Foldable Bikes in Scandinavia?

Hello all,

New to the forum (though I've lurked) and to traveling, and I'm in need of some assistance for an upcoming trip.

I'm going to be vacationing in Ireland with my family for a couple of weeks this summer, after which they will return to the States while I do some traveling in Europe (7 weeks for this). From there I go to Scotland for grad school. My greatest desire is to see Scandinavia (Denmark--Sweden--Norway), but I'm on a soon-to-be-fairly-poor college student's budget (though I have saved, so I won't be totally broke).

Since, as I understand it, slow travel can be cheaper than blitz travel, and I have more time than money, I thought I might make my trip into a bike tour, with rail travel for the farthest distances. I have a foldable bike (a Brompton, so it can be taken on public transpo pretty easily) and I'm considering a trailer that could hold my bike on the air travel, protect it on trains, and could hold my travel gear and be hitched to my bike while riding.

The questions! Does anyone know if it's possible to check such a large (31 x24.5 x12.5 in) bag in the museums of these countries (massive generalization, but I can't find any info online about coat-checking bags in the museums)? Locking my bike outside is not an option. Also, does it even make sense to do this, considering I would like to be able to explore the cities I'll be in (the capitals and some of the smaller towns in the vicinity)? Cycling is apparently an excellent way to see Europe, but would the necessity of keeping my bike pretty close on hand negate those benefits?

Posted by Brittany
Southern California
5 posts

Thanks for the reply! My concern over locking it up outside is that it's a rather expensive bike that folds so you can take it inside or on public transportation (theoretically overcoming the locking-and-leaving issue). The descriptions online of how easy it is for bike thieves to jimmy a lock make me very leery about leaving it outside. But perhaps with a heavier duty lock and a more bike-friendly culture, it would work...I certainly wouldn't trust my bike to any lock in Los Angeles!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

There might be a bike culture, but there's also a bike theft culture.

Denmark has a couple hundred bikes stolen per day -- too much for the police to try to realistically tackle the problem. Stockholm alone has about ten thousand bike thefts a year. Norway has about sixty thousand filched a year. My wild guess is that a spiffy specially bike wouldn't last long in a city. Get out in the country and you could probably lean it against a tree for a week

There's no way it's going to fit in the places you stash back packs and such.

Is there any way you could just get it moved from Ireland to Scotland? Also, which university?

And speaking of Scotland -- I spend more time there than I should. I drive and stay in rural hostels. Tablets and laptops are left unattended all over the place all day and all night. However, the people that have bikes are damn careful that they're locked in the shed -- and that the shed is locked as well.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3279 posts

One comment on bike theft in Stockholm ...
I suspect that many of the thefts are of bikes that are not locked. You'd be amazed at how many people leave their bikes unlocked. Just about every apartment building has a bike room; most of the bikes in the bike room in my apartment were left unlocked as there was really no place in the room to lock it to. I do know someone who had her bike stolen from her building's bike room but it had been months since she had ridden it and she had no idea when it went missing.

I would not be too worried about a bike locked with a quality lock in a busy place during the day.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8341 posts

I've been in many larger museums with pretty voluminous checkrooms, but also others where a small locker is the standard. For instance, Rick's intro to the National Museum in Copenhagen says "mandatory lockers take a 10-kr coin that will be returned" and their web site says similar.

Posted by Brittany
Southern California
5 posts

Thank you all for your replies and for your assistance. Based on the feedback I got here and the research I've conducted, I have decided to bring along a trailer for my luggage (probably a duffel) which I will most likely leave with my couch-share host whilst exploring the various cities. It shouldn't be too difficult to check my foldie at any museums I visit. Thanks again, all!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6175 posts

I have spent a fair amount of time in Denmark (mostly Copenhagen) and Norway (mostly small towns), including some cycling. I found both to be very safe and would question the bicycle theft figures had they been posted by anyone but Ed. I can't argue but would hope that they simply reflect unlocked bikes in a very trusting culture. I would expect a locked bike to be pretty safe, especially outside a museum in broad daylight.

I actually know someone who rode around Norway on a folding bike ( bike Friday not a Brompton) and had no issues at all. It is a great place for cycling, as is Denmark. You will have a great time, but be prepared for high prices for food, beverages, and even camping.

Posted by Brittany
Southern California
5 posts

Thanks, Lola. That's definitely reassuring. I couldn't find any info or blog posts from foldie-owners who have done this particular area this way. Haha, yes, my budget extends to grocery shopping and couch surfing. Should be fabulous. :)

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

The crime stats were obviously googled to confirm a recollected impression from another project.

Side plug: Copenhagen did real well at Sundance. If it gains momentum during subsequent festivals and limited releases, and moves into the major theaters, go see it. Doing so will get one set of my runts through med school, at least. Fredde Dahl Hansen, in addition to being a sweetheart, is quite an actress. This was her third full-length film, she was nominated for the Danish equivalent of an Oscar for the first, and walked away with it for the second.
Disclaimer: I get nothing out of it except being able to hold into a bit more of my paltry pension instead of chunking it at college funds.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12897 posts

We use the NWT, Bike Fridays. I would replace all quick release bolts for obvious reasons. In the US I use a Brooks leather saddle but replace it with a less expensive and less obvious saddle. Do give up a touch of comfort. And we carry heavy bike locks that we use. Unfortunately our bikes are bright red and do stand out when parked with other European bikes. But we try to chain them in very public areas in such a way the both locks are locking both bikes. We have never had a problem. I think you will be fine with good precautions but don't think you can drag even a Brompton into a museum. You don't see many small wheel bikes in Europe.

Posted by Maggie
Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
102 posts

Thieves usually go for the easiest targets that are quick to steal and the goods that are easiest to unload for cash. I think bikes that stand out from the crowd are less likely to be stolen because a) bystanders are more likely to notice the lock being tampered with and b) unique bikes are more likely to be traced and identified after the crime. You will have no problem storing your bike indoors at night. For short-term sightseeing during the day, use a sturdy lock in a visible location. We sought the advice of a bicycle shop owner in the Netherlands and purchased a lock there that is designed to be difficult and time-consuming to break or cut.

Cycling is such a wonderful way to see Europe. The infrastructure makes it easy with dedicated bike paths, bike racks and space on trains. Use common sense and don't stress about having your bike stolen. The worst case-scenario is just that. It rarely happens.