S&S coupled tandem on train
Looking at purchasing an S&S coupled tandem to allow us to use trains (UK, Eurostar, Europe). Anyone got experience of doing this? Once the tandem is split in two, does it work in all rolling stock that accepts normal bikes?
We've just doen that very thnig. We have a Thorn tandem with S&S couplings. We took the train from Bristol to Liverpool with first leg on Cross Country trains, changed at Wolverhampton and second leg on West Midlands.
We then cycled fromm Liverpool to Newcastle, returning on direct Cross Country train to Bristiol.
It wasn't entriely straightforward and the designs of trains vary. I've taken a solo bike on Great Western previously (the old rolling stock) and it went in the back of the train in a fairly decently sized area with conventional style racks.
I booked 2 bike spaces in advance on all the trians for the recent journey (an absolute must do) thinking it would be relatively easy to slot the two bits into two racks
Cross Country proved a bit more tricky. The bike spaces are quite tight are in a space right by the doors of one particular carriage where you get in. It's important to find out which carriage and where it will be from the station staff before the train arrives so you can dismantle the bike and be ready at the right spot. On Cross Country the trains have 3 spaces, but the bikes are hung from hooks in the ceiling of the spaces. Quite straightforward with the front, smaller part of the bike, more challenging with the rear bit. I used a strap and hung it vertically from the hook by the frame with the rear wheel resting on the floor. Take a strap of sorts and/or a couple of bungees.
West Midlands was different. Firstly, we reassembled the bike on the platform at Wolverhampton and used the goods lift to get to the correct platform. It was a smaller train (similar in layout to the tube)and although we had booked bike spaces in reality these were just allocated cycle/wheelchair spaces in one of the carriages by the doors. We put the bike on in one piece, stood all the way with people clambering round it to get past. But we managed it!
The key is to book two spaces in advance and work on the theory that they have accepted the booking so need to accommodate you.
We have experience of German Trains (only Bavaria and Hessen states) with our tandems. We have traveled on almost every type of train with our tandems, except ICE (that's their High-Speed train) and never had an issue. They are not S&S tandems but the full 2.1meters or so, and we never had a problem. Except on the EC trains you can nearly always sit within sight of your tandem. You need to buy 2 bike tickets for the tandem (around 5€ each for the day). For IC & EC trains you need to phone up and reserve a space. I always reserved for 2 bikes. On the EC trains the bikes travel in the cargo/baggage van which is loaded/unloaded by the man in charge - give him/her a big deranged smile and you have no problems. On the local trains often at weekends you are fighting for space with dozens of Mountain Bikes, but it was never a problem, everybody just squeezed up to make room. When space is tight, be prepared to rotate the front and stoker handlebars.
The messager is once you make it to Germany your problems are over. The Deutsche Bahn web site is very good and is in English as well.