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Alps Motorcycle Tours - Price Right


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Alps Motorcycle Tours, Priced Right.

 

For those that think the only way to go, is on an organized motorcycle tour, no need to stop by; move right along.

 

But this is for those that would love to go after reading all those tour reports on web sites or in the magazines, but have a heart attack the minute they see what those tours cost. Almost six thousand dollars for two weeks plus airfare and extras not covered would give me a heart attack as well. If you think that is reasonable, like I said, move right along.

 

What if I told you it can be done for anywhere between a third to half the cost, and the latter would be splurging? Of course, you will always get arguments from those that say the tour is not on the same level with respect to accomodations and meals. Maybe, but I have never been uncomfortable and I am damn picky about where I stay, and I like my food and drink. Besides, I am there to ride and to enjoy the roads, scenery, food and drink and mingle with the natives. If my room does not have satellite TV or if the hotel does not have a hot tub, it certainly does not take away from the riding experience.

 

So lets get started.

 

Airfare is always extra, be it on your own tour or on an organized tour. It costs what it costs which varies a bit with the time of year.

 

Motorcycle rental is best secured from a rental company and not from a tour operator as tour operators do not own their own bikes and use a rental company just as you would, with the exception of tacking on their extra fee; money out of your pocket.

 

The insurance deposit of up to US$2000 is required either way you go; solo or organized. Some rental companies give you the option of additional coverage for an extra fee. The deposit is refunded upon return of an undamaged motorcycle.

 

I would look for a rental company that includes unlimited mileage. Some have two options, for example 200 km per day or 2500 km per week at one rate and unlimited mileage at another rate. Keep in mind, a 250 to 350 kilometer day is a standard day on the backroads of the Alps; 400 kilometers and above makes for a very long day. Remember, most riders stop for photos ops and chats with other riders atop the passes.

 

Gas is not covered by any organized tour operator, so you are paying either way you go. At present, gas costs about €1.20 for regular and about €1.35 for super; more on the autobahns and autostradas. Presently €1 = US$1.25.

 

Accomodations based on what I have paid over the years ranged from €17 to €54 per night with a breakfast that in most cases can hold you over till dinner. The rates vary depending on the region. Austria is generally the cheapest with Süd Tirol (the Dolomites) usually between €25 and €40, the latter including dinner as well. I have stayed in some pretty fancy modern hotels, you know the type, with automatic sliding glass doors as you enter where I am saying, OMG, this is going to be expensive, only to find out the room rate is €35 with a big breakfast. France and Switzerland tends to be a bit more expensive.

 

If your room rate does not include dinner and normally it does not unless you choose that option, dinner with usually run above €10 (pizza and a beer), obviously more if you choose to go all out, but I have found that I can get by very well on under €20 (Wiener schnitzel with potatoes/vegetables, a couple of beers and dessert).

 

So lets crunch some numbers and take a two week tour. I ride solo, so the cost calculation is based on that.

 

One company prices their 2 week tour which includes: 14 night accomodation, all breakfasts and some dinners. Cost: US$5750.

 

So what can you do that for?

 

14 nights at €50/night: BTW, I chose to go high for those that say you cannot find anything at €40. That rate almost always includes dinner as well as the usual breakfast.

 

2 weeks motorcycle rental from Allround Motorradvermietung (no experience with them, just using their rates as an example) in Frankfurt on a R1200 GS: US$1238 includes 5000 kilometers.

 

OK, so what are we up to? US$2113, a far cry from US$5750. So you want to live it up, tack on another €20 per night or US$350 for 2 weeks. You are still a long way under the half cost scenario. Oh, there will be other expenses such as transportation between the airport and the rental company, a few maps, but that is about it.

 

To summarize, you can go on an all-inclusive self guided Alps tour (airfare, gas and all imaginable extras) for less than the cost of an organized tour. Still dreaming? Move right along...and head on over.

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Alex, do you do hotel reservations for the whole trip, or do you wing it each night? I think one of the attractions of a tour is guaranteed lodging each night. But I hate being kept to a schedule!

 

I have some friends in Germany that want me to come visit next sept. for octoberfest, thanks for getting my mind working on cost, lol.

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Thanks for the info as I would like to ride the Alps.

I'm too old to learn another language so is there a region where that is not a particular handicap? From what I have read, some are more hospitable than others.

See ya. Bill

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Alex:

 

Thanks. You confirmed what I had been thinking and planning. The family was in Italy in June this year and we made a quick overnight up to Zermatt from Milan. We drove and it became apparent to me very quickly that one could put together a tour as you have stated considerably less than the organized groups. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get around and I don't speak a bit of Italian. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of hotels and even campgrounds on the Swisss side. So yes a few years down the road I will make this trip. I bought the maps while I was there so that I could dream....

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Spent 10 weeks in europe this past april/may/june. I found the same prices as Alex and Austria was the least expensive tho I found some very good rates in lago de garda and toscana.

 

Randy, I had 1 reservation for the whole trip/never a problem finding a good place to stop for the night. Used my gps and looked for a b&b with restaurant or nearby. Usually stopped about 5pm.

 

Renting a bike makes sense until you pass the 4 week mark which is why I took mine over. All my gear was locked in the bags so I flew over with ZERO baggage.

 

Alex knows the area very well and helped me with a list of hotels.

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Alex, do you do hotel reservations for the whole trip, or do you wing it each night? I think one of the attractions of a tour is guaranteed lodging each night. But I hate being kept to a schedule!

 

First I'll say that I tour there between the last week of May till the first week of July. Accomodations are always easy to get that time of the year. Most of Europe goes on vacation between the middle of July and the first week of September. Rates are also higher during that period.

 

I find accomodations along the way at the end of each riding day. It is extremely rare that I have to go to the next hotel across the street because the one I just checked is booked up. In my 12 years of touring there, I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened. The same applies to having made a reservation as well.

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I'm too old to learn another language so is there a region where that is not a particular handicap? From what I have read, some are more hospitable than others.

 

Bill, its all the same to me. I didn't speak any Italian when I first toured Italy in 1997.

 

You want gas, drive up to a self serve, fill up as you normally do and pay. Otherwise, point a finger into your open gas tank and they'll understand.

 

Same goes for a menu. Point to the item and enjoy your meal.

 

I plan to tour Spain and Portugal and don't speak a word of either language.

 

You'll come across more people that speak English in the major cities. But you'll also find them atop the mountain passes.

 

Don't let language issues keep you from discovering the world. I don't!

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Here is a listing of motorcycle friendly accomodations.

 

Tourenfahrer Partnerhaus. Download and save the PDF file and print it out. Note the GPS coordinates as well; I have found a few that are way out though.

 

Motorrad Freizeit Motorradfreunliche Unterkünfte (motorcycle friendly accomodations).

 

Biker Hotel Guide.

 

There are hundreds to choose from, so I think anybody that is going is well set.

 

By the way, Tourenfahrer and Motorrad Freizeit are German motorcycle magazines similar to RoadRUNNER in the US.

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Time for a one-stop listing of maps, but first, a bit of background on what to look for in maps.

Feel free to add your suggestions...with links to the maps if possible.

 

 

Scale:

 

For overall planning over greater distances, scales of 1:300 000 to 1:1 000 000 work well. Which end of that scale you pick will depend on how much detail you are looking for.

 

For localized touring and meandering, scales of 1:250 000 or better are the ones to go with. How much detail you are looking for will then depend on how many maps you want to pack. I find 1:200 000 ideal. For some areas where I explore, I'll use 1:50 000, but they cover quite small areas and you would need to pack a couple of suitcases to cover all of Europe.

 

 

Features:

 

Different map producers have different looks to their maps and that is a matter of personal preference. I prefer the Freytag & Berndt series of maps. They also make the highly detailed hiking/bicycling maps that I use. Michelin maps are my second choice.

 

 

So which maps?

 

For motorcycle route suggestions, the ADAC has a series of FREE maps. Read on...

 

Free downloads of the ADAC Motorradtouren MR 1 to MR 13 map sets.

 

Select a map on the site or from the map of Europe with the ADAC Motorradtouren map set locations.

 

At the top left (Select a Map), choose the map of interest and click Select.

 

Note that most maps have a Front and Back to select from. If you select a map from the pictorials on the right, it'll only link you to the Front side of the map.

 

The ADAC Motorradtouren maps aren't meant to replace highly detailed road maps, but are meant to provide tour suggestions.

 

Grab them while you can...whats on the web today, may not be there tomorrow. To download, right click on the map and left click "Save Target As" into a folder.

 

There are 142 "separate maps", 22 "Complete map on X pages", 22 "Complete map on one page" and 22 Hotel Lists to download...your choice.

 

The maps are also available at ADAC offices in Germany. The ADAC is the German auto club similar to the CAA in Canada, the AAA in the US and the AA or RAC in the UK.

 

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These Freytag & Berndt series of maps for motorcyclists have a scale of 1:200 000 (just right for motorcycle touring), are plastic coated and come in a binder so that each can be removed for tank bag use. You'll be impressed with the detail and quality. Each map binder costs €29.95.

 

 

Freytag & Berndt Motorradatlas Österreich-Südbayern-Südtirol: Austria - Southern Bavaria - South Tirol

 

Freytag & Berndt Motorradatlas Süddeutschalnd-Westösterreich-Oberitalien: Southern Germany-Western Austria-Upper Italy.

 

Freytag & Berndt Motorradatlas Österreich-Venetien-Istrien-Slowenien: Austria-Venice-Istria-Slovenia.

 

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DEKRA also has a series of plastic coated maps in binders, but at a scale of 1:300 000, they lack a bit of detail. They're available for various regions. These map sets are available from books stores, LOUIS or POLO, the latter two are a chain of motorcycle shops in Germany and neighboring countries.

 

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Die MOTORRAD General Karte (sorry, no link) is a series of 20 maps with a scale of 1:200 000 of Germany. Included are listings of camping sites, accomodations, motorcycle shops listed by make, etc. They are coated and resistant to rain and tearing. Available at motorcycle shops in Europe.

 

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MOTORRAD Tourenplaner is a map set on CD similar to Microsoft Streets & Trips, but specifically for motorcycling in Europe. It plans routes, shows where services are, is GPS compatable, etc. The current product goes for €39.95, but last years version goes for €9.95 in motorcycle shops such as LOUIS (where I buy my copy).

 

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Francois_Dumas

Absolutely agree with you Alex, having done it that way myself for the past 40 years or so !!

 

BUT….. there always is a but, isn’t there….

 

Although you and I know that region (and others) like the back of our hand, I regularly meet people who have never ever been in the Alps, or in ANY mountains for that matter. Totally amazing to me… but I’m of course not a normal Dutchie … wink.gif

 

I believe there are valid reasons why one may want to go with a full-featured Edelweiss Tour, or go on one’s own…. OR choose any of many options in between ! And I do not think it is only about money, either.

 

Some people would like just that bit more comfort when on the road, by knowing the lodging is already arranged, or their motorbike is ready for them when they arrive at the departure point.

 

Others will not feel comfortable with only English or whatever single language and look for a guide/companion for that reason. Just about everything is easier when having access to the local language (I speak 5 and don’t feel happy when in Hungary or Poland for instance.. you get used to being able to communicate to just about anybody).

 

Others again will appreciate having a guide ‘teach’ them things about the region/area that they would not discover so easy all by themselves. Travel guides are great reading, but usually only get opened aboard the plane on the way down to the tour’s departure… and who can memorize it all??

 

So yes, going on your own, just pick and choose lodging along the way, perhaps even buying and selling (gasp!) a bike, is most certainly the cheapest (assuming you don’t get trapped by the wrong merchants) and guaranteed a LOT cheaper than the ‘luxury tours’ that our Edelweiss friends are offering.

 

But then again, there are many shades of green in the world, and many alternatives in between those two ‘extremes’.

 

Just doing some quick web search will already unveil a variety of offerings, and I know that doing more in-depth research (as I am doing these days) will provide even more choices.

 

The KEY word in my opinion is PREPARATION! Establish an understanding of what you want and expect, do your research, then choose which is best for you.

 

After all, ALL roads lead to Rome…… smile.gif

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Absolutely agree with you Alex, having done it that way myself for the past 40 years or so !!

 

BUT….. there always is a but, isn’t there….

 

Although you and I know that region (and others) like the back of our hand, I regularly meet people who have never ever been in the Alps, or in ANY mountains for that matter. Totally amazing to me… but I’m of course not a normal Dutchie … wink.gif

 

Francois, to touch on a few of your points.

 

When I first started riding there in 1995, it was my first time over with a motorcycle and I didn’t have any problems with the driving culture or roads, etc. One learns quickly and when in doubt tread with care or caution. But yes, roads are a lot more technical…sure enough, while parked on the outside of a hairpin a rider came zooming up to it and then just braked hard going straight. His plate was yellow (hint) which explains where he was from…the flatlands. So take it easy and enjoy the tour.

 

 

I believe there are valid reasons why one may want to go with a full-featured Edelweiss Tour, or go on one’s own…. OR choose any of many options in between ! And I do not think it is only about money, either.

 

Well this thread is for those that can’t afford organized tours and until someone comes along showing them how cheaply it can be done for, I’m sure they’ll just write off the idea. That would be a big loss…not to experience riding in the Alps.

 

Others again will appreciate having a guide ‘teach’ them things about the region/area that they would not discover so easy all by themselves. Travel guides are great reading, but usually only get opened aboard the plane on the way down to the tour’s departure… and who can memorize it all??

 

The best thing to do is highlight the sites on the map itself.

 

There isn’t a lot of preparation needed. You really can’t go wrong while riding there. I’ve never been disappointed and in fact, going on my own, I have come across roads that I would never have come across if being guided…they simply don’t take you on those.

 

I found out where one of the touring companies stays and sure enough, a night goes for €100+ without dinner. That is their right to “blow” that much coin, but I can assure you, compared to the places I stay at for less than half that, I enjoy my tours a lot more.

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