Copy of e-mail here:
Glad to be of assisstance!
I think you need a little clarification on vehicle ownership & registration
in the UK, it's very different & possibly less complicated than the US.
When you buy a bike here, the seller gives you the registration document
(called a "Logbook") at the time of purchase. You both sign & date it. The
seller sends his part of it to DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Authortity)in
Swansea. You, the buyer, add your details, inc. address etc before posting
your part separately to the same address. DVLA then send you a new Logbook
in your name to the address you have entered on the logbook when you bought
the bike. This logbook will list you as the registered owner/keeper of that
bike at the address you specified. It will also state the name & address of
the former owner i.e. the guy/dealer you bought it from.
Insurance is easy: work out want bike you want, shop around for quotes (can
vary massively!), tell the insurance companies as much about the bike you
intend to buy as possible. When getting a quote, ask for a reference number.
This way, when you're near to having the bike, phone up the insurance
company of your choice & quote the reference number, this will save time as
they can bring the quote up & know who they're talking to. Give them the
vehicle registration number - this never changes in the UK & does not need
to be renewed annually. You'll be better off using the Brighton or my Oxford
postcode rather than a London postcode. Postcodes play a big part in how
much you pay. You'll be charged more for an inner city postcode because the
risk of theft is higher & possibly the chances of having an accident also. A
rural postcode is better, feel free to use mine.
Three levels of insurance:
TPO (Third Party Only) - covers any third party should you be the cause of
an accident. Take this cover if it's a cheap throwaway bike.
TPF&T (Third Party Fire & Theft) - as above but with additional cover for
Fire & Theft funnily enough.... This is what I have.
FC (Fully Comprehensive) - as TPF&T with additional cover where you can
claim for your own bike etc even in the event that any accident was your
fault. Does not cover riding gear & luggage although you may be able to get
this cover at an additional cost. Only worth having if you have an expensive
bike that you cannot afford to pay for yourself or if you owe a lot of
finance on the bike.
As an EU registered bike, any level of cover will provide you with the basic
legal minimum in any EU nation. If you want to upgrade your cover when
abroad, you'll pay extra & you'll need to advise them in advance of when
you're going abroad. Insurance companies may also offer European Breakdown
Recovery - worth having IMHO. I've just renewed my Insurance & paid an
additional £57.00 for a years cover. I think it covers me for up to 90 days
abroad in the year. You'll need to advise then in advance of the countries
you'll be visiting.
MOT - yearly road worthiness test. Quite easy.
UK bikes need Road Tax to be paid - £60.00 per year/£33.00 for 6 months.
Most bikes will be taxed when you buy them, easy to renew. To renew tax,
you'll need to fill in a form at a main Post Office & show them your
Insurance certificate, MOT & logbook. They'll check that everything matches
& issue you a tax disc on the spot once you've paid.
Travelling in Europe: photocopy ALL paperwork relating to the bike & stash
them in two places to avoid losing them. I tend to keep the originals in a
pouch hung around my shoulders & under my jacket. I also keep my passport,
ferry tickets & spare cash there as well.
You would do well to do a little research in advance on the countries you
intend visiting. Speed limits & punishments vary. In some countries you're
legally obliged to carry a full set of spare light bulbs (France). In
Austria it's illegal not to display a sticker stating your country of
origin. In Switzerland, you have to pay a full years toll for using the
motorway even if you only use it for one day passing through - avoid the
motorway there! The list is endless but would be time well spent. Please
note that another 10 countries join the EU on 1st May 2004.
Check this out: www.dvla.gov.uk
Hope this helps, apologies if the above is a little disjointed, I'm at work......
Got your e-mail re: dressing appropriately. We're quite formal here in Europe, black tie & tux needed to gain entry even for the lowliest roadside burger bar....
In summer the weather can vary quite a lot in Europe. I'd go for some sort of Goretex (or similar) jacket with built in protection. I use a Hein Gericke jacket with armour & a removable goretex liner. Mine also has zipped vents on the arms, chest & across the shoulders for air circulation in hot weather. Some mountains here are reasonably high & it can get a little chilly should you choose to use the high roads - I recommend that you do.
In the mountain areas, you'll come across long tunnels (15km). They're okay in a car but I tend to avoid the longer ones as the air quality inside is terrible - Tunnel de Frejus on the French/Italian border springs to mind. No ventilation, the centre section is slightly raised, all the exhaust fumes gather there in a big blue cloud, it's pretty grim on two wheels. Anyway, better to be outside on the high roads with a nice view.