I just came back from a Tour of the Pyrenees with Edelweiss Bike Travel.
This brief report does not deal with pretty pictures of shiny bikes against mountain back drops, but deals with a more critical evaluation of this well advertised supplier of bike riding services.
This was my first and last Edelweiss experience and quite a disappointment. My main overriding complaint was with safety issues.
1) First day out I am riding a new R1150GS. The bike handled strangely, but I wrote it off to not being familiar with the smaller GS since I have an R1150GS Adventure at home. But going up to the Montserrat monestary, near Barcelona, on a windy uphill road I lose the rear end of the bike in a low speed right hand turn. Fortunately, I am able to recover the bike by straigtening up the bike and running into the left lane. Luckily, no vehicle was coming done the narrow road in the other lane.
At the Monestary I let the tires cool and checked the air pressure. 46 psi in the rear...44 psi in the front. More then 10 psi over what they should have been...hence a very, very small contact patch. I called the Edelweiss guide over who did not believe me until he checked the tires himself and confirmed my tire readings. I suggested that we check all the bikes. Two more GS's in the group had identical over pressure readings.
2) One bike was delivered to a client with a new rear tire and a bald (down to the wear bars) front tire. That had to be changed during the trip at the inconvenience of its rider. The Edelweiss guides said that they had only one Edelweiss mechanic, who must have overlooked the fact that the front tire was bald. What the hell else was missed?
3) One bike was delivered with only enough rubber on both tires to get it through half the weeks' ride. Now remember this is a an 850 mile ride over 6 days not a 3000 to 4000 mile ride. These tires had to be changed during the trip at the inconvenience of the rider.
4) Until I advised the Edelweiss guide that there was no oil showing in my sight glass the bikes were not checked for oil level. Nothing like having your bike's engine seize up in the Pyrenees on a hard fast sweeper because of the lack of oil!
5) No attempt was made to show the clients how to set up their bikes for two up riding. One couple who ride a Gold Wing at home kept complaining that their K 1200 GT kept bottoming out in turns. The Edelweiss guides never set their suspension up for two riding.
6) In general, nothing much was done to explain the workings of the bike to the clients who were not familiar with BMW bikes, or the model of the BMW that they had rented.
Of much lesser importance, we ran into some construction zones which really dirtied up the bikes. That was of no significance to me, but there were a number of riders who were pretty unhappy about having to ride a filthy bike every day... after all this is Europe and all bikes you see are immaculate! Arrangements should have been made along the way for us to run these bikes through a car wash.
On the plus side, we had some great scenery and stayed in some very nice hotels. This Tour of the Pyrenees was a new one for Edelweiss and it showed. There could have been better choices in some of the routes that they laid out, but this is not really important when viewed against Edelweiss' lack of interest in the safety and functionality of the equipment that they are renting you for the week.
I just wanted to get this information out to people that are considering an Edelweiss guided tour. Take your own tire gauge, check out your own bike carefully every day, and don't figure that someone else will do it for you. If you don't, you could be on your ass in the middle of the road like I almost was!!!
I used a $3000 gift certificate from BMW towards this Edelweiss trip, so essentially it was a free trip. But due to Edelweiss' negligence this trip could have cost me a lot of pain and suffering or worse. I would never take another Edelweiss trip and actually have to pay for it. Edelweiss tours are not for everyone and may not be for you!