, handlebars turned, token hiss of air out of the tyres). I just lagged the bike in plumbers pipe lagging, and covered the transmission with cardboard and polythene. (see )

A possible bonus at Manchester when we flew was that AirTours have a 'check in anytime' policy. So, you can take your luggage/bikes whatever, check them in (I think they said up to 24 hours before your flight), and not have to lug them around the airport waiting for desks to open etc. Check-in staff were very friendly and helpful, though I have noticed that they are VERY strict now on the 5kg hand luggage limit (something must have fallen on somebody 😉 I suspect this is a Manchester Airport thing (and not AirTours), as I noticed Brittania did exactly the same thing on the family holiday from the same airport.

All in all, I find Manchester Airport very bike friendly. Never had any problems there.

Return flight from Rimini, they didn't weigh anything! One of my pannier clips snagged in the conveyor belt, and brought the luggage system to a halt. As someone else has already pointed out - must remember to tape the clips down next time!



Alan Nelson, August 30, 2000

London (Gatwick), UK

Found on: [email protected]

We cycled out of Gatwick the previous year. It was far easier than I thought it would be given that it was the first time I had to cycle on the other side of the road. Gatwick is a fairly small airport. After disassembling our bikes we headed out via the passenger pickup area. This was a road ramp up to the exit area where taxi's and folks can pick-up passengers. Our modest goal upon arrival was to head to Godalming to visit the CTC. (We ended up heading north through the New Forest.) We simply asked at the taxi stand for the best way out. It was a simple matter of cycling down the ramp, turning at a roundabout and hitting our road to Godalming. Traffic was light on the day we arrived. Our route was to head south to the Isle of Wight, so I can't give you any information about skirting London when leaving Gatwick. London is HUGE so avoiding London while heading north from Gatwick is just about impossible without heading a long ways west first. I don't think it was easy to pass London on the eastern side via bike, but I could be wrong.

You may wish to take a train through London, but you'll likely have to change trains. Someone in the UK could give you more info on this.

We travelled through London on our return to leave from Gatwick. We were staying at a camp-ground in Roydon (north of London) our last few days in the U.K. On a Saturday we took our bikes from Roydon by train to Liverpool Station. We then biked from Liverpool Station to King's Cross to catch a train to Gatwick. (That was fun.) As it was Saturday and traffic was light, the train was fairly uneventful, though fitting a loaded touring bike on without inconviencing others can be a bit of a pain. Some passengers on the train weren't too co-operative either, though we made every effort to keep out of the way.

Getting into King's Cross with a bike is a fair bit of a pain as you have to take them down a set of stairs, and the entrance can be crowded. Look into Brit Rail before you leave and see if you can arrange to take a train from Gatwick through London to somewhere on your route. If you don't have to leave stations when changing trains, that's even better. Trains from Gatwick go to a variety of stations, but King's Cross is the only one we know of that's on the North side of the Thames. There may be others.

I've never taken my bike on the Underground, and I wouldn't recommend it. The Underground is all down stairs and steep escalators. Some of the stairs go down a long long ways. I wouldn't even try man-handling a loaded touring bike up & down these.


PS: The Ordinance Survey maps are the best. The TravelMaster line are more than adequate.

PPS: The camp-sites on the TravelMaster maps may no longer exist. They may also be hard to find.

Jason Lassaline, August 21, 2000

Dublin, Ireland, Papeete (Tahiti)

I have just looked at S Perry's comments on Dublin airport. He must have drunk too much Guinness if he thinks it is 30km to downtown. His exchange rate from $ to punt is also a long way out - one Irish Pound is about $1.30. (though I suppose he might have been quoting the rate to Can $).

Dublin Airport is no more than 12km from downtown. It is not necessary - indeed it is prohibited - to cycle on the motorway. The non-motorway route is not signposted, so it's a good idea to get a detailed street map. But you can't go far wrong if you come out of the airport, turn right (not straight on onto the motorway), head south and ignore any signposts to city centre which look like they mean to put you on the motorway. Mr Perry's experience of taking an hour in a taxi - not impossible if you get stuck in a traffic jam - indicates that it can be quicker to cycle, if you know where you are going.

While I'm on non-cycle-friendly signposts at airports, I encountered one at Papeete (Tahiti). The airport is 6km from city centre. To get there from the airport, turn left as you leave, following the sign to Faaa. If you follow the signpost to the city centre direct, you get on the motorway where you do not want to be. If you have booked to stay in the guesthouse at Paea (cheaper and nicer than the hostels in Papeete) then turn right out of the airport and keep straight on - it's about 14km.

Ivan Viehoff, August 03, 2000

Easyjet, Zurich

EasyJet. A friend and I have taken several trips (1999/2000) with EasyJet using Luton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Zurich airports. They allow 25kg hold plus 5kg cabin - the latter is enforced more rigorously than the former. But excess charges are modest. In most cases the only necessary preparation was pedals off and tyres down. We have drop bars, so with flat bars you might have to do something extra. At Luton the bike goes through an X-ray machine - mine just fits. At Zurich I had to pay 10 SF for a large plastic bag. However a colleague flew Luton-Edinburgh and got their front wheel folded over. Easyjet paid £40 as a partial contribution towards taxi and replacement cost. Luton Airport is easy of access by bike - the new station is only about a mile away. At Glasgow Airport (Paisley) there is a local railway station a short cycle ride away - better than trying to find your own way into town. Edinburgh Airport is 10 miles from the city centre along big roads, quite a slog if the traditional westerly is a-blowing. Zurich Airport is easily accessible by train.
Ivan Viehoff, August 01, 2000

KLM, Birmingham, Guatemala City, Chile, Santiago, Buenos Aires

KLM(1). I flew Gatwick-Buenos Aires via Amsterdam (1997). They told me I would have to box it and a box could be purchased at Gatwick. However at the airport they accepted the bike in a plastic bag. The airline informed me in writing I would be surcharged £33/kg if I exceeded 20kg. So with 10kg excess I tried the Excess Baggage Company (see next entry). Buenos Aires Internatioal Airport (known as Ezeiza but officially called Ministro Pistarini) is about 35km from town centre. If you are changing to a domestic flight, you have to go to the Aeroparque (officially called Jorge Newbery airport) which is in the town centre. You cannot ride on the motorway (prohibido a poder de sangre - blood-power prohibited - it poetically says), which goes all but the last few km to the airport. There are other ways, but they are indirect, not signposted and go through some very dodgy suburbs (BsAs cycling club carries a gun on training rides). You can negotiate something with a taxi or minibus service, though these things are not cheap in BsAs.

Excess Baggage Company (London Gatwick). My experience of sending my excess from Gatwick to Santiago with the Excess Baggage Company was not happy (1997). The basic charge per kg sounds cheap, but they have a minimum charge based on 25kg. Then there are the extras. The company quoted 6-10 days, but the first opportunity to retrieve my package was actually day 13. They assured me they would give me the telephone number of the local agent in Santiago who would handle the paperwork, but actually gave me (without explanation) a phone number in the USA. It took several costly international calls (a) to work out what this telephone number meant (b) to get the actual local number. Handling the paperwork comprised no more than receiving it and handing it to me, for which they charged an extortionate amount. I then had to go to the airport freight terminal to negotiate everything and pay a freight handling fee and a custom clearance fee - it added up to about £40 in extras plus the phone calls and bus trips. It would have been cheaper and much quicker to send it door to door with DHL. And even cheaper to post it to Poste Restante in Santiago - though that is not a something to try in every country.

KLM(2). I flew return trip Birmingham-Guatemala City via Amsterdam (2000) with two friends. This time KLM volunteered that we could check in the bikes uncovered if we signed a release form. On return, Guatemala City Airport was not used to checking in bikes. First they tried to prevent us entering the terminal with the bikes, because there was A Rule - we had to explain that they were baggage. Then they insisted on plastic bags, but did not have any bags of suitable size available. So it was scissors and tape job. Good thing we arrived very early. Guatemala City airport is only 6km from downtown, though you should not go into Zones 1 or 4 on a bike or on foot after dark - book some accom near the airport.

Ivan Viehoff, August 01, 2000

Gatwick - Heathrow

Often one has to transfer from one airport to another in London.

For this purpose you may either use the trains in/out of London.

But there's a Airport Express bus-service from Gatwick - Heathrow Airport, which may be helpful as it's a direct line. However - it's not 100% perfect.

The first driver insisted that I wrap my bike, either in a box - or at least in plastic. I couldn't buy a box at the airport, and ended up begging plastic-bags at a store which I then used to wrap the bike. The second driver didn't care at all - and not only helped load the bike, but also changed his route, when he learned that I was about to miss my plane.

Remember to check what terminal you're departing from at Heathrow.

(I also noticed that my bike was x-rayed in both Heathrow and Gatwick. This may make it 15 minutes slower to check in the bike).

Ernst Poulsen, August 01, 2000


George: A few on notes from our latest trip you might use.

Ryanair. This is an Ireland-based discount airline. They charge 15 Ireland pounds per bicycle but as the fares are low, it is a good deal. Usual requirements: turn handlebars, remove pedals, let air out of tyres. At Kerry airport we handed our bikes over to the porter and asked him to take special care. I'll treat them like me own he said. And did.

Stansted Express This is the train from London Stansted airport to Liverpool Street station. The ticket seller and the platform guard both said bikes are only allowed on the non express, which takes 50 rather than 40 minutes.We asked the on train host (aka ticket collector) and pointed out that at 3 PM the train was not crowded. He found an area around the middle of the train where seats were removed for bikes and wheel chairs. So it pays to ask, politely. From the baggage area at the airport to the platform is easy. One change of level and there is an elevator. All in all, as convenient as Gatwick.

First Great Western. This is the train operator from London West. We took it from Paddington to Bath. There are six places for bikes immediately behind the engine. It is suggested that you book. There is a charge of 2 pounds a bike. We got seats in car C so we could be close to the bikes and make sure they stayed on board at intermediate stops.You also need to take them off the train pretty quickly at your stop, so a full train length run is not recommended. We left panniers on the bikes.

Bike Bags

Previously we had taken our bikes to the LBS for boxing. This time we bought bags from a New Zealnd company Ground Effect They did an excellent job. Not as rigid as boxes so we added some cardboard but there is a strap and handles so the bags are easier to lug around than boxes. cheers

Ken Nielsen Sydney Australia

PO Box 1017

Fax: 61 2 99084769

Home: 61 2 99081962

Ken Nielsen, July 02, 2000

Renting mountain. bikes in England or Scotland

The Pedalabikeaway centre in the Royal Forest of Dean (look just West of Gloucester and Bristol) rents bikes and there's hundreds of miles of trails. You just missed the bluebells though..

See for details.

All the best, Dan

Dan Gregory, June 05, 2000

Limerick, Ireland

Fly into Shannon Airport. Bike boxes can be stored there cheaply.

First day-night stay at the Ennis House B&B in Limerick. The owner will also keep your boxes for nothing. To get there take the bus from airport bound for Ennis(not express bus) lets you off at the front door of B&B. The bus will take your bike.

Follow River Shannon to the coast then south to Kerry, Dingle and points south or go north and see the Clifts, Islands, Conamara and Clifton and much more.

E-mail me for more

RMitc, May 24, 2000

Folding Bike Society (UK)

Folding Bike Society
George Farnsworth, March 18, 2000

European Bike Express

Colin McKenna wrote: nobody seems to tour there.

Perhaps 'merkans don't, but many cyclists from Britain consider it a good touring destination. I will be co-leading a CTC camping group there during the first two weeks in June, and we had no trouble finding 20+ CTC members to join us.

Other than that, I can't help with your transport queries because we don't use the French trains. On our annual CTC camping tours we used to fly all the time, but the past two years and the coming one we're using the European Bike Express to get us and our cycles from England to where we're touring. This year we're getting dropped off in Vierzon and collected at Lyon, which gives us a chance to ride on an arc through the Auvergne.

More info on the EBE should be available at their website:

and though it may not help you, others on T&P might find it useful.

Mike Strauss Ledbury, England [email protected]

Pat & Mike Strauss, March 07, 2000

Cross-Channel Ferries

1) Brittany Ferries (at ) sail to/from France from/to Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth (my home town, nostalgic sob 🙂 .
2) P&O European Ferries (at ), who also sail for France from Portsmouth, and
3) looks like a great place for planning (and booking) your ferry trip across the Channel.
For planning how to get to/from Bath from/to the southern English ports, try... (trains) or (long-distance buses - quite fast and very comfortable).

I don't think the latter will carry your bike, and the former may require reservations to be made for your bike in advance. You can book tickets on the National Express buses by credit card over the Net and have them delivered to an address you specify - very convenient indeed, I have found. Railtrack doesn't offer this option at the moment, as far as I know.

Hope this helps! Bon voyage 🙂

Bryan Hollamby, January 19, 2000

Yorkshire Bikeliner

We run a bus which is dedicated to providing transport for cyclists.

Simon Hawksley, November 19, 1999

Edinburgh, UK

A left luggage facility is available adjacent to the Bureau de Change on the international arrivals concourse. Opening hours 0600-2200 daily. Luggage may be subject to a security check. Charges 1st 24 hours 1.50 pounds each additional 24 hours 1.25 pounds."



John Bell, September 14, 1999

London (Heathrow), UK


While agreeing with all the comments, Heathrow Express (fast train into London Paddington) does take bikes and so far for no extra charge (though with a £10 single fare I should think so too). The owners BAA (again) should make more of this: Paddington is not a bad start for central London cycling, but pretty awful as an interchange with taxi/bus/tube etc.

I sympathise with London Underground: the Piccadilly line tube (subway) trains that link Heathrow with central London are simply too small for bikes (or for other airport luggage, for that matter)

Also bear in mind Heathrow is not owned by British Airports Authority (which no longer exists), but BAA plc & its subsidiary Heathrow Airport Ltd. Both are profit-seeking private companies currently amongst other things trying to force another terminal onto unwilling Londoners. However, they are anxiously cultivating a 'green' image with some high-profile support for buses, staff cycling etc: maybe now's a time for some serious embarrassment. Heathrow Crit Mass anyone?

Having seen hotel courtesy minibuses towing luggage trailers, I wonder if some kind of dedicated service like this aimed at bikers might be viable.

In meantime, one solution is to come in to more bike-friendly airports like Gatwick: Gatwick Express to London Victoria has large guards vans and welcomes bikes, skis etc. BAA control this airport too: monopoly of all major London airports!

Rob Cope

Copes Guide to bike/public transport now online: see

Rob Cope, July 25, 1999

Trains from Gatwick

Found out some info - Ken mailed me and said he was looking at Gatwick, York, Swansea, Hollyhead.

From Gatwick you need a Thameslink train to London. Bikes go free but you can't take them during rush-hour (0700-1000 and 1600-1900). From King's Cross, London you need a GNER train to York. Need to reserve in advance, costs 3 pounds - book early as space is limited (08457 225225).

From London to Reading you need a Thames train - free except during rushhour (as above). Reading to Swansea you need Great Western - advance reservation recommended, costs one pound (08457 000125), or there may be space if you simply turn up, but costs 3 pounds.

For Hollyhead you need Virgin trains - you can take bikes on nearly all trains except during rush hour. Advance registration required 08457 222 333.

- Generally seems like you can take your bike anywhere but ring first to check, and don't travel during rush-hour. National Rail enquiries were quite helpful (0345 48 49 50), even though you can't actually make bookings through them they gave me all that info. Hope this helps...


Mike Spradbery, July 15, 1999

Dublin, Ireland

I had attempted to follow R122 to the airport, but there are few signs giving road numbers. I wound up riding on N1 for a stretch, then found some local streets to the west of it. I believe that I was on R132 when I reached the airport turn-off. For this navigation, it is best to have a compass (don't count on being able to see the sun) or a detailed map that gives the neighborhoods that you pass through, but I did OK without either. Some people do bike along the N1 (but not the M1) and there was even a brief part with a bike lane.

Thanks for a great Web site. I have biked to more than 20 airports around the world, but some of the details have faded from memory.
- Tyler Folsom.

Tyler Folsom, September 23, 1998

Bike Box Storage

We just returned from England today. Nothing has changed. Still 3 pounds per day to store bikes or boxes. We put one Trico box inside another to make one box thus cutting our cost in half. Trains are available out of Gatwick to any place in the U.K. almost all including the Gatwick Expess to London take bikes. Some are free some charge 3 pounds per bike.

Rlesnik, September 07, 1998

Bike Box Storage

There are 3 secure areas within Gatwick where bags, boxes and bikes can be stored for both short and long term.

1. Short term storage at the "LEFT BAGGAGE OFFICE" at the northeast corner of the South Terminal level 2 adjacent to passenger arrivals. Panniers etc. can be left there and paid for on a daily basis. Bikes may also be left there if space permits
2. The LUGGAGE REPLACEMENT SERVICE accepts bags and bikes on a space available basis charging daily. This office can be found in the South Terminal, level 3 Room 3323 (North end of the terminal building past the southside Food Village and adjacent to elevators.)
3. LEFT BAGGAGE OFFICE - North terminal can be found on level 2 (departures) on the road side of the building between the 2 elevators. this office accepts bikes and panniers.

Hope this helps and have a wonderful trip!

Rlesnik, August 05, 1998

Bike Box Storage

In 1996, my last trip, Heathrow had a "left luggage" storage where any article including a large bicycle box could be left for three pounds per day. Gatwich must have the same facilities, although British Airways allowed me to store my bike box in one of their spare rooms.

The most current issue of CYCLE magazine (journal of the CTC in England) has an article about the methods of access to heathrow and Gatwick. If you plan to tour in England, join the CTC and get their help in planning your route. Visit the CTC office before starting your bicycle tour. They have detail maps of airport access for bicycles.

Clarke Stanley       Tommasini, Mercian and '95 Honda CBR600
Menlo Park, California

Clarke Stanley, August 05, 1998

London (Gatwick), UK

We rode from Paddington across London to the place we were staying and next day rode to Victoria to get the Gatwick express. This train has a baggage car at the end (nearest the main concourse at Victoria) where they put baggage checked at the airline counters. Bikes are safe there and can be chained to window bars. The Gatwick Express is a good way to travel. At the Airport there are elevators and such so it is easy to move bikes around with loaded panniers.

We flew BA from Gatwick to Bordeaux. BA only requires bikes to have pedals removed and handlebars turned so with some nervousness we handed them over unboxed. Don't forget to have tools ready to do this and hold back one pannier to put the pedals into. The bikes arrived intact in Bordeaux and we took about half an hour to re-assemble them and attach panniers. We had booked at a hotel 8k from the airport for the first night in case we had a problem with the bikes.

After the ride, we returned to Australia from Heathrow by Qantas. This time we found a bike shop in London that would box the bikes. More expensive than in our LBS but probably still worth it.

Ken Nielsen, June 26, 1997

Ground Transportation

In Sydney we arranged for a minibus (50% more expensive than a normal taxi) to take us to the airport with bikes and other luggage.

Not knowing how to find such a vehicle in London, we booked a Hertz rental minibus to meet us. This was a fairly expensive solution and next time we will try harder to find a waggon taxi. We drove the mini bus with our bikes and stuff to some friends' house at Maidenhead, West of Heathrow where we assembled the bikes to make sure they were OK. We then left them there until we were ready to start riding. Then we rode to the local train station and took the train to Paddington. Bikes don't seem to be a problem on UK trains outside rush hour, though there are special rules for the underground.

Ken Nielsen, June 26, 1997

London (Gatwick), UK

> From: "Dilip Banerjee" > Could anyone suggest a route out of Gatwick in a W-NW direction that would be relatively bicycle friendly?

I'd be happy cycling that, myself. Most of the nasty roads in that area run radially to/from London, so you'd be crossing them rather than riding along them. It looks, at a quick glance, as if it ought to be possible to do it totally on B-roads and unclassified (minor) roads, which shouldn't be too bad. If no-one else pops up, I could probably make a guess at the route I'd use; but it would be better done by someone who knows that area better. You'd want a better map (Ordnance Survey 'Travelmaster' sheet 9 would be ideal, or there are others) which you could probably find at the newsstand or bookshop at the airport. (The tourist info office might also have something about getting away from the airport.)

On the other hand, considering that you'll be jetlagged, and that you'd be getting used to riding on the left side of the road, you might feel more comfortable training part of it. (When I moved over here, I asked my boss why they drove on the left side of the road. His reply, 'Obvious, isn't it? If we drove on the right, we'd run into the people coming the other way.')

Paul Smee, June 09, 1997

London (Gatwick), UK

>Could anyone suggest a route out of Gatwick in a W-NW direction that would be relatively bicycle friendly?

I flew into Gatwick with my cycle last Oct, arriving at 7am. I cycled into London on the A217 (2 lanes most of the way), about 27 miles straight north. Traffic was moderate to Heavy, but rather well behaved. Sign posts pointing to London were helpful, as I had no map at the time.

However, Basingstoke is almost entirely West of Gatwick, 40 some miles or so, I think. Anyway, I would suggest that you take the A217 North to a town called Reigate and then head directly west, starting on the A25 west. And then weaving your way to Basingstoke, it doesn't look like a very straight shot.

You're probably aware of the road naming system in the UK, "M" roads are Motorways and are off limits, "A" roads are primary routes but seem to run the gammut as far as road quality, number of lanes and traffic density. "B" Roads are your best bet, usually well kept, low traffic, semi-direct routes. Smaller roads, not named on my maps, I've heard them called "lanes" and "C" roads usually do not provide direct routes between cities but can offer very low traffic, great scenery, and many navigational adventures.

I would consider taking a train instead of cycling if:
- -You are arriving later than 10 or 11 am.
- -You can't sleep on aeroplanes and will not be well rested. - -You find riding on the left side of the road a daunting task.
- -You are not strapped for cash.

If you do ride out, there's plenty of room to assemble your bike in the Taxi stand area, and there's a Texaco station right across the street with a lovely air pump (blah blah don't use gas station pumps, whatever.)


James E. Szpak, June 09, 1997

London (Gatwick), UK

I am flying into Gatwick (UK) in a few weeks time where I will begin a tour which will end in Amsterdam. The best map I've been able to locate so far here in Toronto is a 1/400 000 Michelin map of the region which doesn't give me the greatest of detail.

The maps you need are called Ordnance Survey Landrangers, 1/50,000. The particular ones you will need to get from Gatwick to Basingstoke are 185, 186 and 187. If you act quick your friends may be able to post copies to you. They cost around 4 UK pounds each.

With the exception of the motorway (no bikes allowed!), the roads around Gatwick are not too bad. Where you come out of the airport depends on whcih terminal you land at, but either way you can get off the airport road system quite quickly - I'd suggest looking for signs to Charlwood, which is a village just to the west of the airport. Unless you want to climb the North Downs, which could be pretty intimidating after an 8 hour flight and with luggage, I'd suggest you then head towards Capel. The road meanders quite a bit no matter which route you take, but it's great cycling country.

After Capel, cross the A24 and head for Ockley where you can pick up the B2126 towards Ewhurst. (By now you should be used to cycling on the left hand side of the road). This will become the B2127, at a fork, before it reaches Ewhurst.

Carry on to Cranleigh, where it meets to B2128. From here, I would suggest working your way across country through Milford, Farnham, Odiham and on to Basingstoke. Again, apart from between Milford and Farnham, there are no direct pleasant roads, but if your'e happy to meander through the villages you should be able to plan an enjoyable ride.

>If I do decide to take the train, can I pay with a credit card and what is the policy re: transporting a bicycle?

The railways take all major credit cards.Getting bikes on to trains is a touchy subject in the UK at the moment, as many trains are being replaced with ones that can't take bikes. So long as you're not travelling at peak times and are prepared to keep leaping up and miving your bike out of other people's way, you can usually take it into the compartment with you.

However, it's all at the discretion of the guard (conductor?), and some can be downright unhelpful. If you're up to it and you can get the maps, I'd cycle.


Rob McIvor, June 09, 1997

Tandems -- Britrail or other European trains

"Mark H. Ebell, M.D., M.S." wrote (écrivait) : > Has anyone gotten a tandem on a Britrail or other European train? Are they allowed?

No problems in France when you send it as "bagage accompagne'" (the price list mention tandems, the price is the same as one bike). I don't think there are problems for the the trains that accept bikes (local trains and a few long-distance ones).

I have noticed last year that the local trains in Scotland do not accept tandems.

Jean-Pierre Jacquot, May 26, 1997

Tricycles on Trains in Europe

There are massive differences between the treatment of bicycles and of tricycles. In the UK, bicycles can be taken onto most trains outside rush hours but tricycles typically can only be taken onto trains with guards vans (InterCity trains and very few local trains). This is OK for long-distance travel but you may have to cycle into and out of the cities to get to a station.
In Germany, bicycles can be taken onto all local trains, most InterRegio and very few InterCity trains, making long-distance transportation a problem. About half of these trains are capable of transporting a trike but it is rather difficult to find out which ones. I haven't had much problems with my Kingcycle with front and rear fairing though. It should be possible to send your trikes ahead (this used to be the standard way of getting your bike to a holiday destination).
I think in the Netherlands and in Belgium you can take a bicycle onto almost every train. I assume that again trikes are too bulky for some types of trains.
In France and most of Scandinavia, you have to send the bike in advance though in Scandinavia you can almost rely on the bike being on the same train as you; in France you have to send it two or three days ahead.
Only a limited number of international trains take bicycles; on other trains you may have to get off before the border and get on again on the other side (while the intra-Schengen borders are not manned any more, they still exist in buerocrat's heads).

Mr. Rolf-Martin Mantel, May 01, 1997

UK Rail

Judy Colwell <[email protected]> asked the mailing list: > Isn't it the UK (at least a couple of years ago...perhaps Paul or other UK folks can comment further), you just roll your bike onto the "guard van" (baggage car), strap it to secure it (bungey cord or whatever), and roll it off at your destination.

If you can put your bikes on a train, that's more or less how you do it. However, the situation has been going downhill for some time now. Increasingly many trains either don't carry bikes (a lot of the newer light-rail stock on the branch lines has no space at all), or carry only a seriously-limited number, maybe at seriously-restricted times. (In many cases, this seriously-limited number is '1', which is not much better than none since most touring folk seem to ride in groups of at least 2 or 3.)
In most cases where bikes can be carried, you need to 'reserve' bike spaces on a specific train, which has killed off a lot of our spontaneous train use. ('Reserve' in quotes, since under the terms of the rail companies' ticket contracts, the 'reservation' doesn't actually guarantee that they will let your bike on the train - that's still up to the discretion of the guard. There's even a special dispensation in the general consumer-protection laws to allow them to get away with this. They can even sell you a ticket and then refuse to honour - or refund - it. They are normally not *that* unreasonable, but the mere fact that they've been given that exemption says something about attitude.)
It *is* still possible to combine bikes and trains in the UK (at least for small groups) but it now requires more planning ahead, and it's not a good idea to plan a trip which actually requires you to get onto a specific train, e.g. to get back to the airport 'just in time'. You have to plan in some slack.
The CTC and other groups are applying pressure to try to get things improved, with some hope of success, though I doubt they'll ever get back to the old 'just ride up to the station and get on a train' days. For a bikes-on-trains heaven, try the Irish Republic. 🙂

Paul Smee, May 01, 1997

Bike rental in Cambridge, UK

Rates for runaround bikes - which are more widely available - are considerably less; rates for a Cannondale tandem are somewhat more. Neither do they seem to have many of each type of bicycle for rental, though they may have more stored, I guess. At those sorts of rates I'd have thought you'd probably do better to bring your own.

                        Matthew King              /\      ----  __o       Emmanuel College         /\/~~/\  - ----    _`\<_      Cambridge  CB2 3AP       /~~\ /~~\    ---- (*)/(*)    Tel/Fax 01223 322838     /    /    \  =======================================================   
Matt King, April 12, 1997

Canadian Airlines

Trip 1: 1993 - Heathrow (UK) - Vancouver (BC) Calgary (Alberta) - Heathrow (UK)
Canadian Airlines
Bike boxed up & well padded, having no faith in the baggage handlers. Although it was not specified the bike had to be boxed, I'm sure it was worth the extra bit of effort involved. Panniers were the second piece of luggage and no problems were encountered, check-in operators very helpful. On the way back, finding a box in Calgary and then transporting it back to the airport was interesting, I was told there were no boxes at the airport. A very generous taxi driver spotted me struggling with this big box and took me to the airport for nothing.

Dave Bute, April 07, 1997

Continental Airlines

Trip 3: 1996 - Gatwick (UK) - Denver (Colorado) - Tucson (Arizona) - Gatwick (UK)

Once again the bike was packed up, no problems getting it there. Although why is it that bikes are always the last luggage off the plane? On the return journey, I purchased a huge box from Delta airlines for 10 US dollars as Continental didn't have any and required one. They then proceeded to try and charge me 50 US dollars to take the bike home. Only after much protest and consultation with higher beings did they admit they only charged for domestic and not trans-atlantic flights. Back in the UK, it appeared that the box had been repeatedly stabbed with a knife to check the contents, resulting in a few sratches.

Dave Bute, April 07, 1997

London (Heathrow), UK

Excerpted from recent Cyclist's Touring Club press release:
After years of representations by the CTC, Heathrow authorities have installed a red-tarmac cycle route, which is traffic-calmed to slow down cars and make conditions safer for cyclists.

The new cycle route will take cyclists to Terminal 1, and we look forward to comprehensive, safe, cycle routes into and through Heathrow Airport. It's good to see Heathrow looking after its many thousands of cycling customers and employees'.
The leaflet showing the routes is available from the Cyclists' Touring Club, 69 Meadrow, Godalming, Surrey, England. GU7 3HS.
Further Information: CTC e-mail or the CTC Home Page or Sue Hall, Telephone: +44 (0) 1483 417217

David Alexander, January 30, 1997

London (Gatwick), UK

I've flown into both Heathrow and Gatwick twice. It was on my second trip to Gatwick that a friendly airport agent told me how to get to ground level with my loaded bicycle --the "secret" lift. They she gave me a little airport map which showed a footpath into the back streets of Horley. I can't tell you what a convenience that was. If for nothing else, it got me safely out of the airport. If I still had my maps around, I'd tell you exactly what street in Horley, but alas, can't find them.

At Heathrow, I had previously booked a B&B in, of all places, Hounslow! My exit from the airport (and back to the airport) was by taxi with my bike boxed, inasmuch as riding in and riding out of the Heathrow is virtually impossible nowadays without breaking the law.

Thomas M Allen, April 28, 1996

London (Heathrow), UK

Cyclists can now cycle in and out of the central area through the dark and dingy tunnels. Just follow the cycleway signs. Cyclists have priority in the tunnels but share with taxis. Don't let the taxi drivers bully you into pulling over to let them pass. The tunnel roads have speed humps with gaps in the middle for cyclists.

Other details you have relating to trains is somewhat out of date. Intending cyclists from overseas should be aware that with privatisation the situation changes almost daily!! Cyclists could write to the Cycle Touring Club, 69 Meadrow 2C Godalming, Surrey, England for the latest info. They should enclose more than adequate return postage for an airmail reply.

See also Heathrow & UK Trains

Good luck.

CHRIS BRADY, April 08, 1996

London (Heathrow), UK

I try and avoid Heathrow, because it's so bicycle unfriendly compared with Gatwick or Stansted. However, I have taken my bike through Heathrow more than once. The tunnel is better than you might imagine, because you do not have to cycle with the motor vehicles. Instead, on the northern side you have the 'luxury' of a dirty, dark walkway which you are allowed to cycle along. This walkway is on the left hand side as you leave the airport, so there's no need to cross the very busy lanes of traffic. Far less pleasant is the fact that you then need to cycle along the A4, a 3 lane dual carriageway.

If you can square it with your conscience, then there's no need to cycle _in_ through the tunnel. Cycle to an overground section of the London Underground. If you're going through town, it needs to be one of the lines that doesn't run in a 'tube', e.g. the District line is fine. You can take a bike on the district line from any station east of Aldgate East (i.e. from Whitechapel outwards), or presumably starting from Earls Court in a westerly direction. Buy a ticket to Hounslow West (the official stop) for cyclists. Transfer to the Piccadilly line at one of the stations west of earls Court that shares the platform with the District line. (All perfectly above board so far.) Forget to get off at Hounslow West, instead get off the train at Heathrow. The station staff will allow you to get off here as otherwise they would be forcing you to break the regulations that forbid you to take your bike in the 'tube' that you have just travelled in. However, returning from Heathrow, no matter how convincing your tan and foreign accent is, you will not be able to enter the station at Heathrow and will be pointed at the delights of the tunnel and A4, along which you will find Hounslow West tube station.

OBfantasy: If only train and coach operators were as cycle friendly as international airlines.

Jan (with the well travelled Chas Roberts).

Jan Wysocki, September 26, 1994

UK Rail

Don't know whether or not the leaflet says so explicitly, but it is always true that the carrying of 'bulky' luggage (including bikes) is at the discretion of the guard. (For the non-UK readers, the 'guard' is the member of the train crew responsible for, among other things, the baggage area. Adding in his (rarely, her) other duties, he's roughly equivalent to the US 'conductor'.)

This has a couple of side effects, which probably boil down to the warning 'don't piss off the guard'.

First, even with your reservation, if the guard does not believe there is room on the train for your bike, there isn't. Even if the guard's van (baggage compartment) is empty. The only thing the reservation really means is that they will let you put your bike on some train, sometime between now and the end of the world. Problems don't happen very often, but it is a real enough possibility that you should not put yourself into a position where you absolutely HAVE to get on a particular train - e.g. to get back to an airport for a flight. Leave some slack.

Second, (flip side) if the guard is in a particularly good mood, you might get away with more. We managed, one wet day, to convince the guard to let us put 3 bikes on his 'only carries one bike' train, rather than making us wait in the rain for the next 'big' train which was due a couple hours later. Don't count on this, of course, but it is worth a (polite) try.

Paul Smee, Computing Service, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UD, UK [email protected] - Tel +44 272 303132 - FAX +44 272 291576

Mr. Rolf-Martin Mantel, June 30, 1994

Kiev, Ukraine (Borispoil)

Good Road - Very few cars or bikes for that matter. [Editor's Note: I'm not exactly sure of the contact email address.]
Contact: Shannon Matthews in Kiev for Bike Rides 044-7- 7-044-293-9168

Shannon Matthews, April 18, 1994

Birmingham, UK

Birmingham, UK - Busy roads, good access to rail network though (if you can get permission to put your bike on the train!)

Mike Froggatt, April 13, 1994

Edinburgh, UK

Edinburgh Easy access by road (10 miles from City centre).

Dave Nastaszczuk, April 11, 1994

London (Gatwick), UK

Easy access by train.
Change at Clapham Junction for connections to other trains in the S of England Personal preference for flyers to London: If I had the choice, I'd fly to Gatwick rather than Heathrow. Gatwick is much quieter.

Dave Nastaszczuk, April 11, 1994

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