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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 9 Jul 2012
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Motorbiking in europe

Hi, I am Ramesh from New Delhi, India.....I have been riding on Himalayan Roads for the past more than twenty years. Most of the time, I relied on Royal Enfield 350 CC. Now our Group is planning to undertake Motorbike Riding in Europe. The proposed Route which we may follow is Paris (France)-Dijon-Geneva (Switzerland)-Zermatt-Zurich-Stuttgart (Germany)-Luxembourg-Paris in the month of June, 2013. We are planning to spend about 18 days in Europe. Since most of the members do have sufficient experience of High Altitude in Himalayas, we also propose to climb a mountain near Zermatt. I was wondering whether we would be able to get Royal Enfield 350 CC or 500 CC in France or should we take some other model on rental basis. My basic questions are :-
i) Is the route fine or we need to make some changes ? Can we add some other important places.
2) What would be rental of the bikes for rider & pillion and what all formalities are to be completed for taking the bikes on hire ? Can these bikes be taken out of one country to another ?
3) Since we would be leaving our country after taking due insurance cover, are we required to go in for some additional insurance cover for the bike, third party and the members
4) Since we are budget travelers, what would be the best option to spend nights ?

Looking forward to guidance....

With best wishes,

RAMESH
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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Hi Ramesh,
It's certainly possible to rent motorcycles in Europe but it's unlikely that you'll find Enfields. An Enfield is probably not the best bike to tour Europe anyway, particularly if you are likely to spend any time on autoroutes or autobahns, they're simply too slow to keep up with traffic. If you stick to smaller roads however a single cylinder bike is fine. I have an XT600 and have exactly the same problem when travelling in Europe.
There are plenty of bike hire companies all over Europe, Google is your friend. Generally, when you rent a vehicle in Europe, insurance is included in the rental price. Sometimes you have to pay extra if you want to cross international borders but not always. You will need an international driving license with motorcycle entitlement. Your best option is probably to email a few different rental companies and see what they have to say.
If you're staying mostly in France, camp sites are everywhere and these are the cheapest places to stay apart from wild camping which is possible in many places but isn't always legal.

HTH.
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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I agree with Dunch about the Enfield not being suitable for European roads, even on main roads you need something that will quickly get to 100 kph and accelerate up to 120 and cruise at that speed for overtaking and motorway use.
You will also find the driving a lot more disciplined than in India, no nippling back down the carriageway the wrong way because you missed the turning, just take it steady and watch how the locals drive, the police can be unforgiving in some countries and the fine heavy.
It would be good to have a group of Indians on tour, I hope if you get here that you have a good trip.
Accommodation can be expensive and camping is a cheaper option but there are also chains of cheaper hotels particularly formula 1 where I think you can have up to 3 people per room per night.

Cheap hotel Formule 1 - Book hotel at a reasonable price
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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I completely agree with Mark, it would be great to have a group of Indians touring Europe. Also, the point about traffic discipline; traffic is much faster in Europe than in India. Motorway traffic is usually sitting at 120 to 130 km/h and in some places in Germany there are no speed limits at all. You can be doing 180 km/h in the fast lane and the next time you check your mirror there will be some arsehole in a Porsche flashing their lights at you to get past.
Riding in Europe means watching your mirrors all of the time, using the indicators all the time, even when you think it's obvious where you're going to go and doing lifesavers (looking back over the apropriate shoulder) every single time you change position on the road. Another thing to remember is that using the horn, particularly in residential areas or at night is frowned upon and is only likely to piss people off.
Do yourselves a favour though and get the right bikes, may I suggest the R1200RT or the Pan Euro?
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Old 28 Jul 2012
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I can see your route, and it is not the cheapest circuit of Europe. It would help if you told us what things you would like to see. the mountain climb is fine.

I ride an Enfield and plan my routes to suit it. Still from time to time it is simpler to use the faster roads and motorways for certain sections. Unlike many here I don't find the lack of a high cruising speed to be a problem. I do try to avoid peages (tolls) but that is 50/50 driven by economy and my preference for riding at a relaxed pace. My own bike likes running between 50-60 mph. It is a 500cc Electra with standard gearing.

I generally dislike cities (although Colditz was very pleasant) so try to stay away from them although not adverse to using ring roads, Camping , particularly wild camping is in France very easy. Although not strictly legal in some other countries. Cities are often expensive, but many French and Belgian cities have cheap council run campsites. For instance there is a really good one in Mons (Belgium) right in the city centre.

One thing that bothers me is that if you are used to the characteristic of a 350 Enfield, perhaps the performance of a modern 1200cc superbike may come as a shock. Add that to the controls on the wrong side, Driving on the wrong side and the different nature of European driving and you suddenly have a lot to learn. If you could work a route using less motorways and maybe a few less city centres it may be better to have a lower powered bike which would be considerably cheaper to run.

As an aside, I used to ride an 800 cc BMW it was faster than my Enfield, but the odd thing is, on longer trips I tend to do more miles per day on the Enfield than I did on the BMW. Not having to stop so often for fuel is one reason, the Enfield does double the MPG of the BMW, so is halves the cost of travelling. Two days steering clear of peages (toll roads) will pay for one night in a hotel/BnB/motel.

Hope this helps.
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Old 29 Jul 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
Add that to the controls on the wrong side
Handy tip: When you change gear, do so with both feet
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Old 30 Jul 2012
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sadly pressing the rear brake pedal every time you change gear is not the most pleasant sensation

Fortunately I could never really reach the brake pedal easily on my BMW so that wasn't a problem. The BMW's rear brake was obviously designed to be used on roads covered with diesel spilt on black ice so wasn't much good on less slippery surfaces. Despite new seals and shoes. Using the gear lever as a brake was also of limited use. My Enfield will easily out brake my BMW, especially the rear.
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