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There is no road trip like a road trip on an excellent touring motorbike. Many bikers travel around the UK, but many others use their motorbikes to tour around Europe; why not? Riding abroad is a great big adventure and a biking must-do.
Many countries have awesome roads and predictable, fantastic weather. These conditions provide the perfect opportunity to just simply enjoy riding your motorbike in beautiful surroundings.
Touring abroad for the first time can be daunting, but when you have done it once you will wonder why you didn’t start doing it years ago.
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If you are planning to tour your motorbike abroad, here is a simple checklist to help with your planning. Following these simple steps can help prevent an awkward situation abroad:
Make sure you have your motorbike serviced before you travel to ensure it is running as smooth and efficient as possible.
Make sure your motorbike has enough tax left and a valid MOT certificate to avoid it running out while you’re away. If this happens your insurance will be void.
Make sure you have full motorbike insurance and check with your insurance provider that you are covered while abroad. Ask your provider for details of what happens if you need to claim while abroad so you are aware of what you are, and are not, covered for.
Always carry your passport on your person to have easy access when entering or leaving a country and crossing borders within a country. This saves you fumbling through your motorbike luggage at every stop, especially if you’re carrying luggage bags that are strapped on top of one and other.
As with your passport, always make sure your driving licence and logbook (V5 registration document) are with you at all times. This is to prove you are legal to ride and that the motorbike you are riding belongs to you.
The forms for these cards can be found at your local post office. The forms need to be completed to take an EHIC abroad. If you are taken ill abroad, having one of these cards means you can receive free treatment. Also make sure you have valid travel insurance.
Check your breakdown cover covers you if you are abroad. Find out exactly what it covers so you are protected on your ongoing journey. If you haven’t got breakdown cover then you need to purchase cover before you travel.
If you haven’t got a modern number plate with an EU marking on it then you need to put a GB sticker on your motorbike to identify that you are able to ride on European roads.
Now we have looked at important legal and safety tips for touring on your motorbike, it’s time to make sure you’ve got the best set of wheels for your trip. Your bike will depend on where your planned destination is; you’ll need vastly different bikes for Route 66 and the Sahara.
Let’s look at some of the most recommended motorbikes that riders choose for touring…
Sports Touring – BMW R1200 RT
The 2014 R1200 RT is BMW’s finest design of this motorcycle yet. The fully active suspension set up is combined with a smooth and linear power band. This creates a quickness and agility rarely found on a motorbike of this size.
This 2014 model also has advanced rider aids like Dynamic ESA and heated seating and grips. With a 16 gallon luggage capacity and a necessary cruise control option, this BMW R1200 RT is a perfect motorbike for touring.
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“Got a GSX 14 perfect for touring as long as you stay on tarmac, so depends on where you are going not that I’d think of taking the beast along the silk road for that I’d consider a KLX 650 or something like that, large single and not too heavy trail bike.” Scott Morris
Adventure Touring – KTM 1290 Super Adventure
This is easily the most capable adventure touring bike on the market today. It has a semi-active suspension system that devours terrain regardless of the texture. KTM has also integrated four switchable rider modes that work alongside sensors and accelerometers to enhance rider safety.
Active lean-angle modulation, hill-hold control and motor slip regulations are a few of the added features this KTM has. Aluminium panniers added to this adventure tourer makes it ideal when needing to pack for long distance travel. It is also easy to control and manoeuvre.
“For all round fun… Ducati Multistrada 1200s… comfort, cruise control, on the move fully adjustable suspension, good economy and lots of power and more!” Brian Southworth
Adventure Sport Touring – Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
The 2014 V-Strom has been redesigned and now has fully adjustable suspension and a strong, torquey V-twin engine. This motorbike has an upright seating position, enabling riders to be high in the saddle. Despite this seating position, it still has a low slung engine which gives a low ground clearance.
This low clearance means riders need to be weary of terrain when riding off-road. Necessary options available for this motorbike include an engine guard, panniers, hand guards and accessory bars. With the extras combined with the model specifications, this Suzuki adventure tourer is a great motorbike for the price you pay and is definitely a worthy competitor.
“My first ever trip to the Bol d’Or in the south of France was two up on my Kawasaki KLR600 trail bike, two weeks around the Cote d’Azur, Italy, Germany and home to North Wales. The first day from North Wales to the Bol was a killer mind as it was 1200 miles in a day.” Stephen Perry
Baggers – Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra
This is a big, powerful tourer that is full of rider comforts. This model has a 6.5 inch touchscreen display which controls the stereo/mp3 player, Bluetooth, two-way radio and the Sirius Satellite Radio. This Harley has linked ABS brakes with four piston calipers and is water-cooled. With a 1800cc V-twin engine and weighing in at 944lbs, this tourer is not a great choice for a smaller riders as it is more challenging to move around.
This ‘bagger’ is a great choice for long distance travel as it includes saddlebags, back rests, foot boards and wide front fairings all providing the best of comfort on long journeys.
“Pan European… Built for it, designed for comfort and speed, over engineered for the job.” Andy Brewster
Enjoy your trip around Europe on your bike – stay safe, be savvy, and above all, have fun!