The endless road in front of you, the stunning scenery on each side, wind in your hair; that’s what motorcycle road trips are all about! Our world is stunning and each country has something unique to offer. Look closely and you’ll find some countries which are just perfect for a motorcycle holiday. Due to the Shengen agreement made between the countries of the European Union it is super easy to travel anywhere in Europe by motorcycle. No need for visas and import export documents, just load up and ride through country after country! With Europe being so densely populated with small countries it is the perfect place to tour on a motorcycle as you can see lots of different places and cultures in a short space of time. Of course a moto tour of Europe doesn’t have to just be done in two weeks, you could take months if you have the time! To help you get the most out of the time you have for your summer Euro tour we have put together a few tips to ensure you have the best time possible.
Your trip is planned for two weeks in July and hopefully it should be beach weather on the Riviera! However weather in Europe can be very changeable from one country to another and with having to cross the alps temperatures can get quite low not to mention rain and hail.
When it’s cold and damp on a bike it can be absolutely miserable and affect a rider’s ability.
We think it’s all about the layering. Base layers are the key to staying nice and warm, full long sleeves (and legs!) are needed. When riding we sweat so investing in good quality base layers is a good move, they need to keep you warm while allowing sweat to evaporate. If you get cheap material all you’ll be doing is trapping the wet which then turns cold. The level up needs to be waterproof yet breathable, a lot of riders chose Gore-Tex as it encompasses these qualities.
As well as layering correctly, some heating elements can’t hurt! For me, heated gloves in the high mountains are a must. Fingers going numb while winter riding can be torture, pulling in the levers takes all your strength and is pretty painful. So buy good quality, thermally efficient gloves and boots. For boots, Alpinestars are always a good bet, ultimate value for money.
For riders that do some serious miles, a windshield is a good purchase. They aren’t the nicest looking things and if you have a lovely cruiser or sports bike it will in my option ruin the lines. Saying that, if you are travelling long distance on your bike looking cool will be the last thing on your mind as the wind, rain and bugs fly into your face!
So that is the main point, travelling a long distance and touring is where these things really come into their own. If you have motorway miles ahead of you, with Italy or Spain as the destination, this will make the journey much less tiring. You won’t be fighting the elements as much, like pelting rain and wind chill! Windshields allow you to sit in a little bubble of protection, which is nice you know when you have hours of riding ahead of you.
Unlike in the UK where road tax is paid for the upkeep of the roads and signals in Europe they charge tolls to drivers on the main motorways to pay for the road maintenance. As you arrive at the motorway on ramp you will take a ticket from a booth and then pay the balance of the ticket when you leave the motorway. This can happen quite often as the tolls tend to end at the end of a geographical area and then a fresh one starts in the next administrative district even if you are on the same motorway! These tend to mainly be self service these days so it is a good idea to have a safe waterproof pocket available on your tank bag or jacket that is easily accessible and will prevent you from dropping the ticket at the toll! If you lose a ticket you must pay the full toll for the entire length of that stretch of motorway. Be aware also that these toll machines are unreliable at accepting UK visa cards so ensure you have easily accessible cash.
Many business’s in France and Italy close for up to 3 hours at lunch each day and this includes petrol stations. Due to this they are all self service where you pay first at a machine and then take your petrol. Unfortunately again it is hit and miss wether these machines will take UK cards and also they pre authorise your bank card for 100 euros so even if you take 20 euros of petrol you will not have access to this money for at least a week. This becomes very troublesome when you are filling up everyday as you cross through Europe!
Make sure you can produce these documents when required, for example when crossing boards or stopped by the police:
✤ Driver Licence
✤ Breakdown Policy
✤ Vehicle Registration Document
With a Great Britain driving license, you can ride abroad in European countries, read GOV.UK for further details. If you are wanting to explore Europe its worth having a good read of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office leaflet.
If you’re driving licence is from somewhere other than Great Britain, you can check if you can ride in GB on GOV.UK.
If you always ride on your own this won’t really apply as much. If you ride with your partner or friends it might be something you’ll be interested in! This is something that still amazes me, that I can be riding along talking to my partner on the bike next to me. It is great to be able to chat with someone, especially on really long journeys. Whether they are sat behind you as a pillion or riding with you.
Of course, the thing with this is, you have to feel safe talking to someone while riding along. Some people learning to ride or who have just passed their test actually find it is quite reassuring. To be able to talk to someone – ask questions, check lane positioning etc. So it depends what makes you feel more comfortable.
You can get systems ranging from reasonably priced to extortionate! I looked on Get Geared for my device, some of the most well-known communication are:
Decide where you want to get to, and then think about:
✓ How long does it take to get there?
Give yourself enough time to actually experience the places you go. There nothing worse than feeling like you’re rushing through the area and not seeing what you wanted to, or not having the time to meet local people.
Taking in the culture is what you’re there for, so make sure you have time for it.
✓ Where are you going to stay over?
Some people prefer to freestyle it, turning up in towns and finding somewhere to sleep once arriving. This way of doing it is fine and usually works out pretty good, I really like travelling this way. However, some people aren’t a fan. If you are running behind schedule one night on your trip, it’s nice to know where you are going to be staying.
Whichever way you like travelling it’s good to have an idea of which hotels, hostels, campsites are in the areas you want to stop in. If you read ahead you might even find out if there is a biker hang out spot that’s suggested, if you’re looking for the social side! There are some great apps to use while travelling too!
Wearing earplugs during one of your long distance rides is something I have only came round to, after riding to Spain. I never wore them before as I found them slightly uncomfortable, and in general, didn’t think the noise affected me that much.
When I set off to Spain on my first tour I luckily did pack some but didn’t think they would be in use. After 3 hours riding on the motorway with only one 20 minute stop…I was ready for them! I had a headache and my ears were ringing. The plugs saved me. I now never get on my bike without having my ears plugged.
We hope these tips will help you be prepared to make the most of your tour of Europe!
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