bike bag rules for trains

Aug 16, 2012
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Chuo Rinkan
#1
I have a Tioga bike bag purchased 3 or 4 years ago which I have used only once on the trains. The seat is visible when the bike is packed.

I forgot how to put it on and so visited the website to re-visualize the procedure. I see now that all the current bags cover the seats and wondered if the rules have changed?

Any help appreciated before I get sent packing from the station.
 
May 22, 2007
3,564
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#4
I would qualify what @GrantT says. Your Tioga bag is probably usually going to be fine.

The rules haven't changed. It has always been the case that the entire bike including the seat should be covered. How this is enforced depends on the region, the train company, and on individual station staff. Most of the time in Kantō it's fine to have the seat sticking out, but some Odakyū stations sometimes have a real problem with it.

On our Golden Week tour of Shikoku we ended up in a massive showdown with a trainee employee at Kōchi station who was adamant that we could not pass through the gates and ride the train unless our saddles were covered.



Why? The saddle isn't going to hurt anyone?

The explanation in their poster is "If the saddle or handlebars are sticking out, the bike is not in a 'packed away' condition". Semantics trumps common sense as usual. Here's the poster:



"Why not pull out the seatpost to be properly compliant?" Well it's not on a quick-relase so I'd need a tool. And then I'd have a greasy seatpost and saddle loose; that could potentially cause much more inconvenience to other customers than leaving it in place.

So we grabbed some of their travel brochures from the adjacent rack and tried to origami some meaningless saddle covers that would appease the pointless peasant. The effect was unsatisfactory, not to mention a waste of paper.

Like many others I have a Mont-Bell bag that's designed to be used with the seat sticking out. It's different from some Tioga & Ostrich styles in that the bottom of the bag is open; you put the bag over the seatpost like a poncho, rather than lifting the bike up to drop it into the bag. So (to shut him up) I hit on the idea of hiking the bag up over the saddle



Thus:



As his eyes were on me, and on my saddle, it wasn't until a few seconds after I was through the gate and making a break for the escalator that he chased me down...



「お客さん、車輪が... 車輪が見えてますよ!」

「いやーん。みちゃだめ」Don't look at my wheels, you perv.



"These are Japanese bike bags made by Japanese sporting equipment companies to carry these Japanese bikes on Japanese trains. The train is coming, and we're getting on it." We faced him down, and we triumphed, and we got an anecdote out of it, but it cast a gloom over the next hour or so. The real culprit is the dickhead who designed that poster.

Kōchi station was vast and empty, so we brought our bikes right up to the gates in the full gaze of that trainee and his supervisor. It might have been a training experience for him: 'Shūhei, go and hassle the gaijin'. Future strategies may include (1) bagging the bike outside the station, out of sight of the staff, and (2) working in teams to distract staff with some ridiculous question about timetables in broken Japanese while team-mates dash through.
 
Last edited:

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,860
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#5
I make almost no effort to cover my bike. i.e. just tie the bag around the bottle holder area resulting in the forks and seat being out. Never been hassled.

In an emergency I've used plastic bags and tape to just cover the greasy areas again with no hassles.

But I have only travelled on the Seibu ikebukero and that other one that goes out north west.

I agree with Mike though, get your bike ready out of site, so they don't have time to build up the confidence to take on what they probably imagine is going to be a difficult and potentially deadly interaction with an unhinged foreigner.
 

nishiki2013

http://www.bikepackingjapan.com
#7
I've been through Nakatsugawa station in Gifu a couple of times with my saddle showing and it's been fine, but other times I've been told to cover it. I think it depends on the time of day and how busy the station is.

As a precaution, nowadays I always carry one of those camping/travel 'stuff it' bags and just use that as well as the bike bag. It seems to do the trick.
 

paberu

Speeding Up
Dec 26, 2014
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#13
I've had 0 issues with my saddle showing while travelling in Kyushu and Hiroshima Prefectures . . . but Shikoku has been a royal pain in the ass every time.

First time I had to catch a train from Ushijima to Yawatahama - wasn't allowed on because saddle was showing. Covered it with a combini bag and was let on without any question.

2nd time they wouldn't let us on from Yawatahama to Imabari - but I had some dark plastic bags that I used to cover the saddle however then when boarding the train the conductor took issue that the saddle wasn't covered by the "main" bag, but since I was already half on the train and would be holding it up we were let on.

3rd time, again they didn't want to let us on but using wheel bags to cover the saddle we were let through. This time the train had a terribly designed bike storage room where we put our bikes, only to be yelled at by the train conductor that this room is only for customers with a special ticket and it's only to be used from Matsuyama station. When asked where else we should keep the bikes he just spat out "wakaran!!!" and stormed off.

I'd avoid catching a train in Shikoku if possible unless you have one of those newer ostrich bags and a very small light bike to pack. They really seem to go out of their way there to make your experience as unpleasant as possible. Also it's the only place where I have had multiple instance of road rage directed at me.
 
May 22, 2007
3,564
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#14
I've had 0 issues with my saddle showing while travelling in Kyushu and Hiroshima Prefectures . . . but Shikoku has been a royal pain in the ass every time.
Interesting that you had a similar experience in Shikoku. We caught several other trains during Golden Week this year but had no further problems with station or train staff. (And certainly no road rage!)

Photos

I am considering composing a strop-o-gram to Mr Izumi, the director of JR Shikoku, pointing out the error of his company's ways. Please feel free to suggest text for addition.
 
Likes: Musashi13

paberu

Speeding Up
Dec 26, 2014
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#15
am considering composing a strop-o-gram to Mr Izumi, the director of JR Shikoku, pointing out the error of his company's ways. Please feel free to suggest text for addition.
Haha, well what can one say? Having to cover the only soft part of the bicycle defies all logic. Shikoku is quite a boring prefecture, so it's strange that one of the only attractions they have going for them is made so inconvenient. For everyone that's asked me about doing Shimanami Kaido I've started suggesting to just go from Onomichi down to Imabari and then ride back up avoiding all the trouble Shikoku offers.
 

emotse

Cruising
Sep 3, 2013
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#16
Interesting that you had a similar experience in Shikoku. We caught several other trains during Golden Week this year but had no further problems with station or train staff. (And certainly no road rage!)

Photos

I am considering composing a strop-o-gram to Mr Izumi, the director of JR Shikoku, pointing out the error of his company's ways. Please feel free to suggest text for addition.
Just an idea, but an email to MontBell or whoever made your bag about which station and what reasons were cited might be productive. I'm sure they would be concerned that their customers are being exposed to this kind of treatment over their product.