KGT On Autotrain - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 3rd, 2010, 12:04 pm Thread Starter
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KGT On Autotrain

Anybody ever taken a K1200GT (or 13 of course) on the Autotrain? Mildly thinking of this as an interesting addition to a bike trip, but not sure how they would handle the GT, as it is slightly different in how it needs to be tied down.

I've never been on it, so if you have any general observations, pass those along as well...

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 3rd, 2010, 7:07 pm
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Never done the Auto Train but I have done quite a few ferry's over the years. Doesn't matter what type of bike or what special needs you have. YOU are ultimately responsible for tying the thing down. I have never had any deck hand even remotely interested in helping. I even remember one guy just looking at me and backing away like "no way man, not my job". I'm sure they have all been given the speech of not helping out due to the liability issue.

Bottom line is if your bike falls over it's on you. (well hopefully not ON you )

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 3rd, 2010, 8:37 pm
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I highly recommend the Autotrain. I took the train to save some time. I wanted to do the longest ride I had to date and plan for an overnight return trip and get home on a Sunday to work the next day.

I hope you try it. The GT and you will be very happy. I rode my Victory Vision (aka USS Tupperware) down from DC to Florida last Christmas and took the Autotrain back up. Buy the tickets a few weeks in advance to save quite a bit of money.

To load my bike, I rode the bike up a small ramp onto a dolly/trailer albeit one with a channel in the middle. The wheels fit nicely into the channel while my feet were firmly planted on the flooring. The loader guy tied down the bike. This palette can take two bikes. An ATV tows the palette that is on wheels to the train cars and specifically into the minivan,/SUV/motorcycle car. The latter get unloaded first. Since it was 25 degrees in Lorton, VA, there was an announcement for the brave motorcycle owner to come forward to claim the bike which is unloaded quickly to the side so I did not have to wait in the long line of cars. The train cars are split up for the loading/unloading and there is some time that is needed to chain/unchain them together. I recommend checking in on time in Lorton due to crowded waiting area while arriving and loading as early as Amtrak allows (1pm or 2pm) in Sanford so you can take the free shuttle to the old town Sanford. There is a great German restaurant called Willow Tree Cafe. Eat and drink well and take the last shuttle back to get on the train.

The price included a seat, dinner and breakfast (with 2 seatings each meal), and the bike. We left Sanford, FL, at 4p.m. and got into Lorton, VA ~ 10a.m. The train stops briefly at Florence, SC to change crews. The arrival time can vary as the railroad is owned by the freight company and the freight trains take priority. Bring earplugs as some parents do not keep their children in line. I found the seat a bit hard for the long duration. I spent quite a bit of time in the entertainment/snack car next to the dining car to pass time and get tired enough to sleep.

Moz the Yellowjacket (ok Redjacket) and Marc the Devilboy arrive early in Sanford.
Double Vision. My buddy Marc was my wingman from Orlando to Sanford.


Willow Tree Cafe, Old Town Sanford, FL


Last supper with fellow Victory riders at Willow Tree Cafe


Trailer/ATV


Look carefully and you can see the yellow ramp next to the train cars
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2010, 12:43 pm
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And how much does this great adventure on the AutoTrain cost???

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 4th, 2010, 1:12 pm
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[QUOTE=Yellowjacket]I highly recommend the Autotrain. I took the train to save some time. I wanted to do the longest ride I had to date and plan for an overnight return trip and get home on a Sunday to work the next day. <SNIP>


Great write up and photos! I often wondered how that works. Thanks for posting.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 5th, 2010, 1:39 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larrykay
And how much does this great adventure on the AutoTrain cost???
BTW passengers came from as far as Canada, New England.

Don't quote me on these prices: Sanford, FL to Lorton, VA (warm to cold) is cheaper than Lorton to Sanford (cold to warm). The ticket for a seat is between $115-$170 each way - guess which way is more expensive. The motorcycle can cost between $115-$225 each way based on peak/off-peak travel. Tickets for Christmas to New Year are usually sold out early. Go to Amtrak and enter the scenarios for yourself to check the prices. The station codes are Lorton=LOR and Sanford =SFA. And no you cannot buy just a seat on this line.

If you choose to ride one way. Florence, SC is the half point (just south of town near a cluster of hotels). Most hotels were booked so I ended up in Hiton Garden Inn and happen to run into Amtrak's replacement crew.

Plan on slow traffic on I-95 due to weekend shoppers, construction, and snowbirds. I left on a Sunday morning (never again) and it was slow going. pulled off every 2 hours for a quick mental break. I did enjoy the continuous sunshine for 7 days straight after the big snow dump last year.

Copious application of Chapstick and lotion such as Lubriderm and may be suntan lotion are a must during slow traffic when you may want to open your faceshield or modular helmet. I got pretty wind burnt. Made for a nice tropical look.

Last edited by Yellowjacket; Dec 5th, 2010 at 1:54 am.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 6th, 2010, 7:41 am Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_W
Never done the Auto Train but I have done quite a few ferry's over the years. Doesn't matter what type of bike or what special needs you have. YOU are ultimately responsible for tying the thing down. I have never had any deck hand even remotely interested in helping. I even remember one guy just looking at me and backing away like "no way man, not my job". I'm sure they have all been given the speech of not helping out due to the liability issue.

Bottom line is if your bike falls over it's on you. (well hopefully not ON you )
Just shows you how things are different in different places. I have taken a couple of small ferries in the US, just little open things no tying down at all (just sit on the bike for the most part).

However, I have taken a few ferry trips over to the Isle of Man for the TT races. In that case, the ferry company ties down the bike. You can do it yourself, but in that case, you are responsible, and forfeit damages. If they tie it down, they are responsible.

Of course, they are tying down hundreds of bikes (per ferry) for the TT, so know what they are doing.

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 6th, 2010, 8:04 am Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yellowjacket
I highly recommend the Autotrain. I took the train to save some time. I wanted to do the longest ride I had to date and plan for an overnight return trip and get home on a Sunday to work the next day.

I hope you try it. The GT and you will be very happy. I rode my Victory Vision (aka USS Tupperware) down from DC to Florida last Christmas and took the Autotrain back up. Buy the tickets a few weeks in advance to save quite a bit of money.

To load my bike, I rode the bike up a small ramp onto a dolly/trailer albeit one with a channel in the middle. The wheels fit nicely into the channel while my feet were firmly planted on the flooring. The loader guy tied down the bike. This palette can take two bikes. An ATV tows the palette that is on wheels to the train cars and specifically into the minivan,/SUV/motorcycle car. The latter get unloaded first. Since it was 25 degrees in Lorton, VA, there was an announcement for the brave motorcycle owner to come forward to claim the bike which is unloaded quickly to the side so I did not have to wait in the long line of cars. The train cars are split up for the loading/unloading and there is some time that is needed to chain/unchain them together. I recommend checking in on time in Lorton due to crowded waiting area while arriving and loading as early as Amtrak allows (1pm or 2pm) in Sanford so you can take the free shuttle to the old town Sanford. There is a great German restaurant called Willow Tree Cafe. Eat and drink well and take the last shuttle back to get on the train.

The price included a seat, dinner and breakfast (with 2 seatings each meal), and the bike. We left Sanford, FL, at 4p.m. and got into Lorton, VA ~ 10a.m. The train stops briefly at Florence, SC to change crews. The arrival time can vary as the railroad is owned by the freight company and the freight trains take priority. Bring earplugs as some parents do not keep their children in line. I found the seat a bit hard for the long duration. I spent quite a bit of time in the entertainment/snack car next to the dining car to pass time and get tired enough to sleep.
Thanks for the info! There was a nice article in a recent AMA magazine as well, and the pictures there showed some sort of front wheel lock apparatus being used (which I kind of see in one of your pics). A little concerned about that, but I think the KGT front wheel/disc arrangement is all pretty standard dimensions, so will probably fit no problem.

I was a little more concerned about the tying-down. For example, if they use a handlebar tie-down, that is probably a no-no on a GT because of the relatively weak bars.

I'm sure it'll all work out if I do it, but first-hand experience is always a plus.

We were thinking of getting a little room, so it wouldn't be that cheap, it just more seemed like an interesting idea. Get a fresh start on the tour in new territory and kind of skip over the places you ride more frequently. Makes it a bit easier to venture further afield in a given amount of time.

Kind of like a fly-rent trip, but you get your own bike. Plus, I've never been on anything but short commuter-type train trips, so a longer trip is intriguing.

Of course, we'd be going the other way. Which also means we've eaten at the Willow tree before (a few times, actually)...

Must be nice when the weather is crappy in the NE. Take a cold ride to the station, get off at the end of the trip, and you are on your bike in (hopefully warm and sunny) Florida!

I imagine it gets quite a crowd in the bike week time frame... We are thinking of going up and riding to the Formula 1 race in Montreal (June timeframe). So, hopefully we'd be escaping from the miserably hot weather down here!

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 6th, 2010, 11:11 pm
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Not sure why it matters if it is a K12 or K13. They take bikes. Any kind of bikes up to a wheelbase of 102".

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1241337915810

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old Dec 7th, 2010, 8:23 am Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Bagger
Not sure why it matters if it is a K12 or K13. They take bikes. Any kind of bikes up to a wheelbase of 102".

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1241337915810
Due to the front-end design of the KGT (and other minor issues) it has slightly different tie-down requirements. I wasn't really expecting any problem, I just wanted to take advantage of the community here and see if someone had taken my exact model bike on the train to see if there were any special issues..

Also, in hope of getting some first-hand accounts from folks like Yellowjacket, KGT or not.

I've now seen pics of Harley baggers, Victory Visions and Goldwings on the Autotrain, so I don't think size or weight would be an issue with a GT. But more info is always better.

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