Over the past forty years, Korea built a topnotch train system. Along with conventional trains, high-speed KTX and SRT zoom passengers up and down the bottom part of the peninsula.
In the past, a friendly attitude granted you and your greasy contraption access to many trains. It might’ve gotten you on the KTX.
Nowadays, unless you ride on a folding-bikes, most rains will turn bikers away.
However, there are a few select trains that offer passage to those with full size bicycles. Let’s take a closer look!
The Trains of Korea
There are four types of trains in Korea. Here they are and which bikes they allow.
All trains allow bikes. But ninety-ish percent permit only folding-bikes. You’ll often see metro commuters snap shut their collapsible wheels and tuck it into the luggage compartment, away from prickly passengers.
Have a full-sized bike? You have options!
Two classes of trains offer bike cradles for road, mountain, or hybrid bicycles.
- All ITX-Cheongchun (ITX-청춘) trains provide bicycle cradles.
- Select Mugunghwa (무궁화호) trains contain bicycle cradles.
One caveat. You must book a designated bicycle seat before you arrive at the station. The ticket assigns you a bicycle cradle to mount your bike and a passenger seat.
How do you know which trains offer bike cradles? Two options:
The ITX (Intercity eXpress) are the new conventional trains. They run faster (165 km/h) than older Mugunghwa (무궁화) trains (140 km/h; 87 mph). But much slower than the KTX and SRT (305~330 km/h; 190~205 mph).
Compared to Mugunghwa, ITX trains include more amenities, wider seats, and make fewer stops.
ITX and Bikes
All ITX-Saemaeul trains always allow folding-bikes. Just fold up your wheels before you board and store it in the luggage compartment.
Unlike the Mugunghwa workhorses, tourists flock to the ITX-Cheongchun to escape Seoul and explore Chuncheon, the self-described Romantic City.
The train class boasts the only double decker trains in Korea. Besides updated amenities, the train’s top speed reaches 180km/h (112 mph).
Cheongchun and Bikes
Plan on tackling the Bukhangang Bike Path? The ITX-Cheongchun is a convenient option when traveling to and from Chuncheon.
(Avoid the ITX-Cheongchun if you want to start the Bukhangang path at the southernmost point. It intersects the path a third of the way up to Chuncheon.)
Each ITX-Cheongchun has eight bicycle cradles (자전거거치대): four on the first train car. Four on the last (8th) car. Cradles let you dock any sized bike — road, MTB, touring.
I can just buy a ticket at the station, right? Hop on and dock my bike in a cradle. No.
You must reserve a designated bicycle seat in advance. The bike-designated ticket gives you a seat in the passenger car and an assigned bike cradle in the standing or dining car.
Seoul Metro Gyeongchun Line
Is booking a ticket too difficult? Ride the Seoul Metropolitan Gyeongchun Line (수도권 전철 경춘선). This commuter rail uses the same tracks as the ITX-Cheongchun. It travels from Cheongnyangni Station (청량리역) in Seoul to Chuncheon Station (춘천역).
The regional commuter train allows full-size bikes on weekends and holidays. However, unlike other subway and regional metro lines, the Gyeongchun Line lets big bikes aboard between 10 AM and 4 PM on weekdays. (All trains permit foldable bikes any time.)
Train Rules for Bikes
Beware when you bring your bike aboard! Other passengers may not welcome your smudgy, gear-toothed contraption.
Follow these simple rules to avoid bumps in your train trip.
- Train doors are narrow. Be careful when boarding and changing cars. (i.e. Let others go first!)
- First things first. Place your bicycle in its assigned cradle in the standing or dining carriage. Don’t lean your wheels on your seat!
- Make sure your bike is secure in its bicycle cradle. Don’t prop it against the wall.
- Smudged pants, smeared skirts, and scraped legs are your fault. You’ll bear responsibility and all costs.
The humble Mugunghwa runs on older tracks that weave throughout the countryside. They drop by country towns and metropolises alike.
The good! Is your destination a far-flung town? Mugunghwa trains stop at more stations than any other train.
The bad! Looking to get somewhere fast? Mugunghwa trains stop at more stations than any other train.
How slow are they? The KTX takes two-and-a-half hours (2.5) to travel from Seoul to Busan. Mugunghwa trains take five and a half (5.5) hours. More than double the time!
Mugunghwa and Bikes
Mugunghwa allows bikes on select routes. Bike friendly trains offer five designated seats for bikers.
How do you grab a seat on one of these trains? First reserve a bike-designated on a select train.
Bike-designated seat? What do they do?
Like the ITX-Cheongchun, the ticket gives you a seat in the passenger car and a bicycle cradle in a standing room or dining car.
When you board, head to the standing car, securely mount your bike in your appointed cradle, then head to your seat in the passenger car.
According to schedules in 2021, you can find a few trains on the following Mugunghwa lines:
- Gyeongbu Line — Hangang, Ocheon, Geumgang, & Nakdonggang Bike Paths.
- Honam Line — Hangang, Ocheon, Geumgang, & Yeongsangang Bike Paths.
- Joella Line — Hangang, Ocheon, Geumgang, Seomjingang Bike Paths.
- Gyeongbuk Line — Saejae & Nakdonggang Bike Paths.
Check out our bike-friendly timetables for more specific info.
KTX: the train with the fame. The Korean Train eXpress class of trains became the fastest on the peninsula in 2004. Traveling at 305 km/h (190 mph), the train became the quickest and most convenient way to get from Seoul to any other major city in Korea.
High-Speed Railway Lines
KTX and Bikes
In days gone, benevolent conductors might allow a biker to bring a touring bike aboard. They would’ve asked you to detach your wheels and stuff it in the luggage compartment.
But times change. folding-bikes are the only contraptions allowed now. Commuters can fold up their bikes, hop aboard, and store it with the other luggage.
The Super Rapid Transit (SRT) and the KTX have a lot in common. They’re high-speed trains that share the Gyeongbu and Honam Lines lines. In addition, Busan and Mokpo Station mark their final southern stops.
So what’s the difference? The SRT runs slightly newer trains and keeps their prices about 10% cheaper than the KTX.
SRT and Bikes
Like the KTX, the SRT enforces strict policies regarding bikes. You may store collapsed folding-bikes in the luggage compartment. No full-sized bikes.