setstats Advice & opinions ride the world - Hearts & Tears
Ride the world

The wrong way round?

The Long Way Round has been a blessing and a curse. Sure, it has created interest in adventure riding, but the programme gave a melodramatic impression of life on the road. Millionaire BMW salesman (and actor) Ewan McGregor had free bikes and equipment, an office full of support staff, a back-up truck for mechanics and groupies, and diplomatic contacts to smooth the way. The Wrong Way Round perhaps?

Any bike will do

Multi-country rides are actually much easier than they would have you believe, and within the reach of normal people. Of course, the bike is a major investment, but it doesn’t have to cost €15,000. The truth is you can ride the world on any bike. We’ve seen some amazing contraptions; old scramblers; single cylinder enduros; postie bikes; scooters and even 3-wheeled tuk-tuks. Interestingly, low budget bikes often earn more respect from locals, and attract less unwanted attention, than purpose-built adventure machines.

The thrill of adventure riding is hard to put into words. We’ve ridden a lot of bikes over the years, and have been lucky to own some exotic machines, but we love old, low-tech bikes as well. We’d encourage anyone with a round-the-world dream to go for it, whatever their choice of bike. How about a Bullet or RX?

Road bikes

Rick’s first big trip outside the UK was on a Ducati 748. What started as a couple of days on the Jarama race track, ended up as a long tour of the gorgeous Spanish mountain roads. Knee-down at 190km/h, with a tiny backpack and some waterproofs strapped to the back seat. Sports bikes are fantastic, but pretty uncomfortable for more than an hour at a time. Unless you’re Nick Sanders that is; he keeps beating his own record for circumnavigating the globe by motorcycle. It currently stands at 19 days – on a Yamaha R1!

Rick’s 3-year ride started on a Honda CB1300. It’s a big, naked muscle bike. With huge effortless power, all-day comfort, and Japanese build quality, it turned out to be an excellent touring machine. In most situations, a decent road bike works just as well as an adventure bike. Rick then went off to India to see what the Royal Enfield was about.

Hardcore classics

Rick bought an old Bullet in Chennai and rode it all over India. The sub-continent looked great in the National Geographic; but you can’t smell or hear a photo. The culture made him short-tempered and intolerant. He rode up to Nepal to recover his sanity and character. The journey transformed his opinion of classic bikes. That’s how Hearts & Tears started.

He became the first solo rider to reach Muktinath. The Mustang region is very remote and at high altitude, but he made it there and back with no problems on a standard 350cc Bullet. It’s a hard ride, and only possible between about November and February. Dust storms, mud slides, frozen rivers, vertical drops, and extreme cold are not everyone’s idea of fun - but it does show that hardcore rides can be done on a classic motorcycle.

Adventure bikes

Adventure bikes like the Africa Twin have been around for a long time. Imagine a dirt bike on steroids; that’s what you’d need to compete in the Paris-Dakar rally. Modern versions, such as the BMW GS Adventure, became extremely fashionable after the Long Way Round.

Rick has the KTM 950 Adventure. It’s an incredible bike, with exceptional handling and loads of v-twin power. In 2 years of continuous hard riding across lots of countries, nothing ever went wrong. It’s just brilliant. There are downsides: it’s thirsty; it likes premium fuel; there’s nowhere to get a service between Turkey and Thailand; and synthetic oil can be hard to find in some places. But that’s a small price to pay for anyone who craves sports bike performance; it really can keep up with a Fireblade - even fully loaded. The 950 was what Ewan & Charlie really wanted. KTM wouldn’t give them free bikes, so they had film-star tantrums and went off to sulk.

Moniek’s got a BMW GS650 Dakar. We much prefer it to its fat, ugly, wobbly, weird grandfather the 1200GS. Thousands of riders adore the big BMW, but we can’t see the attraction. The 650 is a smaller, single cylinder adventure bike. It just keeps on running - any fuel, any oil, any situation. OK, it’s got much less power and softer handling than the KTM, but it’s superb for life on and off the road. Top marks.

Safety kit

You’ll see tourists speeding around Pokhara on ratty Bullets wearing shorts, a vest, a pair of sandals, and a crappy Indian plastic helmet. Some attention-seeking hippy types even ride barefoot and without a helmet; their newly-beaded dreadlocks blowing in the wind. The local hospitals get loads of business.

Experienced and talented riders can’t ride properly without safety equipment. It’s worth investing in good quality kit for a long ride, especially into remote areas. There’s always a compromise between protection and practicality. Think it through, and buy the best stuff you can. If you make the wrong choices (eg if it’s uncomfortable or too hot) you may end up not wearing it – but accidents happen when you least expect it.

If you’re riding home on a Bullet or RX, we’d recommend an absolute minimum of helmet, jacket and gloves. Helmets in Nepal are OK, and cost under €40, but small sizes are hard to find. Proper bike jackets are very rare. Gloves are adequate, but not great.

You may want to buy safety kit before you come. Italian brands like Alpinestars and Dainese are absolutely superb, but a little pricey. We like Hein Gericke for high quality, great value motorcycle clothing. Some of their styles look more like casual wear than protective clothing, which is great if you just want to blend into the crowd. Armoured bike trousers really are a good idea if your budget will stretch that far. Strong boots with padding that covers the ankle are essential. Anything will do, but proper shin-high motorcycle boots undoubtedly offer the best protection.

Motorcycle clothing

Leathers offer unbeatable impact and abrasion resistance, and are essential for track riding. With thick hide, a back protector and armour at all the vulnerable places, it’s possible to walk away from a 200km/h crash. Off the bike, they’re not very comfortable or practical and they’re horrible in the wet. Fabric bike clothing is usually a better choice for touring.

Our first outfits were great for northern Europe. We had gore-tex jackets, and Kevlar reinforced trousers (which look like jeans), all with protective armour. We always wear full-face helmets (with inter-changeable black visors), proper motorcycle boots, and race-style gloves with a gore-tex lining. Around the Mediterranean, it soon got too hot with all those dark colours and thermal linings. Loss of concentration is very dangerous if you get dehydrated.

We converted to fully vented armoured jackets and motocross-style vented gloves. They are just brilliant for riding in hot countries. If it got cold, Moniek sometimes wore thin silk liners under her gloves. Her BMW had heated grips too. If it rained, we just pulled thin waterproofs over the top of our clothing. In many countries, you’ll find free plastic over-gloves by the diesel pump at petrol stations; they’re great as temporary waterproofs.

Motorcycle clothing can be worn anywhere if it gets cold. We therefore choose subtle, casual designs and plain colours. The same goes for boots. Ours are plain black, comfortable for walking, and go unnoticed in a bar or restaurant.

Whilst riding, a long sleeved shirt is more comfortable under our bike jackets than a T-shirt. It prevents the armour from rubbing, soaks up sweat in hot countries, and keeps us toasty when the temperature drops. Silk or thermal leggings are also very comfortable under protective clothing. It might sound crazy, but in hot climates they actually keep us cool. They absorb sweat, keep our bike trousers cleaner for longer, are easily washed, and dry out almost instantly. A thin, light neck tube stops both cold and sunburn.

Where to go?

When Moniek left on her first bike adventure she asked Rick about the most difficult part of riding abroad. “Choosing where to go” was his answer. When faced with too much choice, a world of infinite possibilities, it’s actually hard to make a decision. “There’s a big, beautiful world out there but you can’t see it all. If you head south, you’ll miss the north.” Deciding a route is bewildering, but very exciting.

Everyone’s got their own ideas of how to travel. Personally, we just pick some target countries and follow random roads to see where we end up. For fun, and to define different stages, we set minor objectives along the way; such as to eat falafel in Damascus.

We soon learned to avoid coast roads, as they’re invariably disappointing. With a few spectacular exceptions (such as Amalfi in Italy) they’re usually crap, overcrowded, full of cops and lined with nasty towns. Mountain roads, on the other hand, are nirvana for bikers.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but we never read a guide book or looked at an internet forum. With hindsight, this fatalistic approach brought a great deal of richness to our rides. In 3 years, we only met 4 other overland riders and those encounters were in popular tourist destinations. The rest of the time, we were isolated from other foreigners, and completely immersed in local life. We’ll take a similar approach next time, only it will now be a conscious decision.

Avoiding common routes

There’s plenty of useful information out there on websites such as Lonely Planet and Horizons Unlimited. In recent years, in the inter-connected world of travel guides, internet forums and social networking sites, there has been a massive change in the travelling style of multi-country riders. Easier access to better information gives more people the chance to go off exploring by bike, and that has to be a good thing. But there are down sides.

The Lonely Planet has an effective monopoly on the global market for travel guide books. People say they’ll just use it for general advice but, inevitably, 95% of tourists end up doing exactly the same things, and eating in the same restaurants.

Motorcycle forums have a similar effect. We meet many overland riders coming through Pokhara. It’s a great place for a pit-stop on a long ride. Five years ago, they took a vast array of routes around the world. Their stories were fascinating, unique, and very personal. Many of today’s online riders seem to be in constant contact with each other. They tend to follow the same routes, and even stay at the same hotels. For us, it misses the point. Another danger is that there’s no editorial control over website content. We see many example of inaccurate or misleading information being taken as facts.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have become very popular, and are fuelling this trend towards common overland routes and itineraries. You’ll see riders swapping co-ordinates for room 107 of a hotel in Quetta. Incidentally, GPS is illegal some countries as governments don’t want you pin-pointing military installations.

Maps & local knowledge

We love maps. It’s great to spread out a big map on a strange bed in a far away place. We also seek out local knowledge. Back-yard advice is wonderful, and maps are great conversation starters. Order a drink in an obscure restaurant, open a map, and several friendly strangers are bound to join the table.

We find that people are generally proud of their home, and keen to show foreigners the highlights. This is especially true in lesser visited countries. Everyone offers suggestions for routes and destinations, and the debates it causes are priceless. Through local insights, we discovered some incredible roads and lovely towns off the beaten track, and we wouldn’t navigate any other way.

Dangerous countries?!

Rick lived in central London and Nottingham, the gun crime capital of the UK. Random acts of violence are common, especially after the pubs close. We’ve ridden a lot of countries which have been slapped with travel warnings, but never had any problems. Of course, it’s always wise to be cautious but there are other factors. Countries will internal conflicts typically have strong controls in place. Foreigners on bikes really stand out, and local people usually want to dispel the negative impressions of their home.

We generally take Foreign Office advice about “dangerous” countries with a pinch of salt. There’s often a hidden political agenda behind travel advice, and Embassies tend to focus on capital cities rather than the region in general. We had fun reading our governments’ opinions after we’d left certain countries. Their assessment was usually the diametric opposite of our experience.

We also ignore the xenophobic popular press. We’ve never had any problems on our rides, and had a warm welcome everywhere. Middle Eastern hospitality has to be experienced to be believed; it’s not possible to drink that much tea!

Border crossings

Border towns are generally horrible on both sides of the dividing line. It’s the natural habitat of smugglers, prostitutes and thieves. We always try to cross into new countries in the morning. Border control always takes longer than expected and it’s better to be calm than frustrated when things don’t go as planned. Once through, it’s good to get 100km clear of the border and into the “real” country before night closes in.

After a while, borders become routine – even boring and annoying. Our “border pack” contained official documents such as passport, bike papers, insurance etc. This was kept waterproof, hidden, yet easy to locate. Just in case of problems, all our documents (including technical information, service records, and emergency contacts) were scanned and emailed to ourselves, family and friends. We also had this stuff copied on a memory stick, and secreted away.

Travel light

Travel light. We can’t stress this enough. Whatever the bike, the handling, reliability, versatility and enjoyment of your ride improves massively with every kilogramme you can shed. Unloading luggage, moving it around, and re-loading becomes tiresome and creates a security worry.

There’s a simple test for whether you’re over-loaded: wear your full riding gear, lift all your equipment at once, and try walking upstairs. Now imagine climbing up to the 3rd floor of a dodgy hotel, in 40 degree heat after a hard day on the road. There was much sweating and swearing before we figured it out.

Moniek’s entire load weighed 19kg (including the boxes), and was perfect for a year on the road. Rick’s was 22kg because he has a bigger medical kit, a few more tools, and was away for 3 years.

Luggage options

Many different types of luggage are available. Hard boxes with locks are waterproof, rugged and secure. Soft throw-over panniers are simple and light. Magnetic tank bags (for metal petrol tanks) are ingenious and practical. We can make metal racks in Nepal, but good quality soft luggage is hard to find; you may want to buy it at home.

The worst possible type of luggage for a bike is a rucksack. The bag itself is heavy and takes up a lot of space, and there are straps and clips dangling all over the place. Attaching one to a bike is a nightmare, and carrying on your back is extremely dangerous if you come off. Whatever set-up you choose, the position of the load affects massively affects handling; get the heavy stuff as far forward and low down as possible.

Packing tips

What you think you need for a bike trip, and what you actually need, are likely to be very different lists. We recommend that you just pack the absolute minimum and leave. If you really need something, you can always buy it along the way. Stuff comes and stuff goes, so the international postal system offers a cheap and easy way to swap equipment if necessary.

Kit expands to fill the space available. We therefore limit ourselves to 2 luggage boxes: 1 for the tent and bike stuff, 1 for personal effects. We only fill our boxes to about 80% of their capacity. This leaves room for emergency food, water for crossing deserts, the occasional new purchase, or shoddy packing with a hangover. Each bike is completely self-sufficient, just in case we get split up.

Small items can be organized into separate containers before packing. You’re less likely to lose or forget things. With a good system, and a regular routine, you can easily pack and unpack in pitch darkness. Fabric bags can also be filled with clothes and used as a pillow. We each had a small handlebar bag for a camera and other handy items. Moniek’s was a bit bigger for a map and a lipstick, and it doubled as a shoulder bag for valuables when away from the bikes.

Fashion advice

Deciding what to pack can lead to a lot of confusion and wasted money. Rick used to explore Europe by bicycle with his friend Ian. They would ride 200km a day for weeks at a time. He learned valuable lessons about how to travel extremely light, and has some general rules: items must be absolutely essential, small, light and versatile (more than one purpose).

He stood back and laughed as Moniek prepared for her first trip. She put all her “essential” stuff (like high heels!) in a pile on the floor. She spent days moving it around, hoping that the pile would get smaller. It didn’t. Making a definite “No” pile was torture. Enforcing a strict 2-box limit (and leaving space to spare) made the “No” pile even bigger. Eventually she was able to close the boxes, load up and leave. Once on the road, to her great surprise, her personal stuff actually shrank over time. She just seemed to need less, and discarded things along the way.

This is what we settled with: one t-shirt and one vest are enough, and can be layered with other items. A thin thermal top can be worn under anything, on or off the bike, if it gets cold. Shorts that can also be used for swimming are ideal. A hat tidies up the mess when we take off our helmets, and provides sun protection. Underwear gets constantly rotated through the wear/wash/dry cycle, so 2 spare sets are plenty. A sarong is incredibly useful. It’s a 2m by 1m piece of extremely thin material which can be used as beach towel, outdoor changing room, blanket, neck scarf, pillow case; the list is endless. Girls (and David Beckham) also wear it as a wrap-around skirt. It takes up no space and weighs nothing.

We’ve been invited to all kinds of places on our travels. Some have been very up-market: swanky hotels, weddings, the Mayor’s office, formal functions, and flashy restaurants. It’s a wonderful part of riding abroad. When hospitality is offered, it’s nice to look vaguely presentable. With a bit of clever packing we can scrub up quite well. Cotton trousers provide welcome comfort after a long ride and look smarter than jeans. A collared shirt takes up no more space than a T-shirt but looks infinitely more respectable. Sandals which cover the toes look like real shoes from a distance, and double-up as beachwear.

Touring equipment

Specialist touring equipment has become big business, especially since The Long Way Round. Touratech have some great stuff, but “Ooh, that looks useful” could overload you with needless junk and cost a small fortune. We suggest that you just pack the basics and go. A couple of weeks on the road and you’ll figure out what’s really needed.

We each dedicated one of our luggage boxes for equipment. Rick’s box contained: a tiny tent, sleeping bag and silk liner, blow-up mattress, puncture gunk, a small can of chain lube, bike lock, helmet lock, medical kit, a camping spoon/fork/knife thing, Leatherman multi-tool, a fuel bottle, head torch, electronic gadgets, tyre pressure gauge and waterproof clothing. The bike tools stayed under the seat.

You can buy small, light, hi-tech cooking equipment for about €200. We decided against it for weight, space and cost reasons. During the day, we eat very well at supermarkets; in the evening, we usually have a hot meal. €200 goes a long way in many countries, and the food is far more delicious than a one-pan stew. We always carry a can of food and a litre of water each for emergencies.

We each take a small wash-bag and travel towel. Monthly disposable contact lenses are hygienic and don’t need lots of peripheral equipment. We carry lots of earplugs for cutting down wind noise when riding, and an insect-free good night’s sleep in a tent. For entertainment, we keep one book at a time. A day-to-day wallet is kept in our jackets, and a bigger one is hidden away with passports, spare keys and bike documents. It only really gets used at border crossings. A picture speaks a thousand words. A small album, with photos life back home, cuts through the language barrier with new friends.

Electronic gadgets

New riders are often tempted to carry too many electronic gadgets; cameras with big lenses, laptops, phones, iPods, GPS to name but a few. Most electronics these days have fancy internal batteries, which mean that you need to carry cables, chargers and adapters as well. They always seem to be 10 times the size and weight of the gadget itself. Anything that’s big, expensive, fragile or heavy is unwise for a long bike ride.

Modern point-and-shoot cameras are excellent. There are internet cafés and telephones everywhere for communications. Our stuff runs on old-school AA or AAA batteries. We use rechargeable batteries but, if they get depleted, we can buy Duracells everywhere. We had a 12v (cigarette lighter style) power socket fitted to the bikes, which can be used for re-charging. It’s really useful, especially if it’s wired live when the ignition is off. It means you can charge things while putting up your tent.

Tools & spares

If you’re riding a long way on a Bullet or an RX, our mechanics lesson will show the basic tools & spares you’ll need. We didn’t carry any spare parts on our rides. It’s just not necessary with modern bikes. We found great mechanics and bike enthusiasts everywhere, and never had a problem that couldn’t be solved quickly.

A half-litre aluminium fuel bottle contained synthetic oil for top-ups. It wasn’t needed, but was comforting to have in low-tech countries. The KTM has a switch to run on crap fuel, but octane booster can be added in places like Syria or Nepal. Normal bikes will run fine on low octane petrol.

We see many riders carrying tyres on the back of their bike. They’re big, heavy and awkward, so we never bothered. Rick is very particular about his rubber, but we managed to find quality tyres everywhere. Today’s manufacturers are global brands with efficient supply chains. The longest we ever had to wait for a new Pirelli was 4 days.

Bike security

Bike security can be a headache, but you soon get into a routine. Rick had a plastic coated chain combined with a disc lock, plus the KTM alarm & immobiliser. Moniek had a heavy chain and lock plus an alarmed disc lock. We chained the bikes to each other, and to something solid. Even better, we found that if you keep your bike clean, hoteliers will often let you park it in the foyer!

Misplaced keys spell disaster. Our ignition keys are either in the switch, on a string around our necks - nowhere else. The other keys are in a pouch which is attached by a long chain to the inside pocket of our jackets. The only way to lose the keys is to lose the jacket. A complete spare set is carried by the other rider, and hidden away; simple, but effective.

Accommodation

Our choice of accommodation depends on where we are, how we’re feeling, and our budget at the time. The overriding consideration is always security - for us, our bikes and our equipment. Thankfully, we never had any problems. We put this down to forward planning and a sensible weighing-up of the possible risks. We listen to our instincts and local advice and, if in doubt, err on the side of caution.

In bigger town and cities we stay in hotels. In some places, sleeping can be the most expensive daily activity. We’ve found some real gems at very reasonable prices: superb location; unusual buildings; luxurious rooms; wonderful hosts; and great food. Sometimes, it’s just so good that we change our plans and stay for a while.

We ride early in the morning (especially in hot countries) and start looking for a place to stay around 3pm; 7 or 8 hours on the bike is about right for us. This might seem premature, but it leaves plenty of time to look around for suitable places to stay. By the time we’ve negotiated the price, parked our bikes safely and unpacked it’s getting dark. Occasionally, finding any type of accommodation can be a problem and we’ve ended up rolling from town to town. By starting the search early we’re relaxed rather than desperate; we make better decisions and save a lot of money too.

We’ve been genuinely surprised by the hospitality offered by strangers. Sometimes, they kill you with kindness. We’ve turned down more offers of accommodation than we’ve accepted, as it can prove difficult to escape!

Sleeping rough

Back in his younger days, Rick would sleep just about anywhere. A bivvy bag is a great piece of kit for sleeping rough; it’s a thin waterproof outer shell for a sleeping bag. When packed, it’s only about the same volume as a rolled-up T-shirt. One rung up the social ladder from hobo, the bivvy is about as simple as it gets: climb into your sleeping bag, slip into the bivvy bag, and sleep at the side of the road. For a little sophistication, look for cover (under a bridge, in a barn, or beneath a tree) in case it rains. Be aware that in some countries it’s actually illegal to sleep outside.

Another favourite is the hammock. Made of modern synthetic fibres, it rolls up to the size of a tennis ball. Hammocks keep you off the floor and can be quite comfortable, if you don’t mind sleeping in one position. However, finding somewhere suitable to sling one (out of sight, between two strong posts, at a reasonable height, and where it won’t slip down) may not be as easy as it seems.

Camping

Camping out in the wild is not always possible. Some cultures are tent-friendly; others less so. Mediterranean Europe, for example, has many organised camp sites.
They offer great facilities, but can be as expensive as a budget hotel.

The risk of robbery should always be considered when free-camping; as should the threat of wild animals. Rick was lucky not to be attacked by the angry wild boar he encountered in a dark forest. For some reason, tourists often laugh about the risk of attack by wild cats and bears. The locals don’t.

When we feel it’s safe to camp in the great outdoors, we try to draw as little attention as possible. We opt for guerrilla tactics: survey the area for a suitable location, ride away, sneak back just after sunset, pitch the tent quickly and quietly, and be gone by early morning.

Our tents weigh just 1.2kg each and are incredibly small when packed. Just big enough for 2 people, we normally use one and keep the other in reserve. They’re superb, and still going strong after years of use. Well worth the investment. A light coloured tent is cooler in the early morning sun, but dark colours offer better camouflage. Ours have a 2-layer design; the inner layer is made of mesh at the top for insect protection and ventilation; the waterproof outer layer is often not necessary in dry places, and it’s wonderful to look up at the stars.

Sleeping in comfort

Our sleeping bags are the smallest, lightest models. They are stored in bags with compression straps to minimise volume. A thin silk liner keeps the sleeping bag cleaner for longer and, in many situations, the liner is adequate on its own; if it gets really cold, we can always sleep in our clothes. A lightweight blow-up mattress gives a touch of luxury. It’s a thousand times more comfortable than sleeping on uneven ground. They inflate in seconds by mouth (no pump needed) and pack away neatly. Rick’s is a Thermarest; Moniek’s was from Touratech.

Paperwork for Nepal

For most people, a car license is sufficient to buy and ride a Royal Enfield in Nepal; driving a car is considered more difficult than riding a motorcycle out here! It’s nice, but not essential, to have an international driving permit as well. It’s advisable to carry your license, as you may be asked to produce it at Police checkpoints. The Police have a relaxed attitude towards tourists; the fine for riding without a license is €2, but can be much higher in the event of an accident.

Private 3rd party insurance (for your own bike) can be arranged cheaply for Nepali-registered bikes in Nepal, and Indian-registered bikes in India. We cannot comment on whether the company would pay-out in the event of an accident. It’s just nice to show a certificate if you are stopped by the Police.

Licenses

Riding in Asia is easy, but getting a license for developed countries is more difficult. Please research the laws in detail before buying any bike or setting off on a big trip. It is important to understand your legal position. If there are grey areas, only you can decide if it’s worth taking the risk. Whatever you decide to do, we cannot be held responsible for your actions.

Heading west from Nepal, Turkey is the first country that is likely to check your license in detail. Upholding driving standards is part of their deal for joining the EU. So far, the guys who rode our RX bikes to Europe only had car licenses. In most European countries, car drivers are limited to motorcycles under 125cc. Our RX bikes have either 100cc or 135cc engines, so some riders were breaking the law by 10cc.

There are other restrictions associated with small bikes. For example, they may have been breaking the law by riding outside their home country on a provisional or car license. A couple of riders did get stopped by the Police. They were highly trained, well equipped, and had already ridden half way around the world on a tiny Yamaha. The Police were too amazed and impressed to give them any problems.

Bullet riding in the west on a car license is a different story. Royal Enfield bikes normally have 350cc or 500cc engines. Despite their diminutive power, the authorities consider the Bullet a “big” motorcycle. License laws are much stricter, and there are fewer grey areas. If you are not qualified to ride a Bullet, your insurance may also be invalid. If you are involved in an accident, you could be in serious trouble.

For Europe, and big bikes, we recommend that you get a proper bike license and obey the law. If you don’t, you’ll soon get into a lot of trouble. You’ll learn some basic skills, be much safer on the road, and become a better car driver too. In our opinion, the bike license standards are actually way too low. They don’t cover any of the important stuff like high speed riding; how to take corners; wet weather techniques; or riding at night. Even if you’ve got a Class A bike license, we recommend that you take advanced riding lessons, go on track days, or get some personal coaching from professionals. Good riders never stop learning.

Bike insurance

You need an insurance “Green Card” to ride in many EU countries and beyond. Check your document for the list of countries your insurance covers. For example, Rick’s UK issued Green Card doesn’t reach as far as Moniek’s Dutch one. For countries outside your scope, you can usually buy temporary insurance at the border.

 

The pleasure, the pain, a Ducati round Spain!
Muscle bikes are brilliant for long trips
Rick made the first solo ride to Mustang by Bullet
Moniek?s BMW and Rick?s KTM
Rick?s outfit for colder countries
Vented jackets are fantastic in  hot climates
We love old-fashioned maps
Mediterranian coast roads are beautiful, but can be very busy
GPS or local knowledge and a beach towel?
Tea comes free with petrol in the Middle East!
Oops! Can't cross the border here...
Rick started with soft luggage on his Honda
Re-packing takes minutes if you travel light
Leaving stuff behind was difficult at first
The hotel boss waves us goodbye
You can find bike equipment all over the world
Now I wish I had GPS!
Regular check-ups keep your bike happy
Safe parking in a hotel lobby
Luxury is relative
He wasn?t there last night!
Do your homework about traffic laws
?Everything?s legal until you get caught? ? Bob Dylan
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