Author Archives: David Henshaw

Electric Bikes over £1,300

We’ve finally given up on listing all the electric bikes on a single page, so we now only publish this ‘Over £1,300’ table. Please contact us if you see any errors or omissions on this page. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, we can only accurately list your products if you keep us informed. Remember, this page is used by thousands of potential customers.

Our Electric Bike Recommendations
We prefer to road-test electric bikes for the magazine before recommending them, electric-bikesbut with so many now available, our recommendations are in most cases based on spec and price, rather than actual experience. If you are thinking of buying a bike, check our comments about the manufacturers too. If we have not had meaningful contact with the distributor, they’re either very new or avoiding independent comment! We will not generally list distributors unable or unwilling to provide a UK phone number and address.

Electric Bikes and the Law
Electrically-assisted bicycles can be ridden by anyone aged 14 or over, provided the bicycle weighs 40kg or less (60kg for a tandem or tricycle), has pedals, a motor of less than 200 watts continuous output (250 watts for a tandem or tricycle), and a top speed of less than 15mph. However, the situation is currently a bit confused – see Legislation Update
Those marked Pedelec in the tables are definitely legal.
Those marked Hybrid (switchable between pedelec and twistgrip throttle) or E-Bike (twistgrip only) are 100% legal if built before January 2016, and remained legal to buy from old stock after this date, so there are still a few about. In practise, the police have plenty of bigger things to think about in these difficult times. There are thousands of older models in circulation and no easy way to judge the age, so our advice is don’t worry too much.

The battery guarantee is the most important thing, particularly with the bigger batteries, which can cost more than a cheap bike. Be wary of odd stipulations, because there are many loopholes a manufacturer can use to refuse to honour a battery guarantee. Where the warranty is marked with a question mark, the manufacturer does not provide clear guidance, but you have certain statutory rights.
As a guide, a 24-month battery guarantee is now the norm, but unless the battery has actually failed, you’ll have problems proving how weak it is, because voltage and capacity are imprecise things, so it’s often your word against the dealers. More expensive bikes have diagnostic plug-ins, proving battery condition, and lifetime usage. This should settle warranty disputes, but not necessarily in your favour.

All batteries in this category are now Lithium-ion technology
Direct drive to tyre  
Front/Rear Hub:
Hub motor
Front/Rear Chain:
Separate chain drive
Crank-mounted motor
Power only available when you pedal
Power independent of pedals – usually a twistgrip throttle
Pedelec/E-Bike switchable
The bikes we recommend are marked in

Recently Deleted Entries:

Bikes recently removed from the list (usually out-of-production, but may just have lost UK distribution). If we have made a mistake, please let us know: Aug 2007 Bliss City, Touring, Extreme & Townrider, Classic Elebike, City Cruiser 6-spd, Commuter, Diavelo Oja velo Jun 2007 Ecobike Tornado and varients Aug 2007 ElectroPed Number One, Europed ED-1, Europed THD-3, Infineon Stingray ll, Oxygen Atala Avenue, Oxygen Atala Distance, Panther, Power Cruiser 6-spd Nov 2007 ElectroPed Roadstar, Eco-Bike Mistral Jul 2008 Schwinn (all models) Aug 2008 Sakura (all models) Nov 2008 Bright Bikes (all models) Jan 2009 C V Leisure Bikes (all models) Apr 2009 Nano Brompton, Giant Suede Mar 2010 Ridgeback Cyclone April 2010 Quiet Bikes, Strongman July 2010 Batribike Buzz & Lite, Izip X-cell & Trailz Enlightened, Powabyke Shopper 1-spd, Euro 6-spd, Folder, Commuter 24-spd, Velospeed Nov 2010 Powablade, E-Bike Retro, Sustain Edison, E-Pegasus Z-1, E-Bike Cruiser, Izip MTB Trailz, Powerscoots, Giant Twist Express RS1 24spd derailleur, Giant Twist Freedom CS Lite 8-spd Nexus, Giant Twist Freedom CS 8-spd Nexus Apr 2010 Optibike, Swiss Flyer, Swizzbee, Feb 2014 Ezee Dahon Bullet models) Aug 2008 Sakura (all models) Nov 2008 Bright Bikes (all models) Jan 2009 C V Leisure Bikes (all models) Apr 2009 Nano Brompton, Giant Suede March 2010 Ridgeback Cyclone Apr 2010 Quiet Bikes, Strongman July 2010 Batribike Buzz & Lite, Izip X-cell & Trailz Enlightened, Powabyke Shopper 1-spd, Euro 6-spd, Folder, Commuter 24-spd, Velospeed Nov 2010 Powablade, E-Bike Retro, Sustain Edison, E-Pegasus Z-1, E-Bike Cruiser, Izip MTB Trailz, Powerscoots, Giant Twist Express RS1 24spd derailleur, Giant Twist Freedom CS Lite 8-spd Nexus, Giant Twist Freedom CS 8-spd Nexus Apr 2010 Optibike, Swiss Flyer, Swizzbee, Feb 2014 Ezee Dahon Bullet, Nov 2017 Bronx Sunrunner, Cargo Bike School Run, Kudos Escape, Giant Twist Lite 1W, Volt Pulse, Micro Prism and Micro Prism, Sparta Country Tour, Cargo Bike Co Bench Bike, Oxygen e-Mate City, Kudos Eiger, Urban Commuter UCR-60, Gazelle Chamonix Pure Innergy, Yuba el Mundo, Gepida Bleda, Harrington Classic, Kettler (all models), AVE Bosch Edition, Smart, Polaris (all models), BH-Emotion Neo Carbon and Neo Race, most KTM bikes, Swiss Flyer folder series, AVE SH-1, Koga range, Moustache NuVinci models, Solexity Smart, Heinzmann Atlas eMB, SEV range, Kalkhoff Inegrale S11, Kalkhoff Sports Class bikes, AVE range

Errors & Omissions: Please contact us if you see any errors or omissions on this page. If you are a manufacturer or distributor, we can only accurately list your products if you keep us informed. Remember, this page is used by thousands of potential customers.

1) We don’t recommend machines that fail to meet ANY of the following criteria, other than in special circumstances:

  • Must weigh less than 25kg
  • No bikes with less than a 24-month battery guarantee
  • No single speed machines
  • If it has multiple gears, top gear must exceed 60-inches
  • No tyres of 305mm or smaller
  • Must have mudguards and lights
  • No scooter-style machine with vestigial pedals
  • No micro-scooters

Electric Bikes Over £1,300 (UK)

Manufacturer Model Control / Drive Battery Guarantee Battery Size Latest  Update UK Price Notes
Giant Ease E+2 Pedelec / Front Hub ?? 300Wh 2017 £1299 Sensible, well-equipped bike, but small battery
EBCO Urban City UCL-30 Pedelec / Front Hub  24 months 396Wh 2017 £1399 We don’t like rack-mounted batteries, but otherwise, well equipped
Powered Bicycles Londoner Pedelec / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1400 Nasty little thing, completely outclassed at this price
Powered Bicycles Free Spirit 2 Ultralight E-bike / Front Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1599 Much too expensive for a battery of this capacity, and not especially light
Giant Escape Hybrid 2 E+ Pedelec / Rear Gearless Hub 24 months 317Wh 2017 £1399 Revamped, but smallish battery and probably a bit weak for UK conditions
Lifecycle Traveller Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 648Wh 2017 £1399 FOLDING. Outrageous price for this, but quite a big battery
Volt Burlington Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh 2017 £1480
Cytronex Bobbin Blackbird Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months or 300 charges 180Wh 2017 £1450 Representative starting price for Cytronex C1 kit fitted to almost any new bike
PoweredBicycles City Mantra Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1459 Horribly expensive for the spec
Volt Pulse Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 432Wh 2017 £1499 A bit expensive for the spec. £1699 with 576Wh battery, or £1999 in ‘X’ form for no obvious benefit
Gazelle Puur NL C7+ HFP Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 238Wh 2017 £1499 Love it or hate it – wacky city bike with mega front rack. You have to pay more for decent battery
Powered Bicycles Mantra Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1460 Utterly out-classed at this price
Solex Solexity Comfort Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh 2017 £1499 Rather disappointing spec, but interesting Pininfarina styling. Disastrous UK dealer back-up. 360Wh battery seems to be an extra 200 Euros
Juicy Bike Merlin Hybrid / Rear Hub 12 months 300Wh 2017 £1499 Much too expensive for the spec. Also with bigger batteries for more £££
Fat-E Fat-tyred MTB Pedelec /Rear Hub 12 months 360Wh 2017 £1499 New in late 2017… fat-tyred MTB
Gazelle Orange C7 HFP Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 238Wh 2017 £1499 Classic well-equipped Dutch roadster, but you have to pay more for decent battery. Also C7+ at £1799 with boingy forks, and C8 with 8-speed hub
Mobiky Youri 16 Front Hub 12 months 143Wh 2017 1599 Euro 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and tiny battery. You can double the battery capacity for an extra 200 Euro
Wisper 806 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 324Wh 2017 £1499 FOLDING A premium for the brand name – much too expensive for what it is
EBCO Urban Commuter UCR-60 or UCL-60 Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 396Wh 2017 £1499 On the way out
Powered Bicycles Galileo Big Eye Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 306Wh 2017 £1500 Unsatisfactory MTB. Would be OK at £999
Juicy Bikes Roller Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 12 months 380Wh 2017 £1585 Much too expensive for the spec. Also with bigger batteries for more £££
EBCO Eagle Lifestyle LRS-50 or LSL-50 Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 360Wh 2017 £1599 Bizarre styling and modest battery capacity, for quite big money
Saxonette X Road Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 324Wh 2017 £1599 The most boring Saxonette… basically a Chinese bike
Saxonette Beast Pedelec / Front Hub 24 months 378Wh 2017 £1599 Easy Rider styling
Cube Cross Hybrid Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1599 Ill-equipped cross bike, but seems to be entry-level Bosch system. Great value
Kalkhoff Pro Connect 9G or i9 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh 2017 £1695 This is a reduced price in late 2017, and great value for a properly equipped eBike
Heinzmann PAN e-TR-G Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 398Wh 2017 £1749 Quality German bike with good spec, but seem to be struggling in UK. Also e-TR-U with 515Wh downtube battery at £1799
Urban City UCL-40 Pedelec / TransX Crank Motor 24 months 396Wh 2017 £1699 New crank motor – bit of an unknown, be cautious
Mobiky Youri Front Hub 12 months 324Wh 2017 £1699 16-inch FOLDER. Breath-taking price for a bike with a poor fold and so-so battery.
KTM Macina Force 27 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1699 Good value MTB
Solex Solexity Infinity Pedelec / Front Hub 18 months 288Wh 2017 £1848 Stylish, but small battery, conventional spec and disastrous UK dealer back-up. 432Wh battery extra £200
Beatbike i7 Suspension Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £1695 Kalkhoff model ‘fine-tuned’ for the UK, and great value. As an introductory offer, you can get two for £3,000. Unbeatable
LifeCycle Alpine Sport or Mountain Sport Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 648Wh 2017 £1799 Dreary Far Eastern spec at premium price, but big battery
Infinium Continental Pedelec / Front Hub ? 234Wh 2017 £1699 Very expensive. The bike has stackable batteries of this capacity, but extra batteries cost £325. Seems to be on the way out
FreeGo Martin Sport Pedelec / Crank Drive 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 418Wh 2017 £1449 Rather dubious crank motor, and this is a seriously discounted price
Wisper 705 or 905 Classic Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months (activated at >30% capacity loss) 592Wh 2017 £1699 Big battery, but fundamentally a conventional bike at a premium price
Giant Entour E+2 Disc Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 300Wh 2017 £1699 Well-equipped and practical, but smallish battery in the wrong position
Raleigh Captus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh 2017 £1750 New Bosch-based Raleigh. Small battery and lacking basic equipment
Kalkhoff Agattu i7 HS
Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £1845 Only 7 gears, but you really don’t need more… it’s an eBike. Well-equipped classic
Giant Entour E+ 1 Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 300Wh 2017 £1799 All-in-all, a well-equipped bike for the money, but battery is small and badly positioned
KTM Macina Cross 8-400 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1799 Yet another MTB with 8-spd Nexus hub.
Cube Access Hybrid One Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1599 Cheapest Cube, also pricier ‘Race’ and ‘SL’ variants
Smart ebike Pedelec / BionX Gearless Rear Hub 24 months or 600 charges (activated at >30% capacity loss) 423Wh 2017 £1800 Cool styling, interesting transmission: belt drive, 3-spd hub, BionX-based motor, but seems to have failed in the UK and may already be withdrawn
Haibike sDuro HardSeven 4.0
Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1800 Yamaha crank motor, but seems to be discounted, which doesn’t look so good
Spencer Ivy step-thru or top tube Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 208Wh 2017 £1795 Stylish retro-chic bikes. Small Panasonic battery can be upgraded, but does this bike really exist?
Gepida Reptila 900 or 1000 NX8 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Nice East European bike – used to be cheap as chips. SLX10 extra £50
KTM Macina 8 or Fun 9 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1899 Good value, with Bosch 400Wh battery
Haibike sDuro HardFour Kids 2.0 Yamaha Crank Motor ?? 400Wh 2017 £1999 Unusual eBike aimed at children from 8 years or very small adults. Also HardSeven 1.0 for grown-ups
Bergamont E-Horizon 6.0
Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Good, but slightly samey e-bike from Germany
Nano Brompton 2.1 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months (activated at >15% capacity loss) 144 to 468Wh 2017 From £1900 FOLDING. Getting expensive, but still our favourite. The twistgrip and thumb-lever versions are best
Volt Pulse X Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 576Wh 2017 £1949 Big battery, but breathtakingly expensive for what it is
BH Emotion Evo (Lite range) Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 400Wh 2017 £1899 Range encompasses two frame styles and numerous bikes, but all technically the same
Mando Footloose iM Pedelec / Chainless Electric Drive 24 months 300Wh 2017 £1999 Folding bike with technically fascinating chainless electric drive. Now much cheaper
Raleigh Motus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £1999 Well equipped Raleigh
LifeCycle Mountain Sport Endurance Hybrid / Rear Hub 24 months 1008Wh  2017 £1999 Pricey Far Eastern bike – lacking equipment, except for Tecktro hydraulic discs, and mammoth battery gives up to 100 mile range
Sparta R20i Pedelec / Gearless Front Hub 24 months 300Wh  2017 £1999 Quiet, well-equipped Dutch roadster, but weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
Gepida Alboin 1000 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2349 Pricey and undistinguished
Bergamont E-Horizon range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2249 Starting price for vast range, some more expensive. We can’t be bothered to list them all
KTM Macina Cross 10 Plus Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £1999 Now rather cheaper than it was
Kalkhoff Tasman i8 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh 2017 £2095 10% discount in late 2017
Sparta F8i Pedelec / Gearless Rear Hub 24 months 300Wh 2017 £2238 Quiet, well-equipped Dutch roadster, but weak for hillier areas. Bigger batteries (up to 600Wh) cost quite a bit more
Raleigh Strada Elite Pedelec / Shimano Steps Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh 2017 £2250 Typical MTB with new Shimano crank-drive
Sparta M8i  Accell Pedelec / Crank Motor  24 months 300Wh 2017 £2338 Nice Dutch roadster, and the best Sparta for hills, but you really want a bigger battery, up to £300 extra
Moustache Lundi 26.1 9spd Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 300Wh 2017 £2399 Neat French bikes, but you don’t need to pay this much for this equipment!
Bergamont E-REVOX range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2349 Starting price for mind-numbingly big range of MTBs
Giant Explore E+2 Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Drive ?? 407Wh 2017 £2399 Not cheap, but a well-equipped, multi-purpose machine. The E+1 is £200 more for gears you don’t need
Cube Town Hybrid range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2495 Good German bikes, but not the cheapest
Gocycle G3 Pedelec / Front Hub 12 months 300Wh 2017 £2499 FOLDING BIKE. Not cheap, but they’re elegant machines and reasonably compact
BH-Emotion Evo (standard range) Pedelec / Rear Hub Motor 24 months 500Wh  2017 £2499 Battery neatly integrated into the frame. Two frame styles and five models, but all technically the same
Gepida Asgard 1000cx Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh  2017 £2499 MTB. Also 1000 FS Comp with smaller 400Wh battery at £2899. Why?
Sparta E-Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2499 28mph SPORT CLASS. Currently the cheapest Sport bike, but battery could be bigger
Riese & Muller Cruiser range  Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor  24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2520 Starting price for Busch & Muller. Numerous models and battery options cost much more!
Koga E-Deluxe Pedelec / Rear Hub 24 months 300Wh 2017 £2599 Entry level Koga, but rear hub motor is not best suited to hilly UK
Moustache Samedi 28.3 or XRoad Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £2699 £300 more than the Lundi for one extra gear and an extra 100Wh on the battery
Swiss Flyer B Series 5-1 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2595 That Swiss branding is adding £500. Is it really worth it?
Kalkhoff Agattu Premium 8G Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £2095 Nice bike, and now £600 cheaper, but still not super value
BH-Emotion (Pro range) Pedelec / Rear Hub motor 24 months 600Wh 2017 £2799 Starting price. Several frames and bikes, but all technically the same. Nice to see a non-Bosch bike at this level, but is the rear hub motor better?
Raleigh Mustang Comp Pedelec / Shimano Steps Crank Motor 24 months 400Wh  2017 £2800 Interesting bike, but no equipment as it’s Raleigh
Moustache Friday 27.3 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £2899 We’ve said it before… you can pay virtually half this for similar spec
Giant  Dirt-E+2 Pro Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor  ??  500Wh 2017 £2299 Massive discount on the price. Not sure why
Reise & Muller Roadster Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2925 28mph SPORT CLASS.
Kalkhoff Integrale 10  Pedelec / Kalkohff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £2795 Discounted to £2795
Cube Stereo Hybrid range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2995 Starting price for potty range of expensive MTBs
Swiss Flyer Flyer C-Series and T-Series 8.1 Pedelec / Panasonic Crank Motor 24 months 540Wh 2017 £2995 Bit pricey thanks to ‘Swiss’ branding
Winora Yakun Urban Pedelec / Yamaha Crank Motor ? 500Wh 2017 £2895 Somewhat discounted… may not be a winner
Swiss Flyer UpRoc3 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3395 Far too expensive for a 400Wh battery. TX7.0 is £3895 and even worse value
Riese & Muller Charger range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3059 Great bikes from Germany, but are they worth that much more? Three battery options up to 1,000Wh
KTM Macina Race 292 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3099 Very expensive MTB
Moustache Lundi 26.5 Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh  2017 £3099 This is an awful lot to pay for a nice, but unexciting shopping bike with NuVinci drive
Haibike sDuro 6.0, 7.0 and 8.0 range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3299 Starting price for vast range of Bosch-powered MTBs at chunky prices
Koga E-Nova Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3380 NuVinci or Shimano auto hubs
Bergamont E-CONTRAIL Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3399 Starting price fr ludicrously expensive MTB range
Moustache Dimanche 28 Speed Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £2950 28mph SPORT CLASS. There are cheaper Sport class bikes, but not many weighing 18.7kg. Discounted end of line price.
Cube Nutrail Hybrid 500 Fat Bike Pedelec / Bosch Crank Drive 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3495 Fun fat bike for those with oodles of spare cash
Kalkhoff Integrale i8 Pedelec / Kalkhoff Crank Motor 24 months 612Wh  2017 £3295 Gates belt drive and super lights, but little else to justify the price
Gepida Thoris Tandem Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh  2017 £3599 Claimed to be the only Bosch-equipped e-Tandem
Reise & Muller Packster 40 City Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 400Wh 2017 £3599 Cargo or child-carryer bike with Bosch assist. Also 40 Touring and longer 60 Touring
Koga E-WorldTraveller Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £3650 Bosch-powered version of classic tough-as-boots touring bike
Reise & Muller Charger Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 1,000Wh  2017 £4295 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Yes, you could buy a small car for that, but with twin Bosch batteries and superlative equipment, this is something a bit special. Also Supercharger trim for £4315
Riese & Muller Homage Touring HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £4675 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
Riese & Muller Delite MTB range Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £5400 Also with twin batteries at £6025
Stromer ST2 S Syno Drive Sport ?? 983Wh 2017 £5995 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
A limited edition says 50 Cycles, and it’s not surprising but you really do have moped performance and range here
Reise & Muller Delite GX Rohloff HS Pedelec / Bosch Crank Motor 24 months or 500 charges 500Wh 2017 £6025 28mph SPORT CATEGORY
R&M love to break the price boundary, but it’s not really clear what makes this worth SO much more than the other Sport bikes?

Electric Bike Manufacturers or UK distributors

The comments relate to our own experience with manufacturers or distributors. As a general rule, a company that supplies a good product can afford to be open and helpful with the press, and will give good service and back-up. The others are something of an unknown quantity, but if you think we’ve been unfair, do let us know. For a global list go to Electric Bike Manufacturers Worldwide

3E Electric
Still quite new
3E Ltd, 2 Field End, BARNET, Hertfordshire EN5 3EZ
tel: 033 3355 1840

Newly launched scooter-style machine
Around Town Scooters, Flat 4, Plantation Court, 41 Plantation Road, POOLE BH17 9LW
tel: 01202 640264

A S Bikes
Still fairly new
Coppice Close, Leamington Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, COVENTRY CV8 3FL
tel: 024 7630 3228

AVE, Bergamont, EBCO
Cheapie EBCOs and pricey but good AVE and Bergamont
Electric Bike Corporation, 5 Pegasus House, Olympic Way, WARWICK CV34 6LW
tel: 01926 437700

Avocet Sports Ltd
New to the electric bike world
Unit 7-9 Shield Drive, Wardley Industrial Estate, Worsley, MANCHESTER M28 2QB
tel: 0161 727 8508

Now well established
Fallowgate Limited, Kellaway House, Marton Road, Sturton-by-Stow, LINCOLN LN1 2AH
tel: 01427 787774

Bicycles 4U
Helpful and Proactive
Kaitek Trading Ltd, c/o Sterling Power Products, Unit 8 Wassage Way, Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, DROITWICH WR9 0NX
tel: 01905 778751

Cracking technology in theory, but expensive and unreliable.
Correspondence only: BionX UK, 68 Boxworth End, Swavesey, CAMBRIDGE CB24 4RA
tel: 01223 911505

Always friendly, but wow are they expensive bikes
Riese und Müller GmbH, Haasstraße 6, 64293 DARMSTADT, Germany
tel: +49 6151 366860

BH Emotion
No UK Distributor at present

Cheerful purveyors of Chinese stuff
Unit 4, Downley Business Park, 12 Downley Park, HAVANT PO9
tel: 023 92 488300

A growing company
Bronx (UK) Ltd, Unit 4, Crusader Industrial Estate, Stirling Road, HIGH WYCOMBE. HP12 3ST
tel: 01494 529980

Outdated friction drive
Decathlon UK, Canada Water Retail Park, Surrey Quays Road, LONDON SE16 2XU
tel: 0345 450 7936

Cambridge, Smarta, Sparticle (Brompton)
Well established and fairly knowledgeable
Electric Transport Shop, Hope Street Yard, Hope Street, CAMBRIDGE CB1 3NA (also in LONDON, OXFORD & BRISTOL)
tel/fax: 01223 247410

Claude Butler
New to the electric bike world
Falcon Cycles Ltd, PO Box 3, Bridge Street, BRIGG DN20 8PB
tel: 01652 656000

New to the electric bike world
Sports PLC, Units 3 & 4 Lower Park Farm, Storrage Lane, ALVECHURCH, Worcestershire B48 7ER
tel: 01527 598388

Very serious player in a market that can be a bit flie-by-night
Cytronex Electric Bikes, 7 Bridge Street, WINCHESTER SO23 9BH
tel: 01962 866122
email: via website

Di Blasi, Justwin, Transmission
Long-established traders
Mission Cycles & Components, Unit 3, The Alders, Seven Mile Lane, Mereworth, MAIDSTONE, Kent M18 5JG
tel: 01622 815615

Still run by Mr Hon Senior after departure of nearly everyone else to Tern. Now represented in the UK by Raleigh
Raleigh UK Ltd, Church Street, Eastwood, NOTTINGHAM NG 16 3HT
tel: 01773 532680

Easy Ride
New and enthusiastic
Easy Ride Bikes, Silver Business Park, Airfield Way, CHRISTCHURCH, Dorset
tel: 01202 490404

New to us in 2016
Electric Bike Conversions, Unit 9, Pound Farm Industrial Estate, Holly Bush Lane, Datchworth SG3 6RE
tel: 01438 986007

This is Tony Castles, the most knowledgable man in electric bikes, and thoroughly charming, but not always easy to contact
E-go Personal Transport, 52 High Street, MARLBOROUGH, Wiltshire SN8 1HQ
tel: 07974 723996 or 01672 861186 / 512404

Probably never heard of A to B
Thorrington Cross, COLCHESTER, Essex CO7 8JD
tel: 01206 308054

Online sales from new UK start-up
tel: 07793 207 409

Freedom Ebike
Nice people with a Brompton-shaped niche
10/3 HaMelitz Street, JERUSALEM, Israel
tel: (UK) 0871 284 5225 tel: (Israel) +052 500 1309 tel: (Australia) +02 8004 5039

FreeGo & Solex
This new grouping, brought together Freego and the long-established Wisper, but they’ve gone their separate ways, so it’s FreeGo only. Very unfriendly and helpful with us!
FreeGo, 3 St Deny’s Road, SOUTHAMPTON SO17 2NG
tel: 02380 465977

Extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Cycle Heaven, 2 Bishopthorpe Road, YORK YO23 1JJ
tel: 01904 636578 / 651870 mail:

Gepida, Swiss Flyer
Good bikes distributed by a rather aggressive bunch in Taunton
Reaction Electric eBike Distribution, 84 Priory Bridge Road, TAUNTON TA1 1QA
tel: 01823 27444

Helpful in the past, but they never contact us today
Giant UK Ltd, Charnwood Edge, Syston Road, COSSINGTON, Leics, LE7 4UZ
tel: 0844 245 9030

Refuses to acknowledge that we exist
KarbonKinetics Ltd, New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, LONDON EC4V 6BJ
tel: 01268 288208

Came and went very rapidly, but now seems to be a brand owned by E-Bikes Direct
E-Bikes Direct, c/o MTF Enterprises Ltd, Unit 6 Midicy Oast, Bodiam Business Park, BODIAM TN32 5UP
tel: 01580 830959

There appears to be no UK distributor for Izip in early 2015

Juicy Bikes
Really lovely people
Busy All Year, 83 Park Road, BUXTON, Derbyshire SK17 6SM
tel: 01298 214040

Kalkhoff, BeatBike
Long-established, helpful and friendly
50cycles Ltd, Unit 9, Prince William Road, LOUGHBOROUGH, Leicestershire LE11 5GU
tel: 0844 800 5979

The UK arm doesn’t NOT want to handle electric bikes…
Kettler (GB) Ltd, Merse Road, North Moons Moat, REDDITCH, Worcestershire B98 9HL
tel: 0845 026 5995

New, and pushing hard in the UK market
FLi Distribution Ltd, 62 Quarry Clough, Stalybridge, Cheshire SK15 2RW
tel: 0161 304 8555

New, but innovative and keen to develop the electric market
Kudos Cycles, Unit 4, S Augustine’s Business Park, Estuary Way, SWALECLIFFE, Kent CT5 2QJ
tel: 01227 792792

Major High Street brand selling own Carrera label and some other bikes

Harrington, Lifecycle
New, brash and full of beans
Electric Bike World, 54 Bedford Place, Southampton, SO15 2DT
tel: 02380 236 540

Mobiky, Ecobike
New, but helpful and friendly
Cycling Made Easy, 18 Chipstead Valley Road, COULSDON, Surrey, CR5 2RA
tel: 0208 660 8823

There appears to be no UK distributor in early 2015

Momentum Electric
New, young team, but helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Momentum, Unit 9, Cornelius Drebbel House, 5 Empson Street, LONDON E3 3LT
Tel: 0333 011 7777

Lovely people – helpful, friendly and knowledgeable
Velospeed, The Old School House, ALDWORTH, Berkshire RG8 9TJ
tel: 01635 579304

Nano & Nano-Brompton
Under new management and much more organised
Nano Electric Bikes Ltd, 58 Clarendon Street, LEAMINGTON SPA CV32 4PE
tel: 01926 334050 or 0845 094 2735

Seems to be choosing its bikes well
Eco Transport Solutions Ltd, 4 Howmic Court, Arlington Road, EAST TWICKENHAM, TW1 2BD
tel: 0208 4040 782

UK distributor of Polaris stuff seems to have dropped e-Bikes
MotoGB, White Bear Yard, Park Road, Adlington, CHORLEY PR7 4HZ
tel: 0844 412 8450

Industry stalwart
Powabyke Ltd, 3 Wood Street, Queens Square, BATH BA1 2JQ
tel: 0845 6011475

Previously used a confusing variety of names, now much simpler
Powered Bicycles, 50-52 Main Street, Long Eaton, NOTTINGHAM NG10 1GN
tel: 01159 727201 or 728251

Relatively new company and interesting bikes
Joule Bikes, 24 Beechwood Rise, PLYMOUTH PL6 8AP
tel: 0843 218 4762

Made some effort for a while, but doesn’t really get electrics
Raleigh UK Ltd, Church Street, Eastwood, NOTTINGHAM NG 16 3HT
tel: 01773 532680

New player, conventional bikes, but the web photography is lovely
Roodog Ltd, Brockholme Farm, Seaton Road, HORNSEA, Yorkshire East Riding, HU18 1BZ
tel: 01964 536570

Sachs, Saxonette
Obligatory sideline for unwilling motorcycle distributor
SFM, Three Cross Motorcycles, Unit 8, Victory Close, Woolsbridge Industrial Estate, Three Legged Cross, Dorset BH21 6SP
tel: 01202 810100

UK dealer, but is not handling Schwinn electrics
Reece Cycles, 100 Alcester Road, BIRMINGHAM B12 0QB
tel: 0121 622 0192`

Innovative electric bike from Mercedes Benz, but seems dead in the UK
Daimler AG, smart/MM, H336, Mercedesstr 137, 70327 STUTTGART, Germany
tel: 0808 000 8080

Sparta, Babboe, Haibike, Mando
Fairly new, but seems to be doing everything right
Just ebikes, Old Chapel Works, Valley Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4AQ
tel: 01728 830 817

Spencer Ivy
Had a new Dorset-based distributor, but they seem to have disappeared very quickly
Chalmington Farm, Chalmington, DORCHESTER DT2 0HB
tel: 020 7099 1130

Sparticle (see Cambridge)

Storck Raddar
New UK distributor for top-end German bikes, but seems to have dropped electrics
Storck Raddar UK Ltd, 10 Keel Row, The Watermark, Gateshead NE11 9SZ
tel: 0771 5005626

Cheerful cheapies from Harrow. Seems to be out of business (Oct 2014)
Sustain Cycles, Unit 121, State House, 176 Station Road, HARROW, Middlesex HA1 2AE
tel: 0800 0432453

Team Hybrid
Specialises in wheelchairs and hand-powered electrics
Team Hybrid, ‘Silverstone’, Chapel Road, SOBERTON HEATH, Hampshire SO32 3PP
tel: 01329 830117

There appears to be no UK distributor for Technium from 2014

Now out of electric bikes, we think
Unit B, Maidstone Road, MILTON KEYNES, MK10 0BE
tel: 01908 282626

Long established and reliable electrical wholesaler
Thompson Electrical (Wholesalers) Ltd, Perrywood Trading Park, Wylds Lane, WORCESTER WR5 1DZ
tel: 01905 763376

New entrant, but very helpful so far
e-motion Electric Vehicle Company, 373 Cricklade Road, SWINDON SN2 1AQ
tel: 01793 251200

Velorbis Concept Store, Peter Bangs Vej 53, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen 2000
tel: +45 31 11 00 30

Rapidly developing a name for itself
Electric Bike Store, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen Street, LONDON SE1 1YT
tel: 020 7378 4728

Low-end brand, competitive prices, some good products
Woosh Bikes Ltd, 42-46 Queens Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1NL
tel: 01702 435566

Selling new, neat-looking folding electric bike
Yachtmail Chandlery, Admirals Court, Town Quay, LYMINGTON SO41 3ET
tel: 01590 672784

Electric Bike Battery Refurbishment

A few specialists exist, but not many that know electric bikes. We keep coming back to BatteryBay of Cannock, West Midlands

Electric Motor and Battery Manufacturers Worldwide

Electric motor and battery manufacturers







Electric Bike Manufacturers by Motor and Battery System
Compiled by Richard Peace of Excellent Books, and co-author of Electric Bicycles

Crank Motors

Bafang   Formerly known as 8 Fun or Suzhou Bafang. 2015 saw a major launch of their crank drive (Max Drive) with a  European office and major  European brands adopting the drive. Also make geared hub motors and numerous kits.

Bofeili   Chinese maker with distinctive looking circular crank drive. Popular in Canada and the US as eProdigy.

Bosch   European crank drive market leader from the 2010s but rapidly being caught up by Shimano.

Brose   German manufacturer of crank motor initially popular on high end mountain bikes but now appearing on many other design too. Also the basis of the belt drive CeBS system from corporate giant Contitech.

Cevedale   Crank motor housed in the downtube from a company based in Taiwan.

DAPU   Appear to be Japanese designed but with a presence in China. Also make geared and gearless  motors.

Electragil   Unusual disc motor sitting on the non-chainwheel side of the bike. IN LIQUIDATION FROM 2014

Evelo   Easily recognisable by the cylinder under the bike frame. Evelo is US branded but one of the commonest makes of this motor system mass-produced in China. The same motor is also seen branded as Aseako in Austalia.

Greentrans   Taiwanese crank motor.

Kalkhoff Impulse EVO   Version 2 of this high quality German crank drive system has new features, including Shift Sensing for smooth gear changing and Climb Assist for smoothing out power delivery. 612Wh battery also from Kalkhoff. The 2014 version of the Impulse 2 system claimed to be 50% more powerful than the Bosch system and came in 250W and 350W (superfast 28mph rated) versions. From 2015 relaunched system was the Impulse EVO with smartphone compatible display.

MPF   High quality motor used by several high quality manufacturers.

Nidec Copal   Lightweight crank drive from Japan.

Optibike   Website says their crank motors have been ‘designed from the ground up’ and their own branded bikes are ‘hand-built in Boulder Colorado’.

Panasonic   One of the originators of the crank drive, now somewhat behind the game, though they are now venturing into new technical territory with their Multi-Speed Assist crank drive which combines a two speed gearbox with the motor.

Rocky Mountain   Canadian designed e-MTB system with high capacity 48V batteries. 

Shimano Steps   A new relatively light crank motor rapidly gaining ground on market leader Bosch.

TranzX   Part of the JD group which manufactured bike components, TranzX was launched in 1992 to develop electric bike systems.

TQ (Clean Motor)   Claimed weight 4.5kg with pedelec, S-pedelec and e-bike modes. A new 2014 motor now also comes in a 75kmh Race (R-pedelec) version.

Yamaha   PW series new for 2014 and used by Haibike MBs and Batavus.

Gear-less Motors

AEG   Rear transverse flux motor and crank mounted ‘disc’ motor. The AEG brand has been bought by Benchmark who launched these systems under the AEG label, Benchmark being subsequently bought by ContiTech.

Benchmark Neodrive / Xion   High end rear hub system.

Biactron / Klever Mobility   German manufacturer of own brand system for own brand bike.

BionX    Long time gear-less motor maker. Launched the extraordinary D-series in 2015.

Electric Torque Machines   US design and Taiwanese production and used in bikes such as the Swiss Stromer.

GO Swissdrive   High quality Swiss system with smartphone linked display from 2014.

Kappstein   Gearless motor with 2 automatic gears. Also produce a geared motor with 3 manual gears (see below). Designed in Australia & China and made in China.

Neo Drive   Controller and torque sensor integrated into rear hub regenerative motor.

Heinzmann DirectPower   Revitalised range in 2014, with 25kmh/45kmh and 250/500W variants.

Sparta ION   Introduced in 2003 and now used by Gazelle, Ghost and Koga. A high quality pioneer. Now produce an ION branded crank drive system too in cooperation with Yamaha (via parent company Accell).

Stromer / A2B / Syno   Good quality gear-less motor appearing on several makes. Hard to trace who exactly makes it!

TDCM   Gear-less hub motors in 250W and 500W versions from Taiwan.

Twinburst   French company pioneering two-wheel drive transmission with motors in both wheels.

Zehus WIZE hub   Formerly FlyKly, a rear hub system integrating almost all components into it and featuring Bluetooth wireless control.

Geared Motors

Bafang   Formerly known as 8 Fun or Suzhou Bafang. 2015 saw a major launch of their crank drive (Max Drive) with a  European office and major  European brands adopting the drive. Also make crank drive systems and kits.

Eego   Micro 120W motors for micro folding bikes.

Giant Sync Drive   Giant’s rear and front hub gear motors developed in conjunction with Yamaha.

Heinzmann   Very longstanding geared hub motor with a reputation for toughness in applications where weight is not critical eg town bikes and cargo bikes. With the arrival of a gear-less cousin this motor is now branded as ‘classic.’

Kappstein   Geared motor with three integrated hub gears. Also do a gear-less motor (see above). Designed in Australia & China and made in China.

SRAM E-matic   Rear-wheel hub includes a torque-sensor, controller, motor, and an automatic transmission system.

SR Suntour  Geared S-pedelec hub motor

Tongxin   Quiet and quite powerful hub motors relying on friction not gear teeth. Used by Ansmann and Nano amongst others.

Vivax Assist    Tiny seatpost tube housed motor driving directly onto the bottom bracket axle.

Power-assist Kits

Bafang BD S01 (UK version = Mojo and BD SO2 (with torque sensor)   Chinese crank drive system based around a pedal movement sensor (no torque sensor) but a powerful throttle option too. Now rebranded ECO.

BionX   Long time gear-less motor maker. Launched the extraordinary D-series in 2015.

Conv-E   Geared front hub motor made for quick installation. Designed in the UK and made and assembled  in Poland (information in 2014).

Ezee   An early industry presence making a comeback after battery difficulties. No current UK representation.

Heinzmann   Geared and gear-less kits. The geared kits are favoured for heavy duty applications and the gear-less for leisure use.

Sunstar   Japanese in origin, now based in Switzerland. Beautifully-engineered crank motor. Left the electric bike market completely in 2017.

Superpedestrian   Producers of the Copenhagen Wheel, an all in one hub containing all the electric bike elements.

Series Hybrid

Series hybrid’s are chainless designs that use your pedalling action to generate power for the motor. The idea is appealing but the efficiency is limited and the ride quality not always particularly great. 

Bike2   Clean looking design from Denmark

Mando Footloose   Folding design by Mark Sanders

X-PESA   Due to launch on the market in 2014. Developed by German giant bike conglomerate MIFA. Future of company uncertain after insolvency in 2014 but still trading in 2015 under new owners.

In Development

Bikeee   Geared bottom bracket style kit from Italy that has been in development for a while. 

Binova   Bottom bracket replacement style kit from Germany.

Bionicon   Yet another bottom bracket-style motor designed as an almost universal fit to existing bike frames. Motor itself developed in Germany and branded as E-RAM.

Bizmoz   Crank kit claiming unique patented magnet technology. Italian technical design.

BMZ   BMZ started life as a battery manufacturer but are now making moves into the motor market with both crank drive and hub drive components. 

Daymak Beast   Canadian off road ‘Beast’ featuring a direct drive motor with the option of lead-acid batteries.

E-novia Bike +   Milan based research project on regenerative power.

GeoOrbital   US design that looks to place all elements of the system inside a wheel; they remain stationary and the rim revolves.

Hubs Master    Taiwan company developing an ‘all in one’ wheel.

Michelin E-Drive Interesting looking friction drive with bespoke Michelin tyre, supposedly due early 2018.

Neox   Ingenious looking German kit mounting to non drive side of the pedal cranks.

Velocite   A hugely futuristic design, aiming to integrate motor technology into the design of the bike itself. Developed by Lightweight, German carbon fibre specialists

Vinka    Appears to be a Japanese firm with Chinese offices making crank drives and automotive parts. No other info apart from this so these interesting looking motors may or may not have been released onto the market. 

Battery Manufacturers


Bosch   The Bosch system uses 36V 300Wh and 400Wh batteries. Their power tool batteries are also used by Nano and  ARCC.

KULR   Specialists in thermal management of lithium batteries – ie preventing overheating and battery fires

Mac Allister   Now out of production. Small 4Ah 36V (144Wh) batteries manufactured for a range of power tools sold via the UK’s B&Q DIY chain and sold briefly with the Nano-Brompton system (see Tongxin above under kits).

Phylion   Traditionally a maker of budget batteries with a poor reputation for reliability. Has opened offices in the Netherlands.

Samsung   South Korean firm with a reputation for reliability

Sanyo   Purchased by Panasonic in 2009.


Simplo   The second biggest e-bike battery producer after Bosch, based in Taiwan and initially specialising in notebook batteries before diversifying. 


H C S Bullock: His Life and Locomotives

Updated Second Edition!h-c-s-bullock-his-life-and-locomotives
Eighty years ago, in 1937, miniature locomotive engineer H C S Bullock died in tragic circumstances. Fifty years later, his son Kenneth was encouraged to write a book on his father’s life and work – principally his impressive 10.25-inch miniature locomotives.

A Tribute to a Great Engineer

In 2017, as a tribute to father and son, Bob Bullock has brought together new photographs. Many of these are previously unseen – and some are in colour – to produce a second edition to Ken’s 1987 book.
The update has twice as many pages and is packed with new information, with new maps of the Foxhill Miniature Railway, based on the latest research. They give a vivid new insight into this fascinating and at times heartbreaking story.

Publisher: A to B Books

BUY NOW – £11.95

H C S Bullock: His Life and Locomotives


H C S Bullock: His Life and Locomotives. Updated second edition

Updated Second Edition!
Eighty years ago, in 1937, miniature locomotive engineer H C S Bullock died in tragic circumstances. Fifty years later, his son Kenneth was encouraged to write a book on his father’s life and work – principally his impressive 10.25-inch miniature locomotives.

A Tribute to a Great Engineer

In 2017, as a tribute to father and son, Bob Bullock has brought together new photographs. Many of these are previously unseen – and some are in colour – to produce a second edition to Ken’s 1987 book.
The update has twice as many pages and is packed with new information, with new maps of the Foxhill Miniature Railway, based on the latest research. They give a vivid new insight into this fascinating and at times heartbreaking story.

Publisher: A to B Books

BUY NOW – £11.95

UK Bike/Rail Restrictions

UK Bikes on Trains Restrictions

UK Bike/Rail RestrictionsThis page lists UK bike restrictions on rail and preserved rail. Folding bikes travel free and without restriction on all train services unless stated.
See Bikes on Trains Travel Guide. If you have any official or unofficial information on cycle carriage, please share it with us by email.

Want to book a bicycle with an advance train ticket? You can still visit Virgin Trains East Coast, but as Virgin is planning to eliminate bike bookings, we suggest making your advance booking with Scotrail or Trans-Pennine Express, both of which allow bicycles to be booked too and from any UK destination at the same time as you book the seats. You MUST book a seat to reserve space for a bike.

We are grateful to the Association of Train Operating Companies, local authorities, individual cycle users and Cyclenation for information on cycle carriage.

Please note

  • For cycling routes near stations, visit Sustrans. Enter the station POSTCODE in the blue box then click FIND. The resulting MAP
    shows routes close to the station.
  • Barry Doe’s web pages are full of information, but hard to follow. His excellent National Rail map gives a clear picture of all UK operators and routes.

Primary Rail Operators

Abellio Greater Anglia

London (Liverpool Street) – Norwich & Harwich International, plus local services in Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Despite some confusion, it seems tandems are STILL carried on express trains from London to Norwich, Ipswich to Cambridge/Peterborough, Norwich to Cambridge, plus Liverpool Street to Southend, Colchester, Ipswich, Hertford, Cambridge & Kings Lynn. These are not all big trains, and space cannot be booked on most of them, so do check in advance.

Up to four cycles are accepted on local trains, and the spacious long-distance trains accept six, but AGA have very sensibly given guards discretion to take more if space permits. Free reservations are obligatory on services to London, but are no longer available on local trains. Ticket holders receive the benefit of the AGA/ETA cycle recovery scheme – if your cycle breaks down or is stolen in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, both you and the bike (subject to availability, of course) will be recovered and taken to the nearest station. Note that Anglia runs its own reservation line from a call-centre in Norwich, so your call should be routed to someone who really knows the network.

London (Liverpool Street) – Southend Victoria, Colchester & Ipswich
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems are permitted

Bicycles are welcome free of charge on non-inter city services where they can be accommodated safely. At busy times, on trains arriving in London (either Liverpool Street or Stratford) between 07.45 and 09.45 and departing London or Stratford between 16.30 and 18.30 Monday to Friday, bicycles are banned. However, bicycles may be carried at any time north and east of Shenfield. (Note that AGA’s publicity appears to show that bicycles are banned both inbound and outbound in both the morning and evening peaks, but this is not so. The ban is only with the commuter flow.)

London (Liverpool Street) – Stansted Airport
Folding bikes: tick Folding cycles must be fully folded and contained in a ‘protective carrying case’. In practise, a light cover will do, but be discreet!  Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are not conveyed at any time, unless they have been flat-packed for air travel.

London (Liverpool Street) – Stevenage, Cambridge, Peterborough & Kings Lynn
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems are permitted

Cycles are conveyed free of charge where they can be accommodated safely. However, they are banned:

  • Monday to Friday on services south of Broxbourne or Shenfield that terminate in Liverpool Street or Stratford between 07.45 and 09.45 or depart Liverpool Street or Stratford between 16.30 and 18.30. These restrictions apply to all intermediate journeys.
  • Monday to Friday on services between Audley End, Cambridge and Ely in either direction between 07.45 and 08.45

(Note that the ban is only with the commuter flow.)

Tel: 0345 600 7245   Reservations: 08700 40 90 90

Arriva Trains Wales

Routes: Cardiff to West Wales, Manchester & Holyhead, plus local services throughout Wales
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Long-distance services carry two bicycles, and reservations are free, and strongly recommended. On local services around Cardiff and the Valleys, bicycles are carried free without booking, but conveyed ‘subject to space being available’. The Valley lines out of Cardiff (and Newport too, eventually) are extremely useful for getting through the hilly and congested areas if heading for the wide open spaces. Bikes are generally welcomed, but restrictions apply Monday to Friday arriving in Cardiff between 07.30 and 09.30 and departing 16.00 to 18.00 and (unusually) on Saturday at slightly different times: arriving in Cardiff between 10.00 and 16.00 and departing between 15.00 and 18.00.

Tel: 0333 311 202   Reservations: 0870 9000 773


Caledonian Sleeper

Routes: London Euston overnight to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The cycle policy on the sleepers is rather interesting and free, which is very refreshing. Caledonian Sleeper no longer guarantees the carriage of one bicycle per passenger, with excess bikes being transported by road courier, but it doesn’t seem to put any limit on the number of pre-booked bicycles, so it seems this policy continues. For non-booked bikes, it’s all very hit-and-miss: ‘typically 3 to 6 bikes’ (the number carried too and from Inverness has been reduced to 3 for years, because of an arrangement to carry shellfish south to London). So the message is book in advance.
Quite how the road transport works in practise, we’re not sure. You have to drop the bike at the departure station in advance, but how does this work with unstaffed stations. At Rannoch? The courier only appears to pick up and drop bikes at Euston, Watford Junction, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Bikes travelling by road have to be in a bag, but Caledonian supply these… nice touch. Time will tell how the service works, and if you’ve experienced the road courier service, do let us know.
Bicycles must be booked before noon the day before departure, and this is when Caledonian Sleeper will tell you whether you can just hop on the train, or will have to bag the bike for the courier service. It’s also worth mentioning that a couple of very compact folding bikes, such as Bromptons, will squeeze into a double sleeper berth on the old trains if you don’t want to put your bike in the luggage area. Not sure if this will still apply when the new trains arrive.

Tel: 0330 060 0500


Routes: London Fenchurch Street – Southend Central & Shoeburyness
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

c2c welcome bicycles free of charge on services where they can be accommodated safely, but reservations are not possible. Bicycles are not permitted on weekday services that arrive in London between 07.14 and 09.30 or leave London between 16.30 and 18.34. If you plan to travel with a group of three or more cycles, please contact the Helpline.

Tel: 0345 601 4873


Routes: London Marylebone – Aylesbury, Oxford, Birmingham Snow Hill & Kidderminster
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Bicycles are welcome on Chiltern Railways but not on trains arriving at London Marylebone or Birmingham Snow Hill between 07.45 and 10.00 or departing London Marylebone or Birmingham Snow Hill between 16.30 and 19.30 Monday to Friday. These restrictions apply to all intermediate stations and journeys. At other times, bicycles are carried free and without reservation. Chiltern has inherited the loco-hauled trains used by sister company Wrexham & Shropshire. These have room for around ten bikes, and they are now operating up to six of the Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone fast services. Does this mean Chiltern will relax its tough peak hour bike policy for these trains? We’re not sure, but do let us know.

Tel: 0345 600 5165 (information & telesales)

CrossCountry Trains

Routes: South & Southwest England to Northern England & East Scotland, and South Wales to the East Midlands & East Anglia
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  cross Not permitted

Virgin used to allow up to four bikes in the Voyager trains, but under CrossCountry the trains have been altered by replacing the shop in Coach D with a smaller cycle storage area, while the old cycle area has become a secure cupboard for the onboard trolley. Although there is actually room for three, but CrossCountry will only take reservations for up to two, leaving one free on a turn-up-and-go basis. CrossCountry has a bit of a history of aggressively expelling cyclists from trains, even where they have reservations, so do beware. CrossCountry also uses a few older (and much better) High Speed trains, which have very generous bicycle space, although in theory the strict rules still apply. CrossCountry services are often the key to longer journeys, and hard to avoid without a diversion via London.
A free advance reservation is ‘compulsory for most journeys’ says CrossCountry vaguely.
TIP: Avoid CrossCountry altogether if you possibly can. Their fares are so ludicrously high it’s usually cheaper to travel via London

Tel: 0844 811 0124

East Midland Trains

Routes: London St Pancras – East Midlands & South Yorkshire, plus Liverpool – Norwich cross country and East Midlands local routes
Folding bikes: tick Unrestricted, but bikes must fit into luggage racks  Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Reservations are compulsory on long-distance services, but not available on local trains. The company says space is limited to two bikes per train, which isn’t entirely accurate EMT has inherited High Speed and Meridian trains, which are relatively well off for bicycle space. In any event, you must now book in advance, and we’re told that bookings will not be accepted into or out of London at peak times, but there does not seem to be an actual ban.

Interesting point: EMT very fairly points out that it is unable to carry tandems or tricycles on the East Midlands Connect services, but claims they cannot be squeezed into Mainline services too and from London. Not strictly true, because the High Speed Train is quite roomy enough.

To make a reservation, you have to apply to a staffed station, use the telephone number below, or use the EMT website, but that seems to require some sort of log-in. No idea how that works.

Reservations: 08457 125 678 or try


Routes: London St Pancras International, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International & Ashford International to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Avignon*
Folding bikes: tick Officially folders must be bagged, but very compact machines will fit in the overhead racks. However, Eurostar has been making life more difficult for regular commuters lately by forcing them to put their bikes through the full security procedure.
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted, but tandems which split or break apart are. If you can reduce your tandem to 200cm long and pack it as a single item it goes as a bike.

If you don’t mind dismantling your bike and squeezing it into a bag measuring 120cm x 90cm (the accepted dimension for large luggage items on most European long distance trains) a conventional bike can be packed down and carried on Eurostar. If you prefer to keep the wheels on and your hands clean, you’ll have to pay £20 and travel with the Eurodespatch service. The maximum length is 200cm and since 2008 Eurostar has operated a booking system (opening 10 days prior to departure) to put the bike on the same train as you (only London to Paris & Brussels). Bikes should be checked-in at least 60 minutes before departure.

Tips – nip up the platform with your receipt at journey’s end, and you can claim the bike back directly off the train when it is unloaded, to save the time, worry and hassle of getting it back from the Eurodespatch office. An on-spec service (delivery within 24 hours) is also available for the same price, and serves Lille, but there’s no guarantee when, or indeed if, your bicycle will turn up.
A useful tip if travelling further afield by high speed train is to change at Lille Europe if possible, rather than Paris, as many long-distance services stop in Lille, some offer a cross-platform change.
Cycling between termini in Paris is rather like London – about the same distances, and with similar traffic levels. It can potentially save you an hour on your journey, enabling you to catch the preceding (hourly) TGV service.
The Eurodespatch service is not available from Ebbsfleet, Ashford, Stratford, and le Frethun, Avignon, and other less-used/seasonal stopping points.
If you’re planning to use Eurostar to cross the Channel, it might make more sense to travel by bike or domestic rail services to Folkestone and catch a Channel Tunnel Shuttle train instead. Sadly, you can’t drive on yourself like the motorists, but the arrangement is that you are collected from your local hotel, and the bikes are placed in a trailer, while you and your luggage ride in a minibus. Up to six bikes can be taken, but you do have to give 48 hours notice.

Tel: 08705 850850 or 0844 822 5822

Eurostar ‘Bikes on Trains’ page

Govia Thameslink

Routes: Brighton – Gatwick Airport – London – Luton Airport Parkway – Bedford (cross-London services), London (Kings Cross & Moorgate) – Stevenage, Cambridge, Peterborough & Kings Lynn
Folding bikes: tick At peak times, big-wheeled folding bikes are banned, and smaller folding bikes may need to be folded at the ticket barriers  Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Govia Thameslink (confusingly branded as Great Northern Thameslink or even Thameslink & Great Northern) is now forcing folding bike customers to fold their bikes before passing through the barriers (see also attempts by Southern and Southeastern). The company claims that this has always been the rule, but it has not previously been enforced. Owners of Bromptons and other folding bikes that can be wheeled should bear in mind that they ARE allowed to wheel the bike on its rollers. Whatever the man on the barrier might say, there is no actually compulsion to CARRY the bike. And in June 2015, we head that the company had tightened the screw by banning folding bikes with wheels bigger than 20-inches. This currently only applies during peak-hours, and may be patchily enforced.

Thameslink is happy to carry bicycles between Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway inclusive at any time. Elsewhere, the company cannot carry bicycles on trains travelling towards London (if boarding at or south of Stevenage or Hertford North) that arrive in London stations between 07.00 and 10.00 (Monday-Friday), or on trains travelling away from London departing from Zone 1 London stations between 16.00 and 19.00 (Mon-Fri). Cyclists are asked to use the section of the train with tip-up seats, identified by a cycle symbol on the outside of the train. Interestingly, Thameslink does not mention that bikes are now banned in and out of Brighton at peak times (see Southern entry). Other restrictions:

  • Monday to Friday on services departing Waterbeach or Ely towards Cambridge between 07.45 and 08.45 Monday-Friday
  • Any time between Drayton Park & Moorgate (this doesn’t apply to folding bikes of 20-inch wheels or below)

Tel: 0845 026 4700

Great Western

Routes: London Paddington – Bristol, Reading, Oxford, South Wales, the Cotswolds & the West, plus local West Country services
Folding bikes: tick Folding bikes are now defined as having wheels with a maximum size of 18-inches. Larger wheeled folders will be treated as normal bikes
Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems  are permitted on High Speed Trains only

LONG-DISTANCE SERVICES: Advance reservations are free, and can be made up to two hours before the train begins its journey, or before 18.00 the day before if the train starts before 10.00. Reservations are no longer obligatory except on services arriving in London between 07.00 and 10.00 or departing between 15.00 and 19.00. Up to six bicycles (still including one tandem on most services) can be accommodated in Coach ‘A’ of High Speed Trains and a few more can also be accommodated in the adjacent power car, if the guard is feeling friendly. Watch out for other trains though. On the Cotswold line from Hereford to Malvern, Worcester, Oxford and London, High Speed Trains are as other services, but most trains are Class 180 units with three vertical bike spaces on ceiling hooks at each end of the train. Yes, that’s a total of six, but watch out for the many short platforms on this line, which may leave you and your bike out of the station. The guard should be able to advise.
At weekends, the Class 180s are usually under maintenance, so the commuter-orientated Thames Turbos (below) may be substituted.

COMMUTER SERVICES: On local services formerly operated by Thames Trains, bike carriage is much less restrictive, and bikes can generally be carried on all off-peak services in the carriage vestibules, provided they do not inconvenience other customers. However, on Mondays to Fridays, bicycles may not be carried on trains advertised to arrive at London Paddington between 07.45 and 09.45 or to depart Paddington between 16.30 and 19.00.

OTHER REGIONAL SERVICES: On local trains in the West Country, up to two bikes can be carried on a first come, first served basis, space permitting. On most long-distance services – generally trains linking Penzance, Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton, bike space is limited to two per train, so reservation makes sense, particularly between Cardiff, Bristol and Brighton, and pretty well anywhere in the peak summer season. Bikes CAN be carried on these services without a reservation provided the guard can find space, but if a bike with a reservation is then brought on board, you may be evicted. On other local trains, bicycles cannot be booked, and are conveyed ‘subject to space being available’. The ‘two bikes per train’ rule is interpreted differently by individual guards – some will allow much larger numbers, even on peak services, but some will not. Groups of cyclists should treat rush-hour or peak summer season trains with caution.
Locomotive-hauled trains with proper guard’s vans operated until recently from Cardiff to Brighton and Bristol to Weymouth, but these have now been withdrawn.

Tel: 08457 000 125

First Hull Trains

London Kings Cross – Grantham, Doncaster, Selby, Brough & Hull
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Hull Trains welcomes cycles on all services, and the free advance reservation is no longer obligatory, but is still recommended. Up to two bicycles can be carried in the Train Manager’s Office in coach ‘D’. Please ring 0845 710 222 (08.00-22.00 Monday to Friday, 08.00-18.30 Weekends and Bank Holidays) to book.
Tel: 0345 0710 222

Trans-Pennine Express

Routes: Manchester Airport – North East, North West and Scotland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Like many railway companies, TPE has had to bring in bike restrictions to square the circle between increased traffic and limited rolling stock availability (made much worse by the current government cancelling electrification). Bicycles are now banned – presumably network-wide and only on weekdays – from 07.00 to 09.00 and 16.00 to 19.00. Space is very restricted at other times, with only two bikes allowed on most trains, but they travel free. Reservations are recommended, and must be made at least 24 hours in advance, but according to a recent traveller, one of the two spaces is now treated as first-come, first-served, so you can only book one bike per train. The Scottish services are best avoided with or without a bike as they can be very busy.

Tel & Reservations: 0345 600 1674

Grand Central Trains

Routes:  Kings Cross – Yorkshire, Hartlepool, Sunderland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  tick Tandems welcome

‘Cyclists are welcome!’ Grand Central used to say, but they’ve become less welcoming. The fleet of older High Speed Trains used to carry up to six bikes in the ‘country end’ power car, but for reasons of its own, the company now says only four bikes are carried, two at each end (yes, a long run if you go to the wrong end). Newer trains have three cycle spaces in coach B.
Short platforms at Eaglescliffe, Thirsk and Hartlepool mean that guards will put cycles to and from these destinations at the London end of the train. Surely that means the true capacity is 12 bikes? Well, yes it does, and the same applies to all other HST’s, but no operators seem willing to exploit the space in these trains to the full. Grand Central went to some lengths to say it welcomed tandems and trailers (not exceeding one metre in any dimension), but this has also gone very quiet, athough in practise, as above, space is not an issue.

Tel: 0845 603 4852

Heathrow Connect (London)

London Paddington – local stations to Heathrow Airport

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Heathrow Connect now limited bicycles to one per train, with standard Paddington peak time restrictions on weekdays: bicycles are banned from trains departing Heathrow between 07.30 and 10.00, or departing Paddington between 16.30 and 19.00. Expect everything to change when Crossrail starts running.

Tel: 0345 700 0125

Heathrow Express (London)

London Paddington – fast to Heathrow Airport
Folding bikes: tick Plenty of luggage space for folding bikes. Compact machines fit the overhead racks   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

As with Heathrow Connect, there is now officially only one cycle space on Heathrow Express trains, even though the company formally allowed a minimum of three. Peak hour bans are as for Heathrow Connect.
As the single space will generally be offered to cyclists catching flights, anyone else will be lucky to get on board even off-peak, unless they have a folder of course. The folding bike rules are tighter than the national conditions, the maximum dimension being limited to length+breadth+height = not more than 158cm. If your bike exceeds this (and in theory at least, even the most compact bike will), or you need help putting it on, or it takes up a seat, your bike will liable to a full passenger fare. Heathrow Express also makes a point of banning all ‘powered vehicles’ except wheelchairs. Cyclists not travelling onwards by air may use the service to travel free between terminals at the airport, subject to space being available for airline passengers.
This can be useful, because it’s cheaper to take a local train to Feltham (for Terminal 4) or Hayes & Harlington (other Terminals) cycle into the airport, and use Heathrow Express/Connect if you need to transfer to another terminal. Taxis and other motorised traffic are allowed to share the long cycle tunnel from the Hayes direction, but they’ll just have to queue, won’t they?

Tel: 0345 600 0650

Island Line

Isle of Wight only
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The smallest, friendliest and most reliable railway company in the UK, Island Line operates aging Underground trains on the Isle of Wight. Up to four bicycles may be carried free and without booking at the Shanklin end of all trains, subject to the discretion of the guard. In practice, the number carried off-peak is sometimes much greater. A very entertaining ride, but what a shame the line doesn’t still go through to Ventnor… very useful for cyclists.

Tel: 0845 6000 650

London Midland

London Euston – Birmingham, Birmingham – Liverpool and local services in the West Midlands
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: crossNot permitted

Cycles are carried free of charge on all off-peak services. Restrictions apply Monday to Friday 07.00 to 09.59 on services to London Euston and 16.00 to 18.59 on services leaving London. The company also ‘recommends’ avoiding Birmingham at peak times, which is very sensible advice.
Tel: 0844 811 0133

LONDON (TfL Services only)

Transport for London has been busy integrating the rules for its diverse network of underground and overground railways in the capital. Broadly speaking, bicycles banned outright in some areas and allowed in others, outside of Monday to Friday peak-hours: 07.30 to 09.30 and 16.00 to 19.00. Folding bikes are allowed everywhere at all times. All the details can be found on the excellent Transport for London web pages.

Docklands Light Railway (London)
Routes: Light rail network throughout East London
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case
Tandems, trailers and tricycles:  cross Not permitted

Until recently only folding bikes were carried on the DLR, and they needed to be ‘totally enclosed in a cover’, but following a successful trial, full-size bikes are now allowed on the DLR system throughout on weekends and Bank Holidays, and before 07.30, between 09.30 and 16.00 and after 19.00 Monday to Friday.

Tel: 0207 222 1234

London Overground
Routes: Most local rail services in and around London
Folding bikes: tick
Welcome everywhere at all times
Tandems, trailers and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Bicycles are banned on the entire Overground network on Monday to Friday from 07.30 to 09.30 and 16.00 and 19.00. The only exception is trains on the Liverpool Street towards Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town where bikes are allowed to travel contraflow in the peak: out from London between 07.30 and 09.30, and into London between 16.00 and 19.00. Elsewhere there is a temporary ban between South Tottenham and Barking while electrification work progresses (very slowly). Opening of the Elizabeth cross-rail line is likely to cause a few changes.

Tel: 0845 6014867

London Underground
Folding bikes: tick Must be folded. It is advisable to cover the bike whilst on the Underground, although this is not a regulation, and the folded bike must measure less than two metres long
Tandems, trailers and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The Underground network is divided into two areas. Bikes are banned at all times from the central area bounded by (but not including) the Circle line, plus some other places outside the central area, and sometimes a long way out: Piccadilly services in the Heathrow airport complex and throughout the central zone from Barons Court to Oakwood (just about everywhere in practise), the entire Northern line south of East Finchley and Golders Green, Jubilee services between Finchley Road and Canning Town, Bakerloo south of Queen’s Park, Central services from White City to Leyton, the entire Victoria line,  Waterloo & City, and a few other isolated pockets. Elsewhere, bicycles are allowed everywhere at all times other than during the standard peak-hour banned period.

Tel: 0207 222 1234

Other services: Croydon tram network, Emirates cable car, river boats
Surprisingly, bicycles are allowed on the Emirates Air Line cable cars at any time. Also rather surprisingly, bicycles are banned from the entire Croydon tram network.

Tel: 0207 222 1234 (Underground) or 0845 6014867 (Overground)



Routes: Local Northern and Wirral line services around Liverpool
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: Unknown

Cycles are carried free at any time, space permitting, and the company reserves the right to impose restrictions at busy times.Tel: 0151 702 2071

Northern Rail

Routes: Local services in Northern England
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Northern is working hard to encourage people to cycle to and from its nearly 500 stations, but space on trains is limited, especially at peak times, so the recent emphasis has been on cycle parking. Leeds Station now has a ‘Cycle Point’ offering Dutch style bike parking, hire, repair and cycle shop. So far, despite the  very limited space (officially two bikes per train), there are no bike bans on services and staff are encouraged to be helpful, though there may still be problems on peak hour trains, and watch out for the busier leisure routes. Caution should be exercised when taking bikes to popular cycling destinations like Delamere Forest, the Peak District, Settle to Carlisle, and others. Allow yourself an alternative train in case everyone else fancies using your planned train! As elsewhere, folded bikes are not restricted, and this might be a better answer if you travel regularly.

Tel: 0845 000 0125   Reservations: 0845 600 8008


London – Kent & South East England
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions, but despite having relaxed its stance on folding bikes on the platforms, the rules have just been tightened up again. According to SouthEastern, cyclists were abusing the rules by riding their folding bikes on the platform (even, it is claimed, falling onto the tracks) and putting the bikes unfolded onto busy trains. This all seems very unlikely when such issues are almost unknown elsewhere, but the result is that folding bikes must now (technically at least) be carried at all times on stations operated by SouthEastern, although the only place this rule is seriously enforced seems to be Cannon Street.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope. If, for whatever reason, you find it impossible to carry your bike any distance, SouthEastern says its Customer Services department will issue you with a letter that can be shown to platform staff. The intention is that you will then be allowed to wheel your bike to the train, but whether this works in practise remains to be seen. The anti-folder rule and exemption letter are still very new, so some staff may cheerfully wave folders through, others will demand they be carried, and a very small number will know that exemptions are allowed. A recipe for chaos… do keep us informed.
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are carried free, without booking, on all services except those timed to arrive in London between 07.00 – 09.59, or to depart 16.00 – 18.59 Monday to Friday. These rules apply on any part of the journey, with the following exceptions: Subject to space, you may board peak time trains beyond Gillingham, Otford or Tonbridge, if travelling to stations in East Sussex or Kent.Tel: 0845 000 2222


Routes: Most services in Scotland  (but no longer for London Euston – Scotland sleepers – see Caledonian Sleepers)
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are carried free on all ScotRail services, but space is limited (ScotRail aim to provide between two and eight spaces per train), so free reservations are essential on long-distance trains to Inverness, Aberdeen, Stranraer, the West Highlands and Far North.
In the summer months for the last few years, a special road vehicle has carried cycles between Inverness and Wick/Thurso, but with an increase to four daily trains, and at least four bike spaces on each, this is no longer required.
We’re glad to see that the reservation number (08457 550033) takes you through to a real Scottish person in Fort William who actually knows the network and can see passing trains out of the window. First ScotRail has also teamed up with the ETA to provide a ‘get you home’ service. If you are unable to complete your journey by bike, due to an accident, vandalism or irreparable breakdown, you will be taken to your destination, the nearest Scotrail station, or the nearest Scottish city, if it’s late in the day. The service does not apply to the islands! All you need to do is phone 08000 717 212 and give details of your valid rail ticket. From February 2009, Scotrail became the first UK railway company to officially sanction the carriage of electric bicycles on its trains. Great news in a hilly country.

Tel: 0845 601 5929   Reservations: 08457 550033

Southern (now incorporating Gatwick Express)

London – Surrey, Sussex & South East England
Folding bikes: tickFolding bikes are carried free of charge without restriction, but since 2006, folding bikes ‘bigger than a Brompton’ have occasionally been turned away and Brompton owners forced to fold their bikes at the barrier and carry them to the train, particularly at London Bridge, Victoria and Brighton. This tough line appeared to have been dropped, but folding bike owners have reported continuing problems at London Bridge. If you find yourself a victim of this discriminatory policy, please report it to Southern in writing, giving the time, station, and if possible the name of the offending employee.
Tandems and tricycles: Unknown

Who’d travel on Southern for ANY reason in 2016? Be very cautious with a bicycle because rsome routes are seeing daily multiple cancellations with patchy road replacement, and serious overcrowding on other services.
A ‘limited number’ of cycles are carried free on all services except on trains due to arrive into London Victoria, London Bridge or Brighton between 07.00 and 10.00, or due to depart from London stations or Brighton between 1600 and 1900 on Mondays to Fridays. Reservations for cycles are not required. Former Gatwick Express services now run through to Brighton, and have considerable luggage capacity, but are bound by the same peak hour rules as other Southern services.

Tel: 08451 272920

South West Trains

London Waterloo – South West London and South West England
Folding bikes: tick May be carried at any time, free of charge, provided they ‘can be stowed as luggage’.   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Formerly a haven for cyclists, the South West Trains area has seen increasing restrictions as new trains are introduced. Currently space is limited on trains from Waterloo to Salisbury/Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth; between Reading and Brighton; between Totton and Romsey (via Southampton); and on most Waterloo to Southampton trains. Reservations are obligatory on all but some Waterloo to Southampton trains, but booking is now free.
Note, however, that there are some odd anomalies with SWT’s discount ‘Megatrain’ tickets. You sometimes wonder if they put restrictions on these things just to differentiate the product from the full-fare job. Megatrain tickets have previously not included bicycle carriage on the busy Southampton or Portsmouth routes, even on a train where bicycles are welcome. The Megatrain website now makes a point of clarifying that bicycles ARE allowed from Waterloo to Southampton/Weymouth and Waterloo to Havant/Portsmouth. (It adds that bicycles are banned on Megatrain tickets on East Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains, which doesn’t concern us here). A few other specifics:

LONDON SUBURBAN AREA: Bicycles are banned from boarding trains trains due to arrive at Waterloo from 07.15 to 10.00, or depart Waterloo between 16.45 and 19.00 Monday to Friday (note the slightly extended ban duration) within the suburban area bounded by Dorking, Reading, Hook, Alton and Guildford (previously Woking). A ‘nod and a wink’ policy existed for many years on the ground, and bikes were usually allowed aboard at the guard’s discretion, but this no longer seems to be the case. There is now also an OUTWARD BOUND ban on trains leaving Clapham Junction between 07.45 and 09.00 Monday-Friday, as far as Clapham Junction, Strawberry Hill and Feltham.

LONDON-SALISBURY-EXETER: Bike space can vary from two upwards, and as a rule, longer trains on longer journeys will convey more bicycles.

LONDON-GUILDFORD-PORTSMOUTH & LONDON-SOUTHAMPTON-WEYMOUTH: These lines are now worked by Class 444 (5 car) and Class 450 (4 car) trains. The Class 444 offers six cycle spaces situated in the 3rd and 4th coaches (counting from 1st class, which is almost always at the London end), and a 10-coach train will have double the space. Cycles must not be placed in the disabled space, in the door areas (except by agreement with the guard), or behind the drivers door. The shorter Class 450 officially offers only two bike spaces, but with careful positioning three or fours can be squeezed in, and the guard will usually allow this, provided the gangways are not obstructed. The only exceptions to these rules are when travelling too or from three stations with short platforms – Bedhampton (London-bound platform), Beaulieu Road and Shawford. Cycles should usually be placed in the first door of the 2nd carriage in the direction of travel.

South West Trains Cycle Restrictions Map (PDF)

Tel:    Reservations: 0845 6000 650


Translink (Northern Ireland)

Routes: RAIL & BUS SERVICES – Belfast – Larne, Bangor, Derry & Cross-border Enterprise trains to Dublin

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions

Tandems and tricycles: cross and motorised bicycles are not permitted on trains or road coaches.

Hold on… why does Northern Ireland have a fully integrated bus and rail system while we have to put up with all this privatisation nonsense on the mainland? You’ll have to ask your MP.
Bikes are carried on all long-distance Goldline Express Coaches, and all trains, but not before 09.30 on weekdays. Trains generally carry four bicycles, while coaches carry two. Bikes travel free on all services, but note that the reservation system has been discontinued, so carriage is on a strictly, first-come first-served basis. Large groups are advised to contact Translink in advance and discuss their requirements. A template for all UK transport operators surely?

Tel: 028 9066 6630

Irish Rail (Republic of Ireland)

Routes: Key routes south and west from Dublin, plus cross-border Enterprise trains to Belfast

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions

Tandems and tricycles: cross Not clear, but better assume not

Not quite the right section we know, but if travelling south of the border, please bear in mind that after the gradual change from carriages with guards vans to multiple unit trains, problems for cyclists have built up in the Republic of Ireland. The rules have been widely ignored, to the anger of rush-hour passengers, causing so many problems that Irish Rail has cracked down on offenders. Luckily the restrictions are very simple (an advantage of having one national operator). Bikes are not allowed on trains arriving in Dublin before 09.30 in the morning, and between 16.00 and 19.00 in the evening.
Bike space on Intercity services (effectively Cork-Dublin and Dublin-Belfast), and pre-booked bikes on the Cork-Dublin corridor are allowed on peak hour trains. That’s about all you have to remember for the whole country.

For full details and local gossip, see the bikes on trains page for campaign group Rail Users Ireland.

Valley Lines

(Now part of Arriva Trains Wales – see above)

Virgin Trains (West Coast)

Routes: London Euston – West Midlands, North Wales, North West England & Scotland

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  tick  One is allowed on Pendolino trains

West Coast services carry up to four bikes, with a free compulsory advance reservation system.

TIP: To escape Virgin’s blood pressure-raising automated telephone booking system, say ‘agent’ at the start. This, we’re told, should put you through to a nice lady in Scotland.

TIP: When making a cycle booking, use 0871 977 4222 (10p/min), which costs a modest 10p/minute. Save time by saying ‘help with something else’ when the automated woman starts talking. But be warned – if you’re adding a cycle reservation to an existing ticket, the telephone staff will give you a reference number to present at the station. A cyclist has recently been turned away at Euston trying to board with the number only. Staff may insist on a bicycle reservation ticket… More than their jobs are worth, etc etc.

TIP: Virgin has a fleet of Voyager and Pendolino trains. Both carry a yellow rectangle on the front (or rear) at the opposite end to the bike space. This is usually at the ‘country’ (ie furthest from London) end of the train.

Tel: 0871 977 4222

Virgin Trains East Coast
Formerly East Coast

Routes: London Kings Cross – Yorkshire – North East England – Scotland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tickWe think tandems are permitted (subject to length restrictions), and tricycles still seem to be unofficially tolerated

Since privatisation in the 1990s, the East Coast has been a relatively good route for bicycle carriage. But as the route has now been taken over by Virgin, which has rather stricter rules on the rival West Coast route, sure enough, bike spaces on diesel High Speed Trains have (magically) reduced from five to three, although the electric trains still carry five.
Advance reservations are compulsory and spaces must be reserved in advance, although you can now book space as little as ten minutes before departure at a VTEC booking office or travel centre. Bike carriage arrangements are a bit unusual, and its very important to know whether you’re catching a diesel train or an electric train (if you don’t find out in advance, the electrics shouldn’t(!) emit any smoke, and make a loud cooling fan noise rather than a chuggy noise). In electric trains the cycle space is in the guards office at the London (first class) end of the train. With diesel trains, the bicycle space is in coach B at the OTHER end of the train – ie, nearest to Edinburgh. Either way, there should be platform staff to help wherever you board or alight, and they will help you load the bike… this is not a DIY operation. Make sure to get yourself down the train to the door nearest the bike on arrival, or you will hold everything up and get shouted at.
Some platforms on this 400 mile railway line are short, so before travelling you need to know the type of train, and the length of the platform.
Virgin Trains East Coast inherited East Coast’s on-line cycle reservation scheme, but it has now changed its web booking system, so that’s gone sadly.
Tandems are allowed, but subject to a length restriction, and they count as two bikes, which is a bit unfair.

Tel: 03457 225 225


Private & Preserved Railways

National Rail Network Interchange Symbol indicates an interchange with the National Rail network.  If you’re interested in small railways, you might be interested in our magazine Miniature Railway!

Bluebell Railway

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeEast Grinstead – Sheffield Park 
Standard – South from East Grinstead into delightful countryside

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and up to 20 bicycles (or smaller numbers of tandems or tricycles) can be conveyed without booking, at a charge of 50p (return) or 30p (single). Larger parties (up to 60 bikes) can be carried in a parcels van by special arrangement.

Tel: 01825 720800


Bodmin & Wenford Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeBodmin Parkway – Bodmin – Boscarne Junction
Standard – the cross-platform connection at Bodmin Parkway eliminates a long hard climb into Bodmin

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway welcomes cyclists. Carriage of bikes, tandems and trikes is free of charge, although large parties are advised to book in advance.

Tel: 01208 73666

Bure Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeWroxham – Aylsham
15 inch

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Like most of the narrow gauge railways, the Bure Valley is very accommodating. Trains carry up to four bicycles or two wheelchairs, but extra vans are available and can be marshalled into trains as required. Parties with up to 10 or 15 bikes can be carried with advance notice. If you’re travelling without a bike, you can hire one at Wroxham or Aylsham, ride beside the line on the traffic-free railway path and take the train back. There is a flat-rate cycle carriage fee of £2 per bike.

Tel: 01263 733858

East Kent

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeShepherdswell – Eythorne 
Standard – a delightful ride from nowhere to nowhere

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and bicycles of all kinds are carried without booking or restrictions.

Tel: 01303 893320


Ecclesbourne Valley

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeDuffield – Idridgehay – Wirksworth – Ravenstor (for High Peak Trail)
Standard – a delightful ride from national metals into the Peaks

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Now the line is reopened throughout, there is a passenger interchange at Duffield with National Rail services. The Ecclesbourne Valley provides a very useful link, bypassing a busy stretch of the B5023, and connecting the planned Derby City / Little Eaton cycleway with the High Peak Trail (Route 54). All trains have guard’s vans and bicycles and tandems are carried free of charge, although large groups are advised to book in advance. Tricycles are carried, provided they are able to pass through standard double guards van doors

Tel: 01629 823076

Ffestiniog Railway & Welsh Highland Railways

Ffestiniog: Porthmadog -Minfford  National Rail Network Interchange-Blaenau FfestiniogNational Rail Network Interchange
Welsh Highland: Porthmadog-Beddgelert-Caernarfon

Gauge: 2 foot – the Minfford – Blaenau Ffestiniog link is useful, saving a 600 foot climb in the easterly direction!

Folding bikes: tick Carried without charge at the discretion of the guard   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Porthmadog Harbour station serves both routes and is only 0.75-mile from the National Rail Network InterchangePorthmadog station. The Welsh Highland Line runs for 25 miles  through Snowdonia via Beddgelert, where there are some great forest tracks, and Dinas to Caernarfon, where the stations are adjacent to the Lon Eifion cycle way. Much of the Caernarfon to BangorNational Rail Network Interchange journey can be done on cycleways following the old railway line.
Bicycles are subject to a charge of £3.00 per journey. There is limited space on board for bicycles, so please phone in advance if possible to check with the booking office before travelling.

Tel: :01766 516024   Ffestiniog Travel: 01766 512400


Isle of Man Steam Railway

Routes: Douglas-Port Erin
Gauge: 3 foot

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

A delightful line. Bicycles are carried free of charge where a guard’s van is present and if there isn’t one and the train is ‘not too busy’ you can put the bicycle in the carriage anyway. A lesson there for Virgin et al.

Tel: 01624 663366


Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeSmallbrook Junction – Wooton
Gauge: Standard – cross-platform connection with Island Line services

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

If used in conjunction with the Ryde to Shanklin Island Line trains, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway can be quite useful, avoiding hills and/or busy roads. No charge and no restrictions on bicycles, tricycles and tandems.

Tel: 01983 882204

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeKeighley – Haworth – Oxenhope
Standard – This fairly short line is much more useful than it might appear, avoiding some unpleasant roads and steep gradients around Keighley.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and bicycles are carried free without booking or restrictions. Larger groups are advised to book in advance for a second guard’s van to be added to the train.

Tel: 01535 645214

Kent & East Sussex

Routes: Tenterden – Bodiam
Standard – helpfully avoiding the busy A28

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and up to six bicycles are carried without booking or restrictions. Larger groups should book in advance. At present it’s not a hugely useful link, but if (or rather when) the line is reopened into Robertsbridge, there will be a cross-platform connection to London or Hastings

Tel: 01580 765155

Midland Railway – Butterley

Routes: Hammersmith-Butterley-Swanwick
Standard gauge

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick No known restrictions

The Midland Railway-Butterley is welcoming to bikes on trains, although for safety reasons the main museum site requires cyclists to dismount. If ever a railway ran from nowhere to nowhere, this is it, but you might have a reason to take your bike with you. The trains are traditional 1950’s carriages with a guard’s and luggage compartment so there is more than enough room for cyclists, and staff are usually happy to help you getting on and off.

Tel: 01773 747674

Nene Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangePeterborough-Wansford
Gauge: Standard gauge – gets you through the dreadful urban sprawl of Peterborough

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

With the Peterborough ‘town’ terminus a kilometre from the national station, and a ‘country’ end in the middle of nowhere, the practical use for this line looks limited. But it carries you halfway to Oundle, and into open country past a network of unpleasant roundabouts.

Tel: 01780 784444

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeWhitby –National Rail Network InterchangeGrosmont -Pickering
Standard – the new services too and from Whitby are especially useful

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  tick No restrictions

All trains have a guard’s van, but space varies, so tandems, tricycles or cycling groups are advised to book in advance. Individual cyclists can usually turn up and travel, subject to space being available. The cycle carriage fee is £2 per day, covering any amount of travel, and tandems seem to travel for that price too.
Could it be better? You bet it could. The line needs to reopen onward from Pickering to Malton… you’d then be able to put your bike on a train in York, and get off in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Tel: 01751 473799


Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangePaignton – Kingswear (for Dartmouth ferry)
Standard gauge – very useful for cyclists, saving a major climb and some busy roads

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

According to the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway, all trains have a converted coach as a guard’s van with a capacity of up to 100 bikes, so tricycles and tandems are welcome and booking is never required. The cycle carriage fee is £1 for each single journey.

Tel: 01803 555872

Ravenglass & Eskdale

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeRavenglass – Dalegarth
Gauge: 15 inch – the good news is that the railway carries you to the foot of the Hardknot Pass. The bad news? It doesn’t carry you over it.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Bicycles are carried free, but space is very limited. However, open and closed wagons are available for the carriage of bicycles and can be marshalled into a train as required, but it’s a good idea to give 24 hours notice, particularly for larger groups. Bicycles are carried at the owner’s risk.

Tel: 01229 717171

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch

Routes: Hythe – New Romney – Dungeness
15 inch – duplicates a Sustrans route, but certainly useful for getting too and from leisure rides on the marshes

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Although a guard’s van is available on all trains, space is limited, with priority being given to passengers luggage, so pre-booking is essential. If booked in advance, up to four bikes can be carried in a second guard’s van by arrangement at a nominal 50p per bike. Folding bikes are carried free.

Tel: 01797 362353


Severn Valley Railway

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeKidderminster Town – Bridgnorth
Standard – a great way of getting clear of the Birmingham conurbation into open country

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have guard’s vans, but space varies and other luggage is given priority, so cycle space cannot be guaranteed. There are no booking arrangements – just turn up and enquire. Cycle carriage is now free, but bikes must be placed in the luggage areas. Groups of up to three or more cyclists can be catered for, but tandems and tricycles are not carried.

Tel: 01299 403816

Swanage Railway

Routes: National Rail Network Interchange Wareham, Norden (park & ride) – Corfe Castle – Swanage 
Standard, and now a really useful transport link

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Now the railway has reopened through to Wareham, this line is extremely helpful, bypassing a busy and dangerous stretch of the A351. All trains have a guard’s van and bicycles and tandems are carried free of charge, although very large groups are advised to book space in advance. Tricycles are carried, provided they are able to pass through standard double guard’s van doors.

Tel: 01929 425800


Talyllyn Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeTywyn – Abergynolwyn 
2 foot 3 inches – no strategic value, but a pleasant enough ride

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Best to make enquiries in advance!

The Talyllyn aims to provide space for up to two bicycles, but it’s a good idea to inform the railway of your intentions in advance, so that a suitable van can be provided, especially if traveling in a group. The fare is £4 for bicycles and £6 for tandems per single journey. Tricycles are not specifically banned, but space is very limited.

Tel: 01654 710472

Watercress Line (Mid-Hants)

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeAlton – New Alresford 
Standard Gauge – duplicates a Sustrans route, and doesn’t really go anywhere, but a pleasant enough ride

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have guard’s vans (of various sizes!), so bikes, trikes and tandems are carried free and without restriction. Large parties are advised to book. Not a very useful link – if only it still linked through to Winchester!

Tel: 01962 733810

West Somerset Railway

Routes: Bishop’s Lydeard – Minehead
Gauge: Standard gauge – this line would be much more useful if services were restored over the last five miles from Bishop’s Lydeard to Taunton on the National Rail network. These are the busiest roads, unfortunately.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Bicycles are not carried on the Taunton – Bishop’s Lydeard bus link. The West Somerset Railway carries bicycles, tricycles and tandems for a set fare of £1.00. There are no booking requirements, except for large parties.

Tel: 01643 704996

Bus Cuts in Rural Dorset

We’re not great bus users at A to B. For decades we’ve used folding bikes with public transport, but that generally means trains and the odd plane. Our only regular bus ride is the Number 31, now confusingly renumbered X51 to integrate better with the X53 Jurassic Coaster. But the X51 is an intercity express amongst rural bus services. It links big places, fills to standing room only in the summer and goes relatively fast (14mph average). It even starts and finishes at railway stations, and connects with trains in a rather loose sense. It is, in effect, a rail service on rubber wheels.

Dorchester South Station

The X51 from Dorchester South station is an intercity express amongst rural bus routes

Mind you, one sees the country buses nipping about. Usually they are little 30- or 40-seater jobs, and they’re generally blue, because our local network seems to be the monopoly of Damory these days. This looks and sounds like a local operator, but is actually part of the Go-Ahead group these days. The buses are either full of little old ladies, or empty, according to the tidal flow too and from market towns. That’s the picture in Dorset, but country buses follow a similar pattern throughout the land, and no doubt other lands too.

Evolution of a Network
The funding for these services is a bit opaque, but it used to be simple enough. Most originated as local buses run by local drivers, often as a useful sideline for the village garage, and the schedules were set long ago to suit local folk. When rural rail services started to melt away in the 1950s and ‘60s, the bus operators thought they were onto a good thing (beautifully played out in the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt), but the loss of rail services tended to push rural folk into buying a car, and bus traffic rapidly dwindled.
Harold Wilson brought in a bus fuel subsidy in 1964, which rose to 100% of the duty payable until 1993, when Ken Clarke froze it, so the rate has effectively fallen since.
Since the 1960s, buses have been (briefly) nationalised, privatised, regulated and deregulated, resulting in endless turmoil. Transport Acts have come and gone, but the crucial one for rural buses was the 1985 Act which enabled local authorities to subsidize bus services where no commercial operator could be found and ‘where they think it appropriate’. This was ‘Toried up’ in the 2000 Act (yes, it was still a nominally Labour government) to stop local authorities from ‘inhibiting competition through subsidy’ and forcing them to apply the creepily Blairite criteria of ‘best value’ when making subsidy decisions.
The real shakeup came in 2001 when the same government introduced a half-fare scheme on local buses for the elderly and disabled, the scheme subsequently becoming free from 2006 and going nationwide from April 2008.

Bus Pass Mania
The bus pass scheme has been phenomenally successful, with some 80% of eligible rural users taking it up, but the annual cost in England had risen to £1.17 billion by 2013/14, or £120 for each of the 9.73 million card-holders. Of course, the political cost of introducing a phenomenally popular freebie is that no political party dares take it away again. There is talk of means testing to weed out impecunious middle class users, but the middle classes are a vociferous lobby group. Meanwhile, free-market types want to dispose of passes and subsidies altogether. Political suicide.
Surely all this free travel is good news for country buses? You’d think so, because the aim of the system is to increase passenger numbers while keeping the operator’s income broadly neutral, but the government doesn’t pay the full cost, and that has resulted in a considerable squeeze on hard-pressed local authorities.
Quite how the cash slithers down to local authority level and thus to the bus operators is a mystery to most ordinary folk. In England, the money comes from the Department for Communities & Local Government and is determined by a complex formula. We won’t get involved in the detail, but it seems the payments generally amount to some 45-65% of the fare, although Dorset is claimed to have the lowest reimbursement rate in the country, at just 36%.
In Scotland, the government pays bus operators directly at the rate of 60p in the pound, and in Wales the funding seems to be tied into the contracts for each service. Then there’s Mr Wilson’s fuel duty rebate, which has become the Bus Service Operator Grant, and again, varies area by area. Fuel accounts for about 10% of operator costs, which isn’t much, but on marginal, lightly used, services it can make the difference between profit and loss.
It’s clearly a complex and imperfect system. Popular routes are doing quite well, but the weaker ones receive very little from Whitehall, and the local authorities just don’t have the cash to top up the subsidies. Everyone seems to have a grumble, from bus passengers losing buses and routes, to local authorities forced to choose between buses and essential services.
Perhaps the daftest consequence of the bus pass/subsidy system is that operators have been deliberately closing marginal commercial services, forcing local authorities to put the services out to tender, then bidding for a subsidy to run something that had previously been profitable. With local authority finances under pressure, some of these routes have subsequently been cut back to one or two buses a day, or even one or two a week. The passengers all disappear, and a once-thriving service withers on the vine.

Inside of busFinding the Weekly Bus
Dorset has quite a network of subsidised buses, but by no means as many as some larger rural counties. Many routes were cut back or lopped off two years ago, and recent funding cuts have put another 27 at risk, resulting in the Bournemouth Echo headline ‘bus services cut to almost 100 villages’. Even if all the cuts go ahead, the impact will be less than the figures suggest, because the majority of these routes are already down to one bus a week, but huge areas will be left without public transport, and bus routes rarely reopen.
Some of these buses have been basket cases for years, but many were popular until quite recently, with a number seeing daily well-patronized services. As with some of the rail cuts in the Beeching era, you can’t help concluding that they have been ‘softened up’ for closure in advance of the coup de grâce.
We set out to try a few of the threatened routes, but catching such irregular buses can be tricky. The nearest to Dorchester is the 323, a solitary Monday bus from Buckland Newton, south to Piddletrenthide, east to Mappowder, west to Duntish (just two miles from its starting point), then north the wiggly way via Holwell to Sturminster Newton. As the crow flies that’s a trip of just over ten miles, taking perhaps 20-30 minutes by car, but the bus winds twice as far, taking 76 minutes, at an effective speed of 8mph. Yes, you could cycle to market much faster.
Why should the county council subsidize this absurd service? Well, Monday is market day in Sturminster, and as all country folk know, Stur does a very good market. A single weekly bus that takes a somewhat zig-zag course to town can be an effective way of reaching the greatest number of passengers for the smallest possible subsidy. It may be absurd, but it is a lifeline for many.
Deadlines being what they are, we couldn’t wait until Monday, so we chose the 368, which runs every Friday from Sturminster to Sherborne and Yeovil via such delightful parishes as Pidney and King’s Stag.
We’ll come back to the 368, because first we have to catch up with it by using one of the more favoured rural services, the X11. This sounds like something that might dock with the space station, but it’s actually a rural bus service from Dorchester to Sherborne and Yeovil via Cerne Abbas and Longburton. This is an important route, with six daily buses, carrying school children both ways, plus the inevitable smattering of blue rinse ladies. There are four buses on Saturdays too, and like all the most important routes it starts at Dorchester South railway station, which has developed into a successful bus/rail interchange.
And so, at 11.55am on a Friday, we buy return tickets to Sherborne from the driver of the Damory X11 at the South station. No-one else gets on the 40-seater bus here, but ten board on the high street, although most are travelling only two or three miles to outlying villages, and by Charlton Down – 25 minutes in – there are only four of us left. This is one of the problems in rural areas. The routes can be long, but the traffic is often very localized, so the bus runs near empty much of the time.Other problems include carelessly parked vans, suicidal lorry drivers, and some very narrow bridges, hence the reliance on dumpy Dennis Darts and Optare Solos, small buses that would normally be found in urban areas.
Leaving Cerne Abbas, there’s only one other passenger, but just the other side of the village at the Castle View Nursing Home (it offers views of the Giant’s whatsit, which must entertain the oldies), two brassy young East European women catch the X11 to get home after an early shift. This highlights another rural issue – there are jobs in the countryside, but unless you’re quite well off, you won’t find anywhere to live closer than Yeovil, a 30-minute bus ride away. If the bus goes, Castle View has to put its prices up.
There are few villages between Cerne and Sherborne, so we get up a bit of speed now, rattling up to 50mph or so on the straight, but indifferently surfaced roads. At 12.58pm we reach Sherborne station, a useful interchange for Exeter, Salisbury and London, and there’s just time to hop out for a cup of tea in the station caf.

One Bus a Week
Unlike Dorchester South, which sees some serious buses and coaches, Sherborne is the epicentre of a network of rural buses, including the busy little 74 that visits such places as Thornford, Yetminster and Chetnole (all with stations too, incidentally), plus a few oddities, such as the 42 (Gillingham to Yeovil, Tuesdays only) and the one we’re hoping to catch, the 368, linking Sturminster Newton, Sherborne and Yeovil on Fridays.

368 bus at Sherborne

The weekly 368 arrives at Sherborne Railway station

This is on the danger list, or at least the Friday-only daytime run is on the list, but it’s not shown as being up for closure, because there’s also a very early daily bus used primarily by students, which runs from Blandford to Yeovil, but doesn’t come back until after 6pm… a bit late for shops, schools or college you’d think. Oddly enough, this return service runs out of steam at Sturminster, so if you were to catch it from Blandford in the morning, you’d have to stop over in Stur on the way home, and wait for the once-daily 310 at 2.50pm the following day. We’re not kidding.
With this sort of frequency, you can’t afford to miss one, but happily a fellow traveller turns up for the 5th February bus and confirms that it’s due. The 368 used to be a busy route, he says, with several daily buses typically carrying 15 passengers into town, but the service was cut back without warning. ‘I turned up one morning three years ago, and it didn’t come’. What will he do if they cut this last tenuous link? ‘I’ll shop online. I already buy a few large items that way. But it’s nicer to get into town’.
The web is an issue of course. With the likes of the big supermarkets delivering cheaply to your door, and the world at your mouse fingertip, is there really any need to go into town? Transport planners and MPs should try living car-free in one of these villages to experience what isolation really means.
In the wilder corners of rural England, village shops, pubs and schools are more likely to survive, but in this more suburban rurality there’s an assumption that everyone has mobility. My fellow passenger lives at Alweston, just three miles from Waitrose in Sherborne. But if this bus goes, he might as well live on the moon. His village shop closed several years ago.
At exactly 1.31pm, the 368 arrives carrying the predicted five little old ladies (unless someone’s had a coronary in Waitrose, you can safely predict how many will be on board), and we’re off. They’re a jolly little crowd, and you get the impression that the bus ride is a key part of the entertainment for people who live alone in rural areas. But they’re all well into their 70s, demonstrating how these bus routes have been closed by stealth. When the last passengers pop off, the authorities will withdraw the vestigial weekly service without a murmur of complaint.
At Holwell we hop off to make a call in the village. There’s plenty of time to walk to King’s Stag for the last bus. It’s two miles as the crow flies, and the 368 from Sherborne went there after leaving Holwell, but it took a 23 minute deviation via Pulham, Duntish and Buckland Newton. Yes, you could beat it at a steady jog.

King's Stag bus shelter

King’s Stag Bus Shelter

King’s Stag is one of those villages whose strategic importance far outweighs its actual population, which can’t exceed 200. There’s a smart block-built bus shelter here, erected in happier days when there were several good bus services. Four routes still converge on the village, but the 368, 323 and 317 are in the one a week category, leaving only the 307, which runs from Sturminster to Dorchester at 07.20 every morning, with a second bus (Tuesday to Friday only) at the more civilized time of 09.40, returning just after lunch. The return scholars bus leaves The Hardye School, Dorchester at 3.40pm and runs as far as King’s Stag, before returning to the county town, and that’s the one we’re catching. Just one schoolgirl is left on the bus as it arrives at this remote outpost, 15 miles from school,  and as she steps off she looks confused, then smiles shyly. Like the bus driver, she’s surprised to see someone getting on.
For children kept back on detention and (in theory at least) commuters working in Dorchester, there’s a final bus home at 5.40pm, which guarantees to go as far as Fifehead Neville, but will go the last few miles to Sturminster if you ask the driver nicely.
The 307 service isn’t dead, but it’s on life support. If the Tuesday to Friday bus were to be nipped in the bud, this would – like many others -effectively become a statutory school bus service.
The bus turns up spot on time, and it’s a smart new Optare Solo, noticeably smoother and quieter than the older buses we’ve caught up to now. In theory, someone might have popped out from Dorchester on the lunchtime bus to visit their auntie in Alton Pancras, but no-one else boards all the way back to the station. The service is advertised as missing the 5.33pm to London by one minute, but it actually arrives ten minutes early, so had we been travelling further afield, we could have made it to Waterloo by 8.20pm.

Any Future for Rural Buses?
It’s actually been a fun day. The country buses are quite slow because of all the village centre deviations, but the views are good (choose a back seat over the rear-mounted engine), and it’s a friendly world, as little old lady fiefdoms generally are. On a wet day, there’s a lot to be said for going into town by bus.Dorset County Council consultation map
Rural public transport needs to be nurtured and encouraged, and by gradually lopping services off, we’ve created bus routes that have little hope of surviving without ongoing subsidy. For a government that is committed to replacing Trident for ‘around’ £100 billion, the cost of maintaining a few rural buses is negligible, but once they’re down to one-a-week, carrying less than a handful of oldies, they’ve more or less reached the point where it would be cheaper to put them in a taxi, and bugger the theoretical walk-on market.
There are other solutions. Some bus companies have taken their weekly market-day buses out of the system altogether, by describing them as ‘tour buses’, which don’t receive grant aid, but are exempt from the troublesome concessionary fare scheme too.
The spider’s web of bus routes in Dorset looks impressive, but outside the urban areas, only the X51, and routes from Bridport to Beaminster and Weymouth, Wareham to Swanage, Dorchester to Portland and Poole to Blandford do better than an hourly service, the level essential to encourage ‘turn up and go’ discretionary travel.
Another ten or so are offer three or more services a day (three is the norm) and of these, all but the Blandford to Salisbury service are safe in the current review. A handful of the remaining 29 routes see a single daily schools service, but most have just one bus a week. And if the council’s plans go through, all will be swept away.

Swiss Train

Europe by Bike – Switzerland

Railways through mountains - the Glacier Express

Railways through mountains – the Glacier Express J & N Forsyth

Europe with Bike – Switzerland

The Swiss are amazing. Their country is not a natural place to build railways, so they build them up and through mountains.
The Swiss rail network is spread evenly on the country. There are 3,787 km of standard gauge tracks spread across the country and 509 km of metre gauge tracks in the south of the country. The main operator is Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS). The other operators such as BLS (Bern-Löschtberg-Simplon) appear to be privately owned but are in fact owned by the cantons and the federal government. There are connections to Austria, France, Germany and Italy, some of which carry bicycles, both DB and SNCF run trains into Switzerland. The only major cross border rail connection that does nor accept bicycles is the narrow gauge Locarno to Domodossola FART (Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi – Regional Bus and Rail Company of Canton Ticino) line over the Centovalli.

Some but not all of the distinctive yellow Post Buses take bicycles.
The railway system is cyclist-friendly, but not cheap. The majority of trains carry bicycles without reservation. This does mean that on public holidays problems can arise. You load the bikes yourself. The exception being the InterCity-Neigezügen (ICN) tilting Intercity trains where reservations are necessary between 21 March to 31 October at a cost of 5CHF per bicycle. These reservations can be made online. Short distance bicycle tickets cost half the single second class fare. A day tickets costs 12CHF for passengers with rail cards and 18CHF for passengers paying the full price for their tickets.
Travelling to Switzerland overland with your bicycle is described in “Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe”.

Adequate bike parking (Romanshorn)

Adequate bike parking (Romanshorn). J & N Forsyth

Popular Cycling Areas in Switzerland
The Swiss authorities have invested heavily in cycle routes over the last twenty years or so with the result that the country now has nine national routes criss crossing the country and a large number of regional routes. Signposting and track quality is superb. Readers can find much more information about Swiss cycling in “Cycle Touring in Switzerland” by Judith and Neil Forsyth, published by Cicerone ISBN: 9781852845261 as a printed book or as an e-book. One can also buy descriptions of individual routes.
On weekends in summer with a good weather forecast, increased numbers of cyclists can be expected between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on trains to Ticino, Valais, the Bernese Oberland, Pays des trois lacs – near Neuchatel, Jura, Grisons and Lake Constance, i.e. much of Switzerland, meaning there may be a shortage of space on these trains.

Wide bicycle access on Swiss doubledecker rolling stock

Wide bicycle access on Swiss doubledecker rolling stock J & N Forsyth

Train Types
This matter is largely irrelevant, because trains that take bicycles are shown in the timetable, allowing cyclists to choose which trains they take. There do not appear to be surcharges or extra charges for certain trains. There is the usual mix of local, regional and express trains. Bicycles are forbidden during the evening rush on Zurich S-Bahn (suburban trains) during the evening rush Mondays to Fridays (4pm-7pm).
One very good idea is that capacity forecasts for each train is shown online and on station indicators which allows route planning to use trains that are not as full.

Railway tickets are expensive. Most inhabitants of Switzerland invest in a Half-Fare travel card which gives you half price travel and reduced prices for bicycle transport, but as it costs 185CHF, it does not really pay unless you live there or visit often. We bought two when we wrote the Cycling in Switzerland book as we spent several months there. There are also cards for tourists – the Swiss Pass, etc. but one needs to calculate carefully if cycling and expecting to travel by bicycle with the odd trip by public transport.
Getting you and your bike on the bus, ship or train

Many but not all Post Buses carry bicycles and E-bikes. Details can be found under:
You put the bike on a rack or on a trailer yourself.

Typical ramp on a Swiss station

Typical ramp on a Swiss station J Forsyth

Tandems are not carried by the SBB. Bike trailers can only be transported if they are no wider than 80 cm.
Select your route and journey time in the online timetable which allows searching in all public transport systems in Switzerland:
•    In the online timetable, select “Advanced search” and then “carriage of bicycles required (Switzerland only)” to see the routes on which you can take your bike yourself.
Bike on train•    Trains that do not have space for bicycles are marked on the timetable and departure boards with a bike logo with a bar across. Cyclists are not allowed to take their bikes on these trains.
•    A bicycle reservation symbol or reference number on the timetable indicates a train or Post Bus for which reservation is required.
•    The capacity forecast is a useful indicator of which trains are likely to have capacity bottlenecks and whether another train or a different route might be less busy and thus better suited to transport bikes.
•    Passengers can check which section of the platform the coaches with bicycle spaces (bicycle hooks, bicycle platforms) will arrive in as early as three hours before departure in the online timetable or in the SBB Mobile smartphone app.
One good feature of Swiss stations is the provision of ramps to the platforms. There is no fiddling about trying to persuade loaded bicycles to get into narrow lifts. You will know roughly where the bike carrying carriages will stop. Go to the correct area of the platform. Take the bags off the bike. Put all the bags together. When the train arrives enter the train through a door with a bike logo. Just prop the bike up and return to the platform to pick up your bags. Leaving your passport and camera on the platform could probably spoil your day. Get back on the train and hang the bike up. Find a seat and collapse.
When you get off the train, push your bike along the platform. It is strictly forbidden to ride bikes on platforms.

Ferries and Steamers
There are ferries and ships on the larger lakes. There is normally no problem getting your bike on board. Just tell the person in the booking office. A bungee or a strap is a useful accessory to fasten the bike to the mainmast or similar, so everything is shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Our favourite trip is from Andermatt over the Oberalp Pass and then down the Rhine Valley to Lake Constance with good mountain views all the way.

Bike / Europe - Sweden

Europe by Bike – Sweden

Europe by bike - Swedish trains

The new high-speed rail service from Stockholm to Eskilstuna.

The railways in Sweden have a network of 13,000 km of track. The major operator is the state-owned SJ, but there are other operators such as Veolia, Tågkompaniet, Norrtåg and Inlandsbanan.

Left to itself, the major Swedish rail operator SJ is not very cyclist friendly, although matters have improved greatly recently. The SJ will run a number of mainline and regional trains with accompanied bicycle transport from certain stations and trains from Mondays to Fridays, in the summer in June, July and August, and on some lines from May until December.  On all other mainline routes and at all other times you can take your bike when it is first partially dismantled, packed and stowed as baggage. (Thanks are due to Cykelfrämjandet, the Swedish cyclists association for their help.)


X 2000
These very popular SJ high speed trains link Stockholm to major Swedish cities. The ADFC, the German Cyclists’ Club, reports on its website that some cyclists said that they could take their bikes in X2000 trains, though it is not officially allowed. Whether these bicycles were partially dismantled and bagged was not mentioned.
More conventional mainline trains:

InterCity trains are much slower than the X 200 trains. Some of these services offer limited bicycle transport in summer. The company also runs a number of night trains including a useful one for us from Malmö to Berlin, but it too does not take bicycles.

Runs a few trains daily from Malmö to Stockholm and return. If these take unbagged bicycles it will be a very small number.

  1. Runs Lapplandståget/ Lapland train, a weekly train from Malmö to Lappland and on to Narvik from the beginning of July to middle of August – Fridays Malmö – Narvik returning on Sunday. Bicycles are transported on this train. It costs 99 SEK to take your bicycle along to Lapland from Malmö and Stockholm. Only one bicycle and one piece of luggage is allowed per passenger – inventive packing is called for. Space can be reserved online, but only Scandinavian credit cards are accepted on the website.
  2. Runs trains on the Swedish end of the twice daily Mittnabotåget/Nabotåget service between Trondheim (N) and Östersund / Sundsvall (S). Whether the Norrtåg services mentioned below are a replacement or a additional service is not clear.

Regional Trains
Some of these trains are operated by SJ and some by more customer orientated organisations.

The Inlandsbanan from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to Gällivare in the north running through the wilds of northern Sweden takes bicycles from early June to the end of August. How interesting this area is for cyclists other than the purple-legged knotted-muscle MTB types, who wear shorts even in the middle of winter is debatable. The cost is SEK 50 for a single journey between two points on the line. Bikes are only allowed if there is room, but this appears to be the case normally, according to reports we have read from the ADFC. A charming feature of this line is that the FIAT diesel rail cars used on the line do not have restaurant or buffet facilities, but prebooking of meals or snacks in restaurant along the way is organised by the company. The train stops at various restaurants for half an hour or so.

Tågkompaniet, owned by NSB, Norwegian Railways runs trains in the middle of Sweden. Map On all trains in the Bergslagen area and the X-trains, there are two bike places in each train. In Värmland county, bikes are allowed on the trains as long as space is available.

NSB also runs regional trains between Goteborg in Sweden and Oslo in Norway. These trains take bicycles without reservation.

Skåne Commuter Transit in southern Sweden operates the Öresund line into Denmark and the railways for about 100km around Malmö. Services are contracted out to Arriva. An accompanied bicycle costs the same as a child’s single ticket on both trains and buses. Bikes are allowed on the train if there´s room. The train manager decides how many bikes can be taken. In general:

  • Pågatågen: at most 10 bikes/train or section
  • Reginatågen: at most 2 bikes/train or section
  • Öresund line: at most 9 bikes/train or section.

On regional buses with the necessary fittings in this area bikes are carried at the weekend between 04:00 and 23:00 but only if there`s room and for a maximum of two bikes. This applies daily during the summer holidays from 15 June to 15 August .

Norrtåg: The north of Sweden now enjoys a cyclist friendly service by Norrtåg AB a joint DB/SJ company. See the route map for details.


Swedish railway tickets are a complex matter. There are inter-company booking arrangements called Resplus. However on some local lines two companies run in competition and then each others’ tickets are not valid, unless you specifically buy a Resplus ticket. Interrail tickets are accepted as far as we can see. There are also discounts for the young and pensioners. Each of the railway companies will sell you tickets for the whole system.

Veolia tickets can be purchased online on their website, but only Nordic credit cards are accepted. For all other credit cards, tickets can be booked and purchased over the telephone: Customer Service +46 771-26 00 00. Tickets are posted home and a small distribution fee applies. It is probably easier to use Raileurope or the major European state railway companies to purchase a ticket. Interrail cards are valid for travel on the Lappland train. Seats can be reserved for 29 SEK and couchettes for 249 SEK.

Getting there and back

We assume that the reader wishes to travel to Sweden to go cycle touring, rather than moving there to live. We would suggest that good places to go touring are Skäne east and northeast of Malmö, the west coast up to Göteborg, the Trollhätte and Göta Canals from Göteborg east or northeastwards from Malmö to Stockholm. Since there is but one train a day from Malmö to Stockholm that takes bicycles early in the morning. it is better to travel to Malmö and start cycling, rather than travelling by train with a bicycle to Stockholm, unless you wish to spend a day and night in Malmö. The best way to get to Malmö from London is via Harwich, Esbjerg and Copenhagen.

Journey Mode Cost Passenger/Bike Comment
Harwich about 17:00
Esbjerg a: next day 13:00
DFDS Ship* £169 for 2 people You will need to eat on the ship dinner and breakfast cost about ?40 pp if booked in advance. This ship sails on three or four days a week.
Esbjerg d: 14:42 Copenhagen :17:49 IC* 46 Euros
Copenhagen d: 18:13 Malmö a: 18:46 RE
Journey Mode Cost Passenger/Bike Comment
Malmö d: 11:33 Copenhagen a:1207 RE
Copenhagen d: 12:30Esbjerg a:15:26 IC 46 Euros pp
Esbjerg d:18:45 Harwich a: 12:00 the next day DFDS Ship £169 for 2 people You will need to eat on the ship dinner and breakfast cost about ?40 pp if booked in advance. This ship sails on three or four days a week.

Putting Bikes on SJ Trains

You need to work out which train you wish to catch, buy a bicycle ticket/reservation for 249 SEK per bicycle (a whopping £25). You then go to the platform from which your train will depart to be there at least 20 minutes before the train departs. You should remove all luggage from the bike and wait for the arrival of the BestXpress personnel who wear bright orange waistcoats. They will load your bike on the train and when the train arrives at your destination they will be present on the platform to unload your bicycle. In case of problems in either phase of the operation ring 0771-71 71 71. It is definitely a gold plated solution, by no means customer friendly and the fact that all over Europe cyclists are loading their own bikes on trains seems to have escaped the notice of the SJ management.


Veolia has a first page in Swedish and then, if you are lucky and you click the right spot you are directed to a page where you can click on a Union Jack to find a page in English about the Lappland train and the Malm? – Stockholm services. However you cannot use anything but a Scandinavian credit card to buy tickets. This is a good encouragement to use the Rail Europe or Deutsche Bahn ticketing services.

Skåne Commuter Transit is useful if you have a working knowledge of Swedish.

Inlandsbanan is a clear and simple website, but don’t send for the brochure, unless you really want to go there. Once you read it you will find yourself packing a rucksack and working out the most convenient way to get there.


The ferries from Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Finland all take bicycles, as do the ferries out to the Swedish and Finnish islands.


Your authors would dearly like to take the 1300 km long Inlandsbanan from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to Gällivare in the north. From the northern end we could take a train to Narvik on the Kiruna iron ore line. Then maybe the Hurtigruten ship to Trondheim and the Mitnatbotåget back to Sweden.

Bike / Rail - France

Europe by Bike – France

The basic message is that long distance travel with a bicycle by train in France is possible, despite what you might have heard about high speed trains like the TGV, but choice is limited and you need to book early, especially in summer. Regional services that can take accompanied bicycles are sparse but good. The French Railways web site can be found at
Railway lines in France are less dense than in Germany and there are fewer trains on the lines. Out in the sticks, two trains a day appears to be the norm, but services to the regional centres are generally adequate. The SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français or French National Railway Corporation) incorporates TGV, France’s high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of trains for passengers and freight, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure owned by Réseau Ferré de France (RFF).
This is the very French solution to European directives formulated to impose competition on national and pan-European rail networks. Great Britain got a botched privatisation, and the French kept the whole SNCF edifice intact by making it look privatised. Who is to say they were wrong? Recent work by the Office of the Rail Regulator suggests that National Rail is 34-40% less efficient than the nationalised European norm, and as we all know, standard British fares are the most expensive in Europe too.
Harking back to a time when we exported technology to France rather than the other way round, French trains drive on the left, except in Alsace and parts of Lorraine that were German between 1870 and 1918. Trams and underground railways run on the right because of their origins as road transport.
Travelling to various regions of France is described in “Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe”.
You can download a slightly out-of-date map of the SNCF (there doesn’t seem to be anything better) at


Train Types and Operators


Brompton: The Fat Controller’s ideal bike, with a TGV in the background

Long distance express trains
Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)
Literally ‘high speed train’, TGVs are very fast and comfortable train sets. Some of the newer examples of the class are double-deckers. Up to four bicycles are carried on certain TGV services: TGV Atlantique (except Duplex trains), parts of TGV Nord, TGV Est and TGV Lyria (Services to Switzerland from Paris Gare de Lyon).
A few words of warning though: tandems and recumbents (these are almost unknown in France), are only officially carried in trains with guards vans/baggage cars, which are now rare. They do seem to be tolerated elsewhere, although space can be tight.
When travelling on bike-carrying TGVs you will need to reserve bike places. Not only are there typically only four places available on each train, but the bikes block four part-time seats that can be used by travellers without reserved tickets, of whom there can be quite a few. They are unlikely to give up their seats unless you can wave a reservation under their noses and threaten to call the Gendarmes.
There is another class of TGV, the iDTGV which can only be booked online and offers cheaper fares than the conventional TGV trains. It appears to be aimed at the student market, but there are no age limits. This offers three types of accommodation: iDZap, iDZen and iDNight in the usual two classes: first and second class. iDZap is intended as an area where you get to know your fellow passengers. Probably a good place to practise your French chat up lines. iDZen is the public library area. Nobody speaks and you can read “Candide” in peace. iDNight is an overnight or a late in the day train and appears to be a moving disco and bar running more slowly than a conventional TGV. It sounds like a vision of Hell. However these trains cost about half the price of their conventional equivalents. There is, however, a major snag for the cyclist. These trains do not take bicycles unless they are bagged in a similar manner to the Eurostar trains, and you can only take two pieces of luggage on board, which sounds like a recipe for inventive packing.

DB RE meets TER in Wissembourg

DB and TER trains at Wissembourg station. Judith and Neil Forsyth

These are conventional trains hauled by a locomotive. The trains run not only between major centres, but also important regional settlements. They are slightly slower than the TGVs, but fares are cheaper. Some are sleeper trains running at night.These are couchette rather than sleeping car trains, but on these trains one compartment has been modified to act as a bike garage. (See Table in the Onward Travel chapter.)

Bikes in TER

Bikes in TER. Judith and Neil Forsyth

Regional Trains – Transport Express Régional (TER)
SNCF operates local railways and buses under the name TER. These services are heavily subsidised by the French taxpayer, with 72% of the cost being borne by the State and the regional councils on average, so travellers only pay about a third of the full cost of provision. TER trains consist of single or multiple-unit diesel, electric or dual-mode rail cars, as well as some Grandes Lignes rolling stock that has been ‘cascaded’ from intercity routes.

Popular Cycling Areas in France
Brittany, the Atlantic Coast: La Vèlodyssée, the Jura, the Loire Valley (Eurovélo 6), the Pyrenees, the Canal de Midi and surprisingly the Rhine Valley between Basel and Lauterbourg where the French bank of the river offers much better cycling than the German side which uses a maintenance road for the river authority as acycle track.

SNCF services are divided into two groups: Grandes Lignes (main line) and TER (regional services). Although nominally separate, the two groups work together and in practice there is no difference between them. If you use the SNCF home page this will also show TER services where appropriate. Not all, but some of the main line services will take bicycles, including some of the high speed TGVs, whereas the vast majority of regional trains do. You can find out which mainline trains carry bikes by checking timetables on and seeing which trains display a bicycle logo. If there is room on your chosen train you can turn up, pop your bike on the train and away you go. You can however reserve bike places on long distance trains before travelling, and it is highly advisable. The local TER trains do not accept reservations and bicycle transport is free. Folders are welcome everywhere, provided they do not exceed 120cm x 90cm x 60cm.
There are a number of possibilities in Britain, and you can now book bike tickets online from (see ‘Bike Tickets’ below).
1. By Phone – Voyages-SNCF: 0844 848 5848 Mon-Fri – 09:00-19:00 Saturday – 09:00-18:00
2. Online at The site doesn’t seem to offer a simple way of booking a bike ticket online whereas the capitainetrain website lets you book bikes on French trains online, but not on Eurostar. It is probably better to sort out Eurostar and SNCF by phone.

SNCF offers several rail cards: For the old, the young, the very young, families and normal people. These only really pay if you live in France or are intending to travel extensively in France.

Bicycle Tickets
Your bicycle will cost ten Euros on long distance trains within France, but you MUST book early to get space on some Intercite and all TGV trains. A trailer probably costs the same amount, but this could be awkward in a TGV where there is limited bike space. Cycling for the French either means road bikes with violently coloured Lycra à la Tour de France or rusty pre-WWI ladies’ bikes used by farm workers in the country. Neither of these ever pull trailers. In our experience if you can show willing and partially dismantle the trailer it does help. Bicycle transport on local TER trains is free.
International bicycle tickets cost €10 – 15 and include a reservation for a bicycle. These are valid from your starting station to your destination. Recumbents (even short wheelbase recumbents) and tandems seem to cost double, even though they are technically banned from most trains.
To arrange bike transport on Intercité or TGV trains in France, it is now possible to book both your seat reservation and bike reservation at the same time by using the Capitaine Train online booking service: full details in English at

The Composteur

The “Composteur” By Judith and Neil Forsyth

Getting you and your bicycle on the train
If catching a train from a station with more than two platforms, the departure platform is announced only ten minutes before the train arrives. In Paris Est for example the departure platform of the TGV/ICE to Frankfurt is announced ten minutes before departure, causing an almighty stampede. The same is true in Germanically drilled Strasbourg, even though the train has been waiting empty for half an hour or so (If you have to wait in Strasbourg in winter use the northern concourse. It’s a lot warmer and there are more seats.). Way down south in Nice things are fortunately more casual and the departure platform of the sleeper trains is made public a good hour before departure.
You may have to hang (accrocher) your bikes on hooks anchored in the compartment ceiling. Unless you are built like Atlas, remove the panniers first. Avoid trying to lift the bikes up once the train is moving and take them down (deccrocher) in good time before your destination.
When you are on the way to the platform to catch your train, you will see small yellow pillars labelled ‘Compostage’ with a slit. Stick your ticket/s for the journey as purchased from ticket machines or the ticket office in this slit. You will hear the machine whine and print the date on your ticket/s. They are then valid for that journey but cannot be used again. If you do not do this you could be fined €50 or so by the conductor on the train.

We normally cross France in the dark to or from Paris and then take a night train south, though we did enjoy running into Nice along the Mediterranean coast early on a winter morning. We did enjoy a three week trip cycle partly along Eurovélo 6 from Breisach to Bordeaux some years ago, but if I was to do it again we would cycle upstream with the prevailing wind on our backs.

Bike / Rail - Finland

Europe by Bike – Finland

A to B Finland - rail networkWe will not write much about Finnish railways, although the organisation is very cyclist-friendly. Finland lies well to the north and east in Europe. It is at least a three day journey from Britain by train and ship to get there, so travelling to the country on the ground is only of interest to the railway or shipping enthusiast, or the seriously green. We think it would be quite an interesting trip.
Finland is lightly populated. There are long distance lines connecting the main centres of population with Helsinki. The proximity to Russia means that the railways in Finland have a network of 5,919 km of 1,524 mm (5 ft) gauge track which connects the major towns and cities mainly with Helsinki. Effectively the only operator is the state-owned VR.

Getting to Finland by train and ship
The easiest surface route for bicycles and their owners from the UK to Helsinki is the three-night trip (Hull – P&O or Harwich – Stena) via Europoort or Hook of Holland, then train via Rotterdam, Osnabrück and Hamburg to Travemünde or Rostock, and ship to Helsinki.
The only international passenger trains in Finland connect Helsinki with St Petersburg, Vyborg and Moscow. The Finnish gauge is similar enough to the Russian gauge at 1,520 mm to allow running trains backwards and forwards into Russia without changing bogies. There is a link westwards to the standard gauge Swedish system in Tornio in Lapland that does involve a bogey change system, but this is only used by goods trains. Bicycles can only be shipped to Russia if packed in a bag or box.

A to B Finland

There are first (Business) class tickets available on long distance trains. These cost at least 50% more than normal second class tickets.
Family tickets offer free travel to children between 6 and 16 accompanied by a fare paying adult.
Pensioners can purchase their tickets with a 50% discount.
Tickets can be booked on line, from VR station booking offices, VR sales agents, ticket vending machines and train conductors. The ticket may be delivered as an e-ticket (printed by the customer or sent in text message and multimedia format to the customer’s mobile phone, but not all phones are supported), or as a ticket sent to the customer by post, but only in Finland. The ticket may also be picked up at a ticket vending machine or a station booking office. Tickets to Russia cannot be booked online.

Excellent and easy to use. Tickets may be bought online every day between 6.00-23.30 and paid for by a range of credit cards.

A to B Finland - EDM Sleeping Car

Finish EDM sleeping car

Putting bikes on trains
Express Trains
The following train types take bicycles: Regional Trains, Express Trains, InterCity, InterCity2 and night trains.
Tandems and cycle trailers can be transported in those day and night express trains which transport luggage and in some other trains marked with a suitcase in timetables.
•    In express and regional trains, customers should bring the bicycle to the conductor’s van as with large luggage and collect it at the arrival station.
•    Customers should transfer their bicycle to another train themselves when changing trains.
•    Groups should make arrangements concerning transport of bicycles in advance.
Paying for your bicycle in advance at a VR station costs €5, a bicycle and trailer cost €10, and a tandem, booked in advance at a VR station costs €18. If you pay the on-board conductor it will cost €20.

InterCity Train
Bicycle spaces must be booked in advance from VR Customer Care or a station booking office, i.e. not online.
Customers should bring their bicycle to the bicycle space in the double-decker wagon of InterCity trains. It is possible to lock the bicycle with a 50 cent coin as deposit. The coin is returned when the bicycle is removed from the stand after the journey.
InterCity trains do not take tandems or cycle trailers. A bicycle booked with a passenger costs €9.

Overland bus and coach
There is an extensive network of overland buses in Finland run by a number of different, cooperating bus companies under the umbrella Expressbus. These buses will take bicycles as long there is room. It is necessary to reserve places in advance and charges may apply.

It is possible to reach Finland by ferry from Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden.

We have never been to Finland. One of us is allergic to mosquito bites.


Bike / Rail - Denmark

Europe by Bike – Denmark

A to B Denmark - rail networkEurope by Bike – Denmark

Two-thousand six-hundred kilometres of railways link the major towns and cities in Denmark. The major operator is De Danske Statsbaner (DSB) and there are a number of smaller private operators of which the biggest is Arriva. Danish railways are cyclist-friendly, with special spaces for bicycles on trains. Both Denmark and the Netherlands are sensibly investing in their cycle networks and it shows.

High Speed Trains, ICE
DB/DSB jointly operate international ICEs from Hamburg to Copenhagen via Padborg or Puttgarden throughout the day, but there are the usual restrictions on bicycles: Partially dismantled and bagged seems to be allowed.

A to B Denmark - DSB IC3

DSB IC3 train at Frederikshavn, Denmark

InterCity (IC), EuroCity (EC), InterCityLyn (ICL), X2000
The three EuroCity pairs from Hamburg to Kopenhagen and the X2000 fast train to Stockholm do not take bicycles, except the usual bagged and partially dismantled variation. There are hourly trains from Hamburg to Copenhagen which take bicycles where it is necessary to change in Flensburg and Fredericia
Domestic InterCity and InterCityLyn trains take bicycles outside of the rush hour (06:00-09:00 and 15:00-18:00). Bicycles are not transported free. The cost varies with distance. Reservation of bicycle places is essential. Pre-book at stations or call  +45 70131415. You can stand anywhere but your bike can’t!

A to B Denmark - Avedoere Station

Avedoere Station

Regional and Local Trains
Bicycle transport within Greater Copenhagen is free on the S-Tog (Suburban Rail).
RØ, RV, ØR (Öresund Trains) regional trains, at least in Denmark and InterRegional (IR) trains carry bicycles (see note below). Reservations are not required.
Öresund Trains cross the Öresund bridge and tunnel every 20 minutes. Travelling time between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden) is about 35 minutes. These trains run the whole way round Öresund from Helsinger in Denmark via Copenhagen and Malmö to Helsingborg and other cities in Sweden. The Öresund service across ‘The Bridge’ to Malmö has been affected by the influx of refugees, and passengers must now change at Kastrup Airport Station and show ID to travel on to Sweden. The latest information we have is that the trains across the bridge do not take bicycles. If you wish to travel to Sweden from Copenhagen, travel to Helsingor and take the ferry to Helsingbor. There is a frequent service ( It is cheaper to book the ferry in advance.

Getting to Denmark
Until the replacement for the DFDS service from Harwich to Esbjerg arrives, the only surface route by public transport to Copenhagen from London is via Harwich and the daytime Stena Line ferry to Hoek van Holland, and then via Rotterdam, Amersfoot, Osnabrück, Hamburg, Flensberg and Fredericia to Copenhagen.

DSB offers first (DSB1) and second (Standard) class tickets which are refundable. There are also non-refundable Orange Tickets. Children travel for about half the adult fare and grey haired over 65 year olds receive a 50% discount on their tickets. Tickets can be bought at stations, online (but see below) from DSB; online from Voyages SNCF; by phone +45 70131415 or in case of difficulty by emailing
There are also clip cards that will save you money as long as you use the whole card. These might make sense with a group. One good idea is that you can reserve seats in one of three zones:
 •  Standard
 •  Standard Stillezone  Compartment/Area where you need to be silent, and mobile phones should either be turned off or in silent mode.
 • Standard Familiezone  As its name suggests there may be children present in this area and therefore it could be noisy.

The Website
The website is not the ideal place to buy Danish railway tickets, unless you speak Danish with the fluency of Hamlet. It is in Danish, although there is an explanatory page in English: These English pages also contain a guide to how to buy a ticket online, but the pages referred to are in Danish.
There are various pop ups that occur from time to time offering you cheaper transfer to first class and similar. The DSB suggests that English-speakers cut and paste the pop up to a translation program. At this point your internet-friendly or even addicted researcher decided life was too short for this type of fun and games. We would suggest you either join a queue at a station or use the French or German railway’s British agents, Voyages SNCF or Deutsche Bahn, if you wish to buy your tickets beforehand.

Putting Bikes on Trains and Buses
Bicycles but not tandems and bike trailers are transported on most DSB services and on private regional trains. DSB trains that do not take bicycles are shown in the timetables with a crossed out bicycle pictogram. You are expected to load your bicycle yourself onto Danish trains. There are bicycle pumps in the existing bicycle compartments on suburban trains in Greater Copenhagen.
Having written this, our experience some years ago on the Copenhagen-Flensburg service was not as we would have wished. The train was 12 carriages or so long, and split up at various points en route, with two or four car sets going off to somewhere else. We made the mistake of travelling from Roskilde, west of Copenhagen. There was no indication where one should stand to find the part of the train with a specific destination, and no members of staff on the platform to tell us. This meant that rather than being able to take our bags off our bicycles and putting the bikes and bags on the train separately, we needed to climb up steep steps with heavily laden bicycles.
When the train arrived, we got into a carriage due for Odense just to get on the train. We were directed at Ringsted station to change to a carriage further forward. When we ran almost the length of the train and got on at the point where a conductor was standing, we discovered that we were now in the train to Esbjerg. At the next station we had to repeat the procedure and finally managed to get to the correct portion of the train.
We now realise that we should have joined the train in Copenhagen where it started and where we would have had time to walk down the train to find our carriage. However one does wish that DSB could invest a bob or two in indicating where carriages are likely to stop. Most continental railways manage this, even British operators who are not high in the customer satisfaction stakes manage to make things a reasonably clear.
Country bus services in Denmark can take two or three bicycles, if there is room and the driver agrees.

Denmark is an archipelago, consisting of the Jutland peninsular and a number of islands. Due to the country’s geography, the road system in the Danish archipelago makes frequent use of ferries. Local car ferries link most islands to the road network. All the car ferries and many regional excursion ships take bicycles. There are regular international ferries to and from the Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK. The good news is that even when a car ferry is ‘full’, there is always space for another bike.

The most interesting trip we can recommend, unfortunately, without your bicycle, unless it is bagged etc., is the ICE-TD trip from Hamburg or Lübeck to Copenhagen. The train travels via the Vogelfluglinie (Bird Flight Line) and is shunted on to a Puttgarden-Rodby ferry for the 50 minute trip across the Baltic.


Bike / Rail - Belgium

Europe by Bike – Belgium

Europe with Bike – Belgium

The railways in Belgium offer the full range of rail services, from high speed international trains to slow moving local trains. Prices are low. The nationalised company is very cyclist friendly, even tandem friendly, and the majority of trains take bicycles, but not always very many. Belgian Railways are known as NCMBS (Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen) in Flemish or SNCB (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges) in French, in this country divided by language. Oddly enough the railway company does not seem to have a name at all in Belgium’s third official language, German.
The system has about 3,300 km of standard gauge track, mostly electrified. Trains in Belgium normally run on the left, showing the British involvement in building the rail network in the nineteenth century. How times have changed.
Belgium has a policy of cheap rail travel. Citizens in Belgium, especially students and the elderly, are offered incentives and cheaper fares to alleviate road congestion. Public sector employees and many private sector employees receive subsidised season tickets. The great majority of trains, except high speed trains, offer bicycle transport, which means these facilities are not mentioned in official information. An unfortunate side effect is that it is almost impossible to pinpoint those trains which do not carry bikes. These however are few in number. On some domestic IC trains there may only be room for two bicycles. We have discussed matters with a German cyclist living on the border with Belgium who regularly transports his bicycle on Belgian trains. He wrote that outside of rush hours one can store the bike in the entrance area of a carriage. His advice was then to stay near your bike and act friendly when the conductor-guard comes around. (Thanks to the ADFC Aachen for this information.)
Travelling to Belgium is described in ‘Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe’.

Train Types
There are a number of international High Speed Trains: Thalys, Eurostar, SNCF TGV, DB InterCity Express (ICE) which can whisk you across Europe at high speed and in great comfort, but these trains do not accept bicycles except bagged folding bikes or partly disassembled bikes in a bag. Bagged bikes going to France must have a label showing the passenger’s name and seat number.

Bike Europe, Belgium. Thalys

Thalys traction unit at Aachen Hauptbahnhof

On board the Thalys, a bicycle is only allowed if its front wheel has been removed and if the bicycle is packed in a special bicycle cover (maximum measurement: 120x90cm).

TGV Brussels – France
Your bike can be carried free of charge as ‘hand luggage’, on condition that it is dismantled (wheels removed) and placed in a special cover for bike transport with maximum dimensions of 120x90cm. When it is packed like this, your bike can be stowed in one of the spaces available at the ends of each carriage.

InterCity/EuroCity (IC/EC)?
The domestic ICs which extend into Holland and Luxembourg do carry bicycles. Older stock (carriages) carry two bicycles per train, but there is more room for bicycles in the more modern double decker trains. However it is not possible to find out which type of train will be used on any one particular journey. Early morning trains from Luxembourg to Belgium are normally double decker trains. It is not possible to reserve bike slots on these trains. You will need to buy a bike ticket in Belgium when travelling to Luxembourg or an International Bicycle Ticket in Luxembourg when travelling to Belgium. Bicycles travel for free in Luxembourg. (Thanks to the Letzelbuerger Velo Initiativ for the information)

Two EuroCity trains circulate daily between Brussels and Switzerland via Namur, Luxembourg and eastern France. Both of which accept bicycles. Bike slots must be reserved and International Bicycle Tickets bought.
•    Vauban (EC 91/90)
•    Iris (97/96) to Zurich (via Basel)

bEurope by bike, Belgium, Brussel Zuid

Suburban train in Brusel-Midi

Regional trains
There are a number of local lines. Most of these carry bicycles, though it might only be two or three. Timetable information can be found on the Belgian Rail domestic website:
A map of the rail system (PDF).
For dealing with the guard, follow the advice given by our German contact in the second paragraph of this section.

Popular Cycling Areas in Belgium
The most popular cycling routes in Belgium are:
•    Vlaanderen Fietsroute (Flanders Cycle Route) a circular route, which can be picked up near Zeebrugge and takes about two weeks to cycle comfortably. There also extensive networks of shorter cycle routes in Flanders, including World War One routes around Ypers and Pop (Ypres and Poperinge) which make for sobering cycling… Navigation is easy because of the use of Knooppunter (Navigation Nodes)
•    Not to be outdone, the French-speaking Belgians have set up the Ravel network of cycle routes, one of which starts in Lille with good access from Eurostar trains and ends in Wiltz to the north of Luxembourg, a day’s ride, or an hour or so on the train from Luxembourg city, with access to TGVs, ECs and ICs to Paris and/or Brussels. Two other ways into the network start in Brussels.
Interestingly both of the websites mentioned above profess to give information about cycling in Belgium, but do not offer any information about the other website.

SNCB/NMBS offers an excellent range of special low price tickets. As mentioned earlier there are many incentives offering cheap travel by train in Belgium, some of which can be used by foreign tourists. Examples include:
•    Children’s tickets: Children from the age of 0 to 12, accompanied by a traveller over the age of 12 who is holder of a valid ticket (max. 4 children per person) can travel free of charge in 1st and 2nd class without any time limitation. Children from the age of 0 to 12, unaccompanied, can travel in both classes at a 50% reduction in the price.
•    Under 26 year olds can use the Go Pass 1 to travel anywhere in Belgium for €6, except Brussels Airport which is surcharged to pay for a new airport link.
•    Anybody can travel on a Weekend ticket outward and return, 1st or 2nd class, and receive a 50% discount. Decide what day you want to leave (Friday after 19.00, Saturday or Sunday) and you return when you want on the Friday (after 19.00), Saturday or Sunday of the same weekend. In addition, you can return from a station other than the one where your outward journey ended, as long as you mention this when you’re buying your ticket. (Only possible for Weekend tickets purchased in a station and on the train, but not online). You needn’t do this if the return station in question is one of nine seaside resorts.
•    The Senior ticket costs €6 for a day return journey in 2nd class and €13.00 in 1st class to any destination in Belgium. The Senior ticket is valid year round:
•    Monday through Friday: after 09:00am
•    Saturday and Sunday: no timetable restrictions
•    Except in July and August when it is not valid on Saturday and Sunday.
•    Between two Belgian stations (frontier points excluded) on IC, IR, L, P, CR and ICT domestic trains as well as on conventional EC international trains. What frontier points seem to mean is that if travelling across the Belgian border you book to the station before the border and buy standard tickets for the trip across the border.
Buying a ticket for trains in Belgium or on an international train leaving Belgium?, you can use the Belgian Railways website:
The website is divided into two parts, domestic and International.
The Belgium Railways International website is programmed to push you towards high speed trains, so if you are taking a bike – unless you have a folding bike or you are prepared to partly dismantle your bike and pop it in a bike bag – it is better to use by phone: 08448 484 064 (in the UK), Mon-Fri, 09:00-19:00 Saturday, 09:00-18:00, as bike spaces can’t be booked online . Up to date information can be found under the online link:
Once in Belgium you can also buy tickets from ticket offices and ticket machines on stations.

Bicycle Tickets?
There are two domestic bicycle tickets:
•    a one way trip using the €5 ‘cycle card & tandem card’ for a bicycle/tandem (plus a trailer).
•    a ‘one-day card’ (libre-parcours d’un jour), which lets you take your bicycle/tandem (plus a trailer) on the train for €8 all day long anywhere in the country.
You can buy the former online from the domestic website, but not the latter. The tickets should be purchased before getting on the train. They can be bought from Belgian Rail ticket offices and ticket machines. There is one exception: Aachen in Germany like many border stations counts as a domestic station for Belgium, but is not possible to buy Belgian bike tickets from the machines in the station. One needs to buy one on the train and pay a small extra charge.
International bicycle tickets valid in more than one country cost €12 for a bicycle and €24 for a tandem.

Getting you, your bike and your gear on a train
It would appear that Brussels Midi and Brussels Nord stations are convenient places to unload or load your bicycle in Brussels. Unloading and loading at Brussels Central, Brussels Chapelle or Brussels Congres is very difficult, if not impossible according to SNCB/NMBS.
Some years ago we spent some time in Mechelen on a round trip through Flanders and because we’d lost half a day due to a broken spoke, we decided to take a train for 50 km or so. We bought tickets for ourselves and the bikes and then waited on the platform for our train. We stood roughly at the ideal spot on the platform, i.e. where we expected the middle of the train to arrive. The train arrived and when it stopped, a hand appeared out of a door at the head of the train and waved us on. We ran up the platform and realised that the entrance was at chest height. Neither of us are dwarfs but we are vertically challenged. The conductor helped us lift the bikes on to the train and we fastened them to the wall. There was room for a few bikes. Obviously the space available is dependent on the rolling stock.

Europe by bike, Belgium - Maas ferry

Schelde Ferry on the kind of day when you want to ring in sick and go cycling

Ferries and river steamers in Belgium
There are small ferries on the Schelde offering transport across the river for cyclists.

We enjoyed the Flanders Route some years ago. Eastern Belgium is hillier than one imagines. The food, especially the chips and the chocolate are superb. They give you enough calories to climb the hills.




Europe by Bike – Austria

Europe with Bike – Austria

The Austrian standard gauge network is about 5,700 km in length. Map The OeBB – Österreichische Bundesbahn, Austrian Federal Railways, runs several hundred mainline passenger trains and goodness knows how many regional and local trains daily, and it is bicyclist-friendly. Bicycles can be carried in practically all trains including ‘railjet’ high speed trains too (see below). Tickets can be purchased from the usual agents and online:
Travelling to Austria is described in ‘Taking your bicycle by bus, train and ship across Europe’.

Train Types

A to B Austria - Railjet High Speed TrainRailjet
The ÖBB railjet high speed trains now connect major centres in Austria, as well as its neighbouring countries with high speed trains running at top speeds of 230 km/h: Vienna via Salzburg, Innsbruck and Bregenz to Zurich, via Graz and Klagenfurt to Villach or Budapest – Vienna – Munich. Some of the latter trains run on to Stuttgart, Mannheim or Frankfurt/Main. The railjet trains have also run from Graz via Vienna and Brno to Prague at two-hourly interval since December 2014.
There are three classes: Economy, First and Premium (25 Euros plus First Class fare*). Until now, no bikes have been allowed except folders and even then only in a bag. Each of the 51 Railjet trains is being modified to take five bicycles. At the moment several railjet trains a day on the Austrian services and also to Zurich in Switzerland offer bike slots. By the end of 2016 all of these trains will take bicycles, but probably not the trains running into Germany. Deutsche Bahn which has fought and still is fighting tooth and nail against putting bike slots on the ICE German high speed trains does wish to demonstrate that high speed trains and bicycles are compatible.
* For the extra cost you not only get leather seats and more legroom, but more importantly, you are addressed as Herr or Frau Doktor or even Herr Professor. The Austrians are big on titles.

A to B - Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train

Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train © ÖBB

InterCity Trains
EC and IC trains link major centres. The majority carry accompanied bicycles. Reservation is necessary.

Local and regional passenger trains always take bicycles, but reservation is not possible.

A to B Austria - ÖBB IC


Westbahn is a private railway company running trains from Vienna to Salzburg via Linz. There is an hourly service for much of the day. Standard fares are often cheaper than OeBB fares. The single passenger fare on Westbahn from Vienna to Salzburg is 24.90 Euro. A bicycle costs 5 Euro, if pre-booked, and 10 Euro for a ticket bought on the train. The equivalent OeBB fares are between 24 and 52 Euro + 10% surcharge for a bicycle. Tickets can be bought in Trafiken (tobacconists) in Austria, online from and on the trains. As usual tandems are not carried. OeBB and other state railway companies’ tickets are not valid. Travel times are similar for both OeBB and Westbahn.
If one wishes to travel onto Munich using a Westbahn train, bear in mind that it is necessary to change in Salzburg to a German regional train. It is not possible to buy these tickets on the Westbahn train, and it is better to buy them before you join the Westbahn, as the connection in Salzburg is only ten minutes. The cost of a Salzburg – Munich standard ticket is 30.70 Euro plus 5 Euro per bicycle at the time of writing. The combined cost of these two tickets Vienna-Salzburg and Salzburg-Munich is much higher that the Sparscheine Europa tickets offered by OeBB and discussed below. However Westbahn has a number of special offers which can be found on the company’s website.

Popular Cycling Areas in Austria
The most popular cycling route in Austria is the Danube Valley. It is very popular, so be warned. The Austrian section of the Danube starts in Passau in Germany on the Austrian border and runs down to Vienna and a little way beyond.
A particular favourite of ours is the Tauern Route from the Krimml waterfall near Zell-am-See to Salzburg and on to Passau. It is a pleasant week’s cycling on well signposted tracks with good Alpine views but little climbing, just as we like it.

Tickets can be purchased from the usual agents and online: ÖBB’s ticket pricing policy has all the clarity of a discount airlines’ marketing policy.
ÖBB offers a cheap ticket similar to the DB (German Railways) Schönes Wochenende ticket called Einfach raus. Most of interest for cyclists will be the Einfach raus Radticket which includes bicycle tickets. It costs 42 Euro for two persons and 54 Euros for up to 5 people, valid for local and regional trains, after 09:00 until 03:00 the next morning from Monday to Friday,  and all day weekends and public holidays.
Lower price special offer ticket with restrictive conditions are available for foreign destinations. There are a limited number of Sparscheine cheap tickets for internal and international travel starting at 9 Euro for some internal trips and 19 Euro for international trains. These tickets limit travellers to a specified train, but are a bargain if one can plan ahead.

Getting you and your bike on a train
This service does not come free of charge. Bicycle tickets on inland trains cost 10% of the second class fare, at least two Euro. In long distance trains cyclists will also need to reserve a bike slot which costs 3 Euro if booked online and 3.50 Euro if booked from a ticket office. An international bicycle ticket costs 12 Euro. As usual, tandems, recumbents and bicycles with 29” wheels and larger can only be carried in special luggage vans. These cannot be booked online.
It is not possible to reserve a bike slot on local, regional or suburban trains. Bicycles can only be carried on these trains if enough room is available. Although dismantled or folded bikes packed in box or bag travel for free, they must fit into the luggage space. However in our experience it is often better if travelling for say an hour or so within Austria to take local trains as opposed to long distance trains as they often offer low level loading rather than the ‘Eiger North Wall steps’ on many Austrian long distance train carriages.

Ferries and Ships
ÖBB run ships on Lake Constance west of Bregenz. These take bikes by the container load.
There are not as many services on the Danube as on the Rhine, but Brandner ( does run trips from Melk to Krems through what the company describes as the prettiest part of the Danube.

We went to Toblach/Dobaccio one winter’s day and were most impressed by the run from Munich to Innsbruck and then the climb up the Brenner Pass. This is followed by the high speed descent down the Brenner and the bar on Franzenfeste station, but that is another story and in Italy.