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!