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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #16  
Old 27 Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T3hirdeye View Post
...Can anyone think of any problems I might have with the Goldwing?
Hi Herbert:

Welcome to the HUBB.

I've shipped my Canadian-plated ST1100 back and forth to Europe numerous times over the past 10 years. The first time one does this, it is a bit of a steep learning curve, but once you get all the protocols figured out, it is less of a logistic headache than you might think is will be.

Some thoughts for you:

1) Shipping it - I've always used Motorcycle Express to organize the shipping of the bike. Gail Goodman is the person I speak to, she has been doing this work for at least 10 years and has it all figured out. This company is based in the USA (Syosset, NY), so, you can pay in US dollars and use your US credit card, etc. They provide good service and will make sure you don't encounter any unexpected surprises.

It is cheaper and a lot more trouble-free to ride the bike up to Canada (Toronto or Montréal) and then ship from there to Europe. Shipping it out of Canada to Europe will allow you to avoid all the fear, uncertaintly, and doubt associated with air transportation in the USA. Basically, you just ride the bike up to the air cargo building (making sure you have 1/4 of a tank of gas or less in it), disconnect the battery, then the cargo staff will load the bike into a container for you. Bring a spare key, which you attach to the gas tank flap with a string - this to allow the cargo staff to verify that the tank is 1/4 full or less.

Sometimes, Gail can make arrangements for you to travel to Europe on the same flight as the moto. The best I ever did was land at 6:30 in the morning, and be on the road (on the moto) at 8:30 in the morning... but if you are doing this for the first time, plan on about a half a day to get the bike through customs, out of the container, and on the road.

Moto loaded in shipping container


Although you are not supposed to have anything in the saddlebags, etc., in practice I have never had any problems loading the saddlebags up with clothing and stuff like that. Just be sure you don't include any motorcycle supplies (e.g. chemicals) that would be considered 'dangerous goods'. The moto itself is not considered dangerous goods.

2) Insurance - if you are doing this for the first time, best to get the insurance from Gail at Motorcycle Express. It's a bit more expensive there than other alternatives such as getting it yourself in Europe, but since you are doing this for the first time, make life easy and get everything from Gail. Have the proof of insurance with you when you go to pick up the bike from the cargo building in Europe. My experience has been that the customs guys don't have any interest in the moto (they have never bothered to go and visually inspect mine), but they do want to make sure you have it appropriately insured for operation in Europe.

3) Gold Wing - there are a few Gold Wings in Europe, but they are uncommon and certainly considered to be a 'very large' motorcycle. Make sure you have fresh tires and brakes on it and have all the maintenance done before you leave, because it may be difficult to find a service facility that is familiar with this size of bike outside of major cities.

4) Trailer - honestly, I wouldn't recommend bringing one. It is very rare to see a moto towing a trailer in Europe. I think you would encounter headaches shipping it (getting it into the container), headaches insuring it, and headaches driving with it (the roadways and parking spots are a lot smaller). Plus, as one other person has already mentioned, why would you ever need a trailer if you are travelling solo on a GW? Just get a big duffle bag to hold your camping stuff and lay it across the passenger seat.

On the topic of camping - I'm 55, and I just don't camp. I stay in hotels, pensions, or hostels. The hostels in Europe cater to all ages, in fact, there are even Elderhostels (Google it) that cater specifically to the 55+ crowd. I think that camping is too much of a logistical headache - the tent, the groundsheet, the sleeping bag, all that crap - plus, if you don't camp, then you can carry everything you need in the enclosed saddlebags and trunk on the moto, and that eliminates a big worry about theft of stuff that is strapped to the bike (not to mention that the bike is easier to ride if you don't have an external load on it).

5) Where to go - I don't know if you speak any languages other than English. If you don't, then I suggest you ship your bike out of Canada into either Germany (preferred) or France (second choice). Most people you encounter there will be able to communicate with you in English. I don't suggest you ship into England - the place is too crowded, it is expensive, the customs paperwork is hell, and they drive on the wrong side of the road.

6) Traffic Laws - If you are not familiar with Europe, you really should do a LOT of studying of what the traffic signs mean and what the traffic laws are. In Europe, drivers are expected to have a high level of competence - consider that it takes less instruction to get a pilot's licence in the USA than it does to get a driver's licence in Switzerland. Doing something that is fully accepted in the USA, such as passing in the right lane of a multi-lane road, or turning right on a red light after a full stop, will get you into a heck of a lot of trouble in Europe.

7) GPS - I most strongly recommend that you purchase and install a good quality (i.e. top of the line, with audio input to your helmet) motorcycle GPS, and make sure that you have current cartography for Europe in the GPS. This will give you great peace of mind and dramatically reduce the stress of driving in the unfamiliar environment - not to mention greatly reducing your chance of having an accident, because you won't need to divert so much of your attention to navigation.

Hope these suggestions help. Feel free to PM me if you want, perhaps we can talk on the phone.

Michael
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  #17  
Old 27 Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
3) Gold Wing - there are a few Gold Wings in Europe, but they are uncommon and certainly considered to be a 'very large' motorcycle. Make sure you have fresh tires and brakes on it and have all the maintenance done before you leave, because it may be difficult to find a service facility that is familiar with this size of bike outside of major cities.
I agree that it´s always good to have your bike well serviced before you leave. But I actually worked for Honda spare parts for many years, and I can tell, that the Honda dealer network in Europe is never very far away. The Goldwing is a special bike regarding spares (especially if it´s gone down!)... but all in all, I wouldnt be too worried about getting parts. The availability is as close as it gets to the US I think.

Regards shipping, I´m sure these specialised, readymade packages are the easiest way to go, and surely worth considering, especially for a 1st-timer. But they do cost a bit, too. And lots of stuff, including vehicles, gets shipped across the Atlantic all the time, so you can also do it by yourself (or with the help of a ´normal´ freight agent), too, and save some money in the process. Guaranteed it will be more work that way, you´ll need to pack the bike into a crate, for example (and unpack at the destination), and also you´ll need to make the package as tiny as you can, to get the costs down.

You´re right about the traffic laws, control is getting tighter, and fines are getting higher, especially in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Norway & Switzerland are good examples of countries, where you can get nasty fines. But still there are lots and lots of nice roads in both of them, where you´ll seldom see any cops! Be careful inside the city limits, and on bigger roads with heavy traffic.

GPS - funny I´ve never owned one (or actually I now have it in my phone, but doesnt get used very often).... I once tested a bike in Lake Como, Italy, with a GPS on it, and as that area has a lot of population, lots and lots of tiny roads turning here and there, I must admit, that it really was very useful in that kind of area. Would be the same in more or less every big city, too I think. But on the other hand, I´ve done over 20 mc-trips to Europe without one, and never been really badly lost, you can find really good paper maps, too. So I wouldnt say a GPS is mandatory. If you already got one, then sure bring it over.

All in all, Europe is quite easy to do on a bike, roads are good, and accommodation is easy to find. And you can often get along in English, too. The downside is it´s not cheap, and again the West and Scandinavia are probably the most expensive areas.
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  #18  
Old 27 Nov 2010
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Judgejoe......
just re-reading your posts again......am envious of your travels........tell me briefly about your trip to South America for this is another of my dream trips. You are from Colorado...i used to live in Denver; love the mountains. This past summer, I went back...tried to do the Iron Butt 1,500 in 24-hours (from Washington, D.C. to Limon, CO) but ran into traffic jams, fog and rain and completed the run in less than 36-hours. Coming back, I figured, "Hey, I can do this!" So........on the return, I got from Denver to St. Louis in 12-hours and 869- miles and had lost only 15-minutes of my 45-minute window when s c r e e c h, it all came to a halt when a semi overturned on the interstate in St. Louis and i had to abandon the effort. I lost 1 1/2 hours in the traffic jam. Oh well....I did have a chance to ride up to the peak of Mt. Evans, 14,000 feet high as you know. Good luck on your travels and if you have time, tell me your route through South America. I am receptive to your good advice.
Regards,
herbert
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  #19  
Old 27 Nov 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Hi Herbert:

...

Some thoughts for you:
...

3) Gold Wing - there are a few Gold Wings in Europe, but they are uncommon and certainly considered to be a 'very large' motorcycle. Make sure you have fresh tires and brakes on it and have all the maintenance done before you leave, because it may be difficult to find a service facility that is familiar with this size of bike outside of major cities.

...

5) Where to go - I don't know if you speak any languages other than English. If you don't, then I suggest you ship your bike out of Canada into either Germany (preferred) or France (second choice). Most people you encounter there will be able to communicate with you in English. I don't suggest you ship into England - the place is too crowded, it is expensive, the customs paperwork is hell, and they drive on the wrong side of the road.

...
Wow guys, I almost feel provincial I live in the North East of England and am a little taken aback by some of these comments. I know that I haven't shipped a bike overseas before but I have spent some 14 years driving in mainland Europe, especially Germany. I have driven in both the States (Montana) and Canada (Alberta), so I accept that there are some differences between our road networks, BUT, we even have electricity and flushing toilets in Europe now

Parking up and small inner city roads can be harder with a Wing, but in UK and western mainland Europe, you will certainly see loads of the bigger bikes on the major roads (motorways) and there are loads of rallies around in 'season' where bigger bikes are plentiful. Bike garages are usually plentiful too, especially in Western Europe, so you shouldn't have to worry too much maintaining the bike. If anything, because our major cities are probably far nearer to each other than your own, you will often find a garage closer to you here than at home in the States.

As for language, I think that most people appreciate it if you try to speak a little of their language, even if they don't expect you to be a linguist. Apart from anything else, it's also polite (in my view). Just think, if you were heading into South America you would probably take a few Spanish phrases with you to help you communicate with the locals. It will certainly add to your overall experience
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  #20  
Old 28 Nov 2010
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Arrow

Trailer: unless the rules have changed, in Germany the speed limit for a bike with trailer is 60km/h, including motorways. I don't think it's enforced and I do hope that the cops that know this regard it as ludicrous, but there it is. I have towed a one-wheel trailer, but going solo I would never consider it. On Italian motorways I paid for bike+trailer, trailer=car. Ferries also caused aggro because of $$.

Insurance: there are a few other topics with very good info on that. Make sure to get the latest info, as rates have skyrocketed. If you arrive in Germany you simply walk into any ADAC office to buy it.

GPS: I left without one on my trip, as there were no decent maps available outside EU & North Am. at the time, bought one in the UAE and never looked back. It's a god's end for traversing cities, navigating mazes of one-way streets, spaghetti junctions and for planning trips along back roads on the PC (bring a netbook). No need to consult the map every 10km. There is another use for the lockable top case. Just upgraded to Zumo 660.
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  #21  
Old 1 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T3hirdeye View Post
I want to do a one-year tour of Europe on my '06 1800 Goldwing. I'll be traveling solo and don't plan any off-road excursions. Can anyone think of any problems I might have with the Goldwing? (I've ridden from Washington D.C. to Alaska 10,000 miles in five weeks and last year, D.C. to Nova Scotia). Also, any thoughts on pulling a trailer?
Regards,
Herbert Green
For temporary importing a vehicle to UK, see here http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsP...HMCE_CL_000282

I've owned Goldwings(7 of 'em so far)since 1980. There are no more problems with touring on a Wing,with or without trailer,in Europe than there are with any other kind of bike! I've been doing it since I bought my first Wing,everywhere,from North Cape to Turkey,from Portugal to Russia(Moscow,twice!)and,contrary to mis-information put about by some,there is no problem with bikes towing trailers in Spain,though,to be fair,Spain,up until a few years ago,did not allow it.However,they were told, by the suits in Brussells, to conform to Euro-wide legislation that does allow it! This,they did,albiet, rather reluctantly.

There are plenty of Goldwing Treffens(Rallies)between late April through September,almost every European country that has a National Goldwing club holds a Treffen.The French Treffen is usually the biggest(about 1000 Wings)and is usually regarded as the best of all the Treffens.

As someone else has already said,the speed limit for trailers on German autobahns is dangerously low,even the traffic cops understand that,and I for one,never stick to it!

I think that the biggest shock that you will get,initially,will be the speed and density of traffic,especially in England,Netherlands and Germany,but you'll soon get used to it.

If I can help in any way,let me know.

Ted
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  #22  
Old 14 Jan 2011
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Hi T3hrideye:
Like yourself I have set myself the goal of touring Europe this summer on my Goldwing and like you have found the HUBB and hope to learn more on how to efficiently get my bike to Europe. Reading some of the posts, I have some concerns about the insurance as a number of times it has been pointed out that there is a engine size restriction to obtaining a Green Card. Does this present a real obstacle to obtaining insurance for a 1800 Goldwing?

Thanks for any advice on this...much appreciated,
David
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  #23  
Old 14 Jan 2011
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Tales of the White Dragon

We met Bob and Kathy at an HU meeting a few years ago. They shipped their Wing and trailer to Europe and a great time (mostly). Check out their website at Travels of the White Drgon for lots of good info.
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  #24  
Old 14 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post

3) Gold Wing - there are a few Gold Wings in Europe, but they are uncommon

Michael
I have just seen this thread, and have to say my experience was vastly different to your own Michael. When I rode down from Nordkapp to Sicily, 2 out of every 3 bikes on the road were either Goldwings or 1200GSes.

Goldwings literally own the autobahns in Germany and every own freeway network to boot.
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  #25  
Old 17 Jan 2011
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Timing

Dont forget to plan your trip around the weather if you are to travel a year in Europe. Get the north done in the summer, autumn perhaps eastern mediterranian (Greece) then move west. December through to March only Spain and Portugal are OK on a bike, even then there can be alot of rain. You could cross to Morroco for a couple of the worse months where it is warm in Winter (and easy to do).
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