Some news out there tell you that “when in Spain, the problem begins” with bicycles but I found it was not so in all cases. You can see on the RENFE website (translated to English here) that bicycles are allowed in certain scenarios (as checked on September 2013).
Folded or disassembled
On middle distance conventional, regional and commuter trains, bicycle are accepted without a case.
On AVE, Long Distance and Avant (AVA) trains, folding or disassembled bicycles are considered hand luggage and can be brought onboard if the following criteria is met:
- contained in a case of 120 x 90 x 40 cm in a disassembled or folded state
- pedals and handlebars be removed and turned 90˚ to fit in the dimensions above
In trains that have sleeping accommodation, and bunk beds:
- only a maximum two bicycles may be on board each train car compartment
- a free bicycle reservation is made (by obtaining a ticket)
Unfolded or fully assembled bicycles
Limited to a train that has a compartment for bicycle and only Media Services Distance Conventional, Regional with the following conditions:
For trains that do not require seat reservation:
- A limit of bicycles per train may apply.
- If there is no set limit, the only limitation is that it involves inconvenience to the other passengers.
- In Middle Distance Conventional the price of bicycle transportation is 3 euros for journeys over 100 kilometers. For travel less than 100 kilometres on these trains transportation cost is 0 €.
For trains that require a reservation:
- Limit the number of bicycles per train. Only be permitted in those trains that have a space or area to transport bicycles, and are therefore limited to a number of bicycles per train.
- The price for bicycle transportation is 3 euros for journeys over 100 kilometers.
Bonus news for bicycles with small wheels: the length of the bicycle is shorter! As pictured with my Bike Friday Silks, our wheels are 20″ compared to a bicycle with 26″ wheels. This means that our bikes are a foot shorter than other 26″ wheeled bicycles and was not inconveniencing other passengers trying to get through the centre path between the seats of the car.
We took our bicycles from Port Bou, Spain on the Catalanya (Catalonia) Regional Train to Barcelona, Spain. The conductor on our train did not say anything to us regarding the bicycles and checked our EURail pass as usual. We passed through the train stations unhindered, both in Port Bou and Barcelona.
Pro tip: use your bicycle lock to tether it to a rail so it does not fall over, or on other people. You can see it on our picture attached to this post that we use our bike cable to tie our seat to a hand rail. Nothing gets bicycles banned on trains faster than hurting other people. There was another local Spaniard who took his Rockrider Mountain Bike on the train as well, and he was not questions it – except that he left it unattended, unsecured (was standing up with a kickstand) so it fell on another woman passenger and hurt her during the train ride.