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  1. #1
    Biker gunnert's Avatar
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    Planning a trip to Europe...

    Have decided to begin planning a trip to Europe for July 2011 and I'm looking for advise. Route will probably be Munich to Barcelona, at least two weeks long. I'll be riding two up with my bride. Options are:
    1. Tour company all the way...
    2. Rent a bike and plan my own route
    3. Ship my bike and plan my own route

    I currently ride an 08 GT. And would rent the same. I HAVE to ride the Autobahn if for only an hour! Want vast majority to be in the mountains. As long as it's paved, I'll ride it... I'm over 50 and have had my share of camping in a tent... 6-7 hours a day in the saddle are about right for us. Prefer secondary roads.

    I've "heard" you can ship your bike and fly on the same plane and numerous other tales, but all second hand. I'm looking for advice from those that have "dun it"!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Probably cheaper to rent then ship 2 ways, if you are only going for a couple of weeks.

    Tour companies are great, especially if there for the first time, but if you have a specific destination that may not fit. They will cost more $$, but might be greater value.

    What does the spouse expect?? If she expects a European vacation, again a tour company can offer more amenities and more free time (away from planning) and with a van, the ability to over pack.

    Have done it both with and without a tour, and both have advantages/disadvantages. If it is the first time over there, tour coumpanies do offer advantages, at a cost.

    If you want to be somewhat independent, but have the added value of a tour, check out Beach's Motorcycle adventures. They let you do your own thing while riding, but take care of the logistics for you. Unlike some others you don't' have to play follow the leader unless you want to.

  3. #3
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    For two weeks, it will be significantly cheaper to rent than to fly your own bike. If you want to do your own trip, I think that's great! Buy a copy of John Hermann's Motorcycle Adventures in the Alps etc. This is a good guide book on what to expect and where to go. I believe the latest edition includes the Pyrenees, too.

    IMHO, the only reasons to take an organized tour are because 1) you want to bring more luggage than you can carry on the bike, 2) your wife might want to ride in the luggage van some days, 3) you don't want to deal with many of the details, or 4) you're particularly concerned about communication problems with the locals. My personal belief is that 1) is a bad idea and 4) is highly overblown. Only you can say what 2) and 3) are worth.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  4. #4
    Global Touring
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    Lots of info/ links on this very website
    http://www.bmwmoa.org/global/ToEurope.htm

    You can also combine organized tour w/ independent rental; they're not mutually exclusive.

    Munich-->Barcelona? Do you mean one-way? That's more problematic for independent rentals; few bike rental agents offer "one-way".
    If you're intent on such an itinerary, consider
    http://www.dbautozug.de/site/dbautozug/en/start.html
    Last edited by CourtFisher; 12-03-2008 at 05:03 AM.

  5. #5
    franze
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    The "do it yourself" or " pay for a guide" comes up for discussion on a regular basis. Our magazine only publishes stories about how great it is to tour in Europe and have someone take care of all those needs like gas, food, and lodging. I lived in Switzerland for three years, rode 40,000 km of back roads, and guess what? I did it by myself, riding solo, with intermediate French as my second language. Click on my name to see some of my Ride Report posts.

    Do you and your bride have the pioneer spirit or do you want to be told at a riders meeting what you're going to see and when to take a picture and when and where to have lunch?

    How about the weather? Do you like riding on dry roads? Of course you do and that's the best reason of all to plot your own course. All of Europe is rich in good riding, history, food , culture.


    Regarding shipping your own bike or renting, that would depend on your budget, what kind of bike you have, and what/where you want to ride.


    I'd be happy to answer any questions you have so PM me if you want.

    Good luck and congratualtions

  6. #6
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    gunnert: Please keep my information handy, my son Seth & I may return bike to Germany

    If you were to consider flying into Frankfurt and using http://www.knopftours.com/Amerika/ha...l_amerika.html my Son Seth and I would be interested in returning your Knopf Rental to Kircheim. Stefan is currently updating his web site and in a Thanksgiving e-mail to me he mentioned he may be getting a new shop at a new address.

    I'd check his website after the first of the year. If he posts me with more info, I will add it to this thread.

    I ride motorcycles in Europe on a regular basis: Pyrenees this last May, Alps in May of 2007, Andalucia - Espana in February of 2006 and Alps again October 2005.

    I always rent my bikes from Stefan Knopf of Knopf Motorradreisen of Heidelberg, Germany. I will be renting again from Stefan for a Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily trip in May of 2010. Stefan would certainly be willing to work out an arrangement for us where you would two would pay the rental for your time on the bike and we Stanley Boys would pay for the rental on our two weeks back to Deutschland.

    Don Stanley: beemerdons@aol.com & home phone in Chandler of 480-917-3863.

    Stefan has a nice black R1150RT in his rental fleet I have used times previously.

    Frankfurt is one of the least expensive airports to fly into from the United States.

    The train depot is below the Main Terminal and I can tell you the train number to take to Heidelberg and the transfer train to take you to Kircheim. From station stop to Stefan's Shop and B&B, which I also always use, is only 100 yards tops.

    Seth will just be fourteen in July of 2011, so he would still fit on a K75RT just fine.

    Stefan has a fleet of K75's he rents out for a super great price. Very nice BMW's!

    However, a modern GT would suit us just fine. Whatever bike you select is sehr gut!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
    BMWMOA #24810; www.azbeemers.org/forum #89

  7. #7
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    Have decided to begin planning a trip to Europe for July 2011 and I'm looking for advise. Route will probably be Munich to Barcelona, at least two weeks long. I'll be riding two up with my bride. Options are:
    1. Tour company all the way...
    2. Rent a bike and plan my own route
    3. Ship my bike and plan my own route
    Well thats long term planning!

    Are you planning a one-way route? If so, you might have trouble finding a rental. There is no AVIS or Budget in the motorcycle rental business.

    Tour company? Well I'd think you you'd want to spend some time alone with your "bride", so that wouldn't be the way I'd go. Besides, going with a tour company is like going on a tour bus as far as I'm concerned. Yes I know, they let you go off on your own...might as well do that in the first place at less than half the cost.

    Renting or shipping a bike and planning your own route might be the way to go. The rental rates and shipping charges will enable you to figure out a break even point which is usually about 4 weeks give or take.


    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    I HAVE to ride the Autobahn if for only an hour! Want vast majority to be in the mountains. As long as it's paved, I'll ride it... I'm over 50 and have had my share of camping in a tent... 6-7 hours a day in the saddle are about right for us. Prefer secondary roads.
    Everyone has to drive the autobahn at least once, but the mountains are where the fun roads are and the more secondary they are, the better.

    400 kilometer days make for a long day if you are in the twisties and stop for photo ops and chats with other riders.

    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    I'm looking for advice from those that have "dun it"!
    Been there 14 years in a row; soon to be 15.

    If you are serious about this, I'd get some good maps and start the fun part...the planning. I've discussed maps on the Alps link below and there are some maps that are put out by the ADAC (German auto club) that have specific motorcycle road recommendations you can download for free. I've also posted some lists to motorcycle friendly accomodations...both maps and accomodations are in the first two posts in that link.

    You can also ask questions on the Alpine Roads forum.

  8. #8
    Biker gunnert's Avatar
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    All great comments and contributions. The bride is a good biker. We actually travel better by ourselves or with just one other couple. Prefer my own schedule.
    I understand I'll probably have to do a round trip ticket due to logistics involved. I'ld just like to do it all. Accomadation need to clean, not 4-5 star. We have tent traveled to rallys but have had about enough of that. The wife is a maritimer from Nova Scotia; she understands a bit of French but speaks very little. We don't need much to keep us entertained.
    I'm a daily rider. Commute into DC daily, about 105 miles roundtrip. The Beemer gets 30K a year on it for that. I have a couple of other touring bikes but we are starting to use the GT more and more. I don't like it, but I'm always prepared to travel in the rain/cold.
    I'll start checking some the routes you guys suggest and rental companies.
    Please keep the comment coming.

  9. #9
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    All great comments and contributions. The bride is a good biker. We actually travel better by ourselves or with just one other couple. Prefer my own schedule.
    I understand I'll probably have to do a round trip ticket due to logistics involved. I'ld just like to do it all. Accomadation need to clean, not 4-5 star. We have tent traveled to rallys but have had about enough of that. The wife is a maritimer from Nova Scotia; she understands a bit of French but speaks very little. We don't need much to keep us entertained.
    I'm a daily rider. Commute into DC daily, about 105 miles roundtrip. The Beemer gets 30K a year on it for that. I have a couple of other touring bikes but we are starting to use the GT more and more. I don't like it, but I'm always prepared to travel in the rain/cold.
    I'll start checking some the routes you guys suggest and rental companies.
    Please keep the comment coming.
    Rent a bike an go where you like. You won't have any problems and you'll have a great time. There are tons of "biker" hotels in the Alps that are not expensive yet very comfortable accommodations. As I said before, get a copy of Hermann's book, then mark the passes he likes the most on your map. String them together on your way to Spain. There are some great ones in the Maritime Alps in eastern France. The riding in the mountains between Nice and Briancon is great and there's little traffic.

    Here's a couple "postcards" from the Pyrenees when I visited Spain in 2002:





    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  10. #10
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    Accomodation need to clean, not 4-5 star.
    Most of them are.

    For example, here is a place I stayed in while in the Dolomites...Hotel Kronblick.

    Not bad for about US$64 per person which includes a big breakfast and full course dinner...


    I've stayed in many just or nearly as nice that were cheaper. A room with breakfast per person ran me between €20 and €33 last summer; with dinner up to €44 per person.

    Currency Converter


    The staying put in one location for a couple of days or more is the way to go. It enables you to explore the area as already mentioned. BTW, I've never booked any accomodations ahead of time. I travel in June so room availability is never a problem. Maybe others can chime in as to room availability in late July to the end of August which is when most of Europe goes on vacation.

    From time to time, I might daisy chain my stops on a daily basis, but I usually stop by mid afternoon, drop my luggage off in my room, take a break and then go for another late afternoon ride into the early evening. Europeans usually have dinner much later, especially in Italy where you shouldn't expect to get served till 19:30 hours.

    Microsoft AutoRoute is worth it for the ~$40. As for planning, I do mine the night before over dinner by browsing over my map.

    Tip: having toured my first 10 years on an old R65 with narrow European bars and the last 4 years on a GS, I can highly recommend any dual sport for Alps touring. You want an upright seating position with wide handlbars.
    Last edited by GlobalRider; 12-05-2008 at 01:00 AM.

  11. #11
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    Court Fisher, Global Rider Alex and John Hermann: Great Europe BMW M/C Ride Resources

    You can't do better than Court, Alex and John for planning your M/C trip to Europe.

    I also use www.alpineroads.com for lots of my planning and "biker" hotel referrals.

    I loved your M/C pictures of the Pyrenees DarrylRi, makes me really miss Andorra!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q8bV5Q8Lew Here's our Magnificent 7 video!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
    BMWMOA #24810; www.azbeemers.org/forum #89

  12. #12
    Biker gunnert's Avatar
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    Ok, I'm sold. I'll plan the trip myself. My wife will really like the idea of two night mimimuns in hotels, and, to be honest, so will I. I live in northern Virginia and our weekend trips to West Virginia are like that.
    Next step. Where should I start from? I was leaning towards Munich because it's an easy place to get into or out of. And, where should I rent a a bike from? I'm a fan of the bigger K1200GT mainly because two up, I pack a heavy load. I'm a healthy 260 lbs, but fortunately the bride is "normal" size.
    You guys are great, this is super advice!

  13. #13
    Lost again Texpaul's Avatar
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    Europe Planning

    My wife and I just did 2 weeks in the Alps and Dolomites back in September. Had a great time. The information and help we got from people like Court Fisher and Globalrider helped make the trip much more enjoyable. BTW, doing it on your own is the way to go. Being able to set your own schedule and having the flexablitiy to change when weather or interest dictate are big pluses.

    Here's some tips/tricks I learned and maybe they can help you.

    We had no problem with language in Germany, Austria, Italy or Switzerland. Most of the good motorcycling areas are also ski areas (in the winter) so almost everyone speaks, or at least understands, english. In fact, at most resteraunts the menu was in several languages, including english.

    If possible try staying in each stop for more than one night. It is easier if you don't have to pack and unpack every day. Also, we found most places gave better rates for multiple day stays. It also gives you some options for local exploration (read shopping).

    A planning tool I found helpful was MS Autoroute. It's the Euro version of Streets and Trips. It allowed me to try different routes for time and distance, and with the info I got from other folks, check out the area for accomidations, etc. If you tie it with Windows Live Local you can actully get a good idea of the terrain and roads in a given area.

    As many people will tell you 300 kilometers (about 200 miles) can be a long day in the mountians. If you stop to take pictures or sightsee that's about all you can expect to do. Be conservative in your planning (distance wise) and you will enjoy yourself more. Though my wife is a good rider and doesn't shirk from a long day, she was much happier when we held the ride to about 300 KM a day. And, as we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

    You're going to have a great trip.
    Paul Mulhern
    MOA# 56330
    '05 1200GS Big Blue

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