How to Travel with Your Bicycle by Bus or Train

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Some cities are best experienced on two wheels. Picture cruising through Central Park in New York, pedaling up the hills of Griffith Park in L.A., or cycling to see the Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Whether you’re training for your own personal Tour de France, or just planning a leisurely bike tour of San Francisco, you wouldn’t want to risk arriving in your destination city and finding out they don’t even have an urban bikeshare program. And there’s no guarantee your hotel or AirBnb will have a Peloton, either.

No, the safer choice is clearly to bring your own bike with you. When you travel by bus or train, you can pack your trusty bicycle in most cases with just a bit of planning ahead. To help you out, we’ve gathered all the intel you need for traveling with a bike on a bus or train.

Can you take a bike on the train?

You can! In general, bicycles can be transported in bike racks on trains which have them. Most Amtrak and VIA Rail trains are equipped with bike racks, but we recommend calling ahead to check if your train has bike racks in the passenger cars (to carry on your bike yourself) or in baggage cars (for your unpackaged bike to be checked at the station).

If you’re traveling on a train without bike racks, you can also pack your bike in a box or bag to be checked as normal luggage. More details about specific carriers’ policies are included below.

Can you take a bike on the bus?

For most intercity bus trips, bus carriers require bikes to be packaged in a box or a bag for safe transport under the bus. This does require a bit of effort before your trip, but hey, your bike is precious cargo!

There can be a fee for transporting your bike, and the cost and requirements vary by bus carrier. You can see specific policies below.

How to pack a bike in a bag or box

For bus and train carriers that require bikes to be transported in a bag or box, this entails partially disassembling your bike and packing it securely in one of several options. Once packaged, your bike will take up less space and is protected from damage during transit in the baggage area.

Remember to pack any tools used to disassemble your bike (like an Allen wrench) so that you can put everything back together when it’s time to hit the bike trails!

Packing your bike in a bike bag:

Investing in a high-quality bike bag protects your bike during travel and also makes it easier to wheel the bag to the station. However, a large enough plastic bag or duffle bag would also work in a pinch.

Remove the bike’s pedals, wheels, derailleur, and handlebars to place them in the bike bag’s protected slots. Put the body of the bike into the bag, and secure all the loose parts.

Packing your bike in a box:

A cheaper option is to pack your bike in a large cardboard box. You can normally get big enough boxes from bicycle shops if you haven’t had a hefty Amazon order in a while.

Remove the bike’s pedals, derailleur, and handlebars, and at least one wheel. Slide the bike frame into the box upside down, to rest on the seat. Then slide the wheel(s) in next to the frame, and slot all the other parts into the remaining space in the box.

You’ll have to do some delicate packing with bubble wrap and/or duct tape to make sure loose parts are secured to the body of the bike or the sides of the box. Once everything is packed and protected, tape the box securely shut and write your contact information on the sides.

Specific bike policies for popular bus and train carriers

The requirements for transporting bicycles vary from carrier to carrier, so be sure to check the specific details for the bus or train company you’re traveling with.

For easy reference, we’ve collected the policies of the most popular bus and train companies on Wanderu. If you still have any questions, you can always call the bus or train carrier for further details or to reserve bike space for your trip.

Amtrak

  • Amtrak transports bikes as carry-on or checked baggage, depending on the train.
  • Reservations and fees (up to $20 per bike) may be required, depending on the train line.
  • Most trains have bike racks, and standard full-size bicycles can be carried on and stored in racks.
  • For stations which offer checked baggage service, unpackaged bikes can be checked and stored in the baggage car’s bike racks, or packaged bikes can be checked as baggage.
  • Full details available on Amtrak’s website.
Greyhound

  • Greyhound allows bikes to be transported when packaged in approved boxes or containers.
  • Bikes count as an oversized item, and may need to be shipped via Greyhound Package Express. A fee of $42 to $52 USD applies if shipped.
FlixBus US

  • FlixBus US transports bikes in the bus’ bike carrier or as a checked “special baggage” item, depending on space.
  • Checked bikes must be packaged in a bicycle bag.
  • Reservations and a $10.99 USD fee are required. You can reserve and pay for a bike space when booking your ticket.
Peter Pan

  • Peter Pan transports both unpackaged and packaged bicycles on a space-available basis.
  • A bicycle counts as one checked bag included in the free baggage allowance.
Trailways NY

  • Trailways NY allows bikes to be transported when packaged in sturdy boxes or containers (like wood or canvas).
  • An oversized baggage fee of $15 to $20 USD applies.
OurBus

  • OurBus transports both unpackaged and packaged bicycles on a space-available basis.
  • A bicycle counts as one checked bag included in the free baggage allowance.
BestBus

  • BestBus transports both unpackaged and packaged bicycles on a space-available basis.
  • A bicycle counts as one checked bag included in the free baggage allowance.
Wanda Coach

  • Wanda Coach transports both unpackaged and packaged bicycles on a space-available basis. Bikes are typically not allowed on busy days such as weekends and holidays.
  • An oversized baggage fee may apply.
GoBuses

  • GoBuses transports both unpackaged and packaged bicycles on a space-available basis.
  • Speak with a Customer Service agent at the station before boarding to inquire about bike space.
VIA Rail

  • VIA Rail transports bikes as checked baggage in a bike rack or packaged in a box or bag, depending on the train.
  • Checking a bike incurs a $25 CAD fee.
  • Most trains have bike racks, and standard full-size bicycles can be checked and stored in racks.
  • For trains without racks, packaged bikes can be checked as baggage.
  • VIA Rail recommends arriving at the station at least an hour before departure to check your bicycle.
  • Full details available on VIA Rail's website

TLDR: How to travel with a bike by bus or train

Okay, we get it, that’s a lot of information. But if there are three essential tips we can leave you with, they are:

  1. Call the carrier before your trip to make sure there’s space for your bike (and reserve it if you can).
  2. Label your bike with your name and contact information.
  3. Arrive at the station plenty early to snag baggage space and allow time for careful loading of your bike onto the bus or train.

And then you’re on your way! For even more information about carriers’ bus and train luggage allowances beyond just your bicycle, check out our complete luggage guide.

Now you’re ready to explore a city in an exhilarating and environmentally-friendly way. Well yes, on your bike, but also on the bus or train. These forms of ground travel produce significantly less greenhouse gas emissions per traveler than driving or flying.

Plus, with the bonus of bringing your bike with you, it’s a no-brainer to go by bus or train. For your next trip, Wanderu is here to help you find the cheapest bus and train tickets to go green and save some green while you’re at it.

Travel Safely

At Wanderu, we want to make sure you are equipped with all the information you need to plan a safe trip. Please visit our COVID-19 Travel Guide for the latest tips & advisories.

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About the author
Bryn Culbert

Bryn Culbert

A planner at heart, Bryn loves nothing more than researching and creating a detailed travel itinerary. She is partial to quirky museums, hole-in-the-wall coffeeshops, and overstuffed bookstores in the cities she visits.
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