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The official policy for bikes on the french high-speed trains is the following: compactify your bike so that it fits in a bag with size smaller than 90 x 120 cm (nothing is said about the thickness, nor whether e.g. the wheels of your bike must fit in the same bag or are allowed to stand next to the bag). In that case, your bike is allowed on board and rides for free.

On some TGV trains -the ones with a bike icon next to them when you make an online reservation- bikes are allowed in larger formats and don't need to be bagged. I don't know whether such a bike requires a 5-10-15 euro surcharge (I've seen conflicting info about that question).

My question is about the 90-120 cm size limit and the bag-requirement:

What happens (de facto, not de jure) if I would step on a TGV/THALYS and my bike is demounted (both wheels taken of), yet it is not bagged?

I want an answer both for the case where the bike frame does meet the mentioned size-limit and where the case where it marginally exceeds that limit (e.g. the frame is 90 x 145 cm).

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    Note that in Paris (but not necessarily at all stops in the Benelux) there is staff at the entrance of the platform and one member of staff at each door. Unlike nearly other train in France, Thalys tickets are checked before getting on the train. I never tried it and I don't know what will happen with the bike but you will have to interact with Thalys staff before actually stepping on the train. – Relaxed Aug 24 '18 at 14:15
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    thalys.com/fr/fr/services/avant/preparez-votre-voyage#bagages 'Tout vélo ne respectant pas ces conditions sera refusé par le Train Manager et ne pourra être embarqué. Les personnes voyageant avec un vélo doivent se présenter sur le quai 30 minutes avant le départ du train.' That seems to leave little room for interpretation. – audionuma Aug 24 '18 at 15:50
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    @audionuma: So the law leaves little little room for interpretation, but as my question indicates I'm also very much interested in the actual modus operandi of the train personnel. So I'm looking for input of people who have relevant experiences. – Thibaut Demaerel Aug 24 '18 at 16:32
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+200

The Thalys rules on bicycle transport are very clear:

Thalys rules on bicycle transport

The rules mention both the thickness of the cover - 135 x 85 x 30 cm - and also specifically state that wheels should be removed and everything should be placed inside the afore-mentioned cover. The cover must be non-rigid i.e. something like a soft bag and not a stiff cardboard box. Any bicycle not meeting the requirements will be refused by the Train Manager.

Since you are required to be on the platform 30 minutes prior to departure time, what will most likely happen is that staff will check the bicycle packaging and will supervise as it is loaded it on the train. Hence, de facto, if you show up with a dismounted yet unbagged bike you will not be allowed to board the train with it.

Now, if you wish to play around with the system a bit, you can maybe try to put the wheels in a separate bag, and take that as your luggage item, making sure it does not exceed the size limitations. Staff will most likely ask you about it since IMHO everyone knows what wheels look like - the bag will inevitably be round.

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