Top 5 Tips For Touring In Europe The First Time

Europe is a bikers paradise, a playground with seemingly endless twists and turns, around each one brings with it another jaw dropping landscape with roads that make riding more pleasurable than ever.

For some, heading off across the Channel is second nature, like popping to the shops or nipping out with your mates. But for others, it can be a daunting prospect. From the “what if’s” to the “should I’s”, there is much to learn. Thankfully, there are companies like Guided Motorbike Tours Ltd on hand, ready to show you the ropes and make your first experience a pleasure, rather than a disaster!

For now, we wanted to share with you some of our top 5 Tips when touring Europe on your Motorcylce. Let’s get cracking.

1. RULES OF THE ROAD

Although many of you will skip on by after reading the title of our first tip, you may regret it, as there have been many changes to European speeding laws and the European police will now be able to pull your pants down and shove a big truncheon up your….  (I’m joking but I may have your attention). Not only have the fines for speeding increased to extortionate amounts, the UK have decided to share vehicle owners details with enforcement agencies across Europe. Meaning, if you are flashed by a speed camera in France or Switzerland,  for example, you are likely to get an extra pic of your holiday for a lot more than you bargained for

Don’t think ignoring it will make it go away either, the EU are using debt collection agencies to chase the fine for non payers. With fines as much as €650.00 you can see why people are taking it seriously (and wondering why the Brits are being fleeced by our fellow Europeans!) For more details see our dedicated post on this bullshi…,  I mean, issue, here. In the meantime make sure you observe the speed limits carefully, they’re not always obvious unless you know what you’re looking for. Familiarise yourself with the basic knowledge of road traffic laws in Europe and you should be fine and don’t forget it’s kilometers not miles, so no excuse saying “but officer, the speed limit said 130 mph”

2. TO INDICATE OR NOT TO INDICATE

It’s mostly true what other drivers and riders say about the French drivers being courteous and polite to bikers in France, because they are but that doesn’t mean to say you should entrust them complicity. The French are however, not very good at indicating so keep your whits about you and don’t assume anything.

Venturing further south you’ll eventually encounter Italian motorists, who should be named “Sicarios”. This is where it can get really interesting because the Italians are taught to drive whilst talking and texting on the phone, eating and drinking, applying make up, shaving and updating their sales figures on their laptops all whilst driving. So when you are driving in Italy, just assume every other motorist is going to hit you and you’ll be as safe as a hedgehog crossing the M25! The Italians are very expressive! So if you do happen to come across an road traffic incident, expect it to sound like world war 3.

3. BONJOUR, HOLLA, CIAO, HALLO

Learning to say some basic words in the local language can go a long way, it can also be fun and you’ll get a much better report going with your new hosts, friends, drunken man at the bar, the cafes dog, or whoever! Just learn the basics such as thank you, hello, goodbye and so on. Try not to cheat and use a translator such as Google Translate, it takes away the fun of it, unless of course your translations are being met with blushing faces or flying fists coming at you!

4. CARRY A BREATHALYSER ON YOU

Sounds like an odd tip but us bikers are renowned for having a sherry or two of an evening after a long days riding. Getting caught with alcohol in your body these days in Europe won’t, I’m afraid, no longer be a case of splashing out more cash to the copper so he can’t buy his wife a new handbag. You’ll now be arrested and treated very similarly to the way you would here in blighty. You’ll  most likely be imprisoned and lose your bike as well as your license and gave fines up to €1500.00.  So for a £5 test kit for the mornings when you’ve had one too many sherry’s, it could save you from sitting in jail listening to how a French prisoner has taught the resident mouse how to push a cotton reel along the floor! (no prizes for guessing the film)

5. GO TO SCOTLAND 

I’m just kidding, don’t go there it rains all the time. Actually it’s a beautiful place, I genuinely love the Highlands. Our last tip is a saying that never grows old; “Be prepared”

Yes folks, expect the unexpected and be prepared but don’t go mad. Packing your bike with everything from multitools to multipants is a little silly. Mind you,  multipants…. Okkkkkkayyy.

Our advice is to lay out everything on the lounge floor, then take half of it away. If you think you won’t need something you probably won’t need it. Europe isn’t in the middle of an arid wasteland like Mongolia or a searing hot desert like the Sahara, so if you forget or need something, you’ll almost definitely be able to get it on route. So remember this, don’t panic. Europe has everything we have, unless you own a Triumph, in which case you’ll need to take a spare bike for parts with you (he he)

 

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Chris Seagal
Motorcycle tours guide and explorer. RoSPA Advanced Motorcycle Instructor (Gold)

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