Tour Prep

Bike & Biker Preparation


You are going to be away from the UK for a while, the last thing you want is a problem with your bike 1000 miles away from home. It would be a good idea to get European cover for yourself in case the worst should happen. Service your bike before you head off, even if you still have a little life in those tyres or your chain has one notch left to stretch, GET THEM CHANGED!

Buy a friction mat for you panniers, around £5 or so at your local bike dealer, but will save you damaged paintwork form the friction off your panniers.

You will need something to carry all the clothes you have put on one side, which from experience, half will not see the light of day. Throw over saddlebags and putting a rucksack over the pillion seat then covering the whole thing with a cargo net should give you a decent amount of space; it's not expensive and worked a treat. Take a waterproof throw over to protect your luggage incase it pours down.

You will see many people around Europe on bikes and scooters with nothing but shorts and t-shirts on, don't be a fool and follow their lead. Make sure you wear suitable protective gear. These are roads and conditions you don't know, don't take the risk. Waterproofs are also an excellent precautionary piece of kit to have.

Don't let anyone you don't trust know you are going away, or leave any clues that would suggest as such. Answerphone messages should never indicate you are away and a timer for your lights wouldn't be a bad idea either. If your bike is usually kept on your front drive, then a few weeks prior to the trip put it somewhere else where it isn't visible, even at a friends house if need be. This was potential thieves will not associate your bike being out with you being away.


A Passport is essential especially if you don't want to have refugee status on your way back into the UK. You will also need to carry your V5 Document (Log Book) or a VE103B if it is a hire bike. If you cannot produce this in some countries when asked there is the possibility you can be detained.

This goes without saying, but you will need to carry your Driving Licence (full) and Insurance Documentation. Most Insurance companies require you inform them before you leave, you will not usually have to pay any extra costs for the European cover, but they still like to know the dates you are away.

You can apply for a European Health Insurance Card online, this provides you with the minimum cover the country you are at offers. It is handy to have and usually takes no more than a few days to arrive. Personally I'd take out extra Medical Insurance as a safety precaution.

Other Bits

  • A GB sticker is a must around Europe, many people don't bother with these, but legally it is a requirement and if the chosen officer is having a bad day, so will you.
  • A First Aid Kit is another requirement in most European countries, a little one from your local supermarket would be sufficient.
  • A Spare Light Bulb Kit is another legal must, again only if you get stopped might you have to produce this, but at less than £10 from your local hardware store, why take the risk.
  • Cable Ties proved useful to hold down certain lose bits from the saddle bags. There are many uses for them and don't take up much space.
  • Take a Map with you, the Collins Road Atlas is a good one for Europe's roads and costs about a £12. Smaller more localised maps when you arrive at every country is also an option. Either would be suitable if your not cheating and using a sat nav ofcourse.
  • Pack away a bike cover and a chain, you don't want to leave your GB plated bike over night out in the open, you will become a prime target. Chain and Cover it up even if in a private car park.
  • A small can of Chain lubricant is essential, with all the dusty conditions through some routes, you want to make sure your chain is well lubricated. A Scottoiler is a good investment if you generally cover a lot of touring miles.
  • Radio communication is an excellent investment. There are many out there and varying prices, evidently the more you pay the better and more options you get with the radio. the Scala Rider the Cobra MT-600 which costs about £150 The quality and range isn great, and you get bluetooth connection to radio, phone and much more.
  • A socket converter for your iphone chargers undoubtedly

EU Regulations


EU Countries:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK
Information correct up to 2015

  • On the spot fines are common in many European countries, for each fine an official receipt should be issued.
  • Speed camera detectors are illegal in many European countries, whether in use or not. In France you are even liable to a prison sentence!
  • In Austria and Switzerland all vehicles using motorways and expressways must display a vignette (like a local road tax). Failure to do so will result in heavy on the spot fines. You can pick these vignettes at major crossings and major petrol stations.
  • Penalties for speeding are more severe in the EU than the UK, fines can range up to €2750.
  • Switzerland and Norway aren't part of the EU and so you will need local currency to get by, Swiss Francs in Switzerland and Norwegian Krones in Norway. Even though Monaco isn't part of the EU, the currency they trade with is EUROS.
  • You must have a GB sticker on your vehicle while travelling around the EU.
  • There are no limits what you buy and bring back with you as long as it is for personal use. Guidelines for Tobacco and Alcohol limits are set for the obvious reasons, any more than allowed requires you to present a believable case that the goods are for personal use. For a limited time, the UK are maintaining limits on cigarettes brought back from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

    800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1 kg of tobacco and 10 litres of spirits or 20 litres of fortified wine or 90 litres of wine (of which a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wine) or 110 litres of beer
  • 112 is the Emergency number to dial anywhere in the EU

Speed Limits (Countries visited):

CountryMotorway (kmh)Rural (kmh)Town (kmh)