Touring Guide

Touring tips – guide for motorcycle tours 2017

Europe motorcycle touring holidays
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motorcycle touring europe

Top Tip
Place all items for your trip out on the floor – divide them into two piles;
1. for items which you think that you could possible manage without.
2. Absolute essentials.

Get rid of everything in pile 1. and half of pile 2.
you’ll then be close to what you really need to take with you!

motorcycle adventure bike touring rider on motoexplorers tour in China

Motorcycle Touring advice Take Less = more fun”








Motorcycle Touring tips

• Have a small removable document wallet / holder or bag attached to the bike so that you can quickly store tickets / motorway tolls / loose change etc without having to get off the bike.

• Carry spare set of bike keys – but don’t leave them on the bike or locked in the luggage!

• Take the motorcycle user manual with you (full of useful motorbike maintenance/repair info – all useful on tour)

• Check online Country motoring info / legal requirements

• Map of country attached to either tank bag or a simple Touratech handlebar wallet is perfect for quick route referencing.

• Have bike serviced before the tour & new brake pads fitted, chain checked & keep it correctly tensioned while touring – that way you’ll not need to read the ‘tour breakdowns section’!  MotoExplorers provide full details for recommended bike preparations / tools / spare parts to carry etc – for our UK to China expeditions.

touring the world by motorcycle


• Always keep your helmet visor down or semi open when riding in Europe as the European flies (especially the well trained German ones) are far fitter than an English fly – and much bigger!

• Always wear fully approved and protective motorcycle clothing – you won’t be planning on someone deciding to give you a knock. Generally lighter touring clothing, with approved protectors and ideally some water proofing. Often worth carrying additional light weight waterproofs for wearing over riding clothing – in heavy storm conditions.

• RIDING ON THE RIGHT * Get into the habit of always reminding yourself ‘ride on right’ every time you do anything on the bike! When you start off or any manoeuvre maybe run through your mind ‘RIGHT – ON THE RIGHT’. The biggest reason for accidentally crossing sides is if you decide to cross lanes and park on the left side for any reason. It’s then all too easy to go into auto pilot when you next set off! So, if you do have to cross lanes and stop on the left for any reason – THINK about what you’ve just done and pay special attention when you set off again!

touring on motorbike group riding tours

New meaning to ‘Group motorbike touring’!

Group Riding Tours

Generally there’s no need to all ride closely together, although less experienced riders may like to stay closer to other bikes and would usually find a more experienced tourer on a ride who’s happy to take the lead.  If you’re going to ride as a group, it’s a good idea to agree on who is lead bike before you set off for the days ride! & then aim to follow the lead bike, (even if they take the odd wrong turn! – it’s generally easier following than leading!)  You can use a drop off system, if the 2nd bike looses sight of bikes behind, just stop on a convenient junction (safe spot) and mark the junction turn until following bikes catch up, once mastered this system works very well and enables bikes to spread out whilst still riding a set route.

Do not ride too close or in direct line behind other bikes. Always leave a good distance and clear line of sight / run off line, past the bike you’re following.
Swap mobile numbers with follow riders / and the tour guide, agree a procedure in case of emergencies. (always notify emergency services immediately if there’s an accident or any legal incident involving other motorists)

Check oil and tyre pressures daily + regularly check bike fastenings – luggage bolts etc can work loose of bumpy stages.

Fill up with fuel end of days ride, ready for a nice early start each day. Remember fuelling can take much longer in a group – more people = more to chat about each time you stop!  Beware of running low on fuel on French roads on Sundays because most petrol stations are closed, (French motorway stations / automatic pumps can be available, so always best to top up with fuel before you ride out into the open twisty parts of France!) Better still, pass through to Germany where they tend to be a little more efficient, as well as better motorbiking routes!

Touring Documents for motorcycle tours Europe
touring insurance for motorcycle riding Europe to Kazakhstan

© Adventure Bike Tours

• Driving licence + an international one can be useful, but is not essential for touring Europe as any member EU state should recognise the full UK licence. (might change post Brexit!)

• Bike touring insurance. You may need to inform your insurance company which European Countries you will be touring, but again insurances should cover all member EU states nowadays.  Just make sure you are in a member state if you need to claim.

• Vehicle V5 registration document and MOT certificate. Legal requirement that you carry them and they are occasionally asked for at borders, especially Switzerland!

• Bike touring breakdown insurance. Compulsory for touring and should cover the whole of Europe and eastern Europe. Most good policies will provide a wide range of useful benefits and is essential for saving you undue stresses in the event of an incident whilst travelling overseas. (see section on breakdowns for more information). BMW includes quite a good level of cover for the first two years with their current new motorcycles. AA or RAC cover also looks quite comprehensive but I’ve never had cause to use any of their services.

touring BMW GS Adventure on tour in Europe

BMW reliability! best take a support truck!

• Photocopies of all documents can be useful in case you lose originals.

• Contact telephone numbers for any organisations / banks / insurances which you are using throughout your tour. Ie, note the numbers of all credit cards along with the overseas phone numbers for notifying losses.

• Notify a friend of where you’re going and leave them with contacts back home for family and bike contacts, in case you need anything (more relevant out of Europe)

• MotoExplorers provide breakdown / motorcycle support service on our 10 Country East Europe 2 week motorcycle tours

• Personal & medical insurance, again essential for touring. Always check the latest up to date policy wording & make sure there’s no motorcycling exclussions!

• All tour riders should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive necessary healthcare during a visit to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. The E111 form is no longer valid. It’s quick, easy and free to get one online. Just Google “EHIC” for the current web page.

• Ferry bookings; most tour operators use ticketless bookings and in this modern age tickets are not required. The ferry company will have a note of your motorcycle registration number along with a booking reference, which will be all you require. It’s advisable to have these to hand along with your passport as you proceed through the check in and border controls at both departure and arrival points.

If you are going on a bike tour then be sure you have the right cover, visit “Motorcycle Insurers” to see a full range of policies with online instant quotes.

© MotoExplorers Adventure MotorBike Tours Europe motorcycle touring holidays

motorcycles touring Europe








Navigation on tour

motorcycle touring riders read maps of Europe on Motoexplorers adventure bike tour

Maps for motorcycle touring – always useful!

Always try to keep a mental note of where you are and on what road. Not always easy when you’re doing 180 km/h but a lot easier if you’ve got sat nav.

Check road signs regularly, even if you’re using a GPS – because most emergency services still find it hard to use a GPS lat/long to locate people!

Map readings fun & gives you a much better perspective on where you are, where you’re heading, contours and best bike routes. * We give advice on how to transfer this info into a GPS to get the most from your tour.

Motorcycle Breakdowns on tour

If you do break down, first get yourself to safety and away from any blind spots, then make the bike safe and visible – use warning triangle and hazard lights.

Make a note of the bike faults and any symptoms prior to breakdown – this may help diagnosis and could also be useful for reference when you come to reclaiming any repair / recovery costs.

Keep a log book of everything that you have told the breakdown agents along with their responses. Invaluable if things don’t go to plan! Note names of who you speak to, time and date of calls and action agreed.

Ideally, always stay with your bike – possession is 9/10 ‘ths of the law! You can then oversee the collection and diagnosis of faults. Some recovery agents will offer lots of additional benefits if they can’t get you going again within x time of inspection or arrival at a garage. Ie BMW offer onward travel / hire car / hotel costs (with limitations – so read their policy! & it is a policy – you don’t get a man from BMW in Germany come out to you with a swanky Mercedes full of BMW parts!) BMW’s current deal is; repair within 4 hours of arrival at the dealer or they’ll move you another way! If you’re there with the bike you can keep the pressure on or quickly get moving if things look terminal. If you’ve gone to a hotel or worse still accepted a hire car, you’ll have no idea whatsoever what’s happening – or when – to your bike!

Leading on to replacement bikes in the event of breakdown. In most agent’s eyes these will come with 4 wheels and a steering wheel. I would initially advise against taking a hire car because; a). It’s another responsibility for you – you’ll have insurance excesses to pay and possible hassles having to return the vehicle at the end of the hire which might be 200 miles away from where your bike’s been dispatched to! b). After riding a bike in the European sunshine you’ll hate being stuck in a car! c). Without a car, your repair agent will have more responsibility to get you and/or your bike either mobile again or back to your home, with potentially more onward travel benefits which will ultimately be less stressful for you.

If you want to get things moving fast – do it yourself! Ie arrange a hotel when and where suits you. Arrange your own taxis to get where you want to go ie back to a hotel if your bike cannot be repaired.

Keep all receipts for all expenses incurred as a direct result of the incident.

Advise someone back at home what’s happening and set up a facility to communicate by email if possible. This will save a fortune in overseas phone charges. Otherwise, maybe look at getting a local mobile sim card.

THE BIG ONE – Take photographs of everything following any incident, along with names of witnesses / contact names / numbers for anyone who handles your bike or who witnesses any incident. PLUS – Photograph the bike and anything left with the bike, i.e. luggage. FINALLY – make a note of the Speedo reading and ensure that this is included on the proof of collection certificate that you get from the recovery agency.

I once had a difficult situation when a BMW garage had stated that they had road tested a faulty machine, when in fact they had somehow managed to do this without the Speedo hardly moving – even though they insisted they had tested the bike for over 100 KM’s at 180 KM’s/h. Luckily I had recorded the mileage in and out of the dealer and documented it, which proved useful when it was discovered that the GS left the dealer with a broken rocker adjuster!

Speed traps / Police fines / How to deal with cops – & robbers (1 of a same in some countries!)  more to follow, I can write a whole page on this!! free advice on MotoExplorers tours

police radar traps speed traps in Europe

Low budget Police radar traps in eastern Europe

Motorcycle Touring Luggage & Clothing

• LESS IS MORE. Pack less – enjoy more

* Motoexplorers sprinter truck carries your luggage & heavy items for you, leaving you light (well your bike!) lighter and free to enjoy the ride fully, across Europe’s  best twisty motorcycling tour routes.

© Adventure Bike tours• Don’t take enough clothes on a two week tour to last 14 touring days! It’s too much, they’ll get in the way, get dirty and stuffy without you even wearing them and you’ll end up throwing something away! I guarantee!!• Two of anything is enough – you can then give light clothing & undies a quick wash when you shower at night & you’ll have nice fresh clothes everyday without having to carry a ton of kit.• Use light weight clothing and take a fleece layer for if it’s cold or when you get back to UK on a chilly evening.• Lightweight anti moisture walking socks are fantastic – the one’s with some kind of moisture resistant coating that lasts for years – worth every penny = happy feet J• Take a scarf / keep your neck covered from the sun. Budapest was 42 degrees in 2007 and if it wasn’t covered it burnt – instantly!• Take spare bungee hooks, just in case something breaks / snaps or you decide to buy a painting on the way!• Carry something plastic to cover anything you leave on the bike + a little bit extra to cover the seat when it’s pouring with rain. That way when you get back from coffee break = dry bum/s !• Leave space in your luggage “old Zen saying – if you’re cup’s already full there’s no room for any tea”• First Aid kits are compulsory in some countries. I keep a small selection of pills and poisons in my wash bag – which doubles as my first aid kit. I’ve never been asked to produce this in 20 years of border hopping around the world, but it does come in handy.

Sat Nav (basic guide – more detailed sat nav features to follow at later date)

• Try to take one and get used to reading it whilst riding to the point where you can glance down at it and know what everything means without distracting you from riding.

• Waypoints are useful for ensuring that the routing doesn’t try to take you on too direct a route. Use the sat nav in conjunction with an overview from a map for best results, ensuring that the machine doesn’t take over the tour!

• Bluetooth headsets are useful, especially in busy towns and cities, but get used to using the sat nav without the voice commands as well, just in case you have to on the tour!

Motorcycle touring Payments / Cash / Currency in Europe

© Adventure bike Touring Ten Countries Europe motorcycle tour Includes these foreign currencies:

currencies for Europe touring

1. France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Lux. Are all in the EURO – aprox 1.20 / £1

• Czech Republic – Koruna – aprox 26 / £1 possible to obtain in Czech, but always worth taking some with you.
• Poland – Zloty – aprox 4 / £1 We don’t stay for long in Poland (Poland is a day option) so recommend taking aprox £30 of Zlotys.
• Swiss – Franc – aprox 2.1 / £1 Again, only 1 day option riding in Swiss, so you won’t need many.
• Hungary – Forint – aprox 400 / £1 Hungarian forints do fluctuate quite a lot and tend to range between 350 – 440 / £1 The best rates are generally at small exchange shops on the streets who change at o% commission.• Slovakia – Was Koruna – Now Euro – as of early 2009, waahooo’ hope they move to real silver money next!

• My own experience is that it’s a good idea to carry two credit cards and try to pay for all fuel with the card – preferably one that does not charge a foreign loading fee. Ie the Post Office card. This can save you up to £2 per fuel stop, which on a £20 fuel payment is 10% so imagine paying 10% extra for your fuel every time you top up. That’s what you’ll be paying if you don’t use a ‘free foreign use’ credit card!

* We’ve experiences of Some credit card companies suddenly blocking payments half way across Europe!

It’s therefore advisable to telephone your card issuer / customer service & ask them to put a note on your file, that you’ll be traveling throughout Europe,

Motorcycle tour Countries in Europe;

France, Belgium, Lux’b, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic

motorcycle tour routes Europe

• Euro’s tend to be accepted everywhere (except England!) so don’t worry too much about currencies in Europe. “Where there’s a biker will there’s a bikers way” I’ll usually have a few of everything to get you by if you run out!

• Travellers cheques are safe but you’ll end up running for banks everyday, so maybe just take a few for back up and plan to change them in a big city like Budapest. I prefer using a credit card and cash but it all depends how risk averse you are.

Finally, don’t get too worried about all of the things that you think you’re going to need for your touring adventure. Plenty of riders over the years have travelled around the world carrying very little more than themselves and a crdeit card. In fact, as long as you remember your motorcycle, passport and credit card, you can do virtually anything! Almost everything that you can get in the UK is available throughout the rest of the world, usually a lot cheaper!
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