Are you dreaming of a bicycle trip around France or sunny Italy, experiencing the great cycling infrastructure in Germany, a trip to the Hungarian Lake Balaton or Poland? How to get there with a bike? If you don't like flying, trains fail or are too expensive, Flixbus could be an option, to reach the place with a bicycle. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes quite the opposite.
I have carried my bike on Flixbus many times, I also see a lot of discussions and questions about this, it - as in the case of transporting a bicycle by plane – I tried to create a guide.
This is a practical post, was not created in cooperation with Flixbus
The Flixbus network is available on the carrier's website. When you click on a city you can see possible connections in Europe. And contrary to many opinions, there are also connections with bicycle transport within Poland. Unfortunately, despite the possibility of taking a bicycle, it is not always possible.
On what routes did I take my bike in Flixbus? Among others, recently:
- Berlin – Paris 10/2022 (you could buy a course from Warsaw with a change in Berlin, but then the journey time is 24h, I split it into two days)
- Budapest - Warsaw 2019 (I got off in Czestochowa)
- Rome-Lecce 2022 (Apulia, Italy)
- Maglie (Apulia, Italy) 2022 – Rome
- Padua (Italy) – Brno (Czech Republic) 06/2022 – course Milan - Padua – Venice – Villach – Brno – Krakow, but I got off earlier in Brno
- River (Croatia) - Trieste (Italy) 12/2022 - Just 2 hours, but there is no train connection there.
Bordeaux – Nice (France)10/2022 – I had all the required tickets, but I wasn't accepted – The situation described at the end of this blog entry, including filing a complaint
And one more fun fact – I recommend buying in the app, the ticket might be cheaper!
Let's organize the information:
Is it possible to transport a bicycle on the Flixbus bus?
It's already known, that yes. FlixBus allows the transport of bicycles in some courses, but there are limitations and guidelines, which should be kept in mind. Besides, Flixbus is a multi-company company and FlixBus cycling policy may vary by country and region. It is important to, to check the rules before travelling directly on the FlixBus website.
They are possible 3 scenarios of transporting a bicycle on a Flixbus bus.
1. Carriage of a bicycle on a bus offering bicycle transport on a given route
This is the optimal scenario and I am interested mostly in that one 90% to avoid, complications. Recommended. – though unfortunately, what I found out for myself, sometimes, that the drivers here also refuse to take the bicycle. In this case, however, we have a guarantee that the complaint will be considered in our favor.
How to check, whether Flixbus offers bicycle transport on a given route? In the connection finder, After entering a destination, where there is a number of people / children, there is also an option to add a bicycle – we add. If taking a bike is possible, At the given rate, the price will show.
From Flixbus: „When adding a bike in the booking process, all available journeys will be made on a bus equipped with a bike holder or covers."
Bike rack, covers? Not necessarily. In Poland, the bike rack never happened to me (although I saw it on a bus to Berlin – A friend was carrying her bike then), I've never heard of covers in my life. I was transporting a bike on a dedicated rack from Berlin to Paris (middle photo). Different models of bicycle racks are also possible.
However, if there was no rack, in every case (except for one – I will describe at the end) In the case of the driver, they immediately offered me a separate space in the cargo hold. I just prefer, so that my bike is comfortable in the luggage compartment, than on the hook, exposed to dirt from the road, weather conditions and even theft. I also arrange the bike myself, securing it with panniers.
Some, however, prefer the rack. On a trip from Italy (operated by Polish Flixbus) the bus had no bicycle rack. Two cyclists from Austria got on the route with super expensive bikes, who were absolutely disgusted by the proposal to put bicycles in the compartment, What they had to do after a long discussion. They offered me to move my bike to a worse place, because you know, mine was older, so it can get scratched. I sent them you know where.
After choosing, you must of course BOOK and PAY for a place for your bike when booking a ticket. The number of bicycles allowed on board is limited, so it's best to reserve your spot as early as possible. It is depending on the rate from 3 to 5 bicycles.
What's important is me I also buy extra luggage, because it's like 2 EUR and I have a lot of luggage. Drivers usually pay attention to this. It's worth it too choose a seat, if you like specific (at the front, by the toilet, at the rear end..).
This is where scenario no. 2 i.e. buying special baggage.
2.The course does not offer transport of bicycles on the route – bicycle as special baggage
Possible, but risky nonetheless. From Flixbus: .."Some search results may see a 'No vacancies' notification. This means, that there are no more places, or the bus is not equipped with a bicycle holder or covers. You can check it – if the trip can be booked with the number of bikes set to zero, means, that the bus is really not adapted to transport bicycles..”
And further as claimed by Flixbus:
.."But do not worry, you can still book this trip with your bike, reserving it as "special baggage". Your bike will be transported in the main luggage compartment. In this case, the bike should be adapted to the guidelines, that is fold and pack according to the guidelines (Currently, the sum of the sides of the package is 240 cm).
I used this option only once, carrying a bike in a box, before the flight from Berlin.
In this case, despite Flixbus' assurances, taking a packed bike as luggage is risky – It may turn out, that drivers do not want to take it, because the bus is full and there is not much space in the hold. Such cases are known.
Also happened to me scenario no. 3 that is
3. Bicycle transport on the Flixbus bus, which does not provide this option
For those who have no choice – you can try, but will never know for sure before departure, How the driver reacts. Bus occupancy, amount of luggage, personal factor, His humor and the arrangement of the planets :).
This is where folding/packing the bike or not comes into play. Yep, I never disassemble the bike, because I don't like it and that's what I did (for example,. from Rijeka, Croatia to Trieste, Italy). I paid for it 10 EUR in cash before boarding the bus (probably went into the driver's pocket, no problem).
Here it is important, whether we go in the season / weekend or not – the busier the bus, the lower the chance of being taken. I wouldn't risk it at all. The problem is also much bigger, when the course is operated by a double-decker bus, because there is a small trunk there.
Has anyone managed to do this? During the times of Polski Bus, I did this many times.
There are other things, worth remembering:
Problems with bicycle transport by Flixbus
Theft of a bicycle from a rack (!)
Unfortunately, such cases are also known. Ten, that I heard about is described in the thread “With a bike in Flixbus” – a bicycle of Polish guy was pulled from a newly packed bike from the back bike rack of the bus at the bus station in Milan – from what it turned out, It happens at this station quite often – Therefore, if the bike goes to the hook, let's attach it there with your lock. The end of this story – After a few months, they reimbursed him for the cost of the bike.
The second issue regarding the hook – it is worth protecting sensitive places from dirt, like wrapping it in foil. The bike is not just dirty , that dust from the road is still fumes from the engine. Unfortunately, I did not foresee this and at one of the stops I was running to wrap the handlebars and the saddle.
Not taking the bike despite having a ticket
Regulations aside, and on the spot it may turn out, that drivers interpret them in their own way. And what's more - it's impossible to get along with them because they speak only in their native language. In autumn 2022 year happened to me, that I was not taken with my bicycle despite having a ticket for it and for luggage.
My case study: 26.10.2022 I had purchased a course with a BIKE on the Bordeaux route – Nice. Yep, on this route, Flixbus offers bicycle transport on some courses. Because I have used Flix many times (Only this year it was mine 4 Long-distance Flixbus bike transport), I always had a bike ticket (and extra baggage) I thought, that it will be ok.
Well, it wasn't. Flixbus on this route (Bordeaux - Bucharest) is operated by a Romanian company. Romanian drivers after arriving at the station categorically refused to take my bike in its entirety. The bus did not have a bicycle rack, ok – in this case, I always got a separate trunk space. They showed me the rules of carriage on the Flixbus Romanian website IN ROMANIAN letting me know, that the bike must be in the bag and that only folded/folding bikes are taken. As, that they did not speak any language other than Romanian, the rules showed in English were of no use. There is no. In the last moment, 3 minutes before departure, seeing, When I take pictures, they soften a bit, showing me the minimum space in the hatch and telling me to unfold the bike. For me it does not take a while due to the front rack, I preferred to give up, than to have trouble putting the bike back together.
To sum up – They departed without me and I, Since I had planned a trip the next day, I bought tickets for the train (expensive! 133 EUR, flix approx 45 EUR). Unfortunately, my connections were lost, train tickets in italy (because I kept going) I could change, but they were more expensive. I did not incur accommodation costs, because I returned to the host in Bordeaux and on the way in Italy I just slept in a tent. These costs caused by the carrier's failure to fulfill the contract – are not reimbursed.
FLIXBUS – SUBMITTING A COMPLAINT
I filed a complaint two weeks later and ... it was approved on the same day! Of course, I had to not only describe the situation, but attach bills/tickets. It was in plus.
I was offered a refund for the course I chose – the cost of a Flix ticket or that for train tickets, which I had to use (but only in France). I chose the one for the railways, because it was more expensive. After 14 days the money was returned.
Of course, it made me very happy, Although I did not have a lot of nerves about the whole situation, additional costs etc. Fortunately, also a small time cushion. I also think, that additional costs (for example,. hotel) should be returned.
I also know about cases, when bicycles adapted for transport as additional baggage have not been taken. The cost has also been reimbursed.
Yep, remember that if something like this happens, It's worth pushing.
Other important - Flixbus ticket refund/ticket change – rules
So-so here, because yes, you can return the ticket, or change it, but you don't get cash. The money goes to your Flixbus account and is available for use within 1 year. What about the case, when no such trip is planned?
To sum up – Flixbus can be an option to get somewhere with a bike, but it won't always work. You can be very satisfied or you can be sorely disappointed.
You have your own experience in this regard? Good, Bad? Or maybe there is something, what else could be added here? Share your opinions under the post.
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