When we went on our first tour, we spent an eternity searching the web for preparation advice. We thought this page would be very useful to people who are looking to tour for the first time and maybe even ideas for people who have been before.
We have compiled this page by advice we picked up from other places and things we picked up while on the road.
If you are interested in adding some tips here, then please contact us.
Bike and 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. We would strongly advise 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. We bought saddle bags (throw overs), put a rucksack over the pillion seat and covered the whole thing with a cargo net. Not expensive and worked a treat. Take a waterproof throw over to protect your luggage if 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.
A Passport is essential especially if you don't want to have refugee status on your way back into the UK. We needed our passport to get back into the UK and during our stay at some of the Budget Hotels
You will 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 we took out extra Medical Insurance as a safety precaution.
- 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.
- We took Cable Ties with us which 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 European Map with you, we bought the Collins Road Atlas which covers all of Europe's roads and cost £12. We also bought smaller more localised maps when we arrived at every country. Either would be suitable.
- 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 miles.
- Two way 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. Personally we bought the Cobra MT-600 which cost us £90 for the pair all in. The quality is ok and the range isn't too bad, but it is more than sufficient, with easy installation and operation.
- A 2 to 3 pin converter for European wall sockets