The transsiberian with bikes

In our epic to reach South Korea from Kazakhstan without taking a plane and without a Chinese visa, we crossed Russia the express way with the Trans-Siberian, always accompanied by our faithful bikes.

We took two trains: Omsk-Irkutsk (28 €, 40h, ~ 2500km) and Irkutsk-Vladivostok (45 €, 76h, ~ 4100km) . Each time we took the cheapest seats of the third class, ie two upper lateral berths for Omsk-Irkutsk, and the two lateral bunks (upper + lower) near the toilets for Irkutsk-Vladivostok. .

To take only upper berths is rather constraining because one totally depends on the others to be able to sit, but we always find friends with whom to sit. The bunks near the toilets are good, even if you can get a little woken up at night by people who slam the door, it’s really not insurmountable.

The main problem with side berths is that they are closed at the ends (foot and head) so you can not get your feet up in the hallway unlike the bunks in the squares. From 1 m75 up you will have to bend your knees! The worst scam is the two places in the square closest to the toilet, where you can not go out, you have the bathroom door, and it’s expensive!

Coming to the facts, how to cram the bicycle in the transsiberian.

Option 1: Freight

This is the simplest and most comfortable solution to not live a thousand galleys like us. According to well-placed informants, count ~ 70 € to send the bicycles from Moscow to Vladivostok, with all the things that will not serve you on the train.

Option 2: Pack the bike

You have the right to take your bike packed in the Trans-Siberian. You can buy a special bike ticket when you buy your ticket online (at least if you go through the official website https://pass.rzd.ru/main-pass/public/en ) for a few extra euros, or until the last moment at the station counter (it looks like it’s a bit cheaper than online). You will then have in addition to the train ticket, another special ticket for your bike to show to the wagon chef. On our second journey through Russia by train with bikes, instead of buying expensive bags for the bikes, we got some big cheap bags at the construction store, where the wheels and the smallest bike could fit in, 2 meters plastic roll per bigger bike and some tape. Once ready to board the train, if the wagon chief asks to pack the bikes, we quickly turn the handlebar, remove the pedals and the front wheel, then pack the bike in platic, tape the whole thing and tadaaaa ! They’re happy 🙂 Fast and cheap!

Option 3: Kazakh style

With our experience in Kazakhstan, we decide to ignore the packaging, we buy bicycle tickets and try to get on the train without dismounting them. It gave us long hours of bargaining at the counters, good cold sweats, some threats of recourse to the police, but it ended up happening. We still had to remove some wheels.
Read all the crispy details of our adventure .

Option 4: Great Lord

Advice from a Russian cycling friend: buy extra berths to have room to put the bike. Probably not the most economical.

Option 5: Learn to speak Russian

Everything would be so much easier!

7 Replies to “The transsiberian with bikes”

  1. Hi guys and thanks for this informative post ! I bike the Kazakh way spirit 🙂 but I think i will go more for the first option : freight. After riding from Nepal to Japan i’m planning in returning to Europe (Fra’ce) from Japan by boat and then transsiberian(Vladivostok-Moscow). By any chance, do you know more about this freight organisation : do you know if it can be organised from the train station or is it a separate surprise? Als after experiencing the 3rd class compartments any regrets or no? I’m hesitating between 2nd and 3rd class tickets. I will probably mix the two ! Thanks and happy travels, Aline

    1. Hi Aline! We’re still cycling across Japan but have the same return trip in mind. If you ever feel bored on the train, would you mind sharing all noteworthy insights please? Thank you ever so much!

  2. Hi Aline ! I’m so sorry we missed your message 🙁 I guess you probably already took the transsiberian by now ? How did it go ?
    I don’t know much more about the freight process, if you have more information on that, we’d love to hear about it ! About the 3rd class experience, no regrets for sure, it was great 🙂

  3. Hi, how you crossed the border between Poland, Ukraine and Russia with bikes? Is bike allowed in train?

    1. Hi ! We crossed the border between Ukraine and Russia by train, bike are allowed the same way as they are allowed in Russian trains (i.e. they can ask you to put them in a bag, or any protective cover, and to store them on the luggage rack). We took the train from Moscow to Lviv, right before the polish border. Then we crossed the border between Poland and Ukraine by bike, so I’m not sure about bikes in the train for that part.
      Enjoy your trip 🙂

  4. Please tell us more about the “Freight” option.

    Do you mean the bicycle is still assembled and rolling around on its own wheels? Just with the luggage taken off obviously? Is that what you mean? Or rather, must it be in a box or crate of some kind? (etc.)

    1. Hi, we didn’t do it ourselves so I don’t have the exact details. My friends who did it told me the send it through the post office in Russia, the biked traveled in a truck still assembled, wraped in some plastic. There is also JDE (https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=fr&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.jde.ru%2Frq%2F) that ships parcels through Russia, but their website is a pain to use if you don’t speak russian :/ Let us know if you find more information, it will probably be very useful to other travelers 🙂

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