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  #1  
Old 25 Oct 2010
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First travel to europe.

Warning! slightly longwinded

Hi all, this is my first post but it this looks like the best place to post it. I'm travelling to Europe at the end of this year and staying on for the majority of next year. This has been my goal for the last 9 months so I've been saving money etc in order to get over there. But lately I've been entertaining the idea of getting a bike when I'm over in france, and travelling on it to see as much as I can. A friend of mine had a van here in Australia when he visited it and it seemed invaluable as he was living here at the time. Many good times were had with the van and I think having my own mode of transport would be vital if I were to actually LIVE overseas. A bike seems like a perfect option.

I drive a lot here but that is because I have a great love for the cars I've grown up with. Starting learning in a 1988 pulsar and the car was the perfect teacher. There is more to cars than most people think and the attitude of this car was awesome. Just never said quit. The other car I drive is my dads old car, a 1995 honda civic which rips around corners with a bit of fun. I'm not really a car guy but I do love to drive. So my choice of a bike has a few underlying motives.

1. I think in a place like france, owning a bike would be a better option as opposed to if I owned one where I live.

2. I'm keen to have an experience with a good bike, and create lots of memories with it. Travel will be an integral part of my journey overseas and I think ripping off motorcycle diaries in my own way would be a terrific experience. (loved that movie saw it in the movies and bought it on DVD)

3. I'll be travelling on a budget and I would assume a bike would be cheaper and more cost effective on fuel.

So after that wall of text I have a question or two.

3 Important Facts
I have an Irish Passport
I don't have a bike license in Australia.
Am 21 years old

How hard is it/What hoops do I jump through to get a bike license in europe with these credentials?

How expensive would a bike be? I'd love old bike with a fierce spirit.

In your opinion, am I out of my depth. I have complete confidence in myself but am somewhat clueless.


thank you for answering these questions if someone does. It will be very much appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 25 Oct 2010
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Hi Jimbo,

I currently live in France and although I didn't get my license here (got it in Portugal), there are some things I'm aware of that might be important to know:

How hard is it/What hoops do I jump through to get a bike license in europe with these credentials?

If you don't have a bike license in Oz, you will need to obtain one here.There is a law in France that allows drivers with the category B on their license (car) to ride motorcycles up to 125cc. I think you will need to switch your license to be able to do this. Apparently you can exchange your australian car driving license for a european one without having to take any additional tests (more info here: Expats in France: French Driver's License & Driving in France). However, you won't be able to ride a bike any bigger than 125cc without a bike license (category A).

This post has some info on what it takes to get a motorcycle license in France:

Motorcycle License in France

As you might have gathered, the process isn't exactly easy, and it can be quite expensive. However, it's important to have some practical experience and the lessons should help prepare you for riding on the road. Drivers here tend to be nicer to bikers, but they're bonkers, trust me.

How expensive would a bike be? I'd love old bike with a fierce spirit.

I've had a look at bike prices in Australia and it appears they are more expensive than in France. However, I would suggest having a look at prices for new bikes on the french website of each make, or for used prices, look here:

Petites annonces gratuites d'occasion - leboncoin.fr (click on an area on the map)
Annonces motos occasions, essais motos, essais maxiscooters, actus moto, pronostics moto gratuits et forums
www.fmoto.com

Unfortunately both sites are in French so if you don't know what they say, let me know the specifics of the bike you're looking for and I'll pass on a range of prices for you. Don't forget insurance and tax, which can vary greatly depending on the bike and your situation (age, gender, experience, address, etc).

In your opinion, am I out of my depth. I have complete confidence in myself but am somewhat clueless.

Nothing is impossible, each person's exprience can be different. I opted for a smaller bike to work my way up as this is what felt right for me, and I've done ok so far. There are people who have gone the other way and done ok too. There are certain bikes I'd be more wary of purchasing if you're not very experienced. More recent sport bikes come to mind - not because of the speed potential, but also because they can be temperamental - for some it takes careful control of the throttle/clutch and cautious use of the brakes to keep yourself out of trouble.

Read as much as you can about riding proficiently; riding a bike is quite a different experience from riding a car, but it doesn't have to be as dangerous as a lot of people think it is. Only caution about older bikes is to consider the maintenance that might be necessary. Do as much reading as you can on your bike of choice, and check on forums for that specific bik if they exists. Your choice of bike depends on your taste, what you want to use the bike for, what kind of roads you'll be riding, and what you're willing to put up with sometimes Any bike can be the right tool for the job, but it really depends on you, the rider, to decide which tool is right for you.

So there's my 2c, hope you find it useful!

Last edited by Foreigner; 25 Oct 2010 at 17:53. Reason: made a few errors here and there, meant recent sport bikes!
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  #3  
Old 25 Oct 2010
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Thankyou very much foreigner, your Post was actually what helped me find this site so now I owe you 2x.

Thankyou for all the information, answered my questions perfectly. France may not be the best country for me to get my license in because I only speak a small amount of french (reason for going to france). And to be able to drive over 125hp which I think I would need to have, I need to do all those tests.

so I guess my next question is where would be the best place to get a license. Do countries in the EU generally accept other licenses from other EU countries?

I checked out that site and it was very helpful. I'd have to buy a bike after i settled down and earnt some money though.

also i believe i fell in love.

Link to dream bike

that looks gorgeous. bit pricey for me though
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  #4  
Old 25 Oct 2010
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Hi again Jimbo, glad I could be of service, and sorry about the little mistakes here and there in my original post!

In relation to other European licenses, you can drive in France with a license from another EU countrywith no problem and no need to switch. If you do wish to switch however, you need to do it within the first year of being here. Furthermore, you're required to swtich your license if you lose any points on it (due to traffic violations). I ride here with a portuguese license and have had no problems (even for insurance and registering a french bike in my name).

Perhaps a good idea would be to consider getting your license in the UK. Language is obviously not a barrier there, as it would be here. It might end up just as expensive (if not more), but the process might be faster. You'll have to get a CBT first on a 125 and then do a few hours of lessons (I don't think there's a minimum requirement but I'd double check that). From what I've heard, the new test is not easy, but with a good teacher and some practice, you should be able to pass.

The Beemer indeed a beauty, especially in that blue. If I had a few more € under my belt and a bit more exprience I'd snatch it if you do go for an older bike, cosider taking along a friend or a mechanic with some knowledge of what to look for in an older bike, to make sure it's in good condition. Be aware that the more powerful the bike, and the younger/less experienced you are, the more costly insurance will be. Try get some quotes online to determine what you might be looking to pay (I can send you some links if you want, but they'll all be in french).

What budget are you considering? I'd be careful borrowing money to buy a bike over here, financing deals can be sneaky. If you can, save up as much as possible and pay for everything from your own pocket, it'll save you a lot of hassle later!
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  #5  
Old 26 Oct 2010
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I skip between Australia and the UK and consequently have a bit of knowledge of both systems.

I recommend getting a bike licence in Australia as it is certainly cheaper than the UK and in NSW at least (not sure about the other States) is cheaper. When you have your Ps you can get an International Driving Permit from the NRMA (dont have to be a member) that is valid in most countries. I believe it is accepted in Europe for 1 year or until it expires if earlier. Yes, you can get it on your Ps, you dont need the full licence, and the Permit will make no mention of the fact that you are on your Ps. Check with the NRMA if you dont believe me.

Buying and registering a bike in the UK is easy, but getting insurance is a bit more difficult - you need a UK contact address to do either - and all insurance companies I am aware of won't insure tourists but most will accept you if you have "moved" to the UK. They will then expect you to get a UK licence before renewal in 12 months time, but as you will be there for only 9 months that isnt a problem. Several insurance companies have on-line applications but I doubt that any of them can cope with non-UK licences - you may have to do it over the phone like I do.

Some UK companies give automatic coverage (and sometimes breakdown cover) for European travel, but for up to 90 days only, which would be no good for you as you intend being in France for much longer. You may be able to negotiate for longer but I expect the costs might be high.

Consequently it may be better to buy and insure in France using the International Driving Permit - though, if not proficient in French, sorting out insurance may again be a problem.
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  #6  
Old 26 Oct 2010
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Hi Jimbo,

A bike is a fantastic way to see Europe. Definitely recommended.

However, don't forget that if you arrive over here early in the new year it will still be winter. Dark, wet/snowy, icy and cold. Good gear helps a lot with the cold and wet, but I'm concerned about adding winter conditions to the "new rider in a new country" scenario.

Can you do a fast-track bike license in Aus before coming over? Deolali's post looks very useful.

Rob

(fellow Aussie living in the UK)
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  #7  
Old 31 Oct 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deolali View Post
I skip between Australia and the UK and consequently have a bit of knowledge of both systems.

I recommend getting a bike licence in Australia as it is certainly cheaper than the UK and in NSW at least (not sure about the other States) is cheaper. When you have your Ps you can get an International Driving Permit from the NRMA (dont have to be a member) that is valid in most countries. I believe it is accepted in Europe for 1 year or until it expires if earlier. Yes, you can get it on your Ps, you dont need the full licence, and the Permit will make no mention of the fact that you are on your Ps. Check with the NRMA if you dont believe me.

Buying and registering a bike in the UK is easy, but getting insurance is a bit more difficult - you need a UK contact address to do either - and all insurance companies I am aware of won't insure tourists but most will accept you if you have "moved" to the UK. They will then expect you to get a UK licence before renewal in 12 months time, but as you will be there for only 9 months that isnt a problem. Several insurance companies have on-line applications but I doubt that any of them can cope with non-UK licences - you may have to do it over the phone like I do.

Some UK companies give automatic coverage (and sometimes breakdown cover) for European travel, but for up to 90 days only, which would be no good for you as you intend being in France for much longer. You may be able to negotiate for longer but I expect the costs might be high.

Consequently it may be better to buy and insure in France using the International Driving Permit - though, if not proficient in French, sorting out insurance may again be a problem.

Please note that an International driving permit is NOT a licence, it is merely a translation of your own driving licence into numerous other languages, and is an additional document to your driving licence. In France, as in the rest of the world, you must present both together if asked for your documents. If you buy a bike in France you will have to show your 'full' licence from your country of residence, an International on it's own is not sufficient to take out insurance. ( I am resident here and know the Insurance business). If you buy a French registered bike you will need to re-register it in your name or you won't get insurance (especially with an overseas licence), and to do that you must be able to prove resident status. Hiring a bike is a different matter, because insurance will be included in the hire contract, but you will still have to show a 'full' licence alongside your International Permit.

France has an International Agreement with Australia on the 'exchange' of licences, which must be done in the first year of legal residency. All your entitlements will be granted on a new French licence, which will then be vaild anywhere in Europe.

Your best bet is to get your full licence in your current country of residence. You won't be able to take a test for a full licence in any other country unless you hold that countries provisional licence. To get a prov licence you must be a resident of that country ( EU agreement).
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  #8  
Old 3 Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pongo View Post
Please note that an International driving permit is NOT a licence, it is merely a translation of your own driving licence into numerous other languages, and is an additional document to your driving licence. In France, as in the rest of the world, you must present both together if asked for your documents. If you buy a bike in France you will have to show your 'full' licence from your country of residence, an International on it's own is not sufficient to take out insurance. ( I am resident here and know the Insurance business). If you buy a French registered bike you will need to re-register it in your name or you won't get insurance (especially with an overseas licence), and to do that you must be able to prove resident status. Hiring a bike is a different matter, because insurance will be included in the hire contract, but you will still have to show a 'full' licence alongside your International Permit.

France has an International Agreement with Australia on the 'exchange' of licences, which must be done in the first year of legal residency. All your entitlements will be granted on a new French licence, which will then be vaild anywhere in Europe.

Your best bet is to get your full licence in your current country of residence. You won't be able to take a test for a full licence in any other country unless you hold that countries provisional licence. To get a prov licence you must be a resident of that country ( EU agreement).

wot he said


I would reinforce that if you're arriving in automn/ winter, depending where you're going & where you're from, it can get freaking cold here in the winter, I'm 2 hrs south of Paris & have know winter temperatures of -18°c overnight & it can go days without picking up above about -5 or so. The roads, at least the main roads are usually clear & dry fairly quickly, but Believe me, you do NOT want to be biking when it does that...


just worth bearing in mind like...
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  #9  
Old 15 Nov 2010
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Thank you all for the responses. Realistically speaking this trip around I won't be able to travel around on a bike, but these things happen for a reason. The comments about the weather really hit me because I'm quite stubborn and I can kinda see myself in a situation where I'm in over my head.

However, I'm getting a bike license over here right now, won't have it in time though. The journey is merely on hiatus when it comes to the bike, I'm sure in a couple of years when I have another adventure I'll do it on a bike.

thanks all very much.
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Old 28 Dec 2010
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Hope to see you in our club in istanbul and wish all the best.
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