Top tour­ing tips

Be safe and le­gal

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News -

1Long arm of the law

To keep le­gal as a road user in Europe you must travel with var­i­ous safety re­lated items, for ex­am­ple a first aid kit (manda­tory in Aus­tria, France and Ger­many), high-visibility vest (one for rider and pil­lion), and a breathal­yser (com­pul­sory in France). The RAC web­site ( has a full break­down of re­quired items, so cross ref­er­ence it when plan­ning your route.

2Don’t get de­flated

Check whether your bike has tube­less tyres or uses in­ner tubes then buy a suit­able punc­ture re­pair kit. Even if you have tube­less tyres, pack­ing a spare in­ner tube is a good idea as it can be used as a tem­po­rary re­pair for punc­tures that are too big to plug. For around £20 it’s money well spent, but you must go straight to a garage for a re­place­ment tyre or pro­fes­sional re­pair.

3Spend wisely

Away from main roads you may dis­cover that smaller cafés and fill­ing sta­tions only ac­cept cash, so it’s wise to take a few Eu­ros. When it comes to us­ing debit and credit cards you should make a pref­er­ence to use your credit card most of the time. The rea­son be­ing is that in the event of card fraud you have more pro­tec­tion from the card com­pany as op­posed to a debit type.

4Show me your papers

Most of the Euro­pean bor­ders are open and have no pass­port con­trol. The ex­cep­tion in West­ern Europe is Switzer­land where you will be re­quired to stop on en­try and also pur­chase a sticker in or­der to use the mo­tor­ways. For med­i­cal cover UK ci­ti­zens can use an EHIC card, this is free and can be ap­plied for at be­fore travel.

6Is your rub­ber up to it?

Make sure there is plenty of tread and the tyre is in good con­di­tion with no cuts or cracks. The choice of tyres th­ese days is ex­cel­lent with all gen­res of rid­ing cov­ered, so if you’re plan­ning a 4000mile round trip it would be fool­ish to ex­pect a tyre de­signed for track­days to last the dis­tance with­out squar­ing off.

8A ques­tion of nav­i­ga­tion

For some the idea of us­ing a sat­nav takes away the in­de­pen­dence and free-spir­ited na­ture of tour­ing, if this is you then have a stash of com­pact maps and en­joy the chal­lenge of tra­di­tional travel. If you are re­ly­ing on a sat­nav to show you the way, al­ways use a stand­alone de­vice and not your smart­phone. Not only will you be charged for data while abroad, but what hap­pens when there is no sig­nal?

5You need the bike’s docs too

Proof of in­surance cover and the ve­hi­cle’s log­book plus your driv­ing li­cence are all re­quired for EU travel. If you don’t own the bike, a let­ter from the reg­is­tered owner is ac­cept­able. Th­ese doc­u­ments are usu­ally not re­quired un­less asked for by cus­toms or po­lice. If you’re go­ing through Switzer­land it’s likely you will be asked to pro­duce them.

7Is your bike trip-fit?

Get your bike ser­viced be­fore you leave if it’s close to an in­ter­val. If you’re in-be­tween in­ter­vals you should get the oil and fil­ter done, check the chain and sprock­ets and brake pads. That oil leak that needs wip­ing once a week will only get worse on a big trip; an en­gine that burns a lot of oil never gets any bet­ter ei­ther.

9Keep it se­cure

Just as it is at home, se­cu­rity is a must when trav­el­ling. Don’t give any­where the ben­e­fit of the doubt, and al­ways lock your bike away in a garage or to some­thing. If you’re trav­el­ling with other bikes then lock them all to­gether. Al­though they’re heavy and cum­ber­some to pack, a chain and lock is al­ways bet­ter than a U-type shackle or disc lock. Some ho­tels of­fer se­cure bike park­ing.

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