If you’re planning your first foray into Europe on 2-wheels, it can be quite a daunting experience.
The most popular option by far is to take the ferry across to France which can be as little over an hour away if you depart from Dover, but many riders still lack the confidence to take their bike abroad.
This month our good friends at GlobeBusters have been detailing some of their top tips on riding abroad in their regular RiDE Magazine column to help.
- The Crossing
Whether taking the ferry or using the Eurotunnel, it can be quite an ordeal for first timers with those wet metal ramps and decks. Take it slow and follow instructions. On the ferry you’ll be directed to park on your sidestand and in gear, or on the centre stand, between two floor anchors on the deck. Your bike will then be secured using a central strap over the seat. There are no straps on the Eurotunnel – just ride along the train until directed to stop, park on the sidestand and in gear, then stay with your bike.
- Riding On The Right
It might be a simple difference, but it is something that stops a lot of people from riding in France and elsewhere. It will require a little concentration to begin with, but it will soon become natural. Some riders will mark an arrow pointing right in the cockpit to remind them on which side the kerb should be.
There are plenty of roads which will take you south very quickly in France, but they can be very dull. The French auto-routes are mostly toll roads, so you’ll need Euros or a credit card. Avoid the orange ‘telepeage’ booths which are for vehicles fitted with micro chips. Due to it’s sheer size, France has plenty of unspoiled countryside and quiet roads which offer a much more pleasant riding experience.
When riding on the right, the most common form of acknowledgement between bikers is to hold out the right foot. There is less emphasis placed on bike brand, and even the drivers are more courteous to bikers in general, although of course there are always exceptions to the rule!
- Route Planning
Planning a route upfront can be a great way to help with any pre-trip nerves. Decide on the number of days away, a maximum mileage you’d be prepared to rider in a day, and then see what’s in reach. In France it’s much easier to navigate by using town names, as roads can have up to three different numbers allocated to them.
Again it sounds simple, but remember that signs are kilometres as opposed to miles per hour. France also has different speed limits depending on the conditions, so when it is wet you must reduce your speed from 130kph to 110kph on the motorway. On the open roads keep to 90kph, or 80kph in the wet. Through towns it’s always 50kph, and you won’t see speed limit signs. The sign with the town name indicates the start of the 50kph zone, and the sign at the other end of the town with the name crossed out means you can speed up again.
- Accidents & Breakdowns
Many breakdowns could be avoided with proper bike preparation and checks prior to departure. Ensure you check your tyres to ensure there is enough tread to cover the distance you intend to travel. Take out personal travel insurance, adequate motorcycle insurance and European breakdown cover so you don’t have to deal with recovery yourself should the worse happen.
When leading trips into Europe, GlobeBusters will fit their Triumph bikes with the most suitable tyres from our range. When they are sticking to the tarmac, the ContiTrailAttack 2 or all-new ContiRoadAttack 3 provide all the performance they need.
You can view our full range of adventure bike tyres here.