Bikes on cross channel ferries

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mjr
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby mjr » 2 Mar 2019, 11:14pm

gregoryoftours wrote:I would take some lagging as you say, and secure your bike as firmly as possible with Arno straps. And try as hard as you can not to have to put it in one of those wheel/rotor/rear derailleur trashing bike stands.

In other words, don't book on P&O? DFDS on Dover-Dunkirk use Sheffield stands.
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pete75
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby pete75 » 4 Mar 2019, 10:42am

Depends how you get to the port. If driving it can be more economical to take car over. For example Northern France/Belgium last year Dover - Dunkirk was £100 return for two people and bikes and £72 return for a car so took car over to France - free parking in the centre of St. Omer 25 miles from port and a much better starting spot. Price difference even more ridiculous if 4 of you - still £72 in car and £200 with bikes only.

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horizon
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby horizon » 4 Mar 2019, 11:22am

pete75 wrote:Depends how you get to the port. If driving it can be more economical to take car over. For example Northern France/Belgium last year Dover - Dunkirk was £100 return for two people and bikes and £72 return for a car so took car over to France - free parking in the centre of St. Omer 25 miles from port and a much better starting spot. Price difference even more ridiculous if 4 of you - still £72 in car and £200 with bikes only.


This is an ongoing issue; basically it means the car goes free and you get some spare cash to spend in the restaurant. Maybe something that the MoneySavingExpert hasn't spotted yet?

AIUI it is a booking issue - you cannot book the bikes as a group in the way you can with a car and so this may change in the future. I do wonder though whether it may be possible just to book the car and then leave it at home.

However, a more serious problem if I'm right is that if more people take bikes (or go as foot passengers) and fewer people take vehicles, it skews the safety requirements without the ferry being fully utilised. The ferry is designed to carry a certain number of cars and a proportional number of people: this number is then reflected in the number of lifeboats etc. So the ferry cannot take an unlimited number of bikes/people - it has to take the cars in order to make a profit but it cannot utilise the car space for bicycles. AFAIK this has come up as an issue at least with Brittany Ferries and DFDS preventing people from booking bikes on even where deck/car space is available.
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Sweep
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby Sweep » 4 Mar 2019, 11:54am

Isn't the reason that the ferry companies favour cars, to the extent of making a car a loss leader in many cases, is that they hope to flog the preferably multiple occupants lots of supposedly duty free stuff?
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mjr
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby mjr » 4 Mar 2019, 12:21pm

horizon wrote:AIUI it is a booking issue - you cannot book the bikes as a group in the way you can with a car and so this may change in the future.

That's different to what I've been told and even on ones like Stena where you can book bikes as a group, taking a car can be cheaper at some times. There it's because people and bikes are a flat-rate (being almost unlimited), whereas motor vehicle space is limited and the price reacts a bit like airline fares: less space left means they ask higher prices.

horizon wrote:So the ferry cannot take an unlimited number of bikes/people - it has to take the cars in order to make a profit but it cannot utilise the car space for bicycles. AFAIK this has come up as an issue at least with Brittany Ferries and DFDS preventing people from booking bikes on even where deck/car space is available.

Again, Stena are different: they can and do use the car space for bicycles by slotting rails into the deck for you to lock against. However, they have a limit to how much of the deck they're willing to reallocate and it's set by a revenue manager. I suspect if there are more lorries (= more weight and deck space taken up but fewer people) already booked on then they're more willing to swap cars for bikes (= more people to fill cabins and/or buy things but less deck space).
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby mjr » 4 Mar 2019, 12:25pm

Sweep wrote:Isn't the reason that the ferry companies favour cars, to the extent of making a car a loss leader in many cases, is that they hope to flog the preferably multiple occupants lots of supposedly duty free stuff?

I doubt it because there's a limit to what you would carry back to the car. I suspect they could make more money trying to sell food and lightweight bling kit to a greater number of cycle tourists, as you can get at least 10 of them parked in the deck space taken by a car carrying between 1 and 4 people.
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LittleGreyCat
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby LittleGreyCat » 6 May 2019, 6:05pm

MrsHJ wrote:Nope.

You wheel it on (cycle in the old days), park up using rope they provide and leave it. A couple of bungees might be helpful
Depending on layout etc.

Nb i see you have carbon fibre- yes, there is a good chance of other bikes being next to yours and leaning against it- your panniers will usually protect but something to consider.


Returning to this, as three of us are now booked Harwich to the Hook and back around the beginning of August.

Firstly, why would you leave your panniers on the bike? Isn't this an open invitation to steal the contents?

Secondly any additional padding you take will then need to be carried with you on tour, unless you bin it and buy fresh before you travel back.

Having never travelled on a cross-Channel ferry with a bike before I am a bit nervous about getting my new bike scratched and generally having bits like lights damaged. A lot of peripherals are vulnerable to abuse.

I assume that everyone locks the wheels to the bike frame. A dynamo front wheel might be a temptation to someone, not necessarily travelling as a cyclist.

Likewise a leather saddle is generally rated as very nickable. Do people leave their saddles on or take them off for the duration of the trip?

We are travelling on Monday nights so we shouldn't (hopefully) hit the weekend rush.

I'm generally looking for things that look obvious in hindsight. Things that afterwards people will say "Why did you do that? We always...".

Specifically what, if anything, is taken as an extra for use during the ferry trip and what is done to keep the bike safe.

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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby simonhill » 6 May 2019, 6:57pm

I leave my panniers on because I can't be bothered to carry them up into the passenger decks and then keep an eye on them for the whole voyage. If you have a cabin, this may not be such a hassle. Also they are useful for leaning the bike against the hull.

As for theft, no one is allowed on the car decks when the ship is underway, this reduces the time that anyone could steal anything. I imagine there is also some form of CCTV for safety. Personally its not something I worry about but if you are, you can leave the car deck as late as poss and get there as soon as the doors open.I take any valuables or extra clothing with me, normally in a small nylon backpack.

Likewise I didn't worry about my bike on the back of my campervan and there will be a wide variety of stuff in and on the vehicles which is much more nickable, so I don't think bikes would be a big target.

I have never heard of anyone having anything being stolen from their bikes - anyone else?

albal1
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby albal1 » 6 May 2019, 7:23pm

Having crossed the channel a few hundred times professionally over a number of years. Also with a bicycle .The car deck is closed during the crossing. No one is allowed to use it except staff. Those who are knowledge able of bikes may approach I suppose but I've no experience of this. Most general public are not interested in your brooks saddle or dynohub. I've never locked my bike on board. Or removed panniers, even on the Spain crossing. Nothing stopping you taking precautions tho, cover saddle with lidl bag. (Aldi will do too!) Lock bike to railings. Enjoy your trip.

Des49
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby Des49 » 6 May 2019, 9:44pm

LittleGreyCat wrote:Having never travelled on a cross-Channel ferry with a bike before I am a bit nervous about getting my new bike scratched and generally having bits like lights damaged. A lot of peripherals are vulnerable to abuse.


It's always a risk. In my experience (mostly Condor Ferries) the deck hands do not have the respect or knowledge to take care of nice bikes. So much so that I am reluctant taking a nicely painted bike. The wheel stands are potential problem areas, if they tie up the bike then they just put a bungee clip straight on the paint and just grab handlebars with gloves covered in rust from handling chains. The latter doesn't play well with my white bar tape!

On some of the ferries bikes are just leant against each other against a bulkhead or railing which actually seems to protect them better, as long as you have panniers on to pad things out. But again beware of someone putting a pedal against an easily damaged area on an adjacent bike.

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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby MrsHJ » 7 May 2019, 1:33am

Ageeed - damage is more likely than getting anything nicked but of course buyer beware- I take the valuable stuff with me and leave the rest as although I know I have an expensive sleeping bag, tent etc I don’t think people are likely to burrow deeply enough in my panniers to extract it and identify the value. I don’t think you’re permitted to lock the bike.

Thehairs1970
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Re: Bikes on cross channel ferries

Postby Thehairs1970 » 7 May 2019, 7:12am

If your bike is on the inside, they can't get to your panniers but I suppose it's more likely to get scratched. I do as others have said. Pack my handlebar bag with the valuables and we have one pannier between the four of us with all our nosh. One person then legs it upstairs to grab the 'best seats' with the pannier while the other three lock up. Its useful having kids at times like this.