Anyone rented/ridden in the UK?

Discussion in 'Pacific Northwet - Where it's green. And wet.' started by MotoGrandpa, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. MotoGrandpa

    MotoGrandpa advdualsportendurotrials

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    Hey Northwetters,

    Has anyone here rented a bike a ridden in the UK or used Edelweiss for a trip? My wife and I are celebrating #30 this year and we've thought about a Europe trip with a bike ride. Does it make sense to take a "canned" ride or is it better to rent and ride at your own pace?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers
    #1
  2. pmdave

    pmdave Been here awhile

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    I've ridden in the UK on several different occasions. Two trips I flew my bikes over. Two other trips I did a "bike swap" with a fellow BMW rider much like myself. It's no longer economical to ship your bike to UK or Europe unless you intend to stay longer than about 3 weeks.

    Yes, you can rent a bike in the UK (or Ireland) and you can also buy a used bike and resell it through a dealer.

    The big advantage of joining an organized tour is having the tour make all the arrangements, including the bike rental and lodging. The second big advantage is having traveling companions. It can get a little lonely out there by yourself.

    The big disadvantage of an organized tour is the cost. You're paying for all the arrangements, staying at expensive hotels rather than B&Bs, paying for the tour leader, and paying a small profit to the tour company.

    England, Wales, Isle of Man, Ireland, and especially Scotland are peppered with B&Bs--private homes with a spare room thanks to the kids moving out. The cost is very reasonable, and they will usually chat you up and supply tea and cookies.

    You'll find traffic in England is terrible. Everything is condensed, including eateries and parking. True restaurants are scarce, but lunches at pubs are the norm, and dinners at hotel restaurants (except Sundays)

    The big advantage of the UK is that they speak a remarkably similar language. So, you only need a translator in places like East London and Liverpool.

    Although I have nothing against Edelweiss, I think your would enjoy your trip more by arranging for your own bike, staying at B&Bs, messing around the B roads, and taking public transportation into any cities you wish to visit.

    You might start by posting some questions on a forum read by English riders. You might even find someone willing to swap a bike with you.

    By all means, visit the UK.

    pmdave
    #2
  3. Deacon

    Deacon Ready, shoot, aim

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    Grandpa,
    I have done both self organized and Edelweiss (6 tours). I am all over the self organized when traveling alone, but my wife absolutely loves the Edelweiss experience. She is the one asking where we are going on our next motorcycle trip. Yes is is bit more expensive, but these guys have it wired. We did back to back trips in August in Scotland and Ireland. We were able to keep the bike for the week in between trips and do our own thing. We even left a tour in Italy to go to a wedding in Austria. The beauty of their organization is that they take care of the luggage (a major point when traveling with someone that takes the kitchen sink), have already scoped out great places to stay with excellent restaurants. There are lay over days where she can relax with some time off the bike, a massage, facial etc.

    It is definitely not nose to tail. in fact we rarely ride with others in the tour. Sometimes you find a couple that you enjoy and spend the day riding with them. Edelweiss provides you with maps and a tour book with several routes each day. There is a brief morning meeting to discuss highlights of that day's travel, you can follow the "guide" or take off on your own. They provide the maps a couple of weeks before the tour. I program several routes for each day into my gps so when we get there I am ready for planned and unplanned trips. It makes it so easy to feel comfortable taking that left turn you just happened on.

    pm me if you want more details, but if you want to relax, have good equipment and not have a lot of the normal travel concerns go for it. If you want your wife to do it again, even more reason. I don't want to sound like a commercial, but we really have enjoyed all of the tours we have done.

    Deacon

    Here is a link to photos from the trip...

    https://Deacon.smugmug.com/gallery/727577
    #3
  4. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer Supporter

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    Yes, I did the Edelweiss tour of the IOM TT in '94. While the tour, the venue, the tour guides were absolutely the greatest, the company and the bikes they had were very sad. My advice is to avoid Scootabout Bike Rental, on Albert Embankment, I think in Westminster, or London proper. The bikes [my riding partner and I] got bikes than broke down 3 times, stranding us in Northern Wales, [thank god we took out AA coverage, the same as AAA here] both bikes had clutches that were adjusted so bad they slipped when we would pull out to pass. We adjusted them correctly, even after being berrated by the loan/rental manager at Scootabout to never do any adjusting or tampering, that these machines were in perfect working order.
    Ciao, Steve G.
    #4
  5. Deacon

    Deacon Ready, shoot, aim

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    Don't know why Edelweiss used an outsource bike company, but I believe all bikes in the UK and Europe are owned by Edelweiss and are replaced every year. Each time we have had a new model, last trip we had a new (800mi) 1200RT, the trip before was a 1150 GS with about 6500 miles.

    On most trips there has been brand new rubber on the bikes and in one case it was not. I pointed out the wear, I would have run them another 5k here at home, and the next evening there were new tires at our hotel and the "guides" had the new tires mounted/balanced and on the bike for the next day!

    I do know they use subcontractors which I assume are carefully screened. I think the New Zealand and China trips are outsourced.

    The UK either/or/and Scotland, Ireland trips are wonderful. Like I said, we kept the bike in between trips because they were a week apart so we got to ride over 3 weeks. Another strong suggestion, go over at least 2 days and 4 is better to adjust to the time change and jet lag. We stayed in Edinburgh for 4 days sighseeing and pubbing. There were some folks from China on the trip arriving the night before. I think they missed the first several days walking around in a fog! We also like to spend a couple of days after the tour dates to shop and unwind and get ready for the return.

    Deacon
    #5
  6. MotoGrandpa

    MotoGrandpa advdualsportendurotrials

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    Thank you for the helpful tips. The Edelweiss catalog came in the mail last week and I was able to get a look at it. It looks like the costs for the Royal Tour of Scotland is about $7,500 USD for two-up for 10 days (7 riding days) and about 1000 miles. It sounds like great fun, but seems to be a lot of scratch.
    #6
  7. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer Supporter

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    The money you spend with Edelweiss is well spent. They are a great tour company. I am hoping the feedback request asked of us by Edelweiss regarding Scootabout bike rental had something to do with the fact that they no longer use this company.
    When I booked my 1 tour, the pricing also included the flight from New York. I don't believe this is the case now.
    Ciao, Steve G.
    #7
  8. true brit

    true brit Bloody Hell !!

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    Hi motograndpa,
    $7500 seems a lot of cash to visit the UK. There are plenty of rental companies over there and it seems you could rent a 1200cc BMW for approx $750 a week. As far as accomodation is concerned it may be worth buying a Fodor guide to the UK and booking stuff before you leave. I would not ride in London if you aren't used to it, traffic and navigation is a nightmare, lots of great places to visit in England/ Wales and Scotland and getting a ferry to France is easy and cheap and riding through Europe is wonderful, better weather and pretty good roads, exceptional food. I have heard good things about Edeilweiss but it all comes at a premium and it's nothing you couldn't plan yourself. If you need and further info on places to go in Britain let me know.
    Thanks
    #8
  9. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer Supporter

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    I agree. The one negative I would mention with any/all tour companies is you lose much of the sponaneity of the pace and the path. As well, it could be much cheaper, depending on which bike you were to rent on your own. The British Tourism Commision has seen to it that this country is easy to check out. Tourist booths are extremely helpfull with everything, even booking accomodation for you at your day's destination [for a very nominal fee].
    I've ridden a bike and car in London a few times. In a car it's not fun. On a bike it's an absolute riot, if you know where you are going! Lanesplitting is very much the norm, and as a result you make good time. If you are not used to driving/riding on the left, you may find it challenging anywhere initially. Remember as well, that on a bike you have no visual or operational reminders that you drive on the left.
    This is a very busy little country, especially around the big cities, and in Kent.
    Ciao, Steve G.
    #9
  10. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    The last time I rented a bike in the UK they still didn't have electric starters, the info may be a bit out of date... :eek1 OK, maybe it hasn't been that long, but you get the idea. :D


    But, I have ridden there several times, rented bikes in other places in Europe or ridden borrowed bikes. I don't particularly like organized tours, motorcycle ones or otherwise, I prefer to decide on my own when and where to go. I have plenty of maps and I am not affraid to use them. :deal

    Most of our trips are loosely planned, that is, we know what are the main place we'd like to visit (and very unfortunately, usually also include some time limit to the vacation, I hate it when work intereferes with my hobbies :evil ) but what happens in between those places or if we end up skipping one to go some other place depends on how much we like the places we visit along the way. I realize that's not a good plan for everyone, so I am putting this out there for your consideration. In Dec-Jan I did a 6 week trip through Mexico like that. Worked rather well. Another thing to consider, especially if you ride two-up, is how many miles you travel each day or if you even travel everyday. We visited many places that deserved more than a quick stroll through in the evening after you unpack at the hotel. If you are on a tight schedule (or organized tour), you can't decide to spend an extra day in some cool town to see more places in/around it.

    I'd recommend a stack of Michelin Maps (country level is good, but the regional (1:400,000) are better to find those hidden gem roads), and a guidebook like the Lonely Planet books for picking accomodations. If you are going in peak summer (read tourist) season, you may want to call ahead at least the morning you leave to make your next reservation in the more popular tourist destinations. We got by without doing that at the end of August, but it was significantly easier to find accomodations in September.

    And no offense to my Brit friends, I'd go to the continent over the UK any day for a motorcycle tour.

    Gustavo


    #10
  11. jshuck

    jshuck Iron Butt #31

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    I was fortunate enough to have a friend who works for SPC BMW right outside London. They are the largest BMW in the UK. Call John Gilbride. I went with one of the tours that they do for customers. I would suggest getting out of town and going to Wales or up in Scotland... Remember the same number of people live in the UK and France...so the UK is crowded. My advise is to forget the UK and take the ferry over thru France to the Alps. Spend 4-5 days in the Dolomites and come home. Remember you will only do this once. Tell John that John Shuck sent you..he will want a resume about your riding experience... You might also check out the guy in Heidelberg for bike rentals... Take some money... the euro and the pound are up...
    #11
  12. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    I forgot to mention this before. In 2002 some friends of mine went on an Edelweiss tour of the Alps. I had to be in Strasburg later in August, so I made my own trip. The Edelweiss tour was about the same price you mentioned for two-up for a seven day riding trip, not including airfare.

    We flew to Paris, picked up a bike (OK, it was a loaner, so it cost me an oil change and a new set of tires I bought my buddy for loaning us the bike, but at the time, a two week rental was $1700 for reference), rode to Strasburg, spent the weekend there and then went on a two week trip to the Swiss, Italian and French Alps. Even if you spend $250/day on hotel, food, gas and misc., a 14 day trip is no more than $3500. IIRC, we spent much less than that, around $150/day. Granted at that time, US$1 was about EUR1, so things were cheaper for us, but nice clean EUR45/night hotels are easy to find in the smaller towns, that leaves quite a bit for meals, entertainment and don't forget gas, it's not cheap, even if you are riding a bike.

    I suppose you can tell where I'm going with this, going on a self guided tour will allow you to travel for at least twice as long (including airfare) for less money than the 7 day guided tour costs.:deal

    Gustavo
    #12
  13. alimey4u2

    alimey4u2 Been here awhile

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    Learn the protocol for roundabouts & yes....we ride on the other side of the road. I suggest that you place an arrow (at eye level) on a windscreen (not windshield) or visor using a magic marker or such, pointing to the side of the road you need to be on.
    A quick glance (requires no thought) will tell you where you need to be. After 20 years of riding/driving in the States, sometimes I have a British moment & vice versa........
    Good luck & enjoy but do not miss "The Lake District".....God made it for motorcyclists.......:evil
    #13
  14. markgsnw

    markgsnw WTF?

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    wow ow yeeouch, $7500??? For about a third of that we had 10 days in Italy on a rented bike including agriturismo's and meals. We got a bike and a roadbook/maps and a cell phone pointing to the tour agency, who were fabulous. The tour agency does the hard part and leaves the riding to the individual, no group and no hand holding. Highly recommended.

    http://www.motorcycletoursitaly.it/e/index.htm
    #14