Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   What bike for the Alps? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/which-bike/what-bike-for-the-alps-47055)

Mark96 11 Dec 2009 04:48

What bike for the Alps?
Hello. We are from Winnipeg, Canada. Yes, it is cold here right now. About -25C. We have dreamed about a motorcycle holiday in Europe for many years and now it is finally going to happen.
My partner and I are planning to rent a bike to ride in the UK for 10 days and then the Alps for another 10 days or so in July of 2010. I have had a lot of different bikes over my 40 years of riding and have spent a lot of time touring the US on Goldwings. I'm sure the Alps will be a lot different than anything else we've done
. BMW 1200RT has been suggested by the rental companies. Is this a good choice?? Also, any advice on reputable rental companies (probably out of Munich Germany ???) Any advice would be greatly appreciated as we plan to do this without a tour group and I have never been over there before. (YIKES!)

John Ferris 11 Dec 2009 05:28


The link above has a list of touring companies, some have rentals.
For mountain riding I would prefer a roadster of some kind.
BMW R1200R or if two up a R1200GS (better passenger seat).

backofbeyond 11 Dec 2009 07:37

I spend quite a bit of time in the French Alps in the summer months and probably the most common bike I see are GSs.

Have a look at this link: AlpineRoads.com :: View topic - What bike for the Alps????

Warthog 11 Dec 2009 08:03

I don't know what build you both have, but the thing with European mountain roads is that they are very twisty :D:D:D, so perhaps lighter and more nimble is better than a distance machine. If you don't plan ongoing off-road, them I say maximse the enjoyment of those kinds of bends (where else can you find such bends and scenery?) and get a road biased machine (unless you can both rent Vor supermotos and live out of a small-bumbag!!:eek3::funmeteryes:)

mj 11 Dec 2009 08:07

In my experience you can take pretty much anything, as long as you're comfortable with it. Most common bikes are indeed GSs, and if you'll be riding two-up then I can highly recommend that bike. I'd advise you to avoid Harleys and other choppers and cruisers that have footpegs way too low for hairpin turns. But then again I've seen plenty of Harleys in the Alps, too.

There's a few rental places in and around Munich. Email me or send me a short message via the HUBB with your email address and I'll forward those addresses to you. When do you plan to arrive in Munich? We'll be in the UK for about a month in June/July 2010 but might already be back by the time you arrive in Munich.

jparke 12 Dec 2009 02:48

I would agree that unless you're planning on driving offroad you should consider a lighter, more road-oriented bike. Honda VFR750 was perfectly suited for the Alps, me, my wife, and a few weeks of clothes and camping gear.

Although we rode our own bike, Knopf Tours is a great business renting out of Heidelberg:

ta-rider 12 Dec 2009 09:38

Well i think the GS bikes are not the best and cheapest choice but why not exploring germany on german bikes? And if you are in the alpes dont miss a short trip to swizerland (i dont know about the visa). You should definitly ride the Grimselpass and Furkapass if you love winding roads :)

Steve Pickford 12 Dec 2009 10:23

The Alps are a great place to ride, you coild squeeze in the Dolomites also?

Both the RT & GS would be a good choice for the Alps.

If you're looking at renting an R1200GS in the UK, then give Ride Out Rentals a call, they're competively priced and also offer a collection/delivery service of the bike if time's tight. The bike's have full BMW luggage plus standard & low seats are available.

BMW Motorcycle Hire UK, BMW Bike Hire from RideOut Rentals - Ride Out Rentals

Links to some of my pics from the Alps & Dolomites:

Adv.Rider European Rally 2005 - Steve's Photos

Annecy, France 2004 - Steve's Photos

Italy 2004 - Steve's Photos

2009 European Advrider Rally - Dolomites, Italy - Steve's Photos

5th European Advrider Rally in the Dolomites - Ela's pics - Steve's Photos

Have a good trip. :thumbup1:

Mark96 12 Dec 2009 15:21

Reply to M. Jungowski
Hi from Mark & Carla in Winnipeg Canada

We can't reply via private message yet as we are still newbies on the HUBB - need 5 threads - won't be long...soon as the 5 threads are in, I will private message my email address to you.

We are planning to arrive in Munich around July 23rd and ride the alps for 10 days.

If you have any suggestions re bike rental companies or the best routes to maximize 10 days of fun in the Alps, that would be awesome!

It's only December, but we are just vibrating with excitement about this summer adventure...

Mark & Carla

Smurfslayer 26 Dec 2009 19:09

My wife & I've rented in Ireland x2 & Germany. Our last moto trip started in Munich. It's the only time we had a problem.

I'd suggest you avoid allround rent. We rented from them in June 2008, made it 1 week on an r1200rt before the abs modulator failed on Susten pass, nearly killing both of us. Allround suggested it was our fault, overcooking the brakes. After 3rd time it went into fault mode, they finally agreed to pay for a dealer visit. We put in at Bergamo & made for Tag Moto in Curno. In fairness, they delivered their other 1200rt, but it had just been returned from another rent. That rt made it 100km & stopped for no known reason. We pulled in to a gas station and that's where we were stranded.

brand b service towed the bike & left us there. We tried gas, but it just turned over with no catching. No help from allround, so we had to continue the trip by car. First they claimed it was out of gas, but I have the name of the gas station owner & wife, they confirmed I gassed it up, and finally they suggested bmw ought to cough up for any problems.

Nice little scam if you ask me.

we wrote the trip up at BIGHAMMER.NET

Munich is a great jumping off point to the Alps, and it is an incredible area. Definitely do it, just be careful where you spend your euros.

Redboots 27 Dec 2009 09:34


Originally Posted by Mark96 (Post 267600)
If you have any suggestions re bike rental companies or the best routes to maximize 10 days of fun in the Alps, that would be awesome!

Get a copy of the best reference there is for the Alps: the book by John Herman, entitled Motorcycle Journeys Through the Alps and Beyond
Available from Whitehorse Gear/Amazon and others.


Bobduro 27 Dec 2009 13:44

Bike Touring in the Alps
Hi Mike,

Merry Xmas! Me and the Missus have done the Alps several times (always 2-up) and can tell you you'll have a great time. There are tons of campsites which will help given you'll find Europe and the Alps to be pricey, and we always find we can just rock up without a booking as bikes take up such a small space.

As for the kind of bike (not sure whether you'll be 2-up or both riding solo) a twin or single cylinder is the way to go (lots of very very twisty roads!!). I know you'll be getting lots of suggestions for BMW's but thought I'd offer an alternative.

Assuming your start point of Munich isn't fixed I'd really recommend hiring a KTM from a little place called Moto Varese based about 40km north of Milan in the Italian lakes at the very base of the Alps. The 2 guys who run it, Alessandro and Massimo, seem to run the place purely for the love of it and speak English perfectly and love the chance to chat. We popped in there with a leaking fuel problem last summer and ended up spending 6 hours chatting with them while they sourced a spare part (in Milan) rode over to get it, called their mechanics in (who were on holiday) and their families - who came with beer and pizzas and turned it into a party which continued into a night out on the town with more of their friends before charging us just for the part! (no labour, tax or transit charges)

Anyway, they had a KTM 990 Adv and a 990 SMT available for rental at the kind of rates I'd normally expect for much more simple machines. They can also help you with some fantastic routes over the best passes and round the lakes, and as I recall will even come and get you from the airport.

They were without question the best dealership I've ever come across and will never use anyone else. Give them a shout and tell them James, Emily and Jackson recommended them to you, I promise you won't regret it!

Good luck!

emsee 31 Dec 2009 22:18

Hi Mark and Carla.
Going back to the Alps myself at the end of August on my ZRX 1100. Travelling there with a group of friends riding bikes like mine to sport bikes and even a BMW GS. Hope you have a head for heights though:eek3:. Check out some of the high passes.....
BikeCam - Susten
BikeCam - Grimsel
BikeCam - Furka
BikeCam - Gotthard
BikeCam - Nufenen
The ones above are all close together, and can be ridden in a day. But i would suggest you base yourself local, Interlaken maybe, and take your time.:thumbup1:
Finally, as my brother lives in Winnipeg, i know it's not exactly biking weather there at the moment.:(

coolgreany 31 Dec 2009 23:51

I live in Stuttgart and took a GS 2-up through the Alps (recently Stelvio) and survived. I'm vertically challenged as well but you'll want something for tight 180 degree hairpins (especially going up east side of Stelvio).

Check with Klaus at Hotel-Enzian as that is who I stayed with and rented from. Motorrad Tirol Österreich Landeck Hotel - Motorradhotel Enzian

jim lovell 1 Jan 2010 16:49

bmw is a great bike but i would also consider a v-strom for two up touring, i have one and its great went over the Black Mountains in Wales a few months back although a slightly different venue to the Alps it performed fantastically.

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