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Old 10-07-2011, 07:20 AM   #46
g容g OP
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Epilogue

So we have been home a while, and although we are missing touring (and not working) we are starting our plans for the next trip. It might be Spain, the Pyrenees and Portugal, or it may be more of Italy, along with Austria & Germany... who knows at this point.

I figured a little run-down of the stuff we liked, and the stuff we didn't might be a good wrap up to this report.

The bikes and the dealer:

We rented from Moto Mader in Aarau. I have rented from them the previous three trips to the Alps, and as in all prior trips, they were excellent to deal with. The reservation can be made online, and they have a large selection of bikes. A phone call from the train station is all that is needed for a pick-up and quick van ride to the dealership, and they have storage for your excess luggage while you're off touring.

BMW F 800 R. (Michelle's ride).



The bike was a great touring ride, big wide bars, good fuel economy and plenty of snap when needed. The expandable BMW cases were pretty good, but compared to the monsters on the R 1200 R, they seemed a bit on the small side. The addition of a top box though gave plenty of room for all the things needed for 8-9 days of riding. Overall I would say this bike, as a rental, is a win!

R-1200-R (my ride)



I have had a BMW R 850-R (very anemic) a BMW R-1150 (nice) and a BMW R 1150-R Rockster (couldn't tell the difference from the regular 1150) as rentals so the R 1200 wasn't a big change for me. It seems a bit more refined, has good fuel economy & ESA electronic suspension. The bags were ENORMOUS! Overall I like the big Beemer, but I am more convinced than ever that for tight passes and backroad riding something like the F 800 R would be much better.

Cameras & Photography.

We both use older point & shoot cameras, and tend to snap pictures on the fly (versus stopping for more artistic photos). Michelle has a Nikon E7900 and I use a Sony DSC-W55. Both have great battery life and take reasonable (in my opinion) photos. We also had for the first time a GoPro camera. The GoPro is pretty damn cool. While the videos we shot may not be "Hollywood" quality, they always bring a smile to our faces when we watch them. I have a lot more to learn about the GoPro, but I think it's a keeper! We have extra batteries and four 16 gig memory cards. That seemed to be a good setup.

Navigation

I have a Garmin Nuvi 550 loaded with European maps that we bolted on to the R 1200 before departure. In previous years we have gone without GPS and had no trouble navigating. This year, with some prior planning and routing we were able to cruise through the countryside and avoid quite a few of the major roads. I hadn't brought a plug-in for the GPS, but the battery life was about equal to a days riding. An extra battery (or 12v power supply) would have been great for longer days.

Gear: Jackets, Pants, Boots & Gloves

Before we left Firstgear had announced a big sale on textile jackets. Michelle & I both have IXS jackets (mine being 2004 vintage)> While very good gear, the IXS stuff is poor when it comes to venting... as in it doesn't have any. Michelle decided that we needed new gear, so being Michelle she went to our friends at Smart-Moto & bought jackets. a Kilimanjaro for her and a Kathmandu for me. When it was hot, the liners were easily removed & the venting was excellent. When it was cold, the jackets were warm. When it rained (and boy did it RAIN) the jackets stayed dry. Overall I would say the Firstgear stuff was top-shelf & we are both delighted with these jackets... thanks Jason


Kilimanjaro


Kathmandu

For pants, Michelle has a set of Ducati textile pants. They are, in general, quite warm, but that was OK for 90% of the riding we did. They also kept her dry... which is a big plus. My IXS pants while getting on in years, are still excellent, and not too warm or too cold. Just right.

In the boots department, I still have a set of GoreTex IXS boots that are perfectly dry & comfortable. Michelle opted for a new pair of Gaerne womens boots. They were completely dry and very comfortable. Another win for Michelle.

Finally gloves.... I had picked up a new pair of Racer Multitop waterproof gloves. (again from Smart-Moto and again at Jason's suggestion.... he's good at helping me spend money)



They are pretty much cold weather gloves, and for most of the trip I wondered if I would ever get a chance to wear them. When the rain did come, they were perfect. They also worked well in the colder temps towards the end of the trip. Michelle on the other hand was not as lucky... I had bought her a pair of Firstgear waterproof leather gloves a year or two ago. They did not stand up to the rain, and stayed wet a long time. Some glove-proof (or new gloves) will be in order I think.

That is all the "good" stuff, and now..... the "bad".

I suppose, looking back, there isn't much "bad" really.
You need to keep in mind, with the current exchange rates, Switzerland is very expensive. In general terms you can expect to pay double in Swiss Francs for rooms, food, etc what you pay in Euros in Italy. So, with the current CHF to Euro number that makes Switzerland about 35% more expensive. When you swap it all back to the sad green back.... well it's only money.

So, that concludes g容g & Michelle's European Adventure.

Thanks for reading
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:10 AM   #47
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:20 AM   #48
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What a great trip report!

Congratulations on the engagement. You guys are cute. You're lucky she's so pretty so that I can get away with saying "you guys" and cute in the same sentence.

My you enjoy a life-time of happiness and many more trips together.
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Old 10-07-2011, 12:27 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie98 View Post
You guys did almost the same roads we did. It was our first time over the pond and we had a blast. It was worth selling our DS bikes for this trip. We were over there at the end of August and had great weather. I need to start a trip report. We were on 2 G650GS bikes.
yes I recognize some of their pictures...they look exactly like ours. Definitely worth letting go of my XT.

It was a very special trip, but not quite as special as theirs
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:18 PM   #50
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Amazing story,awesome pics and vids....

Thank you for sharing your beautiful trip with us....!

Be well and waiting for your next trip-thread in ADVrider.com.

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Old 10-08-2011, 07:06 AM   #51
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Nice Adventure!!

From Greg..."time to leave Varenna
why can't we win the damn lotto? *sigh*"


Great RR Greg & Michelle!! We feel the same way..."Why can't we win the damn lotto?!!"

We made our trip this past May and I can easily say that it was a trip of a lifetime. We rode
two up on a 2011 1200RT that we rented in Munich. We're ready to go back as there is plenty
to explore in the Dolomites. We had a little better weather when we cruised through Julier Pass
and the scenery was spectacular...but you know that first hand.

Great report!! Post more pics!!

Keep on ridin'
George
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:31 AM   #52
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it occurred to me last night I had forgotten two MAJOR bit of equipment on this trip....
for Christmas (knowing we were headed to Europe) I got Michelle a pair of Sena Blue Tooth communicators from inmate Adam @ Rocket Moto in New Hampshire. These were FANTASTIC!



We were able to point out cool sights to each other, listen to a bit of music, and keep each other company during the downpour. I cannot say enough good things about these units. Adam still has an inmate deal going on down in vendors. I say if you ever thought you might like bike to bike or pilot to passenger comms... these kick ass!! Thanks Adam!!

Link to sena deal


The other bit of "equipment" was of course the ring.

I had the ring designed by a local master jeweler at "A Jour" in Bristol. The best part of designing the ring with Klaus was the fact he had grown up in Chur, near some of the passes we rode. We ended up with an "organic" design, asymmetrical, and unique.

A CAD rendering before production:



I have to say, in real life, it is SPECTACULAR and looks great on Michelle

OK.. that's it, I am done. I have plugged everyone who made this trip a success and now the time comes to start the plan for next year.

thanks for all the well wishes, and thanks for reading!
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:12 AM   #53
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Gear question

Nice trip. Did you haul all your gear over there or rent it from MotoMader?
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:15 AM   #54
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Never mind...

....I just got to page 4 gear report.
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:53 AM   #55
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I spent so much time reading-watching this thread that I got logged out of ADV
fantastic tour and a big Congrats on the engagement
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:02 AM   #56
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a bit of random photoshop on selected pics.

from day 1



our engagement shot



Michelle doing her "Marco" wave

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Old 10-31-2011, 12:37 PM   #57
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Future Touring Trips

Congrat's on the engagement. Best wishes to both of you.

Let us know if you guys are planning another European motorcycle tour/trip and if you want some company. Nothing like a group of riders to make a trip AWESOME.
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:30 PM   #58
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Congrats on the engagement. Pics and vids are great. I always use my go pro on rides. Great little camera.
I was looking at 2 of the roads you did in the north of Italy for my next trip.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:49 AM   #59
g容g OP
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I had a few questions about the trip, so I figured maybe more people had similar questions.
Thanks to Greg (NightShadow) for the questions!
I had meant to include this in the epilogue but I spaced on it, so here goes:

answers below questions:

- Did you make any hotel reservations or just play it by ear?

no reservations. the time of year is "off season" so we just looked for a place that had a motorcycle sign hanging out front & pulled in.

- Bike and insurance rentals? - Also I have heard that you need a European green card insurance? Is that taken care of when you rent the bikes?

rentals come with the green insurance card. they may ask you if you intend to leave the country, in which case they give you the original of the ownership (registration) for the bike. you need to keep that separate from the bike, I stick mine in the pouch w/ my passport

- Do you need an international license or just your MC lic from home?

they accept the drivers license from home, no problems

- Did you keep all your routes and if so - Could I get a GPS copy of them?

I have all my routes still for Garmin, so I am happy to send them I have routes from 2003 & 2004 as well when we went through Austria & Germany (along with Switzerland & Italy)

- Now the Big question - A trip like this would cost about ????? Approx???

always a good question! first thing I guess is airfare. never know what that will run, we went on miles this year, but friends who went in July paid about $1000 / US from Boston to Zurich with a stop in Amsterdam. Flying on Swiss nonstop from Boston was a lot more money! Flights from YYZ will likely be similar prices, and you can get pretty much anywhere in Europe. Next is the rental. A lot of places will make you pay some (or all) up front when you make your reservation. So in a way you need to keep that in mind. Some places will also charge you mileage, or offer a different price with unlimited miles. The Swiss Franc is quite strong, so rentals and most things in Switzerland are pretty pricey. I went w/ Moto Mader though because I knew them well from 3 previous trips & I wasn't disappointed. The F 800R was CHF 150 / day plus some insurance which is charged by the week. Read all the fine print. Pretty much any dealership in Europe has some form of rentals, the Europeans on ADV can be very helpful in selecting a reputable person to rent from. so far we have say $1000 for air and CHF 1500 for a bike for 10 days (so that's approx $1700). Lodging varies, but you can get a nice room with breakfast for around 90 euro / night. if there's two of you together sharing a room, then of course 45 each! We hit one place in Bormio that was 45 euro for both. The deals are there, depends on the style you like to travel in, 90 euro gets you three stars. I usually look for a pile of bikes, then you can't go wrong. Finally gas, food, etc. Gas is expensive, but food is cheap. If you said, for a budget, you had $150 / day to cover food, fuel & room, I think you'd be in good shape, so there's another $1500. So $4200 for 10 days? Again, cheaper if you get someone to go with you I think.

I was thinking of trying to do a large section of Europe in one trip seeing as I like to ride all day and don't sit around much. With all those twisty roads I don't know if I could get 800 to 1000 Kilometers per day done where as when at home or in the states it is an easy ride to get that much done in a day.

If you wanted to cover that sort of ground in a day you'd basically be sticking to the Autostrada or Autobahn (the slab / interstate). Not my way to see Europe, but that's up to you. The secondary roads are where the joy of riding in Europe comes in. the roads were built with "a love of motoring", they twist & curve just because it is fun! The speed limits are lower, enforcement in some countries can be quite strict and to me seeing & talking to the people is the most fun. A good rule of thumb is to take whatever you think good mileage here would be on relatively twisty roads through towns etc, and just transpose it to kilometers (I know, you're metric already..) but if you said "300 miles is a good day", with no interstate and time to smell the roses, then in Europe that would be 300 km for the same sort of day.

I really would like to look at expanding your trip and see where I can get to on whatever it costs. I was looking at doing this one as well but am rethinking it as it would be in the range of 9 to 10 Grand once everything is done.

one way to think of doing your own European trip is to take whatever someone like Edelweiss would charge you (doesn't include airfare) and then say "I can do that including airfare for no more than they charge". for example, you shoudl be able to do this on your own including air for what they charge for just the tour "Grand Alps".. $7300 plus airfare & gas for 13 riding days seems a bit dear to me. In exchange for the saving though you have to be willing to do your own planning and make your own arrangements. I'm pretty frugal so that to me is worth it!
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:44 AM   #60
g容g OP
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So a new year is here, and it is time to plan a trip again.
We are thinking Italy, a bit later in the year, and further south than we have been before. Rentals near Rome perhaps? A crisscross of the Apennines with a a trip to Tuscany of course (sadly missed last year).



Let the maps be brought out and the planning begin!

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