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GBdamo

European Tour

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Maybe a bit of an early mid life crisis but, last year I bought a motorbike for the first time in 6 years. Previously bikes had been purely a, and my only, means of transport. When I passed my car test the bike was left to rot and eventually sold for a nominal fee as a project.

Now, as a fair weather born again biker (I, know the worst kind (Well apart from power rangers)) I covered 3700miles from April to October last year and am back in love, so much in fact I've booked a 2400mile touring holiday round Europe in May of this year.

I've kept the distances down to <300 miles a day with 5, 1 night stopovers a 3 night stop in Switzerland, 5 nights in Croatia and 2 nights in Austria so hopefully it won't be too arduous.

I would therefore welcome any advice anyone may have as to the best bike for the job and what essentials to take. These are road miles but I would like a bike I can take off road as the plan is to get a little more adventurous in the future. The obvious choice is the GS Adventurer but is this too obvious?

Any advice on biking custom/etiquette in France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany?

What are the various local ploddery like?

Cheers

Damo

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Maybe a bit of an early mid life crisis but, last year I bought a motorbike for the first time in 6 years. Previously bikes had been purely a, and my only, means of transport. When I passed my car test the bike was left to rot and eventually sold for a nominal fee as a project.

Now, as a fair weather born again biker (I, know the worst kind (Well apart from power rangers)) I covered 3700miles from April to October last year and am back in love, so much in fact I've booked a 2400mile touring holiday round Europe in May of this year.

I've kept the distances down to <300 miles a day with 5, 1 night stopovers a 3 night stop in Switzerland, 5 nights in Croatia and 2 nights in Austria so hopefully it won't be too arduous.

I would therefore welcome any advice anyone may have as to the best bike for the job and what essentials to take. These are road miles but I would like a bike I can take off road as the plan is to get a little more adventurous in the future. The obvious choice is the GS Adventurer but is this too obvious?

Any advice on biking custom/etiquette in France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany?

What are the various local ploddery like?

Cheers

Damo

Don't forget to drive on the right. Hope this helps

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Don't forget to drive on the right. Hope this helps

Gee, thanks. but I'll stick to as close the middle as possible. ;)

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This is a job for a certain danger magnet !!

Is there some kind of special call? Batman style light into the night sky?

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Is there some kind of special call? Batman style light into the night sky?

He will come.

you're thinking about ken?

Who else !!

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He will come.

Who else !!

If Ken does turn up, someone let him know I've gone out for the evening.

Not ignoring him or anything.

Having to do the Xmas dinner that was postponed due to weather. Beef Welington, Mmmmmm............:)

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I do a couple of weeks touring in continental Europe each summer. I don't think there is any right or wrong bike, I've toured with people on R1s, BMW GSes, and all sorts inbetween. You will have your own priorities in terms of comfort / speed / handling / cost, so read some reviews, do a few test rides and talk to existing owners (via the internet).

A few things I do:

  • Fit "dual compound" tyres - this means that the long motorway rides won't "square off" your tyres (i.e. loads of wear in the middle) and you still enjoy the twisty bits when you get to them.
  • Get a riding outfit that will handle rain and warm dry temps, so rather than leathers, use textile gear with a removable liner. This saves you stopping every time rain looms on the horizon (which can be surprisingly often in France, Germany, Netherlands, etc). I usually take a pair of those kevlar lined jeans to wear when the temps get really hot down in Italy and Spain - these can also double as evening wear if required. Have a pair of leather gloves that are either waterproof or buy some overgloves (usually pretty cheap). If your boots aren't waterproof, you can buy waterproof "SealSkin" socks for around £25.
  • Make sure you are familiar with whatever bike you are taking a couple of months beforehand.
  • Have paper maps (could just be Google Maps printouts) as a backup and try to take some kind of GPS - much easier for navigating strange one way systems in cities at night.
  • Put out what you think you need, throw half of it away, and pack what's left.
  • Ensure your travel insurance / breakdown covers repatriation after an accident - some don't.
  • Take gaffa tape, some cable ties, 1 of each bulb on your bike as a spare, a puncture repair kit (with C02 for reinflation), a small first aid kit and quite a few painkillers (for hangovers).
  • Pack some travel wash, then you can wash your undies, t-shirts and even jeans in a hotel / campsite sink - they will dry super fast in warmer climes.
  • Make sure you take a copy of your insurance certificate + your driving licence, V5 and any paperwork you need for breakdown, etc.
  • Put the breakdown number in your mobile and call it as a test as soon as you leave the UK. If it doesn't work, it's nice to find this out before you breakdown.
  • When you park up for the night, put something on the bike that reminds you to ride on the right in you line of sight so you will see it when you come down to set off. When I've ended up on the left, and seen others do the same, it's often when you set off in the morning or after lunch.

The local plod are generally the same as UK, i.e. if you take the piss, they'll happily make your life a misery, but if you show some respect (stop when told to, dismount and remove your helmet immediately, then don't argue with them) I find them to be quite reasonable. The exception is Switzerland, who don't take prisoners if you're caught speeding, riding with a loud exhaust, etc. Some countries (like Germany) are funny about filtering, but again, if you do it safely and don't take risks, you are likely to get off with some finger wagging and a few words.

You'll need a vignette for Switzerland and Austria if you intend to use the motorways at all. Austria sells one weeks vignettes, in Switzerland you need to pay for a year, even if you are there for half a day. In France & Italy you are likely to encounter toll roads, these take various forms - some you pay in advance to use a stretch of road, others you collect a ticket when you enter the road, then pay up when you exit, so make sure you have somewhere safe and easy to access to store the toll tickets. They will accept your UK credit cards in the toll machines no problem, but the automatic booths will charge car prices, so if you have time and want to save money, queue up for the manned-booth and you'll get the bike price.

Bikers elsewhere in Europe tend to do waving a bit differently. Since you are passing left side to left side, they will often just stick one or two fingers on their left hand out sometimes while still holding onto the bars (in Italy I've had people "waving" while they go round a bend with their knee down!) When people are flashing their lights are you, it usually means an up coming speed trap, so ease up just in case. Car drivers will often warn bikers of the police in France, Italy and Spain.

This sounds like a lot to worry about, but once you roll off the ferry and get the first 20 miles under your wheels, your troubles will slowly ebb away.

One last thing, have fun...!

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You know I said one last thing... I lied, there is another last thing:

Luggage: If you are travelling alone, lockable hard luggage makes a lot of sense. When you stop for fuel / a coffee / lunch you can walk away and leave the bike without worrying too much about some toe rag cutting your panniers open with a knife and nicking your favourite underpants. If you are travelling with another rider or in a group, this isn't as much of an issue.

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If you stay within EU countries then the advice would be pretty similar to an extended UK road trip, nothing much to add to the comments above. Except, bring some condoms, not always easy to get them if the local pharmacia is closed during siesta time!

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This isn't motorbike related but I find these all handy when travelling in general.

Small torch. Small penknife. Chunky padlock with combination on it. Duct tape. Headlamp.

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You know I said one last thing... I lied, there is another last thing:

Luggage: If you are travelling alone, lockable hard luggage makes a lot of sense. When you stop for fuel / a coffee / lunch you can walk away and leave the bike without worrying too much about some toe rag cutting your panniers open with a knife and nicking your favourite underpants. If you are travelling with another rider or in a group, this isn't as much of an issue.

Many thanks for that, many point you make I will most deffinately be following up on. I went to Normandy last year for a few day so not a total novice but I am so keen to learn from others mistake before I set off on a long one.

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This isn't motorbike related but I find these all handy when travelling in general.

Small torch. Small penknife. Chunky padlock with combination on it. Duct tape. Headlamp.

If you stay within EU countries then the advice would be pretty similar to an extended UK road trip, nothing much to add to the comments above. Except, bring some condoms, not always easy to get them if the local pharmacia is closed during siesta time!

Condoms and duct tape, whatever for?

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Condoms and duct tape, whatever for?

If you decide to become a safe sex practising serial rapist :ph34r:

:lol:

As for the duct tape just so handy for any number of things. I always take it with me. Can offer a temporary fix to so many things.

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If you decide to become a safe sex practising serial rapist :ph34r:

:lol:

As for the duct tape just so handy for any number of things. I always take it with me. Can offer a temporary fix to so many things.

No, seriously duct tape will go. Liable to get shot for taking condoms though. er......they're for keeping the bulds dry luv, honest....:D

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Condoms and duct tape, whatever for?

Err... condoms are useful for storing water in the desert, really, darling. Duct tape definitely, one of the large thick rolls, unbelievably useful in numerous situations.

A scottoiler would be really useful, I have never needed to adjust or lube a chain since installing one.

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A scottoiler would be really useful, I have never needed to adjust or lube a chain since installing one.

Scotoilers are illegal in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. You'll get a fine for using one.

Thankfully German cops are corrupt and make up small fines which they stick in their pockets.

Spares:

Bike tool kit, a double ended 8-10 and 10-12 spanner can fix pretty much anything on a bike.

Cable repair kit

A 250ml bottle of engine oil (BMW flat twins burn oil btw) to oil your chain and top the engine up.

Stab through repair kit with C02 cans.

A reflective vest (legal requirement)

A small piss take triangle again a legal requirement

A roll of tape

A hand full of cable ties

A tube of liquid steel

A tube of fire gum

A tube of instant gasket

A tube of araldite

A spare split link.

Spare bulbs (legal requirement)

Hand ful of fuses.

France - speed as much as you want outside towns but NOT on the peage. Watch for service areas crammed with cars, this is where cops use time difference tickets to grab you. Gendarmes (navy blue) cops are easy going and will even race you. Good roads start from Grenoble (have a big day to get out of northern france). White liverby cops are nasty. Peage in France can be dodged quite easily using one of three methods. Expensive petrol very. Cars will move over for you, thank them with a leg out slightly. Hand on bar wave is the equivilent of a nod. Watch the road contours in France. There are often hidden humps which you can catch serious air off them hitting one at 130mph your bike will fly, landing is a case of luck.

Switzerland , low speed limits, lots of cops, need a vingette can get one free on border from other bikers usually. Expect heavy fines for speeding. Swiss bikers do not nod and are unfriendly as their german counter parts. Watch out for roadside patrols where they check over your bike.

Germany, cops are corrupt, this is good to play to your advantage. I.e. they will make up fines on the spot and pocket it letting you go. Keep a pocket of 20 Euros and give cops this as a bribe. German drivers grass you up and will phone for a police interceptor if they see you doing something bad. German bikers are very unfriendly, they are so technical efficient and bug in a55 types they even refuse to say hello a lot of the time.

Austria - bad place, cops with radar guns in every bush again vingette needed. Cops will stop anybody who isn't local and will pummel you with fines. Constantly they will even radio ahead to the next police patrol to catch you again. Many fines are completely made up on the spot.

Most speed cameras are clearly marked and are obvious and are NOT designed to trap you.

Bike? Any bike you please, each bike has strengths and weaknesses. big BMWs are expensive and suck up lots of fuel. They also tend to blow up. Sports bikes are excellent on the continental roads due to lack of cameras. But carry bog all luggage. Tourers are good but are heavy and suck up fuel badly. You also tend to bring less. My style is riding for the sake of riding. I like to corner fast and grind engine casings and break records. This is not good for scenery.

Some handy hints. Bring camping equipment. Ultra light stuff + tent will fit in a ruck sack. This increases your range massively and it means you are not at the mercy of hotels who see a deparate biker and charge you more.

Watch out for Chair ladies sat by the side of the road (prostitutes) Europe is absolutely filled to the brim with them you will see them almost everywhere. On a mountain pass in Spain I saw several of them. Strangely they were absolutely stunning in terms of looks.

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You cannot beat a BMW with a fairing for long distances!

Personally I'd have an evil V-twin that vibrates enough so my fillings fall out, and ape-hanger bars to make you look "civilised" to the local cops!

Stick with the BMW! :blink:

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BMW are horrible bikes.

The 650 series has a flawed engine which has NEVER been fixed. The water pump shaft seal tends to go (design flaw) which causes water to go into the engine and make it explode. They also leak petrol and oil as a design flaw.

Fork legs and suspension can shatter with NO warning due to a casting defect BMW has never admitted is a problem (4 riders were killed in 2009 from this).

The engines have a CDI/ECU problem which was not corrected till 2008 which means surging and or it sometimes forgets and runs like a dog.

The F800 series is a 2 stroke in 4 stroke clothing. Everybody I have met who owns a F800 (and I've met lots of them) have had the engines explode. Russ who went out with me and I met in Turkey is on his 4th engine and he is still in India. Claudia's F800 also exploded.

The newer K series and the OLD GS are a different kettle of fish though these are much better made.

The New GS series weigh literally a quarter of a ton, they have seal issues on the shaft drive. BMW man's shaft drive seal has gone twice in less than 5000 miles. This is a fatal (in more ways than one) flaw in the BMW design.

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Blimey Ken! My friend J has had his 1984 K100 since 1986, and has been to Portugal and Austria on it several times!

Maybe the new ones are no good? :blink:

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  • 276 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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