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Europe by motorcycle

  1. #1
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Europe by motorcycle

    Has anyone here toured Europe by motorcycle?

    I'd be going this coming summer. I've been invited to go by my Swedish cousin, who drives a truck for a living all over Europe. This is him being interviewed about a stunt he was hired to drive for:

    Volvo Trucks - Driver from the Ballerina stunt tells his story - YouTube

    He knows his way around, speaks multiple languages, and we definitely don't want a guided tour. Probably will have to factor into the roads we choose the fact that he is NOT an experienced motorcycle rider, though. He would be renting a bike too (or, given that cost to rent motorcycles for 2 weeks may approach two grand each, maybe we should consider buying cheap used bikes and having the option of him selling them afterwards?).

    I dislike cities, traffic, and crowds, don't mind camping, roughing it, or being remote. Looking for suggestions on what/where to rent motorcycles and general pitfalls to watch out for, along with any cool suggestions of off the beaten track places to go. Two week max timeframe, and he would be starting from Sweden, so If I could fly into there it would probably be easiest. I'd be open to the idea of train or car to get to the cool riding areas, and then renting bikes there, if that were a good idea...

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  2. #2
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    I'm in europe now. I havent ridden though since im in london for the time being and its crazy to ride here. Once i get a bit more settled in i will be buying a bike. I've already been looking.
    You can try to buy a bike outright and sell it after but your better off buying used from a dealer, at least in london. They take care of all the paperwork for you minus the insurance and thats were you will run into issues. Its not terrible but it is extra work for you. In other countries it may not be an issue.
    I have been through France, Belgium, the netherlands and all of UK and i gotta say northern Wales has the best riding roads so far. Its out of your way but not too far. i would stay clear of countries bordering russia, you hear about a lot of problems out that way for motorcyclists. Lots and lots of theft and shake downs.
    I would head south towards italy i think. anything you do i'snt far anyway. Im in london and by driving I can be in italy in like 12 hours. Country to country is a fairly short jump.
    If you think about leaving from the uk i can probably help you out. You can pick up older bikes for dirt cheap here. Always wanted a vfr400? done for about 1500. africa twin? about a 1000.
    Personally i would go for a 400. Big power bikes are all but waisted in europe. Fuel economy is where its at, especially in the less populated countries. Finding gas in the middle of france at night on a weekend is shockingly hard. Even in the day its tough. All these little cars over here get 50-60mpg at least so gas stations are spread out more.

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    Last edited by boosten lebaron; 11-23-14 at 06:29 PM.

  3. #3
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle



    I'm planning something kinda sorta almost similar for 2016.

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  4. #4
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    I spent 10 days riding in Europe a couple years ago with my wife and some friends. It was better than any organized tour and an insane amount of fun. Going with people who spoke some German and Italian was a huge plus. Most of us were very experienced riders and long-time MSF instructors, and the pace and comfort riding together was great. We rented bikes in Switzerland, and spent time in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Germany. The Dolomites (northern Italy) was my favorite part of the trip. My wife loved the Black Forest and Germany. Seeing a castle was on her bucket list, so we spent a few hours at Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle. Because we were 2-up with gear, we rented a R1200GS (and both fell in love with it). The bike was about $200/day. I think that included unlimited smileage. If you're not riding 2-up, get a smaller bike. And consider buying and reselling it. We ran into a couple of guys from Australia who did that and it was much cheaper than renting - but it helps to have a local (boosten lebaron?) help you with that. Or get to Spain quickly where renting bikes is dirt cheap. That's our next trip. Riding around Europe is incredible. It should be on everyone's bucket list. Have fun!!

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    DanG
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  5. #5
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle


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  6. #6
    Don't bother me! R7's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Is your Swedish cousin currently in Sweden, and that's where you are basing the trip out of? I was invited to visit a friend in Finland in 2011 and part of the plan was a 7 day motorcycle trip. I forget the total, but we covered around 3,500 km from the time we left Oulu, Finland, to the time we returned 7 days later. We went a bit north, then west through Sweden, to Norway. The plan was to go to the northern most point in Europe, but it was to cold and wet once we were a bit north of the arctic circle. It wasn't a fast paced sportbike type ride, more of an enjoy the scenery type, about half of the trip involved the E10...which was amazing riding in/through the mountains bordering the Norwegian Sea. I would do it again in a heartbeat if asked again.

    Europe by motorcycle-zzz-norway-jpg

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  7. #7
    Lifer Trouble's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    I spent my honeymoon over there on a bike rented from Stefan Knopf of Knopf Tours in Heidelburg, Germany. I know it's out of your way but I'm enjoying the memories so bear with me (or just ignore the rest, I'll never know). Stefan is awesome. He picked us up at the airport and we stayed at his B&B on both the arrival and return leg. My father stores an 1100GS over there with him as do something like 200 other people from around the world. Dad will email Stefan with his itinerary and Stefan will have his bike ready and any necessary permits. Stefan will arrange to have any necessary maintenance done. If dad has friends joining him they rent from Stefan and his bikes have always been reliable. Not usually the newest machines on the market but nobody's been let down yet. His website also now has a buy/sell spot if you're interested in purchasing a bike from an individual that stores with him.

    All of our adventures were south of Heidelburg so I'm assuming all of the cool passes I'd recommend are more of a journey than you'd be making in the two weeks. Unless of course you're planning an iron butt kind of trip but I'd discourage that. Enjoy the scenery and the people. Don't make reservations. We never had a hard time finding an inexpensive B&B to stay at.

    We have friends teaching in Lithuania for the next two years and I'm trying to convince my wife to do a repeat of our trip but head north east to visit them. He's a beer snob and says it's amazing over there...

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  8. #8
    Lifer FirstDuc-1098's Avatar
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  9. #9
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Great info everybody, thanks!

    In response to some of the comments and questions posed:

    Yeah, my cousin lives in Sweden, so we will probably start the journey from there...doesn't mean we have to start from there on motorcycles, though. I wouldn't be shocked if the trip ends up being one part me visiting him, and one part me doing a solo Moto tour, if it ends up being 2 grand each to rent bikes.

    The point about Spain being dirt cheap to rent bikes is intriguing, I'm gonna look into that more.

    John, the info about Stefan Knopf is awesome! Any idea how much it costs to store a bike there long term (if I end up buying one)? Would your dad (or anyone else who has a bike sitting over there) be interested in renting out his?

    Dan, the trip you took sounds like a great time, and included the places that first came to my mind as far as destinations. It has me thinking more about how to handle the issue of my cousin having not much motorcycle experience, though...

    Erik, thanks for the link. Lemme know if you end up buying some beater that you wanna rent out!

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  10. #10
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Oh yeah and thanks for the link First-duc. Just started reading it, and in the first post or two, the guy talks about buying a bike here and having it shipped over to ride it in Italy.

    I have too many bikes here, and need to sell one anyway...maybe I should just ship THAT bike over there, then have my cousin sell it when I'm done (or just give it to him and have it available to ride next time. It's worth maybe 1,500 here).
    Anyone have experience with this? Shipping costs, import duties, delays, title issues?

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  11. #11
    defining "budget tourer" ctbandit's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post
    Oh yeah and thanks for the link First-duc. Just started reading it, and in the first post or two, the guy talks about buying a bike here and having it shipped over to ride it in Italy.

    I have too many bikes here, and need to sell one anyway...maybe I should just ship THAT bike over there, then have my cousin sell it when I'm done (or just give it to him and have it available to ride next time. It's worth maybe 1,500 here).
    Anyone have experience with this? Shipping costs, import duties, delays, title issues?
    Rented a bike when visiting family in Poland from a small local shop that mostly does scooters. Price was something like $135/day for a 650cc single standard type bike (Sachs). I only went through that shop because my brother knew of it. There were some sites online that had similar rates but this prob isn't very helpful lol. I went to AAA to get and international driving permit ( like $15 or so) before going over there. When renting I want to say the shop dealt with the insurance and reg stuff so there's that plus vs buying and reselling.

    I will say, super jealous. Hoping to visit my brother next year in England. Definitely thinking of either a track day or a bike rental out there.

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  12. #12
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post

    Erik, thanks for the link. Lemme know if you end up buying some beater that you wanna rent out!
    Will do. Im going to look at an nsr250 tomorrow and vfr400 after that. I dont think the 250 would be a good cross europe bike but the 400 might be. I know im gonna pick up a cbr400 beater for sure. They are all over the place and usually under a grand. So many sweet bikes.

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  13. #13
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    Holy crap are those things cheap over there!!!!!!! WTF???

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  14. #14

    Re: Europe by motorcycle

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    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by 7470racer View Post
    Holy crap are those things cheap over there!!!!!!! WTF???
    used older bikes are stupid cheap ober here for the most part. im trying to figure out a way to bring some over to the us. keep a few, sell a few sort of thing.

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  16. #16
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    used older bikes are stupid cheap ober here for the most part. im trying to figure out a way to bring some over to the us. keep a few, sell a few sort of thing.
    Maybe we can work out some kind of partnership or split a container Or something; I have some contacts both in import/export and shipping, plus I loathe the idea of pissing $2,000 away on a European bike rental.

    I've noticed that some of the car shows ("chasing classic cars" and "fast and loud" come to mind) sell classic cars to businessmen who ship them to Europe to sell...

    IF I decide to ship a bike over there for a ride next summer, I better get moving soon

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  17. #17
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Europe by motorcycle-20141129_112705-jpgid be done for that. i just looked at a minty tzr250 i can get for about 1500. l think it would be hard to ship and import those bikes to the us. i am looking into it though. its not hard for me to buy and register a bike overhere. The problem is getting it into the us and keep it there.
    Those rgv's are dot legal and i think 2000 each.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Europe by motorcycle-20141129_112353-jpg  

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    Last edited by boosten lebaron; 11-29-14 at 10:34 AM.

  18. #18
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Just got back from a trip from Europe and the motorcycle or more often over there the scooter options are endless.....and dangerous. The smaller towns and even smaller cities can be fun. The bigger cities are insane. In 3 days time i witnessed 4 motorcycle accidents in paris alone. One involving a Police officer who ran over a scooter and never stopped. Everyone over there one two wheels or four seems to be 5 minutes late for something at all times. I found that driving even a rental CAR was stressfull in the cities.

    The highways are a totally different animal. sitting behind a wheel and not over handlebars was brutal. The smooth windy Roads were killing me the entire time. They would be amazing to ride. Especially in northern France and Southern Italy.

    This sounds like an amazingly fun adventure, but be sure to plan your routes well. avoid cities, be careful in toll booths (They make no fucking sense over there and come up out of nowhere) and be overly cautious with your new driver friend, because every driver around you will assume you have been acting stunt double in every "Bourne" movie and expect you to dodge their foolish maneuvers accordingly.

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  19. #19
    Lifer Trouble's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post
    John, the info about Stefan Knopf is awesome! Any idea how much it costs to store a bike there long term (if I end up buying one)? Would your dad (or anyone else who has a bike sitting over there) be interested in renting out his?
    Sorry for the slow response here. Stefan charges dad $300 per year for storage. I don't if that varies by bike/owner etc. He's not real excited about renting the bike out.

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  20. #20
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post
    Has anyone here toured Europe by motorcycle?

    I'd be going this coming summer. I've been invited to go by my Swedish cousin, who drives a truck for a living all over Europe. This is him being interviewed about a stunt he was hired to drive for:

    Volvo Trucks - Driver from the Ballerina stunt tells his story - YouTube

    He knows his way around, speaks multiple languages, and we definitely don't want a guided tour. Probably will have to factor into the roads we choose the fact that he is NOT an experienced motorcycle rider, though. He would be renting a bike too (or, given that cost to rent motorcycles for 2 weeks may approach two grand each, maybe we should consider buying cheap used bikes and having the option of him selling them afterwards?).

    I dislike cities, traffic, and crowds, don't mind camping, roughing it, or being remote. Looking for suggestions on what/where to rent motorcycles and general pitfalls to watch out for, along with any cool suggestions of off the beaten track places to go. Two week max timeframe, and he would be starting from Sweden, so If I could fly into there it would probably be easiest. I'd be open to the idea of train or car to get to the cool riding areas, and then renting bikes there, if that were a good idea...
    I did Switzerland, France and Germany a few years ago on an R1150RT and it was incredible.

    I did Sweden and Denmark a few months ago on an ST1100 Pan European and it was great, though the roads were very Northern New England. A little bit windy, lots of green, lots of lakes. If I were to do it again I would probably go straight from Sweden over to Norway. Norway looks like this:



    That's a friend's trip, you can read more about it here.

    One of the cool things about Sweden is there's something called allemansrätten, which translates to "the right of public access". Basically it means you are allowed to camp on public and private property provided you behave yourself. I'm not sure if that exists in Denmark and Norway but I would be surprised if it doesn't.

    When I rented a bike in Germany (and rode to France and Switzerland) it was relatively cheap. When I rented a bike in Sweden it was very expensive and the options were very limited. Probably the hardest thing to understand -- at least in my experience -- are road signs. I speak French so that's fine in France and Switzerland, but I don't speak German and they don't bother putting their signs in English. However in Sweden and Denmark the important ones are in English so that's easy. In Germany I didn't have a GPS, but when I went to Sweden that helped a lot so the language barrier wouldn't have been quite as much of an issue.

    Buying a bike when you get there and selling it when you leave is a great idea if you can pull it off. The biggest challenges (and this varies by where you buy it) are proving residency (if required) and proving insurance (always required). The other thing you could do, though this would be quite tough to arrange ahead of time, is to find a motorcycle dealer and buy a used bike from them and then ask them to guarantee buying it back from you for, say, $1000 or $1500 less. That way you would be essentially renting it from them but they'd take care of the paperwork.

    Any more questions, just ask..



    Mrs #9 in Sweden

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    Last edited by number9; 12-13-14 at 11:27 AM.

  21. #21
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Thanks for the info!

    My cousin in Sweden has informed me that he will have trouble with coming up the dough to do it next summer, as well as time off of work. Both are in short supply as he was out of work due to surgery lately...

    Anyway, looks like we will be shooting for the following summer at this point, unless I decide to make a go of it solo

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  22. #22
    Lifer
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Depending on the time your looking at i might be able to meet you out someplace for a few weeks ride. I could use a riding buddy to go exploring.

    Might make it easier for you too since your not locked into starting in sweden. You can start anyplace and that might mean cheaper ticket's and a cheaper bike.

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  23. #23
    Lifer oVTo's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Here's the route we took a couple years ago. Taking my QSTARZ lap timer/GPS turned out to be a good idea - it kept track of the whole route. My point-n-shoot camera has a built-in GPS so it's easy to link the pictures to the route we took and create a nice little tour guide.

    You can see one dead end in Switzerland southeast of Chur. We decided to ignore the 'road closed' signs, because like the proverbial chickens, we had to get to the other side (in this case, of the mountain). It was closed for maintenance, but the first work crew let us by. The second crew wasn't so forgiving of the dumb Americans and sent us all the way back to find another route to Italy. But it was a great road and totally worth a couple of extra hours going there and back again.



    At the map's resolution, the roads don't look very twisty, but up close a lot of them are like this - Umbrail Pass



    and this - Passo Stelvio



    Motorcycle heaven.


    Here's a link to a place in Barcelona that rents Triumphs. You can get a Tiger 800XC for between $100 and $115/day depending on the rental period. Barcelona would be a great starting point because the Pyrenees, and the Swiss, Italian, and Austrian Alps are all nearby. I can't wait to go back and ride more of Europe.

    A co-worker was telling me that Romania has some great mountain roads but I was skeptical until I saw this Top Gear episode.

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    Last edited by oVTo; 12-15-14 at 08:49 PM.
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  24. #24
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Europe by motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by boosten lebaron View Post
    Depending on the time your looking at i might be able to meet you out someplace for a few weeks ride. I could use a riding buddy to go exploring.

    Might make it easier for you too since your not locked into starting in sweden. You can start anyplace and that might mean cheaper ticket's and a cheaper bike.

    Thanks and I will keep it in mind; at this point, I pretty much told my cousin I'd be willing to wait a year to do it with him, but I will dig further to find out if it's realistic for him to be able to do it at that point.

    Dan, thanks for posting the pics and info. The rentals in Spain definitely sound like something to consider. that's about half the cost of what I've been seeing elsewhere...

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