Moscow to China via Transsib Railway - how it worked out
First, thanks (belatedly) Camtracey and PaulM for your replies. Actually I undertook the trip in August 2007 - quite a long time ago now I suppose! Basically this is how things worked out, as far as I can remember:
THE LONG VERSION (short version follows)
I went to the station in Moscow the day before departure, and found my way to the cargo office (it's up a side road behind the station). There a uniformed gent told me to bring the bike the next morning at 10am (the train was to leave in the evening). It seemed like it was going to be quite straightforward...
Not so. When I arrived the next morning with my interpreter (a really helpful receptionist from Godzilla's youth hostel - indispensable), I was greeted by less helpful uniformed gent, who seemed to conclude that I wouldn't be able to put my motorbike on the train.
The rest of the day was spent dashing from office to office trying to obtain some kind of clearance. I think the two main problems were a) it being a vehicle, b) it being too heavy (it's just a CB500). Oh and the torrential storms were relentless that day, just for the atmosphere.
Anyway, when I thought all hope was lost, we ended up, absolutely soaked, in the office of a man who looked less uniformed and more relaxed than the others. He seemed to think there should be no problem with me putting the bike on the train, and started talking into two phones simultaneously to arrange things. That was when I noticed a Harley Davidson mug on his desk. I'm sure he winked at me when we were leaving.
But the problems didn't end there. I returned to the cargo office to find a the cashier waving the weight regulations at me from behind her glass partition. Then she just started ignoring me. (It was at this point touch and go as to whether I'd actually catch the train myself).
I was just on the verge of losing faith in everything that is pure and good, when a phonecall came through from a head honcho in Russia trains. He instructed my obstructors to let me get my bike on the train. I still can't understand why, but they did.
It was by now too late to get it on the same train, so the motorbike had to follow me on the next train a couple of days later. It did actually arrive in Beijing - I saw it through the gate to the cargo warehouse. Unfortunately, the customs wouldn't let me take it out. It stayed there for about a year, accruing a small charge every day.
I've actually been in China most of the time since then. My bike is currently residing in San Francisco.
THE SHORT VERSION
It was hit or miss. I managed to get the bike on the train to Moscow, somehow. It probably cost me a couple of hundred Euros at most, although I can't remember the exact figure.
The bike even arrived in Beijing. Unfortunately, the customs wouldn't allow me to take it out of there. I don't think bribery was an option with this man.
Hope that helps sijohnston! Good luck!