Author Topic: Bents on CrossCountry Trains  (Read 806 times)

Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« on: June 06, 2017, 08:23:22 pm »
Does anyone here have experience of taking their recumbent on CrossCountry trains?

I Know that they use the dreaded dangly spaces and I’ve had little trouble using my bent with the dangly arrangements on Northern Trains.  However if I recall correctly I believe that CrossCountry Voyager’s are quite tight for space.

I’m Travelling from Newcastle down to Plymouth in a couple of weeks for a 5 week course and wouldn’t at all mind having the bent down there with me.  CrossCountry Trains offer the easiest journey, 7 hours direct with no changing.  The alternative is a combination of Virgin East Coast and Great Western with a change in London.  Now this would mean using older trains with proper guards vans in the dummy engine, however I’m not really sure that I want to be changing in London with a bent, four paniers and probably a rack bag too.

Thoughts and opinions warmly appreciated.         

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2017, 09:57:01 pm »
I've taken my USS Streetmachine (which measures 1.9m mudguard-to-chainring-guard) on a CrossCountry Voyager countless times.  Hung from the rear wheel, it fits in the dangly spaces with maybe ~10cm clearance between the chainring guard and the floor.  The left side dangly space is best, as that's only expected to take a single bike.  It will fit in the one on the right (using the upper hook), but getting it in is slightly more awkward, and you can pretty much forget about fitting another bike in at the same time.  Panniers can be fitted in around the bike at floor level, though I usually take the one with valuables in it with me.



The main problem with these spaces is that they're almost fully enclosed, so you have to cantilever the bike out in front of you as you wiggle it in and hook the rim on the hook.  It's best to be tall (but not so tall that your boom is too long to fit) and have decent upper body strength.

The other problem is that they are often full of some combination of rubbish, luggage, unreserved bikes and passengers.  The luggage area immediately behind the right side bike space will easily take a recumbent, assuming that any luggage can be tetrised and the train manager is in a good mood.  CrossCountry staff run the full gamut from "Blitz spirit" to "Self-important jobsworth", so you can't rely on anything, but possession of a cycle reservation is likely to strengthen your case.  Expect staff to disbelieve that the bike will fit until they see you do it, because to the untrained eye a recumbent is about three times longer than a DF bicycle (while also somehow being invisible).

Once in place, I tend to fit a light-duty ratchet strap around the bike to secure it against the side panel, preventing it from swaying about as much and bashing handlebar mounted stuff (chiefly bell/mirror).  This wouldn't be necessary with tiller steering.



So, are you feeling lucky, and how long is your bike?
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 11:07:48 pm »
Hi Kim, I thought you might have experience of CrossCountry on account of living pretty much at the centre of their network.

I'm away from home at the mo and will have to wait until Thursday before I can measure my bike.  I can't imagine that the single space and the higher of the two double spaces will be too low for my bike, can't be that much different from Northern Trains.  I'm not opposed to shortening the boom if I have to anyway.

It was the width of the spaces that was worrying me, that and the risk of some else already using the space when I board.  That's why I always book onto East Coast Trains when making my regular trips up to Scotland.  I suppose I'd better get used to crappy dangly spaces with the bent as the good old InterCities running along the East coast line will soon be replaced.

I'm tempted to just chance it and buy the tickets, any problems can be overcome by applying either the angry and belligerent or exceedingly polite persona as deemed appropriate.

Arellcat

  • Velonautte
Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 11:11:26 pm »
The main problem with these spaces is that they're almost fully enclosed, so you have to cantilever the bike out in front of you as you wiggle it in and hook the rim on the hook.

Dangly bike space designers have no concept of the need to hang a recumbent bike, nor the constraints the owners have to deal with.  Like their train operating companies, they would really rather all bicycles and their owners would just go away and never come back.

I bought my Lightning P-38 partly because I knew it would fit (for moderately large values of fit) in bike spaces, because of its relatively compact length.  Kim's earlier thread about IEP has the dimensions, I think.  My technique is to use the larger, left-hand bike space if I can, and I balance the bike on the front wheel somewhat to manoeuvre it backwards into the bike space.  Hanging it up by the rear wheel is awkward, and I am one of those tall people.  I also know from experience that my bike can't be hung by the front wheel.

Quote
CrossCountry staff run the full gamut from "Blitz spirit" to "Self-important jobsworth", so you can't rely on anything, but possession of a cycle reservation is likely to strengthen your case.  Expect staff to disbelieve that the bike will fit until they see you do it, because to the untrained eye a recumbent is about three times longer than a DF bicycle (while also somehow being invisible).

This exactly matches my recent trip.  I was only going from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed onna CrossCountry Voyager, but I had to argue my case on the platform at Waverley that my bike would fit!

'Are you waiting for the next train?  Where are you going to?'
'Yes, I'm on the next one, going to Berwick. I have my reservation here.'
'You know your bike won't fit.'
'It's a CrossCountry Voyager isn't it?  It'll fit1.  I've done it many times before.'
'I've seen people two or three times before, and recumbent bikes are too long.'
'Well I hope to change your experience for the better.  It'll fit, don't worry!' and so on.  The train dispatcher never looked better than doubtful, and eventually he wandered off to try to annoy someone else.

Quote
Once in place, I tend to fit a light-duty ratchet strap around the bike to secure it against the side panel, preventing it from swaying about as much and bashing handlebar mounted stuff (chiefly bell/mirror).  This wouldn't be necessary with tiller steering.

I carry2 a thin bungee cord that I wrap around the nearest vertical handrail/pole and attach to the bike's frame somewhere around the steering mast.  Otherwise my bike swings around like a mad thing, and clonks into the handrail or the wall of the hanging space.

1  'What the hell?  Why won't it fit?' I said to myself while trying to hang the bike up by the front wheel, because it had been ages since I last had to do it.
2  Naturally, I forgot it when travelling to Berwick.

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2017, 12:19:44 am »
The main problem with these spaces is that they're almost fully enclosed, so you have to cantilever the bike out in front of you as you wiggle it in and hook the rim on the hook.

Dangly bike space designers have no concept of the need to hang a recumbent bike, nor the constraints the owners have to deal with.  Like their train operating companies, they would really rather all bicycles and their owners would just go away and never come back.

While I reluctantly consider getting a 'bent on a train to be a bit of a blag, the number of times I've seen someone (usually some tiny old woman or bemused foreign student on the Mordor-Southampton route which passes through Oxford) thwarted by trying to get a perfectly sensible city bike into one of these spaces makes me properly angry.  Even with the inevitable front basket emptied and someone who can do the required lifting, swept-back bars are incredibly awkward.  The wider bars on modern mountain bikes (and their BSO derivatives) lead to similar problems.

Sustainable transport, my arse.   >:(
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Arellcat

  • Velonautte
Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2017, 10:11:21 pm »
…the number of times I've seen someone thwarted by trying to get a perfectly sensible city bike into one of these spaces makes me properly angry.

I wouldn't even dare try to get my Elephant Bike into a dangly bike space and installed on the hook.  The bike weighs 23kg on its own and the front basket is a magnificently huge encumbrance.  Lift it vertically at arm's length?  I happen to know that even Dave Holladay wouldn't attempt that.

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2017, 01:26:38 pm »
Tried to book this morning but the train that I wanted had no cycle space remaining.  Though there was space on an earlier CrossCountry service I figured that the chances of boarding to find the cycle spaces already full was too great.

Instead I’ve booked to go via London instead.  I’ve had bents and tandems on East Coast trains many time without ever encountering any difficulty, I’m assuming that the connecting train from Paddington will be the same being an old HST Intercity.

The only interesting thing now is the ride from Kings Cross to Paddington.  Looks simple enough on the map but this trip on a high bent with 4 paniers and a rack bag will be my first experience of riding through the capital  :-\ 

Kim

  • An appetite for the epic, but no real stamina
Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2017, 01:35:41 pm »
The Euston Road route is mostly bus lane.  You can take a strong primary position, try not to be spooked by taxis cutting in in front of you and it'll otherwise be fine.  The only really awkward bit is the underpass, where the best course of action will depend on traffic levels - there's a faffy cycle lane route at surface level which avoids having to carry momentum and merge left into the stream of traffic.

Or take a back streets route and expend a bit more effort on navigation.

The main thing about cycling in London is that the traffic exists in a state of controlled chaos.  That goes both ways, because it means drivers tend to pay a bit more attention to cyclists than they do elsewhere.  Watch out for lemming pedestrians, especially around the railway and tube stations, and beware of numpty cyclists with no idea about recumbent braking performance lurking in your blind spot who may be taken by surprise if you stop for red lights.
Watching the TV without subtitles is like riding up a hill without using the gears :)

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2017, 05:11:40 pm »
I guess that it can’t be much different from Glasgow and Newcastle where I often ride the bent.  One big difference though will be the sheer number of other cyclists on the road, I’m rather looking forward to that.

I’ll actually be riding in London fairly regularly from this September as my new posting will see me frequently traveling between my office in Portsmouth and Northern England/Scotland where most of my work will be.  I intend to make good use of the Boris bikes when transferring between the main stations.

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2017, 06:11:55 pm »
Well the ride through London was completely fine as it turned out, somewhat busier than other cities I've riden in though easy enough. The traffic speed was never higher than 20mph which makes life easy as you can avoid being the slowest vehicle in the lane.  Plymouth was harder, sod all traffic but tough going on a heavily loaded bent.

I think I'll use the direct CrossCountry train for my return jouney in five weeks. By then I'll have used the service for my (bikeless) weekend commute a number of times and will have measure of how reliable and usable the bike spaces are. Plus I can get on at the first stop so have some certainty that the space I've booked will be empty.

Completely worthwhile bringing the bent down here. The course that I'm on isn't in the slightest bit challenging and even on the first day I was able to knock off at lunch and have an afternoon out on the bike.  In this weather not even the puncture I picked up by the seaside in Seaton could knock the simle from my face.

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2017, 07:26:56 pm »
I wonder if I could get my sun ez3 on a dangley space . It's narrow at the front and the back is not very wide .I might try it one of these day's   :)
the slower you go the more you see

Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2017, 09:02:31 am »
Trains Arte getting more and more difficult. My answer was an HPVelotechnik Gekko, and I have never had any issues, but as bike space becomes smaller and more compact, it is starting to become more and more difficult


In my case I fold and bag the trike then when asked simply state it is a folding cycle...... and hence can be carried

However even that is becoming more difficult


South West Trains have a rather exclusive relationship with Brompton.

They are threatening to only take folders that fit in a luggage rack when folded (i.e. Brompton)


Re: Bents on CrossCountry Trains
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2017, 08:30:26 pm »
It's narrow at the front and the back is not very wide

... not unlike yourself young Christopher :)
Never knowingly under caffeinated