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Motorcycling In Europe

7th June 2017

Hello and welcome to Alex's Blog! A lot of our customers have been travelling to Europe lately, or have been preparing to travel to Europe so I thought I would write a blog to give some tips on this.

The main thing (aside from having a great time) when travelling to Europe is to plan. If you plan thoroughly enough then you shouldn't have any problems. There are obviously different laws in different countries in Europe so you should plan ahead to make sure you are aware of these laws. If you know your route before you go then you will obviously know what countries you are travelling to and therefore can make sure you're prepared.

Here are some tips for all European countries:

Amazing Road Signs in Antwerp Belgium. Photo: Rick StevesMake sure you know what the road signs mean: some will be different from those you'll see in the UK. This also applies to speed limits. Make sure you're aware of national speed limits, motorway speed limits and town zones etc. This varies from country to country, and sometimes from province to province.

It is useful to have a translation book or some comprehension of the language for road diversions etc.

Ride cautiously and expect the unexpected – the local driving style may be different from that of the UK and remember you are driving on the other side of the road!

Don't ride when you're tired; take regular breaks – at least 15 minutes every two hours to stay alert.

Speed limits are often higher than in the UK so cars may approach faster than you are used to.

Alcohol Breath TesterDon't drink and ride: the legal blood-alcohol limit may be lower than in the UK. It is best to check this – use this Alcohol breath tester. This is compact and very easy to use, and it is actually compulsory to carry one in France.

Motorcycle luggageHoliday luggage will make your motorbike heavier than usual so allow more time and distance for braking plus check your wheel pressures to make sure you are accommodating the correct weight. You also want to check that your luggage is attached properly and is in a good state – could it be time for new luggage? Remember we sell tank bags, tail packs, panniers, rucksacks, bum bags and visor bags and top boxes. Alternatively new bungees to make sure the luggage you do have is securely attached to your motorcycle.  Also make sure that your tyres are in a good state – it can be costly to change tyres but even more costly to be fined for not being legal in the country you're in and then havng to replace them on top of that!

You should have a GB sticker clearly visible on your motorbike if your number plate doesn't already include this information.

TomTom Rider 410 Sat-NavPlan your route before you start riding. With Sat Navs available this is easier now more than ever. Plus try not to cover too many miles in a day as tiredness leads to carelessness and bear in mind you don't know the roads. You may also want a back up map just to be on the safe side.

If you're involved in an incident, contact your insurer immediately and take photographs of damage to your motorbike. You will also want to make sure you have sorted your insurance before you go abroad to notify them of your plans to make sure you're covered and also your health insurance. European Health Insurance CardIt is always worth applying for a European health insurance card in plenty of time and also taking a note of all emergency service numbers for the country/countries you are travelling to.

Apply for an international driving permit from either the Post Office (or these can be available from the AA, RAC etc too) to make sure you adhere to the law in the country you're in.

As France is nearest to the UK, most of you will be travelling through to get to your destination or even just visiting France excusively. However, france also has some of the strictest road laws you have to adhere to:

You must carry a spare set of light bulbs

You should carry a breathalyser (if you have a single-use breathalyser, carry two so you still have one if one is used or is faulty)

You mustn't use a device that can detect speed cameras: if your sat nav system is able to do this, you must disable it before riding in France.

You mustn't filter through stationary or slow-moving traffic. (As frustrating as this may be!)

You must carry the original vehicle registration certificate (V5C) and insurance certificate with you (always take a copy too)

You'll need your driving licence and passport.

If the bike isn't yours, you must have a letter of permission from the registered keeper

You must display an official sticker showing your vehicle's emissions category when riding in certain French cities, including Paris, Lyon and Grenoble.

Hi-Viz vests are also advisable as some French provinces advise to wear these at all time – also being as visible as possible is never a bad thing.

Warning Triangles are also expected in the event of an accident.

It's always worth going on the gov.uk site with regards to riding abroad to make sure you adhere to all the laws required as this can be very costly! Fines are expected to be paid there and then in lots of countries (they will follow you to a cash machine in lots of instances) and in many countries they will expect you to surrender your licence until these fines are paid. Which makes it doubly important to check the facts before you go!

Here are some guides (provided by Brittany Ferries) for speed limits and other useful issues:

CountryFranceSpainPortugalGermany
Speed limit town50 kph50 kph50 kph50 kph
Speed limit open road90 kph100 kph90 kph100 kph
Speed limit motorway
(reduces in rain)
130 kph
(110 kph)
120 kph120 kphVaries
Drink drive limit50 mg25 mg49 mg50 mg
Emergency PoliceDial 17Dial 112Dial 112Dial 110
Emergency AmbulanceDial 15Dial 112Dial 112Dial 112
Emergency FireDial 18Dial 112Dial 112Dial 112
Motorcycle minimum age18 years18 years18 years16 years
Crash helmet requiredYesYesYesYes
Headlights on?YesYesYesYes
Spare glasses required?YesYesNoNo

Other websites that are extremely useful to get lots of information from are The AA and the RAC as well as Safe driving for life.

Hopefully this has been a useful guide for you to have a successful trip abroad and above all a highly enjoyable trip!

Until next time, stay safe,

Alex