Whether you’re on business, on a family vacation, or taking an exciting multi-city adventure, trains like the Eurostar are an excellent way to get from the British Isles to mainland Europe and back. It’s a more relaxing, eco-friendly, and direct way to travel. Plus, unlike the trains we use in the United States, it travels at high enough speeds to be an alternative to air travel.
Cargo and luggage are easier to transport by train as well, and since you’ll be going from one city center to another, why not bring along a bicycle? A bike ride from London’s Heathrow Airport or Paris’ Orly would be a suburban nightmare but from downtown St. Pancras train station? That’s a different story.
Bike storage on trains is fairly common, and many commuters opt to simplify with a folding bicycle. Electric bikes (or e-bikes) are becoming a more and more common option for those who want a little help with those longer or hillier rides, but can you take an electric bike on the Eurostar? Let’s find out!
Eurostar is a train service running from England to Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. It boasts short travel times between the city centers of several major municipalities, cutting out the transfer and commute times that add up when traveling by air.
This direct service makes use of the tunnels beneath the English Channel that were built in the early 1990s and is a quicker and smoother alternative to the ferries that were once the only way across the channel.
Tons of people are interested in cycling to reduce their carbon footprint and will be happy to know that Eurostar is a green way to travel as well. Riding the train from London to Paris emits 93 percent less CO2 per passenger compared to flying, and Eurostar uses all-electric trains powered by wind turbines in the Netherlands!
Compounding this energy consciousness is the fact that you travel from downtown to downtown, removing the need to transfer trains or take a cab from a remote airport or harbor.
Bringing a bicycle on board makes even more sense when you’re dropped off right in the heart of your city of choice!
Perhaps that last paragraph just gave away the answer, that yes, you can bring your bike aboard the Eurostar. But what does it cost? And how about electric bikes? Many commuters for business and leisure alike bring folding bikes, but how big can these be? And what if you want to pack a battery motor too? Let us see what they have to say about bringing different bicycles aboard.
A caveat worth mentioning in 2022 is that Eurostar is currently not allowing full-sized bikes and e-bikes aboard their trains because of COVID-19 restrictions. These restrictions are based on size, however, so folding bikes and deconstructed bicycles are still an option.
With this in mind, we can still investigate the usual operating procedures for bringing bikes on board, so you can hit the ground running (or should I say, rolling?) once things are back to normal.
Electric bikes often referred to as e-bikes, have become an enticing option for many riders who want a little help on more strenuous rides. A battery-operated motor can help with longer distances, headwinds, and hilly rides. These motorized bicycles fall into three categories, some of which are easier than others to transport by train.
- Pedal-assisted bicycles are bikes work just as we remember when we were kids. But they also have a motor to help keep you moving on longer rides, steep hills, and other situations during which rolling resistance increases.
- Throttle Operated Bikes are more similar to a moped or motorcycle and use a throttle system to control the speed with or without a rider pedaling. These are more common options for couriers and commuters, who aren’t always as concerned with the cardio aspect of cycling.
- Speed Pedelec bikes, sometimes referred to as Fast Pedelecs, are nearly identical to throttle operated bicycles, but can reach higher speeds. How fast can they go? Not as quick as cars or motorcycles, but faster than other e-bike types. This is not a Fast Pedelec design flaw. It is a safety measure that allows these to still be classified as bicycles and thus do not require any additional licensing or paperwork.
While Eurostar allows these types of bikes on their trains, in one form or another, there are size and weight restrictions like the ones we’re used to adhering to with standard luggage.
Most road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrids fit these classifications, but the size and weight of some e-bikes can be problematic even before pandemic restrictions.
Motors and battery packs on electric bicycles add substantial weight compared to non-motorized bicycles, which can land them overweight on the train. Batteries are also often mounted on the bikes’ downtube, particularly with mountain bikes.
This can lead to a wider downtube than standard bicycles and cause your electric bicycle to exceed size requirements specific to their width.
Reading this article, you might also want to know how to get your bike to your preferred riding destination without riding it. A perfect option that makes transportation easy is a folding bicycle!
These are great for any flight or train journey and are popular enough with boat owners. We can often spot them around cities’ waterfronts and harbors.
These are the best option on the Eurostar, adhering to all COVID-19 protocols while extremely convenient in non-pandemic times. You will still want to be careful with weight restrictions, especially when considering an electric folding bicycle.
Folding electric bikes boast all the features of a standard e-bike and offer the convenience of storage options that being foldable can give you. The technology has come a long way with folding bikes and e-bikes, so expect to find options featuring disc brakes, storage racks, fenders, and more!
While this is a relatively fail-safe option for Eurostar train travel, the caveats of folding bicycles include their weight and ride quality. Sturdiness is harder to uphold, considering most of these bikes have their fold hinge on the frame itself.
They also feature smaller wheels and frames than traditional bicycles, making handling a little shakier, even with the added maneuverability of a tinier frame. A folding electric bike is notably heavier than its “unplugged” companions, although this can be less of a concern with the motor available to assist the pedaling.
By standard bicycles, we refer to non-folding and non-electric bikes. These could be road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, or any other number of styles.
Everyone has their preference based on their riding needs, but most standard bicycles fit the same criteria on Eurostar.
A speedy carbon-fiber road bike will probably weigh less than a rugged mountain bike or bulky hybrid, but we can load most bikes onto Eurostar trains, either boxed or unboxed as standard luggage.
Fees for this vary. More details about it later, but don’t expect to show up directly before departure and have your trusty bicycle travel-free.
Why spend two paragraphs discussing standard non-electric bikes? Aside from giving you some more practical Eurostar tips, you may also be happy to know that there are motors available that transform any standard or folding bicycle into an e-bike!
They build these to be light and quiet, so as not to ruin the smooth ride you’re used to. That said, if weight is a concern with your bicycle, you can consider putting one of these portable packs in your checked or carry-on bag too.
With COVID-19 rules ever in flux, pairing a folding bike with an external motor is a very practical workaround.
If you’re planning a trip, you’ve probably already had to spend some money on transportation, lodging, and hospitality. Bringing your bike along sounds like a great plan, but how much extra cost will this wrack up? The simple answer is that it depends. Let’s look at some options.
Prices for checked luggage vary, but a sound estimate is 40-60USD per bicycle. A smart way to save a few dollars is to book well ahead of your trip. Eurostar offers better rates when you book closer to 6 months in advance but charges full-price under two months.
Watching one’s pounds isn’t just something humans do. But check your bicycle’s weight before bringing it to the train station! There are weight restrictions, and if the bike exceeds the allowed limit, you cannot check a bike with the luggage.
It can especially become an issue if you recently added a battery pack or motor. Eurostar does not permit larger specialty bikes such as tandems or quadricycles.
If you are want to transport your bike for free, the best option may be a folding bike, folded small enough to be considered hand luggage. Many people use this option, but it requires more structured packing because of limited carry-on space.
The short answer to whether you can bring an electric bike on Eurostar trains is a resounding “yes”, but you now know the various pitfalls to look out for guaranteeing a smooth journey. Monitor the COVID-19 rules as they are constantly changing dynamically.
The prices on Eurostar also change often, and COVID measures caused inflation but Brexit considerations do their own to fluctuate prices even more. But now you know that there are many methods to get your standard, folding, or specialty electric bike across the Channel in style.
Related electric bike articles:
- Will Electric Bikes Get Cheaper?
- Electric Bike Keeps Cutting Out
- Can We Charge Electric Bike at Home?
- Can I Get Help to Buy an Electric Bike?
- How Far Can You Go On an Electric Bike?
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.