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Tips for Touring Europe by Motorcycle

(C) Djordje Petrovic

Europe provides a plenitude of scenic routes and spectacular viewpoints for avid motorcyclists. Whether you’re taking a half day’s ride from England to northern France and Belgium or considering a further trip through scenic Switzerland or Germany, a motorcycle tour of Europe is an ideal way of soaking up the gorgeous scenery and enjoying this beautiful continent. The top routes in Europe are among the world’s most famous motorcycle destinations, including everything winding mountain passes, stunning coastal roadways and, most importantly, well-paved roads. But before you set out on your European adventures, here are some tips to help you get off the right start.

Packing for your tour through parts of Europe is fairly straightforward. The absence of paperwork for many UK travellers makes it one of the easiest places to ride. Insurance policies are likely to cover the entirety of the EU and many hotels, service and food stops accept cashless, mobile payment. You will still need adequate packing space when prepping your bike, however. If you’ve never visited Europe by motorcycle before, remember that you are more constricted than with car journeys. Consider a durable motorcycle bag or top box, such as those provided at XLmoto. You can gain a surprising amount of space (of up to 50L), depending on your needs, with soft and hard panniers. Tank bags are an absolute requirement for valuables, maps and other necessities that need to be quickly accessed.

With the exception of necessary packing items like spares and safety equipment, try to follow the old adage of thinking about what you need to pack and then halving it. Most of what you will actually need can be bought along the journey. The more weight that you carry with you, the less control you will have of your bike and its fuel consumption. When it comes to necessary safety equipment, high-quality riding gear, eye protection and hearing protection are necessary. In terms of packing money, this is less of an issue. You’ll have access to ATMs, but most areas in Europe are cashless. Besides, the less cash you carry, the less likely you are to lose it or have it stolen. One good tip for inter-European travel is the purchasing of a digital banking account (which come with MasterCard cards), just in case your UK bank card is not accepted at a particular ATM or cashier.

If you’re strapped for time but still want to explore Europe, you can avoid large stretches on the motorway and long riding times with a bike shuttling service. This will cut down the time spent cruising through France to get to the Alps or Pyrenees, for example. Services like Bikeshuttle may cut the “getting there” out of your adventure, but they save you wasting something money truly cannot buy: time. If you’re looking to do the whole journey yourself, you can choose from a variety of ferries to France, Spain or the Netherlands. Unfortunately, gone are the days of direct and regular ferry transfer to other regions like Norway or Denmark, but there are a wealth of inter-European ferry links through the Mediterranean and Scandinavia once you are on the continent.

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