To help you get the most out of your European motorcycle trip TFX Suspension have put together a few tips to ensure you have the best possible time!
The Shengen agreement made between the countries of the European Union makes travelling anywhere in Europe extremely easy – no need for visas and import export documents, just load up and ride through country after country! Europe is 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.
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.
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.
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 whether 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!
Mapping Your Trip
✓ 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!
Setting your motorcycle up to tour Europe means you will have to make some adjustments to the basics of the bike, such as the suspension. Why you ask? These things affect your motorbike suspension:
– Taking a pillion
– Carrying luggage
These things create an even greater demand on your suspension, so adjusting your motorcycle suspension correctly is extremely important. Bike suspension affects a lot of things, such as comfort, handling and safety. Tuning your suspension is not a black art but does require some knowledge.
We wrote a blog explaining motorcycle suspension and how to adjust but if you have specific requirements and would like some extra advice call on +31 (0)495 750529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. TFX Suspension would be happy to talk you through your options.