I won’t sugarcoat it…
…It’s complicated. But possible. Here’s how:
I love traveling by train. I used to. It is sustainable and if you’re lucky with the internet connection you can even get some work done.
But I won’t sugarcoat it: It is complicated. Deutsche Bahn seem to live in the 80s with their booking system. Here’s what you need to take your bike with you on a ICE train:
- a bike ticket (about 7€)
- a bike reservation
- a bike lock
Booking a bike reservation:
This is not possible via App. You actually need to book it via your browser on their website. Here’s the next struggle: You cannot see whether the bike spot is still available. That means you have to do the annoying process of booking a ticket before they tell you that you can’t book it in the end.
If you don’t want that all over again you need to book it in person visiting a DB store on the station. Yeah. That is the reason why I most of the time book a “flex ticket” (you can travel anytime on the day you book it) and a bike ticket additionally. If I am lucky, the train I want has free bike spots. If not, the person checking the tickets is super likely to throw you out of the train. So you better be fast dismounting your bike and storing it somewhere. Without the wheels on it your bike is no longer “endangering” everyone on the train. I honestly can’t tell you why bikes are treated like dangerous goods.
Here’s the most ironic part of it: Carrying your bike in a giant bike box 4 times the size of your bike has never been a problem and you don’t even need a ticket then.
I’ve dismounted my wheels more times than I can actually count. I’ve been thrown out of an ICE train on an unscheduled stop in the middle of the night with no connection home as well. Still can’t believe they stopped the whole ICE to throw me out of it. I have to admit, I cried on that night – and wasted almost 200 bugs on a ticket.
Booking a ticket:
Luckily you can do that via App and pay via PayPal and credit card. You also don’t need to print your ticket and get it via QR code on your phone and via email.
Be prepared that you’ll have to stick to rules that don’t make sense. Be prepared that the’ll treat your bike like a people killing transformer. Be prepared that you’ll miss a train connection due to a train delay and loose your seat and bike reservation.
My friends – fingers crossed for you and safe travels! In doubt: bike packing is fun and sometimes you’re even faster than Deutsche Bahn.