Germany, Austria, Italy, France & Switzerland

This page details a 7 day ride around Southern Germany (Bavaria) with a short blast into Austria, Italy, France & Switzerland. If you are planning on a Europe motorcycle adventure and are not interested in our trip, I would recommend you jump straight to the  “What we would do differently next time” section. I’ll talk about the trip, bikes, gotchas and things we would have done differently.

The idea

MapAllI had no real plan to tour around Europe until at the age of 48, I found out I had a half brother who lived in Munich. His name was also John which made things easy for my late father. The plan is to visit my brother for a day then ride around the near by countries for 7 days. I invited two old friends (Albert and Hector) along. I grew up with Albert and have know Hector since I studied engineering after leaving school. We have not really kept in touch with each other much in the last 25 years.

The daily schedule was planned to be quite relaxed. Get up at a reasonable hour, have breakfast or ride for a bit then have breakfast. Ride to morning tea. Ride some more then lunch. Ride again to afternoon tea. Ride to our final destination,  find accommodation and  have dinner with some beers. No knowing how far we could (or were willing) to ride in a day, we left the exact itinerary up to chance, hoping we would meet interesting places and people along the way in the little towns we came across.

The goals of the trip we roughly set as;

  • Rent 3 bikes
  • Visit the following places;
    • Romantic route
    • Disney castle
    • Grossglockner pass and as many other passes in the Alps as possible
    • Mont Blanc
    • Matterhorn
    • Brother John in Munich
    • Beer garden
    • Health Spa
    • Black Forrest
  • Camp for a couple of nights or stay in cheap backpacker accommodation
  • Consume the following things (more Mac’s goal);
    • Beer, bratwurst and sauerkraut in Munich
    • Pizza and espresso in Italy
    • Chocolate in Switzerland
    • Wine and cheese in France

The trip by day

Each day of the trip is detailed in the following links

 

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/getting-to-munich-beer-gardens/

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/day-1-munich-to-wurzburg/

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/day-2-stelvio-pass/

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/day-3-mont-blanc/

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/day-4-the-black-forest/

http://www.securehub.net/trips/germany-austria-italy-switzerland/day-5-back-to-munich/

The bikes

We rented three of the cheapest bikes we could get for 7 days. This included 2,500 km free. Note, extra km are very expensive so be sure to plan your mileage. There was also a 1,600€ security deposit so don’t drop the bike (or if you do, repair it before you return it)

BMW F650GS (Twin)

€639 per 7 days. Hector’s steed. This is actually a 800cc bike. It goes well but has annoying indicators on both left and right handle bars.

BMW G650GS ABS

€539 per 7 days. Albert’s steed. Nice little bike got up to 180 kph going down hill but struggled to go faster than 170 kph fully loaded on the flat.

Honda Transalp 750

€539 per 7 days. John’s steed. It was quite a comfortable bike and was able to pull 180kph on the flat fully loaded. With a larger from wheel, it id not turn as well on the tight corners but was still great fun to ride.

What we would do differently next time

Due to your poor planning on the trip, we made a few mistakes that you may not want to make;

  1. Don’t collect you motorcycles the day you arrive. Collection the bike the day after you arrive gives you the day to get over you jet lag and have a look around Munich before heading off.
  2. Don’t hire your bike through AdMo-Tours  (www.rental-motorcycle.com) web site but rather contact the motorcycle company directly as you will be a better deal and can make all payments in the same currency. Call Allround Auto & Motorradvermietung +49 89 723 2343.
  3. If you need to rent a helmet, you can buy new helmets from (Praktiker Baumärkte) for 55€.
  4. Include luggage with your rental. Albert and I used dry bags and backpacks tied to the back of our bikes but Hector took the luggage. The luggage did make the bike wider but allowed him to leave this bike to go sightseeing while Albert and I we a bit nervous about leaving our precious items alone for too long in countries like Italy where theft if a bit more prevalent.
  5. Don’t bother with camping if you can afford it. We carried tents, sleeping bags and mats all everywhere and never used them. If you can afford to pay for accommodation, ditch the camping gear and enjoy a lighter bike.
  6. Romantic-roadGet a GPS track of the Romantic route. The Romantic route is mostly well signposted with special brown signs but their is the odd corner on the route that is no signposted and if you miss a sign you would be off track for a long way before you get back on track.
  7. Plan at least 3 days to do the Romantic road. Our 1 day ride left little time for sight seeing.
  8. Don’t waste you money on the Lonely Planet Guide. It does not contain much useful information. Googling the places you are going is the best way to go for accurate and up-to-date information about sights and accommodation.
  9. Try to book your accommodation way ahead. We tried to book accommodation a week before we left or when we arrived into the town fore the night and ran into the following problems;
    1. Its hard to book accommodation for 3 people (Unless one of you is a child).
    2. A week before we left we could not get accommodation for less than 150€ for three people in Würzburg or Füssen which meant we stayed 20 km from town and had to catch the train in if we wanted to have a few beers with dinner.
    3. Arriving tired into town in the evening left little time to find a good deal on accommodation. If you know where you can be in the evening, try to book ahead.
  10. Limit your daily mileage. Although everything is close in Eurpoe, trying to do some sightseeing and getting 8 hours riding into the same day can be too much. Plan on shorted rides to you can enjoy more time at stops along the way and are the destinations.
  11. Pre-arrange your early starts. I don’t know if all Europeans are knight owls but if you are planning on getting an early start be sure to arrange this with your accommodation the night before. One hotel even locked us in for the night so I would not exit the building until 7am.
  12. Be ware that your iPhone my overheat if used a a navigator and its a hot day. My iPhone 6 plus would overheat in the dash of the bike in sunny days when navigating. I resorted to keeping it in my pocket and listening to the instructions through my Sena Bluetooth intercom. The only issue was the instructions we difficult to follow by voice only in the city.
  13. Each country in Europe has different petrol tax so the price from country to country varies significant. If you want to save some money, plan your purchase of fuel to ensure you buy in countries with the lowest price for fuel.
  14. Learn more local language phrases. People love it when you try to speak their language. Breaking the ice in the local language with a smile is a great way to get help from a shop assistant. But be sure you known which country you are currently in.

Gotyas

These are the things I got wrong on this trip

BIke rental

The bike rental is paid in several different currencies. Booking fee and deposit in US$ when when we pick up the bike the rest in Euro. Also a 3% credit card fee. I would have liked to rent the bike directly from the person in Munich but I ended up with some company in the US. Paying in US$ meant two sets of conversion fees.

Insurance

The insurance company covered us for injuries occurring while on the motorbike in the countries we will be in. However later I found TID which had the following additional coverage

  • Stuff secured hard in panniers
  • Laptop up to $3,000
  • Something else I cant remember at the time

Costs

Tried to keep the costs down by taking the cheapest of everything.

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