Mexico to Canada Natl Park eBike Excursions with Amtrack

Mike leroy

Active Member
Anyone ever try Amtrak to NPS parks for 3-4 day, extended weekend trips? Amtrak bike accommodations. Daily service SF to Vancouver, CN via Portland, OR - you could easily travel from Mexico to Canada fairly quickly.

For example, the Shasta Century Ride:
ShastaElevationMap.png

  1. "Motorized bicycles are prohibited." Refers to gas scooters. I spoke with Amtrak.
  2. The 50 pound limit can be circumvented by removing the battery.
  3. The bike must be checked in and stored in a container for the Coast Skylight (i.e., those trains without bike racks or on-board storage). The dimensions are 70" x 41" x 8.5".
    • I will petition Amtrak to add a few bike racks.
    • What if baggage is mishandled? No bike.
  4. A folding bike with small wheels is an advantage. One reason for the train is to leave cars behind. A container means I must drive to the station or buy a box at the station. Also, what to do with the "container" after arriving at the destination? The container is necessary for the return trip. Immediately check into a hotel?
  5. Some stations lack baggage handling. Only folding bikes are an option at stations in the following time schedule that lack a suitcase symbol next to departure time, ( e.g., Mt. Shasta and Bend, OR).


Pacific_crest_trail_route_overview.png
Portland, OR is probably the most hospitable city. The city is orientated towards bikes. My understanding is bike paths extend from Portland far into the Columbia River Gorge. If I remember correctly, you can bike from Portand to the Pacific Crest Trail at The Bridge of the Gods, all along bike trails.

During the warm months, the most interesting train section is from Reddding, CA to Portland, OR. During he winter months, the train routes from LA to the AZ border are interesting. Also, the San Diego area.

I would like to make multiple train trips, getting off at different stations. Return from the same or an adjacent train station. Use the bike to reach parks or trails from the train stations, 5-10 times per year.

CoastTrainMap.png

Which 48V battery chemisty is best for sustained 20mph speeds, for many hours per day? I assume recharging the batteries every night.

I assume I would pedal in Eco mode. I am six feet and weigh 180 pounds. I run a few miles on a regular basis and am in peak aerobic fitness. I ran a 25 minute, 5-mile in high school, or 12mph.

I would need at least two, high amp-hour (-20Ah) batteries. I am not sure if recharge time is relevant, or not. A frame that conceals two batteries would be highly advantageous. I like the stealthiness of the Volton frame.

Amtrak has 5 stations in OR over 320 miles. The train travels beside the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for half the length of the state, in the southern half. Chemult, OR (no baggage handling) is the northern station on the PCT. the next northern station is Eugene. From Chemult, you could bike to Bend, OR. I love Bend.

  • Leave Oakland 9:30PM Thur/Friday, arrive Crater Lake NP, 8:30AM.
  • 700 mile Return trip Leave Portland 2:30PM Sunday/Monday arrive Oakland around 8AM next morning. Famous for the bi-level sleeping cars, the Superliner trains also offer coach seats on both levels. All trains have at-seat 120V electrical outlets.
  • Distances between stations listed in time table below
CoastTrainSchedule.pg.png
Some Parks to visit along train route:
  1. Lassen
  2. Shasta
    • ShastaElevationMap.png
  3. Crater Lake
  4. Mt. Bachelor
  5. Santiam Pass
  6. Three Sisters
  7. Mt. Jefferson
  8. Mr. Hood
  9. Bridge of the Gods
  10. Pacific Crest Trail
  11. Vancouver is great for bike riding!
  12. Portland, OR is a world-class bike infrastructure model

CA, OR and WA laws are similar, 1kW motors are still considered motorized bicycles, rather than mopeds or motorcycles. Community ordinances may vary.

The major issue is type of bike. My guess is hardtail with a rack and bags, rather than full suspension. I will take many trips to parks from train stations. I hiked most of the western Natl Parks, from Glacier NP high peaks to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I never returned to NPs due to the long car drives.

I would buy a 1kW motor, e.g., 20A controller. 25-30mph is better for time/distance, but pushes the bike out of Class 1 legal status. An 8Fun motor seems like the solution, due to constraints.

I would also buy a Rohloff 14 gear IGH, to handle places like Mt. Shasta.

SF to Denver via SLC. Train Routes.
 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
The Park Service is not so big on ebikes. Check ahead.
George,

So, do bicylists visit destinations like Moab or ski areas, instead? Are eBikes generally accepted in Utah?

I have hiked most of the Utah NPs. And skied all over Utah.

I hope the NPS restricts trail use to hikers. people drive cars to the parks. All I want to do is use an eBike in lieu of a car. Did I give you the impression that I wanted to ride on the trails?


Mike
 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
I will contact Amtrak. EBikes seem like an ideal complement for trains.

Also, train trips makes Ebikes more attractive to me, because I can use the ebike for a vacation. From SF, i can go north or east as far as I want by train. That is much more attractive than driving a car.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
There are useful bike paths in some of the parks, and they are restricted. You are fine as long as you stay on the roads. The mountain bike paths that the BLM administers by Moab are closed to ebikes. The BLM has districts, so there may be different policies.

Sounds good. Take the train, ride the bike, hike. Good concept, if the train goes where you want.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
There are useful bike paths in some of the parks, and they are restricted. You are fine as long as you stay on the roads. The mountain bike paths that the BLM administers by Moab are closed to ebikes. The BLM has districts, so there may be different policies.

Sounds good. Take the train, ride the bike, hike. Good concept, if the train goes where you want.

Mt. Shasta is another stop along Amtrack at Dunsmuir. One summer, we rode bikes down Mt. Shasta from the snow line. We coasted at over sixty (60mph). I thought I was going to die. Now that I think about it, we did some crazy things on Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta to Lassen Natl Park to the Redding train station would be fun, too! Or Shasta to Klamath Falls, OR Amtrack station would be great! Can follow the PCT in that area, too.

I drove the 16 hour OR trip twice before. The return was a grind, because I was exhausted from sports activities.
 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
There are useful bike paths in some of the parks, and they are restricted. You are fine as long as you stay on the roads. The mountain bike paths that the BLM administers by Moab are closed to ebikes. The BLM has districts, so there may be different policies.

Sounds good. Take the train, ride the bike, hike. Good concept, if the train goes where you want.
George,

Seems like a novel idea to most people. I worked thru the details of the schedule. I put that info into the first post. Distances between stations listed in time table image. Click on thumbnail.

The big question is battery chemisty, capacity and number of batteries to roam Oregon for a few days at a time. What do you recommend?
 
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George S.

Well-Known Member
A few days at a time I would take to mean no recharge for 3 days. For someone in shape, who wants to get over mountains and rack up miles, you would want to start with a great bike for riding, and then supplement that power. So I would build. Look at the Bafang mid-drive or quality hub motors.

Lithium polymer used to be the extreme bad-boy of ebikes. They seem to be showing up more and more. You can Google it, for the downsides, but clearly they are improving the safety. It's interesting that NYCE Wheels is selling these packs. What's great is that they are fairly small and light:

http://www.nycewheels.com

For 15 pounds you get about a kwH of riding pleasure. They sell some kind of bag for $40. I have no personal knowlege, but NYCE has been around a long time. The founder, tragically, died in a powered parachute accident. I'm familiar with (have been trained in) Ultralights, and it's pretty unforgiving. Not sure what has happened to the company.


He always knew how to use video, even in his ebike promos. He must have died right after this video was made.

Cebular apparently liked RC aircraft, which is where lith polymer is generally used. Maybe that's why NYCE sells them.

Anyway, try to be as brave and bold as Mr. Cebular, at least every now and then.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
A few days at a time I would take to mean no recharge for 3 days. For someone in shape, who wants to get over mountains and rack up miles, you would want to start with a great bike for riding, and then supplement that power. So I would build. Look at the Bafang mid-drive or quality hub motors.

Lithium polymer used to be the extreme bad-boy of ebikes. They seem to be showing up more and more. You can Google it, for the downsides, but clearly they are improving the safety. It's interesting that NYCE Wheels is selling these packs. What's great is that they are fairly small and light:

http://www.nycewheels.com

For 15 pounds you get about a kwH of riding pleasure. They sell some kind of bag for $40. I have no personal knowlege, but NYCE has been around a long time. The founder, tragically, died in a powered parachute accident. I'm familiar with (have been trained in) Ultralights, and it's pretty unforgiving. Not sure what has happened to the company.


He always knew how to use video, even in his ebike promos. He must have died right after this video was made.

Cebular apparently liked RC aircraft, which is where lith polymer is generally used. Maybe that's why NYCE sells them.

Anyway, try to be as brave and bold as Mr. Cebular, at least every now and then.
George,

That picture scares me. Not sure how bold or brave I can be compared to him!

I assume I can recharge each night. Perhaps a fast recharging battery is relevant? I cannot determine from any website how fast that particular battery recharges. The Chinese manufacturer omits it.

I am in peak aerobic fitness.

I am unsure whether you are suggesting a bike like http://electricbikereview.com/specialized/turbo-s/ ?

Li-polymer can be built on many systems, such as Li-cobalt, NMC, Li-phosphate and Li-manganese, and is not considered unique battery chemistry. Most Li-polymer packs are for the consumer market and are based on Li-cobalt.

Li-polymer is unique in that a micro porous electrolyte replaces the traditional porous separator. Li-polymer offers slightly higher specific energy and can be made thinner than conventional Li-ion, but the manufacturing cost is higher by 10–30 percent.

A foil-type enclosure reduces the weight by more than 20 percent over the classic hard shell. Li-polymer in a foil package may be less durable than Li-ion in the cylindrical package.
 
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George S.

Well-Known Member
Nightly recharge helps a lot. The Turbo has a very expensive hub motor with heavy magnets that cog when you just pedal.

This is a nice bike. Mid-drive is good for hills. Decent price. If you are in great shape you really need to figure how much help you need from a bike. We're talking endurance, really, hill climbing.

http://electricbikereview.com/haibike/xduro-urban/

That type of flight is totally liberating. You just feel great for a few hours. Any kind of light aircraft. Just costs too much.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Nightly recharge helps a lot. The Turbo has a very expensive hub motor with heavy magnets that cog when you just pedal.

This is a nice bike. Mid-drive is good for hills. Decent price. If you are in great shape you really need to figure how much help you need from a bike. We're talking endurance, really, hill climbing.

http://electricbikereview.com/haibike/xduro-urban/

That type of flight is totally liberating. You just feel great for a few hours. Any kind of light aircraft. Just costs too much.
George,

I can relate to the liberating feeling. I used to kitesurf on the CA coast. I jumped so high that I looked down on the telephone poles on the other side of hwy. 1. Unfortunately, I split (not tore) the meniscus in my knee in a martial arts sparring accident. Much worse than the time I broke my leg kiting. It is a long story, but I had to stop risky sports.

I am considering biking mountains, like Mt. Shasta. The routes in the Cascades are tough! I will map out the routes to get the max grades and their distances. I guess I need to find out how many watts my legs can generate. I do a marine-like, leg strengthening, 30 pound grocery carry on a weekly basis as therapy for knee injury.

The Bosch system seems designed for road bikes. I am not keen on the Bosch for Mtn bikes. I like the Haibike, but 10 gears seems too limiting. I was thinking more along Rohloff-14 lines. The 6061 frame seems uncomfortably jarring. Seems like a carbon fork or shock is needed.

Am I mistaken in believing that top fitness simply allow me to use Eco PAS mode all the time to extend the battery? Or will I need the high PAS Turbo mode for hills?

I think 60 mile range is a severe limitation for a road bike. You could only ride all day by turning off the motor to conserve energy for hills. Adding 15 pounds does not seem like a big payoff, in terms of cost or efficiency.

In other words, the Haibike road bikes make little sense to me. The Bosch battery seems poorly adapted to the road bike purpose. The gear ratios seem too narrow. Seems like the money is better invested in other technology, e.g., Rohloff IGH.
 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
Mt. Shasta Century Ride. The steepest and longest uphill section is roughly 6% grade for 7 miles. The steepness only starts towards the very end of the ride, around 6,000 feet elevation (see topo map below).

ShastaElevationMap.png

What bike would work best?
How far would the battery go on lowest PAS setting (e.g., Bosch 30% Eco Mode)?

ShastaElevationGrid.png


Shasta Topo Map
ShastaTopo.png
 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
I am not sure whether NMC or NCA is the better battery chemistry, manganese vs. aluminum. Tesla uses NCA. Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and BMW i3 use NMC. Moved to this post.




 
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Mike leroy

Active Member
Nightly recharge helps a lot. The Turbo has a very expensive hub motor with heavy magnets that cog when you just pedal.

This is a nice bike. Mid-drive is good for hills. Decent price. If you are in great shape you really need to figure how much help you need from a bike. We're talking endurance, really, hill climbing.

http://electricbikereview.com/haibike/xduro-urban/

That type of flight is totally liberating. You just feel great for a few hours. Any kind of light aircraft. Just costs too much.
George,

I make some first order mental calculations with a Google Sheet for Mt. Shasta Century ride. Preliminary guesstimate is 17Ah with battery economy as the primary consideration. Do you agree, or are these estimates way off?
 

OHM36

New Member
Anyone ever try Amtrak to NPS parks for 3-4 day, extended weekend trips? Amtrak bike accommodations. Daily service SF to Vancouver, CN via Portland, OR - you could easily travel from Mexico to Canada fairly quickly.

For example, the Shasta Century Ride:
View attachment 2615

  1. "Motorized bicycles are prohibited." Refers to gas scooters. I spoke with Amtrak.
  2. The 50 pound limit can be circumvented by removing the battery.
  3. The bike must be checked in and stored in a container for the Coast Skylight (i.e., those trains without bike racks or on-board storage). The dimensions are 70" x 41" x 8.5".
    • I will petition Amtrak to add a few bike racks.
    • What if baggage is mishandled? No bike.
  4. A folding bike with small wheels is an advantage. One reason for the train is to leave cars behind. A container means I must drive to the station or buy a box at the station. Also, what to do with the "container" after arriving at the destination? The container is necessary for the return trip. Immediately check into a hotel?
  5. Some stations lack baggage handling. Only folding bikes are an option at stations in the following time schedule that lack a suitcase symbol next to departure time, ( e.g., Mt. Shasta and Bend, OR).


Portland, OR is probably the most hospitable city. The city is orientated towards bikes. My understanding is bike paths extend from Portland far into the Columbia River Gorge. If I remember correctly, you can bike from Portand to the Pacific Crest Trail at The Bridge of the Gods, all along bike trails.

During the warm months, the most interesting train section is from Reddding, CA to Portland, OR. During he winter months, the train routes from LA to the AZ border are interesting. Also, the San Diego area.

I would like to make multiple train trips, getting off at different stations. Return from the same or an adjacent train station. Use the bike to reach parks or trails from the train stations, 5-10 times per year.

Which 48V battery chemisty is best for sustained 20mph speeds, for many hours per day? I assume recharging the batteries every night.

I assume I would pedal in Eco mode. I am six feet and weigh 180 pounds. I run a few miles on a regular basis and am in peak aerobic fitness. I ran a 25 minute, 5-mile in high school, or 12mph.

I would need at least two, high amp-hour (-20Ah) batteries. I am not sure if recharge time is relevant, or not. A frame that conceals two batteries would be highly advantageous. I like the stealthiness of the Volton frame.

Amtrak has 5 stations in OR over 320 miles. The train travels beside the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for half the length of the state, in the southern half. Chemult, OR (no baggage handling) is the northern station on the PCT. the next northern station is Eugene. From Chemult, you could bike to Bend, OR. I love Bend.

  • Leave Oakland 9:30PM Thur/Friday, arrive Crater Lake NP, 8:30AM.
  • 700 mile Return trip Leave Portland 2:30PM Sunday/Monday arrive Oakland around 8AM next morning. Famous for the bi-level sleeping cars, the Superliner trains also offer coach seats on both levels. All trains have at-seat 120V electrical outlets.
  • Distances between stations listed in time table below
Some Parks to visit along train route:
  1. Lassen
  2. Shasta
  3. Crater Lake
  4. Mt. Bachelor
  5. Santiam Pass
  6. Three Sisters
  7. Mt. Jefferson
  8. Mr. Hood
  9. Bridge of the Gods
  10. Pacific Crest Trail
  11. Vancouver is great for bike riding!
  12. Portland, OR is a world-class bike infrastructure model

CA, OR and WA laws are similar, 1kW motors are still considered motorized bicycles, rather than mopeds or motorcycles. Community ordinances may vary.

The major issue is type of bike. My guess is hardtail with a rack and bags, rather than full suspension. I will take many trips to parks from train stations. I hiked most of the western Natl Parks, from Glacier NP high peaks to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I never returned to NPs due to the long car drives.

I would buy a 1kW motor, e.g., 20A controller. 25-30mph is better for time/distance, but pushes the bike out of Class 1 legal status. An 8Fun motor seems like the solution, due to constraints.

I would also buy a Rohloff 14 gear IGH, to handle places like Mt. Shasta.

SF to Denver via SLC. Train Routes.
Mike Leroy: from whom at AMTRAK did you receive information that "motorized" bikes are permitted on board with the battery removed? My own recent inquiries, which have (perhaps unfortunately) gone fairly far up the AMTRAK chain of command, reveal that AMTRAK officially excludes motorized bikes for carrying on purposes. Officially this is certainly the case on the AMTRAK Cascades service regarding their "carry on" (hook up in the baggage car) reservation service. Friendly or sympathetic station staff might interpret things differently but it would be a sad day for an exhausted and far-from-home eBike owner to find that she or he couldn't catch the train. So, again, who (generally) provided the information. Station level? HQ? Online query respondent? Did this interpretation solely relate to boxing a bike or to carry on service? And, right, the professional in me asks if the response was in writing.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
Mike Leroy: from whom at AMTRAK did you receive information that "motorized" bikes are permitted on board with the battery removed? My own recent inquiries, which have (perhaps unfortunately) gone fairly far up the AMTRAK chain of command, reveal that AMTRAK officially excludes motorized bikes for carrying on purposes. Officially this is certainly the case on the AMTRAK Cascades service regarding their "carry on" (hook up in the baggage car) reservation service. Friendly or sympathetic station staff might interpret things differently but it would be a sad day for an exhausted and far-from-home eBike owner to find that she or he couldn't catch the train. So, again, who (generally) provided the information. Station level? HQ? Online query respondent? Did this interpretation solely relate to boxing a bike or to carry on service? And, right, the professional in me asks if the response was in writing.
I called Amtrak. The representative was emphatic about gas powered vs electric powered bikes. Gas bikes are prohibited. CalTrains has the same policy. The terminology may cause confusion. In CA, the law uses certain similar sounding words to distinguish between bikes, scooters and motorcycles. I had to be patient and guide the representative to the correct set of terms.
 

OHM36

New Member
I called Amtrak. The representative was emphatic about gas powered vs electric powered bikes. Gas bikes are prohibited. CalTrains has the same policy. The terminology may cause confusion. In CA, the law uses certain similar sounding words to distinguish between bikes, scooters and motorcycles. I had to be patient and guide the representative to the correct set of terms.
I too went to lengths explaining about the differences in bike types and precedents (e.g., commuter rail systems, European systems) but to no avail. I too found a sympathetic and clear-minded interpretation of the policy at the station level but when my separate query reached the senior management level of the Cascades administration the answer was that the policy applied to any bike with a motor—even if the bike was electric, class 1 or 2, and had the battery removed. I was told that my complaint would be forwarded to AMTRAK's Washington D.C. headquarters (presumably consumer affairs) but that I really shouldn't expect a change in policy until sufficient complaints of this sort were registered. Nasty way to make policy, but that is a separate matter. So, good luck on your travels in the Northwest if you are using the Cascades service. Alternatively, and this is out there to anyone, one wonders what might be done to get AMTRAK to officially recognize eBikes as bicycles for carry on purposes. Seems to me that this is something in which the industry, retailers, rider associations and others should take an interest. Just sayin'.
 

Mike leroy

Active Member
I too went to lengths explaining about the differences in bike types and precedents (e.g., commuter rail systems, European systems) but to no avail. I too found a sympathetic and clear-minded interpretation of the policy at the station level but when my separate query reached the senior management level of the Cascades administration the answer was that the policy applied to any bike with a motor—even if the bike was electric, class 1 or 2, and had the battery removed. I was told that my complaint would be forwarded to AMTRAK's Washington D.C. headquarters (presumably consumer affairs) but that I really shouldn't expect a change in policy until sufficient complaints of this sort were registered. Nasty way to make policy, but that is a separate matter. So, good luck on your travels in the Northwest if you are using the Cascades service. Alternatively, and this is out there to anyone, one wonders what might be done to get AMTRAK to officially recognize eBikes as bicycles for carry on purposes. Seems to me that this is something in which the industry, retailers, rider associations and others should take an interest. Just sayin'.
The difference is carry-on vs. checked-in. The representative emphasized the bikes must be checked in. Furthermore, not every station can handle baggage. Most stations handle baggage, but pay close attention to Oregon stations along the pacific crest trail.

I called to find out exactly what "motorized" means. The representative spoke with her manager. Electric bikes are not "motorized", according to that call. She made a clear distinction between gas and electric. Perhaps this web page needs elaboration.

Perhaps, another way to reason about the situation is "motorized" wheelchairs. Are electric handicapped wheelchairs banned?

http://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
 
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