Riding your motorbike abroad – Part One

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic in the desert Nevada 700px

In the first of three guides about riding your motorbike abroad, The Bike Insurer lifts the lid on what you need to get in place before you set off.

Planning your trip abroad

As a British rider, the summer months aren’t long enough, which is why the temptation to ride abroad and escape to sunnier climes is often given in to.

Riding breaks and holidays in mainland Europe are well priced and accessible for almost anyone in the UK, which is why thousands of riders make the trip across the Channel or the North Sea every year.

As well as riding on the other side, there are plenty of other things that you should prepare yourself for as a Brit abroad.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to planning your motorbike trip abroad.

Is my UK motorbike licence valid in Europe?

As a UK licence owner, you’re entitled to ride in mainland Europe and your licence is just as good as any from France, Italy or Spain.

Driving licence close up

Pick a country

Based on proximity, scenery and climate, France and Spain are popular destinations for UK motorbike riders.

However your search for the perfect destination on two-wheels doesn’t have to be restricted to these two countries.

With the Channel Tunnel going direct to Belgium, visits to Northern Europe are feasible with Germany and its autobahns well within reach.

Basically, mainland Europe is your oyster and there’s nothing from stopping you riding all the way to Italy, Croatia or Greece.

Once you’ve picked your destination you can then begin to start your planning in earnest.

Learn the laws

The first law to concern yourself with is what side of the road you ride on but, unless you’re going to Malta or Cyprus after crossing the Channel, you’re going to be on the right.

The other laws might take a bit more research but they will keep you on the right side of the law when you get to mainland Europe.

As part of your research you should read up on speed limits, required paperwork and alcohol limits.

You should also research what compulsory equipment you are required to carry. This normally includes warning triangles and reflective panels, as well as the famous GB sticker.

Paperwork

When travelling abroad you need to be covered by insurance, both for your motorbike and for yourself.

Some motorbike insurance policies cover your bike when travelling abroad but some don’t. As a result you need to check that your bike is covered for foreign travel.

If your bike is insured in the UK you are usually covered Third Party Only abroad, but you should check with your insurance adviser – it will cost you more money in the long run if something goes wrong on your travels.

The same applies to breakdown cover. You may need to extend your cover or take out a separate policy for the trip.

In terms of personal insurance, it’s always worth taking out a policy for a trip abroad.

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to free state or reduced healthcare abroad but it’s not as extensive as private insurance policies.

Then there’s your licence and counterpart, Vehicle Registration Document (V5) and all your insurance documentation, too – all of which you’ll need to take with you.

Finally, your MOT and tax must be up to date. If either expires when you’re away it will invalidate your insurance.

A health check for your motorbike

mechanics in the garage tinkering with a motorbike

You don’t want to get halfway down the Champs Élysées for your motorbike to breakdown, putting a premature end to your holiday.

So it’s important that you run some health and maintenance checks on your bike before you even plan your holiday, because if your bike isn’t up to it then it won’t be feasible.

The best way to do this is to get your motorbike serviced to ensure there are no major issues with it before you go away.

It’s advisable to do this way before you plan on going away, ensuring plenty of time to repair your motorbike if need be.

Even if your bike is recently serviced, there are simple maintenance checks you can do to keep your motorbike in top condition.

You should check your tyre pressures, tread depth and keep all fluids and liquids topped up to their optimum levels.

Am I good to go?

If you’ve got everything from the list above then you’re almost ready to get on the road and off to foreign lands, however there are some essentials that are worth considering, too.

Next page: Riding your motorbike abroad – Part Two