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I have found quite a bit of information about taking folding bikes on trains and the Tube in London. Specifically it says you can take a folding bike pretty much anywhere.

However, having examined the small print of various train companies in the UK there is usually a distinction drawn between Bromptons and the rest, i.e. Bromptons, which obviously fold up really small, are considered "true" folding bikes while the other types of folders appear to inhabit some regulatory grey area, halfway between a folder and a non-folder.

I'm contemplating buying a Montague Crosstown. As you can see there, this has full-size wheels. Even if I wrap this in a bag I would anticipate getting some nasty looks if I take that on a busy-ish Tube / train in London, but I can cope with nasty looks. Does anyone know what the actual regulations are?

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  • Its a good question - but will require local knowledge. And are you looking for written rules, or "best/actual practice" ? – Criggie Sep 12 at 3:34
  • Why not go for a “true” folding bike and avoid possible issues? Something like a Tern Node C8 with 507mm (24") wheels folds faster and rolls quite nicely. – Michael Sep 12 at 10:32
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    @Criggie Written rules. Even written rules can change of course, but the consequences of buying a bike and then finding you were not allowed to take it on a train would be awful. – mike rodent Sep 12 at 12:54
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    @Criggie maybe warrants a separate question on its own. But for example you might want to take the train/tube into central London, cycle around and do stuff for a few hours and then go back home. London is VERY big. Your journey into the centre could be 10 miles, through stressful, dangerous streets with traffic lights, on normal roads, requiring max. concentration, not dedicated bike lanes! – mike rodent Sep 13 at 11:06
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    @Criggie, in my case for using the train we were a group of people doing London to Brighton, we all live in separate areas of North and South London so we decided to start from the official point which is Clapham Common, from where I live that's an extra 17 miles on the route so made sense to take the train to a midway point and do a 5 mile warmup before the start. – Dan K Sep 14 at 9:18
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The authorative source would be Transport for London's website at https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/cycling-in-london/bikes-on-public-transport which states:

Tube: You can take a folded bike anywhere and anytime
Dockland Light Rail: Can be used on all DLR trains, at any time
London Overground: Are accepted on London Overground trains at all times
TfL Rail: Can be taken on TfL Rail trains at all times
Trams: Trams only takes folded bicycles

Non folding bikes have time restrictions or are fully excluded.

Here's a bike-centric map for NON-folding bikes provided by TfL, dated May 2018. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/bicycles-on-public-transport.pdf


As for your question of what defines a folding bike?, that would be the mechanism of folding. A bike whose main frame has any form of hinge would class as a folding bike.

You'd want to go out of your way to fold it as small as possible. Remember a train is not a public place, and the "terms of conveyance" will permit them to exclude you. So I'd suggest always turning the handlebars and lowering the saddle to make it look smaller. I'd suggest not fitting bulky accessories too, a rack might be convenient but adds to the bulk.

You should absolutely consider a cover or water cape for the bike, to keep its dampness or oils from upsetting anyone. Purchase of some folding pedals, or easily-removable ones like the MKS commuter pedals would be worth considering too.

Another interesting observation - the image above shows the FRONT wheel is removed from the fork and laid beside the rear wheel. I'd bet this bike is not a lot larger than a 20" folder when properly buttoned up.

How you stand/sit with the bike may need some consideration. If you stand and have a backpack, then front-carry the bag on your chest with the bike on the floor below your bag. This would save floor space.

Summary: Rules say you're allowed a folding bike, then you're allowed any wheel-size on a folding bike.

  • Last Saturday I boarded the Northern Line (London Underground) with my MTB, went through the barriers, past at least 5 station workers and boarded the train with no issues, I had no issues when departing the train at my stop. I was with a mate who also had his road bike. We positioned the bikes so there was no obstruction and at no point did any guards or railway police say anything. This was early though at around 6am so maybe this was a factor, I'm not so sure if we would have got away with it at rush hour. – Dan K Sep 12 at 6:12
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    @DanK seems that some lines allow regular bikes outside rush-o'clock and some don't ever. And then as you see there are some that don't care as long as you avoid being an idiot. I think OP will be just fine. And that's a sweet-looking bike for a folder too - I'm envious ! – Criggie Sep 12 at 7:34
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    In the Netherlands the rule is roughly "if you can put the bike in a luggage rack it counts as luggage" to avoid exactly this point. Not the letter of the English law but a good point of common sense. – Borgh Sep 13 at 8:12
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Some UK rail companies, such as GWR (who operate some local trains in West London as well as mainline services) only consider bikes to be folding if the wheels are up to 20".

Folding bikes with a maximum 20-inch wheel can be carried as luggage without any restriction. Please make sure you fold it before boarding.

That would exclude the bike you've pictured, unless you can pack it in a bag and call it luggage (checking the size of that too)

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Being a Londoner I would say this.

If you want to guarantee being able to take a folding bike on the tube go for a Brompton or something that folds to the same size. Decathlon do very similar folding bikes.

You could probably get Montagne Crosstown on 80-90% of your journeys but there will inevitably be a day when a high on power tfl staff member stops you from getting on the train.

As @Dan K said there are times when you can get away with taking a full size bike on the tube but that was on a Saturday. I have done it before but there have also been times when I have tried to take a full size bike on the tube and been stopped. I have also seen others within similar folding bikes to the one you want being stopped too.

To conclude to guarantee taking a folding bike on the tube get a Brompton or similar or as a previous answer says a folding bike with 20 inch tyres.

I hope this helps.

  • (As a non-Londoner), I probably wouldn't try to take a larger folding bike on a rush-hour tube train. – David Richerby Sep 14 at 9:52
  • Thanks. Yes, the safe option. I wanted to know what the regulations are currently. No doubt TfL staff have a lot of discretion to refuse entry to people with any kind of bulky luggage. If I didn't dislike the feel of 20-inchers things'd be different. Also it is significant that no-one has been able to point to TfL regs saying anything about types of folders. I suspect I could get away with using this type most of the time, with reasonable passenger densities, if only because so few people use this type (in fact I've hard ever seen any folding bikes, even Bromptons, on the Tube). – mike rodent Sep 14 at 17:14

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