2013 regional travel advice
Local Train Group Tickets: if you use one of the following tickets with a group, you can save a lot of money. they're only valid on local trains, so it might take you a while. the good thing is that local trains are more likely to take bikes, though! [the timetable of the german federal railway company will display you about bike taking options in the details of each listed train: http://www.bahn.de] the best way might be to travel together with other bike tour people and arrange this beforehand. there are also good experiences with asking people at the station to join me on a group ticket: especially in major cities, or the station where a train starts its journey; especially young people ;). it's good to place yourself next to the ticket machine(s) and maybe even put up a cardboard sign saying something like "share ticket: ... to ...?" ("Ticket teilen: ... nach ...?")
- STATE-BY-STATE-TICKETS: http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/laender-ticket.shtml
- see a map of the 16 german states here and figure out your way through them, going through as few of them as you can ;) : http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Bundesl%C3%A4nder
- WEEKEND TICKET (all germany, weekends): http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/schoenes-wochenende-ticket.shtml
- ALL-GERMANY TICKET (weekdays): http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/quer-durchs-land-ticket.shtml
From The UK / Brussels:
A quick tip on Bike / Box / bags....after making the journey from London to Berlin with a bike and panniers in late March 2013::::
I usually recommend picking up a free cardboard bike box from any bike shop - this means you can just recycle it the other end. But the rules from Euro Star have changed so CHECK and check again!!!
Previously (last year) I was able to take my bike in a cardboard bike box as luggage, whereas this year they made me unpackaged it and pay 30euros for it to be kept whole and stored in the front of the train.
This was also a pain because it then becomes 'dispatch' luggage and ends up in Brussels in a room far from where you as a passenger get off - so another bit of advice would be to leave lots of connection time in Brussels (maybe a few hours).
Once I was in Brussels I was given 3 different pieces of advice from train staff, about whether I should re box the bike or not for the ICE from Brussels to Berlin, and it felt like it depended on the train staff more than anyone really knowing the score (perhaps this will be different in summer).
I would also recommend practising taking your bike apart and putting it back together again ... it is not difficult but this way you can make sure you have all the tools. The one that is heavy / specialist is the peddle crank - but you can also use a 15mm spanner, and then find a bikeshop later to make sure that they are tight enough for the long ride ahead!
Also check out seat 61 for up to date cheap ways to travel by train.
There is also a 'London - Berlin Speziel' http://www.seat61.com/Germany.htm#.UbhK0s6tVu4 that is 79 euros, but the tickets are really limited and go fast.