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RBEmerson
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« on: March 24, 2016, 03:43:40 pm »

The next birthday has a zero in it, and I'm thinking hard about celebrating with a little ride through the Alps (probably a mix of Germany, Switzerland, Austria). I'm reasonably fluent in German and familiar with driving in the area. The options are to do a solo ride and arrange my own rental or take an organized trip.

The issue isn't where (so many places, so little time), it's how.

Let the fun begin.
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2016, 04:08:42 pm »

I've taken two organized tours in the Alps and I'll probably do it again.

The organized trips were cool, low stress, everything arranged.  All you did was show up and ride as much or little as you wanted, with or without any other tour members or guides, on what ever roads you wanted.  Hotels, meals, luggage hauled, support in event of problems etc.  You also had beer drinking and bench racing buddies every evening too.

They were also relatively expensive.  The dollar/euro exchange rate may have lessened the cost but, still expensive.

I'm not retired yet, so when I go, it's not like I'm Neda and Gene wandering the countryside with no set destination or time.  If I was retired, I'd probably go solo without any set plan, not even a return date.  Just a fixed amount of $ and ride wander until it runs out.

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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2016, 04:16:37 pm »

I would just rent and do your own thing.

Take a day off whenever you feel like it and sit by the pool.

You don't have to fret over routes as, you can throw a dart at a map of the Alps and hit a good road, from the Maritime Alps in France to the Julian Alps in Slovenia.

For something a bit different, you can drop down into Croatia and dip your toe in the Adriatic.

Agostinis in Mandello rents Moto Guzzis  Bigok
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2016, 05:57:37 pm »

Either way is good. I've done organized tours a few times. Being fluent in English and French only, I appreciated the guides presence when issues came up in other countries. However, you can always find a way to get things resolved. Guides also know good places to go, to see, to stop for lunch, etc.

Enjoy!

Post pics.  Bigok
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2016, 10:21:08 am »


I've taken two organized tours in the Alps and I'll probably do it again.

The organized trips were cool, low stress, everything arranged.  All you did was show up and ride as much or little as you wanted, with or without any other tour members or guides, on what ever roads you wanted.  Hotels, meals, luggage hauled, support in event of problems etc.  You also had beer drinking and bench racing buddies every evening too.

They were also relatively expensive.  The dollar/euro exchange rate may have lessened the cost but, still expensive. [...]

Who did you tour with? My major concern is minimizing aggro with logistics. As long as I stick with the German areas, I'm good.
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2016, 12:55:22 pm »

Edelweiss both times.  They do everything including picking you up at the airport and shuttling you back at the end, they even put your luggage in your room at every new hotel.  

They also have started offering tours without the luggage van only one guide if you want a little more spartan and lower cost experience.  It's probably closer to how we do it here.
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2016, 02:07:45 pm »

Other thoughts about organized tours, your dates may not fit with their schedule and you must enjoy riding / dinning with a group.
Some operators will let you loose while others want you to absolutely follow your guide.
You can also find self guided tours. They're less expensive. You get a bike, gps, hotel reservations, breakfast.
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2016, 03:50:16 pm »


My major concern is minimizing aggro with logistics.  


If that is your main concern then, maybe a guided tour is a good option.

I took a 3-week Edelweiss tour as my first European trip. As greench440 said, the bench racing during the evenings is great among like minded enthusiasts. It's also nice not having to fret about choosing accommodations.

On the other hand, striking out on your own does give a sense of satisfaction. Language isn't that big a barrier. Many hotel staff speak English and many restaurants have English menus. You don't even have to speak at gas stations. You just hand over the money. When you get the hang of it, it really isn't that much more different than from traveling in the states. I got my bike fixed in Croatia despite not speaking Croatian and no English speakers around. It only adds to the adventure  Bigsmile
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2016, 06:22:48 pm »

A couple lesser known tours are also pretty interesting.
I have some friends that went with Adriatic Moto tours a couple times and were well satisfied.
Another friend has toured with Paradise Motorcycle Tours in New Zealand, but they offer a tour of the Alps.
The wife and I decided on Paradise/Alps this summer.
They are affiliated with BMW Motorrad.
The tour seemed a good length of time, not to short or long.
You pay in NZ dollars which offers Americans about a 30% savings and they're pretty darn reasonable to start with.
They were great at answering questions to the point of calling me from NZ.
Lots more but at least check them out.
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2016, 11:43:33 pm »


If that is your main concern then, maybe a guided tour is a good option.

I took a 3-week Edelweiss tour as my first European trip. As greench440 said, the bench racing during the evenings is great among like minded enthusiasts. It's also nice not having to fret about choosing accommodations.


The logistics of nailing down a rental and accommodations are a strong attractor. Group rides haven't been a part of my riding life.

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On the other hand, striking out on your own does give a sense of satisfaction. Language isn't that big a barrier. Many hotel staff speak English and many restaurants have English menus. You don't even have to speak at gas stations. You just hand over the money. When you get the hang of it, it really isn't that much more different than from traveling in the states. I got my bike fixed in Croatia despite not speaking Croatian and no English speakers around. It only adds to the adventure  Bigsmile


As long as we're speaking German (or English), we're good. Goodness knows what the Swiss speak, though.  Lol

Orson, I'm curious about your process to pick a place to stay.

Assuming I DIY, how did you handle bike insurance before the Moto Guzzi and the Triumph? And how do you handle your medical insurance?
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2016, 07:51:59 am »

Before I got my i-Pad, it was just luck of the draw  Bigsmile Wherever I ended up at around 5 or 6 PM is where I ended up staying. A bit like Russian Roulette  Lol Thankfully, more times than not, the places were decent. And since I usually travel in May or September/October, vacancies usually aren't a problem.

Now, with an i-Pad, I can look ahead 24 hours and estimate how far I will ride, then browse Tripadvisor for a suitable place.


 Group rides haven't been a part of my riding life.

I think Edelweiss doesn't mind if you ride your own route alone if you chose. They just expect you to arrive at the next hotel or they begin to worry that something bad happened.



Assuming I DIY, how did you handle bike insurance before the Moto Guzzi and the Triumph? And how do you handle your medical insurance?

If you're going to rent a bike, the renter should arrange the insurance. The bike shop in Italy arranges my yearly insurance for the Guzzi. I got coverage in the UK for the Triumph through Footman James.

My employer's medical insurance works in Europe.

Just my opinion but, sticking to German-only speaking regions robs you the opportunity of riding in Italy. Italians are incredibly friendly people plus, there's the great food, wine, roads and scenery. Italians have that wonderful live-for-today outlook on life.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2016, 11:06:46 am »


Before I got my i-Pad, it was just luck of the draw  Bigsmile Wherever I ended up at around 5 or 6 PM is where I ended up staying. A bit like Russian Roulette  Lol Thankfully, more times than not, the places were decent. And since I usually travel in May or September/October, vacancies usually aren't a problem.

Now, with an i-Pad, I can look ahead 24 hours and estimate how far I will ride, then browse Tripadvisor for a suitable place.

LOL   And even that can be a gamble. I'm thinking of a stop in Aiken, SC... Euwwww...
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I think Edelweiss doesn't mind if you ride your own route alone if you chose. They just expect you to arrive at the next hotel or they begin to worry that something bad happened.

Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business.
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If you're going to rent a bike, the renter should arrange the insurance. The bike shop in Italy arranges my yearly insurance for the Guzzi. I got coverage in the UK for the Triumph through Footman James.

(That name conjures up the image of someone in an elaborate costume, riding at the back of the royal carriage and ready to sprint to assist alighting from the carriage)
When we rent a car in Germany, we self-insure through our plastic. The coverage is effectively the same insurance offered by Hertz et al. Time to ask our issuer about what happens with a bike.
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My employer's medical insurance works in Europe.

Hmmm... I need to see what DAN (Divers Alert Network) can do in this setting. DAN is our health insurer for trips to the Bahamas (i.e., out of the US). DAN coverage isn't limited to incidents in the water. I forget what covers us in Euro-land.
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Just my opinion but, sticking to German-only speaking regions robs you the opportunity of riding in Italy. Italians are incredibly friendly people plus, there's the great food, wine, roads and scenery. Italians have that wonderful live-for-today outlook on life.

Oh my... That's a whole other topic. Having recently become a bit more earnest about being an oenophile (something one can claim publicly without fear of having to register with the local constabulary) , a tour tied to Italian wines is rapidly climbing on my bucket list.
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2016, 11:16:23 am »

I've ridden so far in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and best of all, Italy.  Pretty much zero problems with language barriers, and I don't speak a bit of French, German or Italian.  There have been some exchanges with lots of arm-waving and pointing, but it always worked out in the end.  Don't let language be a reason not to visit.

My #1 destination, without a doubt, is the Dolomites in Italy.  Between the passes, the scenery, the friendly Italians, the food and the abundance of other bikers doing the same thing it's a little slice of heaven on earth.
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2016, 11:25:00 am »


Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business.


I don't have personal experience but, I've always read positive reviews about Beach's Motorcycle Adventures

And they've been around for 40 years so, they must be doing sumthin right.
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2016, 11:32:47 am »

"Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business."

See my post above...Smile

Paradise Tours spends 3 nites in the Dolomites at a BMW Motorrad affiliated   Spa-Hotel.
They have a fleet of bikes there and local tour guides offer half day and full day tours which I believe is included.
From this base, you can also explore alone.
The cost for the wife and I is $8300.00 NZ dollars which is about $5500.00 US depending on the exchange rate.
This includes your choice of 1200cc BMW's. I'm going witha R1200RS as the GS is to tall for me.
This includes everything the other tours include except dinners.
Pack your own gear, no chase van. Side-Top cases included.

No affiliation, just trying to share what I've found, being a couple steps ahead of you in the process.
Now onto trip insurance... Crazy
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2016, 11:41:11 am »

Two comments about "the German thing". Erstens, I speak German with a fair degree of fluency. Zweitens, my in-laws live about an hour west of Frankfurt. SWMBO (who doesn't and won't ride) may well spend the time with her family. (The idea of day traveling from one or more locations is somewhat in play)

Additionally, if I opt to DIY, there's some good riding going to southern Bavaria (Odenwald, Schwarzwald) without slabbing on the Autobahn (good for making miles, sux for rubbernecking).
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2016, 11:44:32 am »

I'll follow up on Paradise. The Dolomites are on my "second trip" list. Oh my yes.
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2016, 12:09:07 pm »

Edelweiss only expects you to get to the next hotel by dinner, or call if you'll be even later.  How you get there is up to you.  I rode solo a couple of days with road recommendations from the guides and one day just me and a guide rode from sun up to sundown on roads you wouldn't find on most maps.

Beaches is another company I looked at, their dates and routes didn't match up with my needs.

When I go back, I want to hit the western Switzerland and the French Alps all the way down to the Mediterranean.
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2016, 03:07:17 pm »

I like the sound of that.  Bigok

I'm not anti-social, I am a strong believer in "ride your own ride". Group rides make that challenging.
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2016, 03:21:58 pm »

Re: Medical Insurance

If you are on Medicare, you need to check out how much coverage your supplement policy covers.  If not on Medicare, do likewise with whatever you have.  Find out if motorcycle accidents are excluded.  Usually requires several calls till you get a reliable answer.  You'll may pick up some secondary coverage from your credit card.

We almost always buy a supplement through insuremytrip.com.  Plain supplemental medical is not expensive  Worth it for the peace of mind.  

As far as trip insurance, pretty much an excess expense in my book unless you have a unpredictable job situation or sick relative. Read the limitations carefully.  Same with vehicle coverage.  Every European country I've ever rented from has minimum mandatory coverage. Between that and what you get on the credit card you're covered.  

As far as language, as well as you speak German, you'll have no problem anywhere.  Most restaurants have multiple language menus, even if no one there speaks English. So far, my experience with conversational language translation apps has been worthless, although I use them for technical documents.

Best conversation I ever had was in the parking lot under Lake Geneva with an Italian who spoke no German or English, and a French woman who spoke German and Italian but not English. lots of hand waving.  

As far as roads, Ken Denton is right on.    I hope to go back next year (to ride).  

PS be sure to check out Paradise.  Paradise Pizza above Lake Garda that is if you're over that way
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« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2016, 09:33:48 pm »

Agreed that trip insurance is not a great idea.

I have Medicare with supplemental insurance. I'll check the coverage. Even if I weren't riding, it's useful to know about coverage in more pedestrian (as it were) situations. Given we visit family at least annually, it's nice to know if we're covered if someone trips over a curb.

Swiss German is, IMHO, a secret code. We just spent a couple of days occasionally chatting with Swiss sailors. The German expression "Swiss German is a throat disease" is not without its basis in fact. Ask DD for more information on this.  Bigsmile

I spent some time trying to discuss the details of a snowboard with a fellow ski gondola passenger. After too much time spent finding the right words, the guy said "I'm Dutch, you're American, let's speak English. It's easier."  Rolleyes
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2016, 04:33:04 am »

IMO the best reason to not go with an organized tour is the weather. I've rerouted or switched from a clockwise trip to a counter-clockwise one pretty often because of bad forecasts.

Next to the obvious Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein you can also use your German in Italy......as long as you stay in South Tyrol (Stelvio anyone?). And it's also one of the official languages in Belgium, but that region is like 0.7% of Belgium.
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« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2016, 08:17:40 am »

Good point about being flexible with travel as weather changes.
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« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2016, 01:03:26 pm »

In case you haven't been, Luxembourg is often overlooked and is worth a visit. While the southern part is relatively flat, the northern part is in the foothills of the Eiffel Mountains and offers some nice riding. The city of Luxembourg has a nice castle.

The ride to Luxembourg along the scenic Moselle River is definitely worth it if you haven't ridden it before.
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« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2016, 04:37:25 pm »

I'm back!!

Sorry to have missed this thread until now, but I was busy exploring some new roads in southern France Drool  My god, but there are some fantastic roads down along the French/Spanish border  Bigok


I can understand your desire to stick with countries with Germanic languages, but as others said, that's not a good reason to not explore further. Give me a day to get settled and I can give you some more thoughts...

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« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2016, 04:43:44 pm »


In case you haven't been, Luxembourg is often overlooked and is worth a visit. While the southern part is relatively flat, the northern part is in the foothills of the Eiffel Mountains and offers some nice riding. The city of Luxembourg has a nice castle.

The ride to Luxembourg along the scenic Moselle River is definitely worth it if you haven't ridden it before.

Forgot it it in my list of German speaking countries  
And Namibia....  Bigsmile

The roads in Luxembourg are very well maintained and petrol is cheap (for western Europe).
Best racetrack road: the 25 from Wiltz to Kautenbach. And the police know it as well.
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« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2016, 09:16:15 pm »

Good friends, let me sort out a few points.

Point the first: this won't be an open-end, Gene & Neda tour. Give or take, two weeks is about it. "So many places, so little time."

Point the second: this isn't being done on an open-ended budget.

Point the third: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are in. Andora through Zambia are out. Yes. I'll miss the delights of Azerbaijan, Qatar, etc., etc.
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« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2016, 09:47:41 pm »

At this point I have leads on tour companies. More names are welcome.

What I don't have is options for DIY bike rentals..

And I'm still looking for comments from BTDT from the States.

ADDED: Agreed that the trip along the Moselle, at least as far as Trier (didn't get further on the day trip), recommends itself highly. Coming back towards Wiesbaden via Hunsrück commends itself, too.  Smile

Oh yeah, and there's some very good wine to be had along the way. Oh my yes.
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« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2016, 01:29:05 am »


At this point I have leads on tour companies. More names are welcome.

What I don't have is options for DIY bike rentals..



More to come, but here's an early-morning addition to this thread: Knopf Tours

Based in Heidelberg, so not too far out of the way and more importantly, some of the most prestigious and professional motorcycle riders that I personally know use this guy's services (such as Helge Pedersen, et al, of GlobeRiders). I have heard nothing but A+ stuff about him, even if I can't vouch for him personally. He has a good selection of bikes and support - I recommend that you check out his site.


Ok, off to class. I'll post up some destination thoughts in a bit.  Thumbsup
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« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2016, 04:49:02 am »

And when are you going?
If it's July/August than that'll influence the route suggestions I would be giving.
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« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2016, 07:56:40 am »

 Lol We have a major coach/bus operator in town: Knopf. Sounds like a good omen.

I think July is most likely. Given all of Europe is on vacation during August, there's not much chance of going then. It might also be I'll wait until September.
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« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2016, 10:56:19 am »

For bike rentals we were very happy with renting from Moto Maier in Landshut Germany, about 20 minutes from Munich.  Dealt with Hermann, 2 good experiences.

If you want to start in Switzerland then try Moto Mader in Oberentfelden, not far from Zurich.  Dealt with Thomas Pabst, but that was 8 years ago.
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« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2016, 12:45:11 pm »


If you want to start in Switzerland then try Moto Mader in Oberentfelden, not far from Zurich.  Dealt with Thomas Pabst, but that was 8 years ago.


He still works there - or did as of last year - as he's the one who sold me my BMW  Cool  It is a great shop as well.
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« Reply #33 on: March 29, 2016, 01:54:28 pm »

Interesting... We have friends who live in a small town, Oberflachs, north of Oberentfelden.
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« Reply #34 on: March 29, 2016, 01:58:55 pm »

This would be beneficial, as it would give you a head start on the southern routes that you'd probably enjoy the most  Bigok
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« Reply #35 on: March 29, 2016, 02:31:02 pm »

Have a look at Moto Charlie  www.alps-tours.com   I have ridden in the Alps and Dolomites independently but my tour with Charlie was much more enjoyable. Only 7 bikes and lots of riding. A great group and a lot of fun, good hotels and food and good company when not riding. Im planning on getting back to the Alps next year, again with Charlie, if I can get my wife's permission. Although I am of course the boss in the household. I wish.
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« Reply #36 on: March 30, 2016, 01:55:21 pm »


 Lol We have a major coach/bus operator in town: Knopf. Sounds like a good omen.

I think July is most likely. Given all of Europe is on vacation during August, there's not much chance of going then. It might also be I'll wait until September.


In the following countries the school holidays start in July (and often early in July): Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France, the Netherlands. September is generally quieter, mainly because my fellow countrymen are back home. So they can't clog up all the roads with their travel trailers.
I'll be doing a round trip in the Alps the first week of September with some friends (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy).

And avoid the (northern) French and eastern Swiss alps from 17-23 July because the Tour de France will be there. So, closed roads and overcrowded.
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« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2016, 04:20:30 pm »

Sigh... there is that... (vacations and TdF)
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« Reply #38 on: March 30, 2016, 04:33:54 pm »

Personally, I'd shoot for September. The weather isn't as hot and the roads are much emptier (as GvG pointed out).
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« Reply #39 on: March 30, 2016, 05:42:46 pm »

OK, I've finally gotten ashore (we're in our sailboat, current in Stuart, FL) and I've had some time to read sites for the suggested operators. Great thanks for the leads to date!  Bigok

I'd like to hear a bit more about life with Edelweiss.

Looking at Beach's site, there's something of a near rant about "smaller [bike] is better". Is this a personal view or...?

If the weather shows us some love, we'll start moving north tomorrow (31Mar). As a result I may not respond to posts as quickly as I'd like. But please keep informing.  Smile
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« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2016, 06:28:51 pm »

It's mainly that lighter bikes are easier to handle on the small and twisty roads, although you'll see a lot of 1200 GS's riding around.
In the end it comes down to personal preference (mine is: light) and although I wouldn't like it, my neighbour rides through the Alps with his K 1600 GTL.
Because of the steep gradients and higher altitudes I wouldn't go too light (below 600cc and 75hp), so don't rent a bike that complies with the European (EU) A2 license. Those are 35KW max and that's too little to really enjoy yourself. You want one for the full 'A' license.

What does make life easier is wide handlebars, so you have enough leverage. My current Street Triple is a whole lot easier in the hairpin turns than my Daytona 675 was. And if you look at the Dark Dog Moto Tour video's, you'll notice almost all of the sportbikes having aftermarket steers: higher and wider.
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« Reply #41 on: April 03, 2016, 05:06:12 pm »

Gotit. Thanks for the information!  Bigok
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« Reply #42 on: April 03, 2016, 11:38:05 pm »

I was 2 up on an RT on the first trip and an R1100S on the second.  Smaller and lighter is definitely better.  When I go back, I'd probably pick something like the BMW F800 GS or the Tiger 800.
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« Reply #43 on: April 03, 2016, 11:52:24 pm »

I hear what you're saying. I know the R1200RT from past rides, and there's enough extended travel to bring me to the RT. We'll see if I guessed right, eh?
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« Reply #44 on: April 07, 2016, 08:21:48 pm »

I just pulled the trigger on the Edelweiss central Alps tour. The fun starts on 3 July. Woohoo!  
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« Reply #45 on: April 08, 2016, 01:32:20 am »

 :popcorn: :popcorn:
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« Reply #46 on: April 08, 2016, 09:51:37 am »

Great news!  What bike did you choose?
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« Reply #47 on: April 08, 2016, 02:01:38 pm »

Enjoy!  Thumbsup Thumbsup
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« Reply #48 on: April 08, 2016, 02:17:39 pm »

Drop me a line when your plans firm up and we'll see if we can meet up  Bigok
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« Reply #49 on: April 08, 2016, 09:13:26 pm »


Great news!  What bike did you choose?


My #1 choice is a R1200RT, #2 is the GS (so I can be like Gene). I asked about a K1600GT. I had one as a two day loaner and liked it a lot. Edelweiss said "nein!" They're probably right. OTOH, if H-D can do Stelvio Pass, why not a K1600GT? (Whine, whine, whine...)

The RT may well be a handful in the hairpins. But at least one day will be "touring at triple digit speeds". The RT will eat this with a spoon.
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« Reply #50 on: April 08, 2016, 09:14:53 pm »


Drop me a line when your plans firm up and we'll see if we can meet up  Bigok
I'd like very much to do that.  Smile
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« Reply #51 on: April 09, 2016, 10:53:51 am »




My #1 choice is a R1200RT, #2 is the GS (so I can be like Gene). I asked about a K1600GT. I had one as a two day loaner and liked it a lot. Edelweiss said "nein!" They're probably right. OTOH, if H-D can do Stelvio Pass, why not a K1600GT? (Whine, whine, whine...)

The RT may well be a handful in the hairpins. But at least one day will be "touring at triple digit speeds". The RT will eat this with a spoon.


I've done the Stelvio on both a k16gtl and RT. The big K bike is work, the RT was a delight. It's not a supermotard but you'll have fun on the RT.
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« Reply #52 on: April 09, 2016, 12:29:23 pm »

My guess is Edelweiss will totally shoot me down, but I might just noodge them about a K1600GT. I like the new R1200RT, but it's still a boxer, and it still has that "feels like a sewing machine" motion. After riding a nearly turbine-smooth K, boxers just aren't on my purchase list. My K1200RS sometimes demands a bit of effort to make it happy, but, short of winning a lottery, it's not about to be replaced. Even after the ABS modulator failed a loooong way from home.
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« Reply #53 on: April 09, 2016, 01:44:05 pm »

Boxers are well suited for riding "the pace".

I agree with you on the sound. My new R1200RS sounds like an extended fart compared to a hairy-chested Guzzi  Bigsmile But, I'm slowly getting acclimated, thanks in part to the generous torque curve.
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« Reply #54 on: April 09, 2016, 09:37:51 pm »

I'm pretty sure I'm going to use the R1200RS on my tour July 6-16.
Most people suggest that smaller is better in the alps and the lighter weight of the R or RS models, along with luggage capacity and comfort for 2 up riding leads me to these two models. The RT had a bit of added weight and while it has a lot of great features, the bike just wasn't comfortable for me. I felt right at home on the RS.  I also looked into the Honda CBF1000 but Paradise Tours doesn't offer it.

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« Reply #55 on: April 10, 2016, 03:03:57 am »

In a Dutch motorcycle magazine they recently did a comparison of the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR, BMW S1000XR, Yamaha YZF-R1 and KTM 1290 Super Adventure. So a naked vs a crossover vs a sportbike vs an allroad. The question was: which is better in the mountains?
They had 2 riders: a professional tester and Joe Average.

Conclusion:
The R1 requires the hardest work to ride. The KTM has a high center of gravity, so it is harder work than you might think. The BMW was easiest to ride.
The professional can go hard with everything, when measured he is about as fast with all bikes but it takes most effort with the R1. Not so Joe Average, the R1 is really hard and exhausting for him and the BMW the easiest to ride fast, followed by the Tuono and the KTM.
Both riders concluded the BMW was the easiest, most relaxed, to ride.
But......what one person experiences as a stressful ride, someone else finds exhilarating. A bike that's hard to ride for some, gives others a satisfied feeling after a long and intense ride. That's not measurable, that is purely subjective. But that determines your fun.
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« Reply #56 on: April 10, 2016, 09:35:37 am »

That certainly mirrors my experience with the bikes I've demoed from my dealer.. The dealer is Hermy's in Port Clinton, PA and the road runs up to Hawk Mountain (ask for directions). Anyway, it's a fairly steep grade and includes turns that approximate hairpin turns. They don't match what I've seen in videos. Among other things, the grade remains constant throughout the turn.

I've, of course, run my K1200RS over the road several times as well as at least three different RT's, a K1300, and the K1600GT. In general, the newer demo bikes do better than the older ones. My K1200RS comes in closer to the newest bikes, but it's a sport bike, albeit several generations behind all but the oldest RT. In fact it was that RT that fared so poorly against the K1200RS that I bought the RS even though I originally planned to buy a boxer.

In various reviews and commentary there are complaints that some bike is so heavy as to be not worthy of consideration. In my experience it's often what the rider brings to the bike as much as what the bike brings to the rider. It will be interesting to see how that opinion holds up in a new riding regime: alpine passes.
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« Reply #57 on: April 13, 2016, 03:07:34 pm »

FWIW, the first time I did Stelvio was on an RT.  While it was certainly no problem, I enjoyed it more on a smaller bike a few years later.  I've done 3 Alps trips so far and I've never again rented something as large as an RT.

But, honestly, you'll love the trip no matter what bike you're on!



Technically Passo Gavia, but it's right next door to Stelvio Smile
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« Reply #58 on: April 13, 2016, 04:27:51 pm »

But it's not South Tyrol anymore, so you can't use German.

I like the Gavia better than the Stelvio, although going down the south side can be somewhat dangerous, being such a small road with a cliff and no barriers. I once had an oncoming rider almost going off that cliff, because he was startled when I came around a corner.
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« Reply #59 on: April 13, 2016, 05:06:56 pm »

I agree, Gavia is better than the Stelvio.
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« Reply #60 on: April 13, 2016, 08:25:46 pm »

Even the Youtube Stelvio videos hint at the opportunity for ...um... excitement. While I'm looking forward to doing some of the "name" passes, they seem to be rather like the Dragon. I love the turns but don't trust some of the riders for anything but potentially lethal stupidity. There's a video of a guy racing an R1200RT up the northern Stelvio road, doing passes on blind turns, etc.  EEK! Better still, in some of the turns, it's obvious he blew the intended line. Looking uphill for descending traffic is a good idea, but not a guarantee of future success. The notion of meeting this coming the other way isn't exactly comforting.
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« Reply #61 on: April 13, 2016, 09:24:00 pm »

I would much rather ride a fast, sweeping road like La Route Napoleon or the Cherohala but, that's just me  Smile
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« Reply #62 on: April 13, 2016, 11:46:59 pm »

Heh, heh, heh... It's a little like skiing. The big GS turns at speed are fun but some days it's time for some challenging slaloms.  Wink
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« Reply #63 on: April 14, 2016, 09:47:33 am »


I agree, Gavia is better than the Stelvio.


I agree.  While Stelvio was our original "bucket list" target, Gavia was just an unknown pass to get there.  I ended up being blown away by Gavia, and it remains one of my favorite rides of all time.



What could go wrong on such a narrow road?





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« Reply #64 on: April 14, 2016, 10:35:28 am »

When I rode Gavia in 1996, the south side was gravel, and I did it 2 up on an RT.  That was the day the guide was looking for someone to ride with in the parking lot in the morning.  It was a great day with just me, my wife and the guide hitting roads I would have never found on my own.

In 2005, I rode Gavia north to south by myself. on the south side going down (now paved), i ran into a huge line of cars stopped.  After working my way to the front, I found a box truck going up (upcoming traffic has the right of way) and a large sedan going down in a standoff.  Two men arguing loudly in language I didn't understand and gesticulating wildly, one looks at me and starts talking as I work my way by and I say "sprechen sie english" and he says "Shit!" and I keep working my way south laughing for the next 10 klicks.
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« Reply #65 on: April 15, 2016, 09:48:15 am »


[...]

What could go wrong on such a narrow road?
[...]


OK, what do you do in this situation? (Assuming this isn't a head-on collision, of course  EEK!)
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« Reply #66 on: April 15, 2016, 10:35:39 am »




OK, what do you do in this situation? (Assuming this isn't a head-on collision, of course  EEK!)


You honk your horn, listen for someone honking around the bend, proceed cautiously.

This is what it looks like coming up to that particular turn

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« Reply #67 on: April 15, 2016, 11:49:16 am »

Um... did you forget the "prayer" part?  Wink
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« Reply #68 on: April 15, 2016, 05:16:20 pm »

You just adapt.

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« Reply #69 on: April 15, 2016, 10:38:19 pm »

 EEK!
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« Reply #70 on: April 16, 2016, 02:38:44 am »

So that's also a reason to go small and leave your Goldwing home.
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« Reply #71 on: April 16, 2016, 02:55:57 am »


You just adapt.


Yep, that looks about right  Thumbsup
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« Reply #72 on: April 16, 2016, 01:20:31 pm »


So that's also a reason to go small and leave your Goldwing home.


AA's luggage limitations, notably the 50 lb. weight limit, preclude packing one in my luggage. Not owning one of these rascals is another limitation.  Razz
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« Reply #73 on: June 13, 2016, 09:32:12 pm »

OK, here's where things is at...

Edelweiss sent out the pre-tour package. It includes a booklet of the 1000+ German road signs, a pretty good map, a noodge to take the Innsbruck tour or "learn to ride Alps" class the day before the tour starts (with meet&greet and bike handover). Not for free, of course. It also includes a list of 23 participants (17 riders and 6, I assume, will occupy pillion seats) and two guides. Everyone is from somewhere in the States with the exception of a guy from Turkey and a guy from Australia. There's no hint about anyone's riding level or experience.

Also in the list of names is respective emails. There is an extend series of emails circulating. There is also a blog (themildonealps.wordpress.com). The group has dubbed itself The Mild Ones (inspired by the Brando film The Wild Ones), hence the blog name. (According to Edelweiss folks, it's unusual for a group to connect before the tour begins. I suspect most folks will be quite happy to at least have a clue, before Sunday, as to who they'll spend a week with.

The Edelweiss booklet sets out some basic rules: no drinking during the day, no overt racing, independent rides should have at least two riders (no solo rides), be home for dinner, obey the local traffic laws (for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Italy), and, in guided groups, stay behind the guide/leader. They also set out the traffic laws in summary form. There's a multilanguage phrase collection in the back. And it outlines the routes for each day. This part is a bit sketchy, though. There's a list of major towns (route points) and a comment about some place along the way. It's my understanding there are no fixed routes that can be inked into the supplied map or a personal GPS. That is, the guides may change things depending on traffic, weather, etc.

This tour uses a single hotel (Hotel Rezidenz Hochland - Seefeld, Innsbruck-land, Austria) and does "out and back" trips ranging from about 125-150 miles to about 300 for the Passo Dello Stelvio trip. Frankly, I'll be quite happy to settle in and not live out of saddlebags.

Edelweiss HQ is very responsive to questions. NTL, there are points that could be tuned up. The map thing is, IMHO, a significant omission (I tried building some sort of route with BaseCamp, but I'm sure it's far from accurate). A list of some of the potential stops on any trip would be nice. Day 1 includes a 3 hour(!) tour of Neuschwanstein castle (the one that looks it was designed by Disney). But that's not in the book. Another item that would be welcome is a list of local "where to get it". In emails, the question "does the hotel have washers and driers for clothes" came around. Some work with Google produced "no, but there is Tip Top Cleaners in town". If someone shows up with themselves but no bags (read "gear") or is missing something, it'd be nice to know what options exist.

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« Reply #74 on: June 15, 2016, 06:45:34 pm »

Comparison of european road signs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_European_road_signs

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They also set out the traffic laws in summary form.

In Italy there are no laws for two wheeled motorised vehicles, only 'suggestions'  Bigsmile
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« Reply #75 on: June 15, 2016, 09:10:25 pm »

Mercifully, the signs are generally easy enough to sort out. Save for, in Germany, round signs with a red border and something like "Anlieger Frei". Literally "Resident Free" - but in this case, residents are free to use the particular road. Anyone isn't. If you don't understand German, you're stuck.

Aside from that, the biggest adjustments I've had to make is following "vehicles from the right have the right of way". That is, if you approach an intersection, and a car is about to come out of a cross street, it's their right of way. Always. Sorta, there are a few exceptions. If a side street empties on to a major, busy road, the side street traffic loses right of way. If there's a yellow diamond on a pole, side street loses again. If the side street traffic has to cross a pedestrian path (i.e., sidewalk), loser. There are no 4-way stops, period. And no right turn on red (except if a traffic signal specifically allows it).

Germans are miserable about tailgating. Someone on your bumper at 80+ is no fun. Even the cops do it. Try to leave some room and... you guessed it, someone will fill the gap. OTOH, passing on the right is seriously illegal (yea!). Inhabiting the left lane is good for abuse and few people do it anyway - just not done.  And radar cameras abound - some visible, some artfully concealed (boo).

Italy... they have traffic laws?
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« Reply #76 on: June 16, 2016, 03:04:44 am »

Fixed speed cameras always face the driver (or rider) in Germany, so are no problem on a bike  Cool

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That is, if you approach an intersection, and a car is about to come out of a cross street, it's their right of way. .....
If a side street empties on to a major, busy road, the side street traffic loses right of way. .....
If the side street traffic has to cross a pedestrian path (i.e., sidewalk), loser.

All drivers from the right have right of way, AFAIK. Here in the Netherlands 'driver' is defined as 'everyone, but pedestrians'. So you have to yield to bicycles, people on horses or people with cattle.

Never heard of the 2nd and 3rd. AFAIK with the 2nd you will always have the yellow diamond and the people coming from the right will have a 'yield' or 'stop' sign.

But the rest is common in Europe. Nowhere do they have turn right on red in Europe and the 'anlieger frei' is common in a lot of countries.
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« Reply #77 on: June 16, 2016, 04:25:48 am »


Fixed speed cameras always face the driver (or rider) in Germany, so are no problem on a bike  Cool

Not always the case in Switzerland, as proven by the tickets that arrived in the mail a couple of weeks after I noticed the speed cameras too late  Embarassment



All drivers from the right have right of way, AFAIK. Here in the Netherlands 'driver' is defined as 'everyone, but pedestrians'. So you have to yield to bicycles, people on horses or people with cattle.

Yep! And as a commuting bicyclist it still throws me off when a car stops for me  EEK!


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« Reply #78 on: June 16, 2016, 08:52:27 am »



Not always the case in Switzerland, as proven by the tickets that arrived in the mail a couple of weeks after I noticed the speed cameras too late  Embarassment

Hmmm... I can't think of any cameras that get you leaving the scene of the crime. The big pylons, somewhat camouflaged cameras on posts off the road, and camera on platforms over the autobahn (enforcing 100 km/hr in places where speed really would hurt) all look at you.

A friend was blitzed while driving with his daughter in the front seat. The copy of the picture that came in the mail had her blacked out.  Lol

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Yep! And as a commuting bicyclist it still throws me off when a car stops for me  EEK!

Well, blasting through zebra stripes is a no-no, although I often see it honored in the breach. Or I get looks from stopping to let someone cross. Meh... Deal with it, Otto.
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« Reply #79 on: June 16, 2016, 09:30:34 am »


Hmmm... I can't think of any cameras that get you leaving the scene of the crime. The big pylons, somewhat camouflaged cameras on posts off the road, and camera on platforms over the autobahn (enforcing 100 km/hr in places where speed really would hurt) all look at you.


This was entering a small village. Dan was ahead of me and I saw the flash catch him as he went passed the camera. I had enough time to scrub a couple of KMs off my speed but it wasn´t enough to go unpenalized  Lol  

Just keep in mind: Not all of the cameras are front facing, nor on the autobahn Bigsmile

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« Reply #80 on: June 16, 2016, 11:25:25 am »


Not always the case in Switzerland, as proven by the tickets that arrived in the mail a couple of weeks after I noticed the speed cameras too late  Embarassment

...

AFAIK know it's only in Germany and with fixed camera's. In the Netherlands, France and Italy (and Switzerland apparently Bigsmile ) they can face both ways. In Sweden they always face your back, privacy and all that.
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« Reply #81 on: June 16, 2016, 01:00:18 pm »

IIRC, Darmstadt (south of Frankfurt, Germany) is supposed to be the blitzer capital. There are silver pylons with red plastic rings all over the place. Our niece lives in the area and I have to fight the natural urge to ...ah... crowd the speed limit (50 km/hr).  
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« Reply #82 on: June 16, 2016, 02:55:37 pm »

Looking at the Darmstadter Echo they only have 11 Blitzer.
I know at least 25 places in the Netherlands that have more (I think 48 is the most in one city over here).
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« Reply #83 on: June 16, 2016, 05:05:58 pm »



AFAIK know it's only in Germany and with fixed camera's. In the Netherlands, France and Italy (and Switzerland apparently Bigsmile ) they can face both ways. In Sweden they always face your back, privacy and all that.


In France and Italy, they get you from behind. The ticket comes in the mail without picture. At least the ones I got.  Embarassment
If you weren't driving that day, you can denounce whoever was using your car/bike.
My Italian friends tell me lots of grannies have been caught speeding...  Lol
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« Reply #84 on: June 16, 2016, 06:54:27 pm »


Looking at the Darmstadter Echo they only have 11 Blitzer.
I know at least 25 places in the Netherlands that have more (I think 48 is the most in one city over here).

Make that the Offenbach area, NE of Darmstadt. Our niece lives not far from Dietzenbach; the drive, after leaving the A3, becomes increasingly like walking into hostile photographer's studio. Oh my yes.  Rolleyes
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« Reply #85 on: July 18, 2016, 11:23:26 am »

Just to close out this thread...

My badly disjointed ride report says it all. This is the executive summary.

The weather was our friend. The riding was work, but I learned helluva lot. I'm finally reasonably good with hairpins, although I'd like to do some more riding to nail the skill(s) down. In a sense, Stelvio is "all that". OTOH, save for its high hairpin count on the Austrian side (48, numbered with signs counting down to the top), it's easier to cope with the 9% grade than some other passes with steeper grades. Finally, given the mob scene at the top, it turns out a lot of people know how to get there. Which means, again, it's less difficult that some hyperbole would suggest. But still isn't a ride in the park. Simple bends with blind finishes are, IMHO, scarier than hairpins, where it's possible to look up (or down) to see what's coming.

Obligatory Stelvio hairpin picture:
http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u188/RBEmerson/Edelweiss/Day%204/DSCF2194.jpg

Group riding sucks. Either I got into the racers (funny, Edelweiss says "no racing") or into the scary wobblers. There was no middle ground for "wanna ride, but wanna at least rubberneck on occasion". Me to a rider in my (fast) group: "Did you see that [whatever] just now?" Rider: "I was too busy to trying to keep up with the front."  Rolleyes

The morning briefings gave a general shape to the day's ride. In some cases, group A went this way, group B went that way. Changing groups wasn't a problem (i.e., no negations with group leaders needed). Routes usually changed on the fly. The routes I anticipated, when loading a Zumo 660, were a dead loss (my issue, no Edelweiss').

Traffic laws were ...um... honored in the breach. I was "blitzed" on the autobahn between Innsbruck and Landeck - 114 in a 110 km/hr zone. (Good news is there's no from license plate to trace - the bad news is some bureaucrat might just read the big Edelweiss sticker on the front and send the photo and fine notice to Edelweiss. Having a distinctive neon yellow jacket won't help.) Default 50 km/hr town limits, special 40 and 30 km/hr limits (often school or kid-rich areas)... hah. In this, and most other regards, things were lax compared to what was sent in writing.

Group dynamics (at least what I experienced)? Mostly Twofinger

The hotel was OK - IMHO paid too much. One rider got a local apartment - I want to follow up with him about costs. My wife, b-i-l and s-i-l stayed in a nearby small hotel/pension, paid less and the place was better "value for money" (I stayed there two nights after the trip ended). Germany, Austria, Italy/South Tirol, Switzerland (brief transit) all speak German. Still lots to see in all of the above.

Bikes offered were all over the map, from serious Ducatis to ditto for BMW bikes to tall adventure bikes (BMW and other) to R1200RT. And two H-D baggers. Had I known about the baggers (both riders did well on the passes), I would have pushed hard for the K1600. AFAIK, there were no break-downs. Three drops that I know of (garage-level drop for me while adjusting another bike's bag - my error). I forgot to mention... In the garage, someone dropped their bike against another bike and... at least five bikes want over like dominoes.   No major damage done. Dropper wasn't taken out back and shot.

Use Edelweiss again? No. DIY? Probably. Where? TBD

- - -

R1200RT. Do it again? Not if I can help it. Didn't (and don't) like the "boxer buzz" at any engine speed about 3K (less than 3K the bike didn't much to earn its keep), didn't like very frequent shifts to maintain 3K+. Which is odd; in lower gears it was relatively easy to lift the front wheel with lots of throttle applied. Overall handling and ride were good (see below for computer to control settings). Ergos were good. Side and center stand were designed by someone hating on owners. Computer stuff? Haters gotta hate, I guess. Far too difficult to do simple tasks. Panniers/saddle bags and tank bag included with bike rental.

http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u188/RBEmerson/Edelweiss/Day%202/20160705113417.jpg
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« Reply #86 on: July 18, 2016, 01:24:45 pm »


.....
Traffic laws were ...um... honored in the breach. I was "blitzed" on the autobahn between Innsbruck and Landeck - 114 in a 110 km/hr zone. (Good news is there's no from license plate to trace - the bad news is some bureaucrat might just read the big Edelweiss sticker on the front and send the photo and fine notice to Edelweiss. Having a distinctive neon yellow jacket won't help.)
.....

Uhm......... For you, I seriously hope they will not find you.

Don't speed on the Austrian motorways if the max. speed isn't 130!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chances are it's lower because of the environment. That means any speeding is a criminal offence and fines can go up to €3000.
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« Reply #87 on: July 18, 2016, 01:36:33 pm »

Oh the things Edelweiss doesn't tell you...  Mad2

I got by on at least two other Austrian blitzers (the boxy things, on a pole, with a lens cover and a red light source) that didn't fire, and at least two pillar-types in Italy. The leader swore he knew where all the blitzers are.  
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« Reply #88 on: July 18, 2016, 04:32:37 pm »

Without a pic of the licence plate, I wouldn't worry about it.
Your view of organized group tours is similar to my experience. It's not easy to fit in a group unless you book with friends.

Thanks for the report.
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« Reply #89 on: July 18, 2016, 04:56:22 pm »

One thought that crossed my mind was "is there a back camera, too?" I've never seen one in all the time I've driving in Europe. But then I saw cops literally hiding behind a bush to nail unsuspecting bikers charging around in Odenwald. Anything's possible, I guess.

Here's another thought: if most bikes have no front plate, they can't be tracked. I can't imagine the stream of revenue from nailing bikes isn't pursued.  Headscratch
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« Reply #90 on: July 18, 2016, 06:07:44 pm »

I don't know about Austria, I got awards from France only. They got me from behind. 106 in a 90 kmh on a Nationale. € 75.
None from Italy, where we weren't really reasonable...  Bigsmile
None also from Switzerland or Austria.

All the roadside radars I saw had rear facing cameras.

The bikes had French plates.

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« Reply #91 on: July 18, 2016, 09:30:16 pm »

My general experience is either the "box on a pole", "big silver pylons with red plastic bands", smaller boxes on a tripod, or cameras on an overhead framework (on the autobahn, typically in places where the road does something scary than demands speed control). AFAIK, they all get the front plate on any vehicle with one. And there are the cameras to nail people that let the front of their car nose into the intersection box - typically urban.

No awards to date although I thought I was caught doing something fast and bad in a construction zone. A few years later, I'm now inclined to think I didn't get blitzed.  Wink
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« Reply #92 on: July 21, 2016, 10:47:06 am »

Sigh... I can't leave this topic alone. Ignore the post - I won't be too offended. Much. Well, maybe a little. Or a lot...  Lol
 
I found a collection of way cool pass videos, from Alexander Thiessen, on YouTube. Instead of lots of wind noise and a little motor noise, he uses a music track. It's good I ...um... I have this v. cool collection of riding music on my phone.  Wink Anyway, look him up by name. I think he's riding a KTM of some sort, but that's based a couple of quick video bits on the top of some passes.

OK - here comes the real obsessional part. It's the line through the hairpins turns.

I think I saw an exception in some video and, personally, on the roads but... almost everybody does the "apex near the mid-point of the turn" line. Which is sooooo wrong.  The turn usual begins by moving to the far (outside) edge of the road. The turn hits the apex of the medial strip. And the turn then continues to the outside of the of the road leaving the hairpin. All of this sets up the rider for meeting oncoming traffic - car, camper, bus, bike, bicycle, hiker. Orrrrr... smacking into the retaining wall (going uphill) or smacking the barrier (if there is one) or spinning out into thin air as the road is cut into a very steep slope - yeah, like the side of a steep mountain. Anyway, this happens coming downhill. And yes there are cars, etc., etc. coming up.

Going uphill... at the approach, move to the center of the road (can't stay on the right unless the bike folds in the middle). Continue beyond the median strip (almost a straight line from the centerline of the road) and then do the turn. Done right, the bike continues to stay inside of the centerline of the road. And there's a look at what's coming up/downhill.

Downhill... move to the right or outside of the road, delay the turn a bit (that quick look thing) and follow the edge of the road around. Easy-peasy. Going up or down, the line can be adjusted, at any point, without smacking walls, cars, etc.

With videos shot by helmet mounted cameras, any helmet motion obvious. Almost without exception, nobody looks at the descending or ascending road approaching the turn. Once above the treeline (no more trees, just low grass and rocks), it's easy to see if anything big is approaching the turn from the other way. In fact, in many of my turns, my focus was well up or down the hill. There are two payoffs here: 1) the surprise factor is reduced, and 2) "you go where you look". Looking at the front tire is ...um... dumb. If the wheel falls off, you'll know that rather quickly. And, "you go where you look" - following the front wheel into a wall or off a cliff. Neither are desirable outcomes.

Below the treeline, things aren't as easy. Sometimes the trees are open enough to get at least a hint about cars, etc. Sometimes not. Plan for being surprised.

Speed and braking... slower (where countersteering no long works) turns need some throttle (speed is life) through the turn. Just a bit or a bit more if the grade is steeper. Use the clutch to modulate the speed as needed - feather the clutch, don't totally disengage (the bike slows, bad things happen - speed is life). If you're going for the brakes, use the rear brake almost entirely. Remember the bike is on an incline. Going up, the weight shifts back; the rear wheel is carrying more load. The front brake isn't to be as helpful. Locking/ABS it won't improve the quality of the day. Do expect a full stop may have to happen (stupid car, bus, or bike in the middle of the road...) and possibly having to roll back to get out of the way. A foot dab into thin isn't much fun.

Downhill, there's so much weight on the front wheel/tire as it is. Jam the front brake and watch the rear wheel try pass the front wheel. This is not a desirable outcome, either. Although the rear wheel won't be as loaded as going up, shift the weight back a bit anyway, and go for the rear brake first and mostly. Additionally, using the front brake changes how the suspension is working. Lots of front brake compresses the forks, and generally makes a mess of things as the bike settles on the change in all of the shocks. Gearing down a gear won't hurt, but dropping back to first, coming downhill, loads the rear tire, leaving less room in the overall "traction budget" for the brake. There's no need for throttle here. After all, the bike is going down a hill...

And that's about it. BTW, all of this works even on "flatland" roads. The "looking in" line isn't the fastest line, but it does leave room for surprises.

Go get 'em in the Alps! (or wherever).
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« Reply #93 on: July 21, 2016, 12:55:42 pm »

Sigh... I knew I'd forget something. Weight shift.

My ride up Stelvio a train wreck. My turns, that had been working an easier pass (Timmelsjoch), were... trash. I lived to get to the top. The guide said no movement, no nothing. True dat.  Embarassment

What should have happened isn't hard to do. Going slow enough that the bike is being steered, not countersteered, weight goes outside, outside, outside of the bike. The bike leans over so it rides on the shoulder of the tire not the center. The bike now wants to turn. If anything, the bike can be put over far enough to turn too fast or too much - overturning. If the bike stops moving... oops. Plan ahead, carry some throttle (speed is life), and be ready for a foot down if needed.

Going fast enough for countersteering to take over, weight goes to the inside, inside, inside (even kneedraggers are doing much the same thing). The bike will stand up more, adding "money" to the traction budget. Carry a low balance in the account, hit some gravel, need to tighten the turn, whatever, and the tires could go out (traction balance is overdrawn). In front of a car, etc. it's even worse.

How much weight shift is needed? At low speeds probably nothing more than keeping your body upright will git 'er done. Or maybe lean out a bit. It all depends on the bike. Heading around a curve a mind-numbing speeds, lean into the turn or maybe slide to the inside on the seat. Do kneedragging if you want be thought a... never mind.

Why do all of this? Think of a tire as part of cone. The cone has an ogive shape (think of a bullet or the shape of a nicely shaped pair of ...um... ta-tas). Roll the tire a bit and the tire won't be in a hurry to turn. The more the bike leans, tilting onto more of the tread shoulder, the more the tire wants to turn. Leaning out on a slow speed turn enhances turning. As I said, it's possible to turn more than wanted. Changing the lean, as well as steering, will change the rate of turn.

On fast turns, the traction budget becomes important. Reducing lean keeps the balance up in the budget. Again, tweaking the lean. as well as steering, will control the rate of turn.

Sort out all of this before heading for the passes. Even simple passes like Penserpass will expose your failure to practice the above. Do turns at less than full-on allows playing with the moves with less demand to get things exactly right. The more comfortable the moves feel, the more speed can be used. Carry with you when you return to flatland. It all still works coping with curves and turns from intersections.
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« Reply #94 on: July 21, 2016, 01:15:30 pm »


.......
Speed and braking... slower (where countersteering no long works) turns need some throttle (speed is life) through the turn. Just a bit or a bit more if the grade is steeper. Use the clutch to modulate the speed as needed - feather the clutch, don't totally disengage (the bike slows, bad things happen - speed is life). If you're going for the brakes, use the rear brake almost entirely. Remember the bike is on an incline. Going up, the weight shifts back; the rear wheel is carrying more load. The front brake isn't to be as helpful. Locking/ABS it won't improve the quality of the day. Do expect a full stop may have to happen (stupid car, bus, or bike in the middle of the road...) and possibly having to roll back to get out of the way. A foot dab into thin isn't much fun.

Downhill, there's so much weight on the front wheel/tire as it is. Jam the front brake and watch the rear wheel try pass the front wheel. This is not a desirable outcome, either. Although the rear wheel won't be as loaded as going up, shift the weight back a bit anyway, and go for the rear brake first and mostly. Additionally, using the front brake changes how the suspension is working. Lots of front brake compresses the forks, and generally makes a mess of things as the bike settles on the change in all of the shocks. Gearing down a gear won't hurt, but dropping back to first, coming downhill, loads the rear tire, leaving less room in the overall "traction budget" for the brake. There's no need for throttle here. After all, the bike is going down a hill...
......

Disagree. Want to stop? Front break it is.

Unless you're talking about slowing down when in a turn. But that's not how I read it.
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« Reply #95 on: July 21, 2016, 01:49:25 pm »

To anyone who tells me they want to ride the Stelvio, I suggest they practice their U turns in an elevated parking lot.
The road is is basicaly that, with a great view, straight stetches with tight U turns known as tornenti and bonus, a zoo on top, on weekends.  Lol

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« Reply #96 on: July 21, 2016, 02:24:33 pm »

No and yes.

The no part:
Going uphill, there's a distinct chance of seeing the front lock up or close to it. If the steering is cocked around, the front tire washes out, followed by a test of the helmet and AGATT padding. BTDT in gravel. Padding worked just fine, thanks. Bike went down (well, there's surprise), the saddle bag broke off, mount broke, and... I don't to talk about it. The weight's more in the back. The overall balance of the bike changes, calling for adjusting the turn, which may (clear road) or may not (cars, etc.) be a viable option.

Going downhill, more of the weight is on the front wheel. Get into the front brakes and the front suspension will probably move close to the end of compression (assuming progressive springs or shocks). The less-weighted back wheel is free to keep moving. Around a pivot point: the steering stem. This is Not Good. Obviously rear end swapping isn't going to happen every time but... happen it does.

The yes part:
All of that said, if the braking isn't getting done fast enough, of course the other (front) brake is needed. But remember that comes at a price. As with much in this life, ya pays yer money, ya takes yer choice.

HTH  Smile
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« Reply #97 on: July 21, 2016, 02:34:41 pm »


To anyone who tells me they want to ride the Stelvio, I suggest they practice their U turns in an elevated parking lot.
The road is is basicaly that, with a great view, straight stetches with tight U turns known as tornenti and bonus, a zoo on top, on weekends.  Lol


Good point. Finding a garage with really good Kehren (This is southern Tirol, where Italian is out numbered by German, about 2:1 - and the locals use Stilfserjoch a lot) is probably a challenge, but if one can be found, go for it! However, it's right turns that are the challenge. They're the ones with the shortest radius. Left turns have an appreciably greater radius.

The circus is on the weekends? It all just gets bigger and crazier. This is on a Thursday and parking was a challenge even then.
http://i168.photobucket.com/albums/u188/RBEmerson/Edelweiss/Day%204/DSCF2214.jpg
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« Reply #98 on: July 22, 2016, 02:00:42 am »

The rear brake as a way for slowing down is still only for smaller adjustments, mainly in the corners.
Your front break still works best for stopping fastest. The ABS on my rear brake starts intervening way before the ABS on my front brakes, both uphill and downhill. It's also a single brake with less feel and not really powerful, at least compared to the front brakes on my bike.

The geometry of ones bike is probably also a factor here, but if I were to use my rear breaks more/heavier than my front brakes (in the mountains or not) I'd be in serious trouble in no time.
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« Reply #99 on: July 22, 2016, 10:32:06 am »

I stand by what I said. I hope the explanations are clear enough. If not, I'll be happy to try to fill in any parts that may be unclear.

As always, "ride your own ride".
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« Reply #100 on: December 29, 2016, 05:26:02 pm »

Okey dokey... here we go again.

I'm seriously over Edelweiss. I want to see more Alps. How to do it?

The good people on BMW MOA are strong on Beach's Motorcycle Adventures. There's a lot to like. And then there's the $8K+ bill for all that good fun.  EEK!

I've been busy POing the folks on AdvRider about this issue. Someone posted the current Air Canada charges to ship your bike to Frankfurt and... see below, extracted from the BMW MOA post extracted from the discussion on AdvRider.
Quote from: Me!
I've been thrashing with what to do about the trip. Looking at a similar thread on ADVRider, it turns out that shipping my bike, via Air Canada, will come in "under $2K". That's subject to the inevitable surprises and the state of the US and Canadian dollars ($1USD ~= $0.75CDN). Two major add-ons are 1) getting to and from Toronto to pack/unpack the bike, and 2) the cost of round trip YYZ-FRA relative to PHL-FRA with Lufthansa (or maybe AA, if they resume their direct flights). Figure $300 for the road trip (including gas, food, and a night Motel 6 each way). The air ticket difference remains a mystery for now. At the FRA end, life gets much easier. All that's left is to gas up (shipping requires a near-empty gas tank) and ride about an hour to my in-laws (no lodging cost, minimal gas costs).

From there, picking a conservative number, $125/day should cover staying at a pension (think sort of a B&B w/ breakfast thrown in), lunch and dinner, and gas. That comes out to $1750 for 14 days. Budget $2K and the total bill (less tickets) comes to around $4500 for a bike (mine) and accommodations, meals, and gas. By comparison, Beach's comes in "under $9K" for bike accommodations, breakfast, and dinner. Gas and lunch are not included. Being insanely conservative, that's a $4K delta. Or almost the trip again. The 14 days includes travel from the Frankfurt area to "somewhere near big mountains" (~6hrs on the autobahn system, longer if detouring through the Schwartzwald (Black Forest) or wandering around in Bavaria. So many places, so little time...

As to routing, the amount of information about touring the Alps, anywhere from "wide and pretty" to "scared the author witless and took two tries before a successful ride". The same applies to general locations, from the Pyrenees to the Dolomites and eastward.  There are a number of guide books. The touring press over here is a serious drain on my wallet (4-5 titles, most monthly), and, of course, articles run from "have a nice picnic" to "bring your big boy pants, you're going to need 'em".

But wait, that's not all. My wife and I, if she's still talking to me, would probably spend about a week, split on either side of the 14 days, with her family. Which means the bike would be east of the Atlantic for about three weeks. Woohoo.

So... go ahead, show me where I've missed the obvious.
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« Reply #101 on: December 30, 2016, 11:47:15 am »

Two items need some thought: insurance and breakdowns.

We self-insure, with our insurer's approval, when we rent a car here. I need to see what happens with the bike.

The big McGuffin is breakdowns. I'll prep the bike in late May - early June (to allow time to check everything). Brakes, tires, "drain it and fill it", and overall health are on the list. But... "life happens". Somewhere near Niederunteroberkuhdorf the bike goes sour. In the States I have an app to summon AAA. Over here...  Shrug

Input?
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« Reply #102 on: December 30, 2016, 01:29:45 pm »

I personally have no knowledge of moto insurance for breakdowns, but a quick internet search brought up this link: http://www.worldmotorcycletours.co.uk/travel-information/breakdown-insurance-europe

They appear to be UK based, but they do list some US trips, so perhaps they can help you.


Or join BMW MOA and have access to their Roadside Assistance book, which lists people from all over the world who are willing to drop everything and come to your aid if you need something  Cool
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« Reply #103 on: December 30, 2016, 05:15:56 pm »

What would I do without you? I, of course, have an Anonymous Book. I'm feeling better already.  Smile
The British folks seem to be using AXA. I'll look into that as an option via State Farm (our insurer) or AAA.
Great thanks!

BTW, I saw your MotoMarder pix. Lucky you to have a place like that handy.
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« Reply #104 on: December 30, 2016, 05:39:08 pm »

At two grand to ship you're looking at $142/day for two weeks. There are 14 day rentals available in Frankfurt for around 100 euro/day including insurance and (usually) roadside assistance, although you might not find the bike  you prefer.
I've rented in Germany and Italy with no problems other than really hating the R1200GS I got in Venice - just too tall for me.
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« Reply #105 on: December 31, 2016, 08:46:58 am »

If you're referring to Stephan Knopf in Frankfurt, his "hottest" offering is an R1150RT. I put a couple of hundred miles on one (loaner from dealer) and was not sad to turn it in. No power, shook like a sewing machine... nothing I'd spend two weeks on, going up and down on secondary roads, let alone passes.

I found a K1600GT in IIRC Nice France for an attractive price. Train, bus, or air travel from and to Frankfurt (in-laws) wipes that out. Ditto for DD's recommendation for MotoMarder. I'm not wed to a BMW, but something with a fairing and shaft drive is a must. That opens up FJR's, Connies, and Honda's ST1300. So far, though, I'm not coming up with a win on them.

In addition to the pro/diem cost, there is the "I know this bike intimately" value and the "my bike here! How freaking cool is that?!?" value. Intangibles but some things I'd just flat pay for. Heck, I really don't need a motorcycle. But life without one would be ...um... unsatisfactory. So I pay for "satisfactory". TINSTAAFL, eh.
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« Reply #106 on: December 31, 2016, 10:28:22 am »


Train, bus, or air travel from and to Frankfurt (in-laws) wipes that out. Ditto for DD's recommendation for MotoMader. I'm not wed to a BMW, but something with a fairing and shaft drive is a must. That opens up FJR's, Connies, and Honda's ST1300. So far, though, I'm not coming up with a win on them.


I take then that flying in somewhere else is not an option?




In addition to the pro/diem cost, there is the "I know this bike intimately" value and the "my bike here! How freaking cool is that?!?" value. Intangibles but some things I'd just flat pay for.


This is understandable. I guess it is just consideration of the ratio between "money" and "intangible happiness"  Bigsmile
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« Reply #107 on: December 31, 2016, 10:32:46 am »

Someone on ADV posted up these guys:

http://www.holgers-zweirad-shop.de/html/motorent.html (no BMW listed)

http://www.motorradvermietung.de/en/price-list/



And then, of course, google provided a couple more:

http://www.rental-motorcycle.com/europe/germany/frankfurt_rental.html

http://www.2wheeltravel.com/Motorcycle%20Hire/germanyhire.htm


Anyway, it looks like there are plenty of rental places in/near Frankfurt. I did not take the time to compare the pricings, so who know if anything is attractive to you.
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« Reply #108 on: December 31, 2016, 12:02:39 pm »

 Inlove I'm looking at some of the obvious Swiss passes. I promise I'll try to work Basel into my schedule.
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« Reply #109 on: December 31, 2016, 03:12:54 pm »


 Inlove I'm looking at some of the obvious Swiss passes. I promise I'll try to work Basel into my schedule.


Beerchug
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« Reply #110 on: January 01, 2017, 11:04:03 pm »

Landed in PHL around 4PM today and now catching up on stuff.

Almost all of the upper scale rentals come in around $2400 (1.12USD) for 14 days. Toss in the time with the in-laws (add about a week or ~21 days total), and flying the bike makes more sense.

Insurance is the biggest point of concern. I misunderstood who was insuring our car rentals: BoA not State Farm. Oops. NTL, I'll have a chat with State Farm and AAA as a starting point in the US (here now = PHL area, not FRA area). And I'll look into Stefan Knopf's offerings for insurance, etc.
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« Reply #111 on: January 02, 2017, 01:24:19 pm »

I'll be very interested in what you find regarding insuring your bike in Europe. I've researched that in the past and found that none of our local or major insurers (Canadian) would cover bikes outside North America.
I know of one European insurer, also present in Canada, AXA insurance, offers or at least did in the past, offer motorcycle liability insurance for non EU residents. IIRC it is done through a French insurance broker.
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« Reply #112 on: January 02, 2017, 01:33:25 pm »

Check in with Stefan Knopf. His web site knopftours.com has a lot of useful information, including prices, about the needed Green Card insurance (barring a big surprise, non-European insurers aren't likely to do this at a sane rate). I just had a brief email exchange with Stefan. He included a number of useful items including Air Canada documentation. Although Knopf tours has ocean shipping options, he said, in so many words, AC is the least expensive way to "fly" a bike to Euro-land.

ADDED: He also offers a comprehensive policy (typically 100% coverage), and a health policy. NOTE: for anyone 65 or older, a letter from a doctor, certifying you're able to safely operate your bike (full description to be in the letter) is needed. I'll 'fess up and say I need to do this letter. I'll post a boilerplate version in a day or two.
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« Reply #113 on: January 09, 2017, 11:23:47 am »

Wondering if my AAA membership does anything useful, I came up with the following. Spoiler alert: don't break down in Austria or Switzerland...

Germany?
Services provided to AAA members:

            All members are entitled to roadside assistance and free towing to a garage, if necessary. Members should call 01802 22 22 22 or from mobile phones the short number 22 22 22. When the member travels on the motorway and uses the phone booth along the motorway to call for help, the member will receive help from ADAC.
            Free maps and books at offices — books are in German.

Italy?
Services provided to AAA members:

    Primary Road Assistance:
        If visiting Italy for 90 days or less, AAA members driving private vehicles in Italy are entitled to primary assistance (i.e. on-the-spot repair in case of minor breakdowns or towing to the nearest ACI repair shop) free of charge on presentation of their membership card, in case of breakdown or accident.
            For service call: 803.116 – toll free, if calling from an Italian landline or mobile phone; 800.116.800 – toll free, if calling from a foreign mobile phone; 39.99.43.116 – reserved for deaf people to call for roadside assistance via SMS (charged according to mobile provider’s rates).
            Rental cars are excluded from this benefit, so it is advisable for members to inquire with the rental company as to what to do in case of break down.
            IMPORTANT NOTICE: A national driving license is not sufficient for driving in Italy. Please be sure to apply at your local AAA office for an IDP to go with your national driving license before leaving the United States.
            Foreign members from overseas driving private cars is not a frequent occurrence in Italy. Should AAA members be asked to pay for the above ACI services, the member should send the original invoice and a copy of a valid AAA membership card to the following address for reimbursement:

Automobile Club d’Italia
Foreign Relations Office
via Marsala 8
00185 Roma
Italy

Austria?
Österreichischer Automobil-Motorrad-Und Touring Club (ÖAMTC)*
Address: Schubertring 1-3
1010 Vienne

Web: www.oeamtc.at

*Club participates in the global discounts program. Members of this club are eligible to receive discounts when traveling to other countries.

Switzerland?
Touring Club Suisse (TCS)*
Address: 4 chemin de Blandonnet
B.P. 820
1214 Vernier

Web: www.tcs.ch

*Club participates in the global discounts program. Members of this club are eligible to receive discounts when traveling to other countries.
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« Reply #114 on: January 16, 2017, 09:48:35 pm »

Sigh... Air Canada hasn't figured out this year's rates for Fly Your Bike, and won't have them until mid-April. Geeze, makes it hard to get reservations in, people... GNGH!!!
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 11:15:20 am by RBEmerson » Logged

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« Reply #115 on: January 19, 2017, 09:59:07 pm »

...watching this thread closely! Hoping to fly my LeMans over next year via Air Canada.
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« Reply #116 on: January 19, 2017, 11:35:26 pm »

You can ship out of Vancouver, so there is some hope. OTOH, holding your breath while waiting for the program info is probably not conducive to an extended life expectancy...

Oddly, last year the info was out by mid-March IIRC.  Shrug

Meanwhile, if you haven't done so already, check out Kurviger.de for an excellent route planning site.
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« Reply #117 on: January 23, 2017, 01:51:00 pm »

Not sure why you would welcome all the red tape of shipping a bike when, you could just arrive somewhere in yurup, plunk down yer credit card, and head off on a bike Smile
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« Reply #118 on: January 23, 2017, 05:00:33 pm »

Well, part of it is there is a definite cost advantage over a rental (assuming AC doesn't go nuts), part of it is riding a bike I know well, and part of it is "how cool is this?". Oh, and I get to toss in a ride from Philadelphia to Toronto or Montreal. The slow way back from Montreal offers the White Mountains in NH and VT Rt 100. Woohoo!

On the cost thing, rentals in the R1200RT and K1600GT range are on the pricey side. No surprise. And something smaller, basically some sort of dual-pupose 650-800, just doesn't get it for me. BTDT don't want to do it for two weeks. Some renters are basically nickle and diming on cases, etc. Stefan Knopf just doesn't list anything on my list. I know I'm being picky but, hey, it's my trip. Smile

The Edelweiss trip was on a wethead RT - you've probably read my whining about it elsewhere. 'Nuff said. If I could get in some time on a FJR or ST1300 or Concours here (to get some familiarity), I'd look for them in Germany. But I haven't seen them listed anywhere (odd, that). I do know the K1600 somewhat, and I think it'd do well. NTL I know my bike far better.

And the cool factor is an intangible, but worth some aggro to get there.
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« Reply #119 on: March 29, 2017, 11:38:09 am »

The options are to do a solo ride and arrange my own rental or take an organized trip.


Well RB, you know my position on that, having toured self guided the last 22 years in a row.

I haven't taken a guided tour (never will) but I have had participants send me their GPS routes that I have looked at and man, do they miss out on a lot of great roads that are right there, as in, parallel to the main roads they are taking. You won't find them in any of the more popular Alps Motorcycle Touring books either (I have them). That is the fun part called "exploring" and all you need is a good map to look those up.
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« Reply #120 on: March 29, 2017, 11:38:42 pm »

Sigh... some of this is going to seem to be re-litigating last summer's tour. I'm pretty much over that. Really. But...

In the course of cruising YouTube, I found some recent Edelweiss tour videos. AFAIK folks were having a good time, the groups seemed to be 5-6 bikes at the most, and the one guide I saw was very much "up". The direct opposite of my experience. The point being, it's a crap shoot about how the tour, in a general sense, will go. One facet of any tour I've looked at is the use of "three and four star hotels". Sounds all very posh and glamorous. And expensive. The "stars" refer to how many toys (pool, spa, sauna, massage, workout and on and on) there are, not a Michelin rating (stops at three and only a few places are so blessed). That's a ton of cash for, ultimately, not much. By the end of a hard day on the road, a workout room isn't my next stop.

The "secret roads"... spend time with a good map and a number of interesting roads show up. Spend some time with Google Earth to "overfly" a "secret road", and it's no longer a secret. But, really, on a limited time budget, it's a matter of triage with slowly exploring the outback taking second place to "pass bagging". And the same for "secret passes". If one has a summer to hunt and sniff around, there's a lot to find off the usual routes. No question about that. But, again, with a limited amount of time, that's probably not going to happen.

So a tour will cover the obvious places, use many (but not all!) of the common routes, and use the usual stops. And there's no surprise in any of it.

This time around I wanted to check off some obvious boxes, but at least try to mix things up a bit, too. Originally I planned on having two weeks, but that just isn't going to happen this time. So I'm making the best of what I can with what I've got.  Smile
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« Reply #121 on: March 30, 2017, 05:21:51 am »

I wouldn't fret about finding secret roads  Smile

You can throw a dart at the map and chances are that you will hit a nice road.

You are on a motorcycle in Europe. How bad can it be?  Cool
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« Reply #122 on: March 30, 2017, 10:01:22 am »

So very true on all counts!

But it is nice to have someone point out, for example, the "secret" way to avoid the nightmare that is Brenner Pass.
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« Reply #123 on: March 30, 2017, 10:40:11 am »

But, again, with a limited amount of time, that's probably not going to happen.


Sorry, I missed that part. I am there for 6 to 8 weeks every summer.

Not to worry, Trump will make everything "great again" and give everybody 6 weeks of paid vacation. lol
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« Reply #124 on: March 30, 2017, 01:54:04 pm »

Wait.....you don't have even six weeks of paid vacation?  Bigsmile
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« Reply #125 on: March 30, 2017, 02:20:34 pm »


Wait.....you don't have even six weeks of paid vacation?  Bigsmile


You're right, I don't.

I have 52 weeks of paid vacation a year. I took Freedom 56 and I retired early.  Bigsmile
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