25 July 2017

Easy Riding: Tips for taking your motorbike abroad

When you ride over the Channel into Europe, you need to remember to do a bit more than just drive on the other side of the road. Even within the EU, the rules of the road vary from country to country. Here are some key tips for motorbike touring abroad.

Know your road

Before you begin, get prepared with local knowledge. Make sure you read up on the local highway code and road signs, as some are different from the UK.

It's a good idea to be aware of the different motorway tolls, especially when travelling in France. Taking a GPS that tells you which roads to avoid will help save money, plus riding the main A & B road equivalents is often more picturesque.

Planning your route and stops will reduce any stress, with clear directions and an idea of how far you want to travel each day.

Bring the paperwork

Keep these vital documents with you at all times: passport and driving license, proof of personal and medical insurance, and your European Health Insurance Card. E111 cards aren't accepted any more in most European countries.

It's also important to carry the original vehicle registration certificate (V5C) and insurance certificate with you at all times.

If you're borrowing a bike from a friend, be sure to get written permission from them before you set off.

Make sure your bike and breakdown insurance covers you for trips abroad. We provide UK & European Breakdown and Recovery Assistance for motorbikes as well as a range of other insurance policies and account benefits for you and your family with the Nationwide FlexPlus current account* all for £10 a month (increasing to £13 a month from 21 September 2017).

Essential items you must have

You must have a GB sticker displayed on your bike in all European countries. As well as all your documents, make sure you have a spare set of light bulbs, a breathalyser and, if you wear glasses, a second pair. In most European countries, if you don't carry these items you could be fined or even lose your licence.

A basic toolkit, first aid kit, map and waterproof clothing are always good to have as well.

Local laws to watch out for

France has some of the strictest laws in the EU, so make you sure you read up before leaving the UK.

For example, it's illegal to use a device that detects speed cameras in France, including your GPS. If your satellite navigation system does detect speed cameras, you must disable it before entering France.

You should display reflective stickers on the front, rear and sides of your helmet. Equally, you should resist the temptation to filter through stationary or slow moving traffic.

While riding through certain French cities, including Paris, Lyon and Grenoble, you must display an official sticker showing your vehicle's emissions category.

The Spanish reputation for being laid back doesn't apply to the rules of the road. Driving over the alcohol limit can result in three months in prison. Always stick to the speed limit too – 120kmh on motorways and 50kmh in built-up areas.

The Portuguese are particularly hot on 'stop' signs. Failing to stop at a 'stop' sign can result in a €2500 fine.

The AA offers a detailed breakdown of highway laws for different countries. Be prepared, rev your engine and stay safe!

*The FlexPlus account features a range of insurance policies and account benefits for you and your family. Exclusions and limitations apply, so please read all the insurance policies and benefit details carefully.

FlexPlus UK & European Breakdown and Recovery Assistance is underwritten by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited.

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