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BOB Trailer - Amtrak

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VI from Kansas City, MO on 8/23/2005 2:18:10 PM:
A friend & I are planning to ride from Clinton to St. Charles Sept.19-23 we will be camping. My friend has panniers which are not a problem for Amtrak but they will not accommodate my trailer. Any suggestions? I found a UPS store a few blocks from the train station but wondered if anyone had other ideas?

Mark of the Dalton Boys from Austin, TX./Columbia, MO. on 8/23/2005 4:19:10 PM:
Is it an older BoB? If so take off the wheel, turn in the forks to where they are "inside" cargo area of the trailer, put the trailer in a box w/wheel and that should do it. If a newer BoB (includes IBEX model) the fork will not rotate 360 degrees so you will have to take the fork off. Add a few zip ties to secure everything so things don't go bump in the baggage car and you should be OK. Enjoy the voyage......Mark of the Dalton Boys

VI from Kansas City, MO on 8/24/2005 12:30:52 PM:
This train has no checked baggage, just the bike service. After reading your reply & going back to the Amtrak website, a light came on. It could be considered 1 of my 2 carry-on bags if I break it down. Amtrak does have a size regulation for carry-on 28x22x14. I'll have to measure tonight to be certain but I think the YAK cargo area measures 25x18x16....it would be way under the 50lb weight limit...maybe they won't measure. Either way I'll post the outcome in case others are wondering.

VI from KC, MO on 8/25/2005 9:39:22 AM:
Impossible-measures 36"long!!! Couldn't carry-on but could be checked baggage except Amtrak doesn't have a baggage check train from St.Louis to KC. Bummer, looks like I'll have to have it shipped back to me.

Mark of the Dalton Boys from Austin, TX/Columbia, MO. on 8/25/2005 1:48:25 PM:
....you will be well within UPS/FedEx/Airborne etc. dimensions. When my brothers and I did the KATY I had great luck with PostNet, but not MailBoxes in terms of shipping. If one is into trailers the curse of the BoB is getting it there sometimes....fell your pain. Enjoy the voyage.....Mark of the Dalton Boys

Mike from Elk Grove Village, IL on 10/3/2005 4:13:16 PM:
I'm planning the same trip next year with my sons. How did you solve the BoB trailer problem?

Vickie from Kansas City Mo on 10/4/2005 12:38:53 PM:
I didn't. Turned out some friends met us on the trail the next to last day for a birthday surprise and they took my trailer & drybag back with them. I have LtWt gear so I was able to use a backpack & Rear rack bag that converts to little panniers. Original plans were to use a UPS Store .5mi from the Kirkwood Amtrak station. Unless you ship your entire bag & trailer that leaves you no way get the bag & bike to the station without a balancing act. Unless you drop it at the station 1st with members in your party. That said you might call the Touring Cyclist Bike Shop (on Main -St.Charles) they were very helpful with a shuttle. All of the trailer options I could think of were costly and didn't really work well. Be sure to carry a spare tube & patch kit for your trailer. If you come up with a good solution please post it.

Matthew from Kansas City on 3/9/2006 11:56:38 PM:
Has anyone had any success with getting the trailer onboard with them? If connected to the bike, does it not fit in the bike rack? Are they pretty strict about it? I'd like to know if there are any success stories as I plan on trying to pull it off. I really don't want to deal with shipping it when there is plenty of room on the train for me to get it there.

Nails on 3/10/2006 12:21:15 PM:
There isn't a bike rack. They just take out a row of seats to make space for the bikes. Note this train is not a Superliner with a bunch of room on the first floor for checked baggage.

Matthew from Kansas City on 3/10/2006 11:36:59 PM:
Has anyone had any success with getting the trailer onboard with them? If connected to the bike, does it not fit in the bike rack? Are they pretty strict about it? I'd like to know if there are any success stories as I plan on trying to pull it off. I really don't want to deal with shipping it when there is plenty of room on the train for me to get it there.

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/11/2006 9:26:31 AM:
I rode Amtrak from Washington, MO to Sedalia with a bike in 2000. I did not have a trailer with me. The area for bikes at the back of the car is large enough for standard bikes, but not for a bike with a BOB trailer attached (at least that is how I remember it). Boarding the train involved climbing a couple of steps (like boarding a bus), so I had to lift the bike up over the steps. Based on my very limited (and dated) experience I would say you will need to have the trailer and bike seperated. If I were going to try to "pull it off" as you say, I would remove the fork, wheel, and fender from the BOB to make it as compact as possible. If that weren't enough, I would offer to pay an additional bicycle fee for the trailer - try to get them to look at it as just another bicycle. I would say call them ahead of time with that offer, but I'm certain that they would ask the dimensions and then refuse, quoting their 'policy'. You might have a good chance just "winging it", but I hate doing that without a "plan B", for obvious reasons. Let us know how it works out.

Nails on 3/11/2006 9:28:07 AM:
THERE IS NO BIKE RACK ON THE TRAIN! Therefore, there is no rack for which your trailer to fit. I'd be surprised if they let a BOB trailer on this train.

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/11/2006 10:45:50 AM:
Just to clarify, this is from the Amtrak website and best describes the Missouri routes:

Specially designated spaces only: Bikes may not be transported in the vestibule of any car, except in spaces specially designated on certain limited trains.

I just sent an email to Amtrak asking them to consider accommodating bicycle trailers on their Missouri routes by either changing the carry on policy (not likely), or charging an additional fee for the trailer and basically treating it like another bicycle. (Lord knows they need the additional ridership/revenue!!) I did not link to this thread or say anything about anybody trying to skirt their current policies. I will let you know if/when I get a response.

Matthew from Kansas City, MO on 3/13/2006 5:30:38 PM:
Excellent! Thanks for your help. I suppose the only other option would be to ship it to the starting point and pick it up, but that seems like a tremendous hassle. I also considered leaving it packed and assembling it in St. Louis, but I'm tight for time after getting off the train and don't want to make that my first experience using the trailer.

I worry about calling because I may or may not get a consistent response from different people. One person allowing it may not translate into me getting it onto the train that morning. I'll see if I can get an impression of their tolerance for such things. I'm certain somebody has gotten their trailer on Amtrak at some point.

Nails on 3/14/2006 7:41:16 AM:
I strongly suggest making the trip without the trailer. A small backpack/rear rack/rear panniers should hold everything you NEED. Get a tent that packs small. e.g. MSR Zoid 2 Tent packs to 5" x 16" ($220 @ REI). I have ridden every inch of this trail several times unsupported. I have camped and lodged, but I never have used a trailer. One word of caution, do NOT use a hiking style backpack loaded down. They do a wonderful job of distributing 50+ lbs to your shoulder, backs, and hips. The trouble is, all that weight goes to your butt and it quickly becomes unbearable. We had to drop the cadence to under 50 to transfer weight to the pedals to survive.

Mark of the Dalton Boys from Austin, TX/Columbia, MO. on 3/14/2006 8:10:05 AM:
Nails - well said...what one "NEEDS"....me, I "WANT" so its a trailer for my maximalist camping style. Like the old Fabulous Furry Freak brothers used to say (paraphrasing) "Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it." Kindest regards.....Mark of the Dalton Boys

Matthew from Kansas City, MO on 3/14/2006 9:45:47 AM:
I'm sure I could get by without the trailer. I'm riding with someone else that is doing panniers. For me, it really isn't about the gear storage as much as it is the bike. The only bike I have that has the proper mounts for the racks is a fixed gear, which I am avoiding as not to dictate the pace of the ride on the trail. I'm going with my disc brake 29er mountain bike, so mounting a rack becomes a pain and could potentially damage my bike with non-standard hardware. I also would prefer to tow the trailer, even if half full, as I like my bike to be free from the weight and to handle normally. Thus, I just prefer the trailer.

Nails on 3/14/2006 11:21:03 AM:
Maximalist camping is an oxymoron reserved for the softies in the RV crowd. No offense, but maybe it's time to trash the bike and put a pair of those Green Hornet sunglasses. Seriously, this Amtrak train is not meant for trailers. Maybe someday the KATY can link to Chicago and Kansas City. Then you could take the Southwest Chief and check a trailer as baggage.

Mark of the Dalton Boys from Austin, TX/Columbia, MO. on 3/14/2006 11:41:18 AM:
A "fixie"...my compliments....I'm looking forward to riding one of those.... If you haul a trailer on your 29er you must have the longer fork available if its a single wheel trailer (BoB Trailer), if its a two-wheeler trailer those systems may not work on a full-suspension system. If you or whoever is pulling has a hard-tail you'll be good to go. The arguments pro/con panniers/trailers are all noteworthy and with no clear consensus generally speaking...it is just preference. Regards....Mark of the Dalton Boys

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/17/2006 10:40:44 PM:
The only reply that I have recieved to my email to Amtrak was a form letter type "Thank you for contacting Amtrak, we value your input...." BS The email ended with a suggestion that I contact my representatives regarding Amtrak, which I interpret as an attempt to acquire more of my tax dollars from congress. NOT BLOODY LIKELY!

Matthew from Kansas City, MO on 3/19/2006 11:53:17 AM:
Well, I've contacted Amtrak twice on this. I've offered to purchase another bike ticket for trailer space. I'm absolutely certain there will be room on the train, but they aren't budging on their policy that forbids trailers. I haven't measured for myself, but if the person earlier in this discussion is correct, the trailer is too large to be a carry-on item as well.

The only option I can think of now is to ship the trailer to a shop somewhere in St. Louis that is along my trip to the trailhead. I can pay them to have it re-assembled and ready to roll when I arrive. I plan to make it to Marthasville the first night after getting off in downtown StL around 2, so I'm a bit tight for time. Anyone have suggestions for shops that are MetroLink accessible or along the early part of the trail and that would be willing to help me out?

At this point, it is pretty much too late for me to worry about switching to panniers.

Thanks for any suggestions you guys might have.

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/19/2006 12:40:56 PM:
Matthew, Some Amtrak routes are notorious for running late. The time I rode Amtrak, the train was late arriving in Sedalia (maybe 30 or 40 minutes - it was over five years ago, so I don't remember exactly). I would not count on arriving in St Louis at 2:00. What dates are you planning to ride?

Matthew from Kansas City, MO on 3/19/2006 2:05:27 PM:
Yeah, I'm counting on the train to be behind schedule. I've taken it a few times. We're hoping to get to Marthasville this Wednesday evening, then Hartsburg Thursday and Arrow Rock State Park near Marshall (off the trail) by Friday. We'll ride roads into KC on Saturday.

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/19/2006 2:38:26 PM:
Sounds like a great ride, hope it warms up a bit! I grew up in Boonville, so I'm familiar with Arrow Rock. I have some fond memories of taking my sweetheart to plays at the Lyceum Theatre on summer evenings. If you like Arrow Rock, check out Blackwater also. Here's an idea - ship your trailer and baggage to Scenic Cycles in Marthasville! It would save you time not having to pick them up in St Louis and you could make better time riding the first day.

Patti from Kansas City on 3/20/2006 9:28:52 AM:
We need everyone to email Amtrak and request that Amtrak carry trailers and also to carry more than four bikes at a time. There is certainly room for them. There is an open space in the front (or back) of every car. They may need to make minor changes to install bike racks and brackets for trailers but it would certainly pay for itself in increased train usage by cyclists. My friends and I enjoy a day trip of train out/bike back or vice versa, but we are frustrated by Amtrak's policy of only allowing four bikes per train (and a near empty train at that). EMAIL AMTRAK- ITS EASY. WWW.AMTRAK.COM, then click "CONTACT US" at the top of the page.

sbikes from KCMO on 3/22/2006 7:30:38 PM:
I have ridden the entire trail, camping and self-sufficient. There were two of us with panniers
and we had more than enough room for what we needed to take. Less is truly better. There
are places along the way to buy food and beverage so all you really need is a couple of
changes of clothes and essentials. But, we rode the trail in 3 days so we weren't out for long.
Plus, the trail can be mushy...think halfway set plaster of paris...pulling a trailer would be a
royal pain in that. But, do what makes you happy and have a great trip!

Morgan Christian from St Paul MN on 3/25/2006 11:08:24 PM:
I'am planning to ride the Katy trail from KC to St.Louis the third week in April. When I asked about my BOB trailer, The guys at Amtrak said I had to box it. I then asked if I could put it in a large duffel bag, They said that would be sufficient as long as it wasn't too "pokey" Granted, this for checked baggage on the regular trains. It is a shame that Amtrak is so hidebound and old fashioned about it's baggage practices. This stuff dates back to the turn of the (19th) century!

Matthew from Kansas City, MO on 3/27/2006 4:32:41 PM:
I survived with the BOB and I don't think I really had that much more stuff than my friend with panniers. It certainly wasn't "maximalist camping," though we did bring a small stove for making breakfast and lots of layers as it was cold. It would be much easier to pack light later in the season.

It was more of a challenge with the rolling resistance, but I still liked having the normal feel of my bike with the trailer as opposed to racks with the high center of gravity.

Wes Ridgeway from Saint Louis, MO on 3/27/2006 5:16:03 PM:
I have done the DNR ride in June the last 2 years. 2004 ending in Clinton I rode back to Sedalia, took the train back to Kirkwood. Last year starting in Kirkwood to Sedalia, I brought my Burly Cargo 2 wheeler detatched on the train, no complaints!

savage24 from KC,MO on 3/28/2006 3:10:48 PM:
Wes, Does your Burley trailer fold up? Looking at them on the internet, the Burley Nomad folds to 32.5" x 19" x 9". That is close enough to Amtrak's rules (28" x 22" x 14") that they let you slide. If your trailers does not fold up, you got lucky!!

Wes Ridgeway from Saint Louis, MO on 3/28/2006 4:01:20 PM:
I would be able to detatch the wheels, and fold back the hitch bar, but they didn't seem to bothered as is. Also the trip from Sedalia to Kirkwood had a low number of people.
Last year going the other way there was 1 other bike, a larger number of people heading to Hermann, but still plenty of room.

jvs from chicagoland on 8/9/2006 12:55:30 PM:
My husband and I were advised that Amtrak would not accomodate the BOB trailer as it can not be folded down, but there is a seller, TW Bents, who offers a foldable version in their e-bay store, which not only is almost identical, but is also roughly 1/2 the price! On top of which, it easily fits into the bag that comes with it and can be carried on, and the same waterproof bag then fits inside to carry all your gear!

Best news of all is that as a new BOB trailer does cost roughly twice as much, we were then able to sell our old one on e-bay for almost the same amount as we paid for our new foldable one!

Curtis from Flagstaff, AZ on 6/27/2011 2:11:39 AM:
all of these posts seem extremely old... any new info on trailers?

Elwood from Chicago on 9/12/2011 12:41:43 AM:
The trains along the Katy trail, Missouri River Runner, have carry-on baggage only. They do not have checked bags. Amtrak written policy requires any carry-on to be less than 28”x22”x14” and less than 50 pounds. Bicycles require a special separate ticket, currently ten dollars, every train you board. Kirkwood to St Louis, less than half hour trip, is ten dollars. Chicago to St Louis, over five hour trip, is ten dollars. Amtrak allows only so many bike tickets per train. No bike ticket, you cannot board the train. I asked a Chicago Amtrak employee if I could buy a second bike ticket for my bike trailer, answer was no. That is the written policy.
How carry-on bikes normally work: You do not box your bike. You just wheel it on the train. Normally you just stand the bike in an open area in back of car behind the seats. That is the norm on Missouri River Runner. On other trains, depending on conductor instructions, you may have to remove front wheel and turn handle bars sideways and place it in an overhead rack, I have done that. Twice I was instructed to bungee the bike in the vestibule between the engine and first car, but I was traveling business class with bike.
How carry-on baggage normally works. Seemingly if it is enclosed, looks like a travel case and you can carry it, they allow it on the train. I have seen large gym bags, fly rod cases, poster tubes, folding strollers, non-folding strollers and some huge suitcases that all were over 28 inches in one dimension board the train.
My bike trailer, Performance XPR, is a pivot yoke type single wheel. It folds into its own poorly made dry sack. Folded trailer, small tent and sleeping bag go in the irregular fully enclosed dry sack that fits in a space 36” x 14” x 8” and weighs 26 pounds. Note this exceeds the 28” Amtrak regulation. Amtrak over seat shelves have about 14 inches vertical clearance and 28 inches front to back. The bagged trail

Elwood from Chicago on 9/12/2011 12:49:06 AM:
Here is entire last paragraph of above reply.

My bike trailer, Performance XPR, is a pivot yoke type single wheel. It folds into its own poorly made dry sack. Folded trailer, small tent and sleeping bag go in the irregular fully enclosed dry sack that fits in a space 36” x 14” x 8” and weighs 26 pounds. Note this exceeds the 28” Amtrak regulation. Amtrak over seat shelves have about 14 inches vertical clearance and 28 inches front to back. The bagged trailer fits on the shelf if the 36” goes fore and aft. I have never been questioned about the bag in four trips. Let me explain the last one. We were at St Louis train station day before 9/11 tenth anniversary. I got off the River Runner to wait an hour for train to Chicago. The platform elevator had suddenly quit, so I asked if I could leave my bike and bag on the platform since I was boarding next train. They made it clear leaving the bike and bag was not an option. There was redirecting and communicating with the end result being an Amtrak employee, female, carried my bike up the escalator. I waited in the terminal with my bike and then ever thing was carried down the escalator. During the transactions my bagged trailer was moved multiple times by different Amtrak personnel. Nobody said anything about my bagged trailer being over 28”, but it was clear I could not leave it unattended on the platform.

Scott from KC on 9/21/2011 9:54:55 PM:
I had a trailer that broke down to flat and 32 inches long. No one on this Amtrak leg appears to care about the size restrictions. We rode from Sedalia to Hermann.