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News and updates from the Tours and plans for new Tours - come here first !

Speeding in Europe? I hope you like Spaghetti...

Speeding in Europe? I hope you like Spaghetti...
Speeding Fines in Europe

Now, however you view speeding, the law is the law so you (and I) cannot complain when we are ‘caught’ speeding in Europe or the UK.

The Police & Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall police, Alison Hernandez recently tweeted her speeding ticket with a full and frank ‘I should know better’. Well done her for going public especially when Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was jailed for trying to avoid her speeding ticket. It’s called ‘integrity’ Fiona.

I read numerous posts about riders scratching their heads about whether they should or shouldn’t pay up and in my honest opinion ignoring any fine is fraught with danger. Regardless of what happens with the UK and Europe you can guarantee that there WILL be some form of cooperation between UK and Europe when it comes to Law & Order.

In my opinion pay up. It may bite you in the ass if you don’t.

We all know the rules as frustrating as they may be. I do have sympathy for casual oversights and minor lapses especially after, in my own experience, I look at my sat-nav for reassurance and I find the speed limit has changed when there weren’t any apparent roadsigns to tell me otherwise. Indeed speed signs in some parts of Europe will leave you guessing, at least in the UK we do have clear signs and a good appeal process.

But I think it’s worth considering the following, some countries are simply fed up with bikes treating their glorious roads like a race track. I’ve seen the ‘knee down’ gang first hand and if they were safe - great. But 8 times out of 10, they are riding well above their ability.

So remember this, while you moan about being chased by paperwork have a look at the website below - You could actually face jail time with many countries imposing a sentence for being caught doubling the limit. As Mr Bridger said in the Italian Job, "I hope they like Spaghetti, they serve it twice a day in Italian prisons"

A very good website for a Sunday read is speedingeurope.com and may serve to sober up opinion. Speeding is taken seriously, if you don’t want the hassle - slow up and enjoy the view instead. It’s quite liberating.
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Passports & Products to test

Passports & Products to test
Ok so we are not testing passports but we are looking to test the water with 'Brexit' (There I said it!) and see how this is going to change the way we ride in Europe over the next few weeks, months and years.

to start with I felt the need to look our UK passports. As things stand (post Brexit) this only stipulation is that you are going to need AT LEAST 6 MONTHS validity remaining on your passport when travelling to EU countries. That is the current position. This is what we advise for our tours anyway, especially when we are visiting Switzerland.

I am waiting for news/updates on the European Health Card - but the latest buzz is that your Health Card will be valid after Brexit for some considerable time (well in to 2020). If this changes or we are given a date for when we need to make 'other arrangements' I will update you lovely people asap.

Away from the dreaded Brexit Bull...

We had this arrive at the office this week. Rare Bird London sent us one of their winter facemasks which helps provide warmth and filter out the nasties when riding. We will be given this thorough attention over the next few weeks and let you know how it delivers.

Rare Bird was born in 2017 when founder, Kondrad decided to create a stylish and comfortable alternative to the current solution marks on the market influenced heavily by his daily London commute. Rare Bird London masks not only reduce the risk of air pollution but also protect the rider from other nasties such as wind and rain.

With a range of fabrics to suit winter and summer riding we think this will be a hit.

The initial feel of the product is first class and quality of construction outstanding, appearing both durable and stylish - 2 qualities which some manufacturers find hard to strike an appropriate balance with.

We will report back on the 'Rare Bird London' in due course.

In the meantime you can find them here https://rarebirdlondon.co.uk

John Wilton
Moto Ventura
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2019 - Baffled by Brexit? Then get away from it!

2019 - Baffled by Brexit? Then get away from it!
Happy new year everyone, and welcome to 2019 and if we didn't need enough to worry about already with the regular 'Carry On Members of Parliament' updates dominating the news we now have the added worries of riding in Europe during a 'Deal or No Deal' that would even make Noel Edmonds bite his perfectly kept nails.

But we don't want you to worry about all that, because that is our job! All you need to do is bring your passport (We will mention that in our next blog) and meet us at the RV point for some stunning mileage on your bikes with friends old and 'yet to be discovered'.

Our Highlander and 9-Länder tours are ready and we would like to thank you for your patience. We do make sure every detail is in place before publishing these tours and we had a few extras to arrange prior to putting them online.

9-Länder 2019 is a real treat! We have added a number of extras on top of previous years including a night in COLDITZ itself along with an extended tour of this historic castle. We have added a day off giving you two spare days in this 9-Länder, one in Salzburg where we give you the option of coming with us to visit the stunning Ice Caves followed by a trip up for coffee and cake at Hitlers Eagles Nest and a second day off in the beautiful Czech Republic capital, Prague where our hotel is centrally located for the old town delights.

Highlander 2019 is also published (see link above for our Highlander 2018 promo clip) and we have added 3 extra nights accommodation on top of last years Highlander so you are properly rested before and after your tour. We have included an extra day of riding with chance to explore the Isles of Skye and Raasay plus a wee dram of Whisky or two in some very special locations and it wouldn't be right if we didn't include a cruise on Loch Ness.

A more detailed look at these two tours is included on the links below along with a link to the booking page at Moto Ventura, but please hurry, spaces are already being taken.

https://www.motoventuratours.co.uk/2019-tours

The picture below is the Kylesku Bridge over Loch a' Chàirn Bhàin, site of WW2 midget submarine training on the North West Coast of Scotland

Our NY resolution is to get more info and news out to you lovely people so keep your eyes pealed. If you haven't already, like and share us on facebook, twitter and/or instagram.

We have some products to test and review for you and some laughs to share via our live feeds on facebook so look us up and say hi!

See you on the ice!

John
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A six month fling with the energetic BMW S1000XR

A six month fling with the energetic BMW S1000XR

The S1000XR was recommended to me by a friend who loved his XR to the point he was going to marry it! My friend, a very respectable advanced rider was smitten and lavished it with compliments constantly so after a test ride at my local BMW Motorrad I took the plunge.

I PX’d my faithful 2015 R1200RT-LC and was off down the road laughing my ass off every time I rolled off the throttle at the accompanying ‘POP POP GURGLE POP’ from the Akropovic End Can. That combined with the quick-shifter meant that it had me at ‘hello’.

Despite the added panniers and top box I still think it looked brilliant from every angle, mean and business like! I felt we would get on well.

I went for the multi-coloured version of white, grey and vinyl blacks with mostly red decals. It wouldn’t have been my first choice of colour and had to endure many ‘red ones are faster’ comments but the price was right on my 2nd hand 2017 XR and the previous owner had loaded it with extras, as seems to be the norm with many BMW bikes.

Straight away I was comfortable and the ergonomics worked well for my 5’9 (almost) frame. My added issue is short stocky legs which go with my stocky build. My inside leg measurement isn’t the greatest but getting a leg over the standard XR wasn’t a great issue. I had to think a little before jumping on and off but no major problems here though I wasn’t going to be talent-scouted for Swan Lake. My knees also don’t cope well with anything resembling a sports bike position so I found the XR was perfect here too, not quite as squished up. A good compromise.

The handlebars being good and wide meant a positive feeling of control and also enabled me to sit more upright and get a good elevated view.

The standard BMW controls are of a high standard and once you get used to the control wheel around the left handlebar grip, I know the BMW-faithful will have the correct name for it. Controls and information are easy to use, eventually. Switching between riding modes changes things a little but most noticeably when you engage ‘Dynamic’ and the noise from the pipe becomes Viagra for the ears!

So, how does it ride? It is quick, very quick! It’s the same 999cc lump from BMWs sports bike the S1000RR but with a few less horses squeezed out, 165 horses in total but being down a fraction in power doesn’t hinder its progress as your riding position, upright with a great view make up for the 35-ish less horses. As for that quick shifter - it was my first experience of having one (I now have one on my GSA but it isn’t quite the same!). Pin the throttle and click up through the box and listen to the soundtrack but be sure to hang on. The quick shift works best if you trust it to do its job! Pin it and don’t let off! Downshifting is equally as bonkers, try it and see. A clutch lever is so ‘last year’ Darling!

The only downside i found with the shifter is that sometimes you can find a neutral by ‘accident’ which isn’t good! More commitment on the gear change then John!

Practically, I got around 47 mpg on a trip from UK to Dubrovnik and back. That included some high alpine roads, the Dolomites and some stunning Adriatic coastline. I didn’t hang back but I didn’t spend all my time ragging it either so I’d like to think 45-49 mpg is a good guide.

As I suggested earlier, the previous owner had placed a few extras on the XR which made it sweeeeet and the SP seat was a god-send, however the rad cover was not! The in-line 4 BMWs are known to run a little hot but riding into Baden-Baden at the top of the Black Forest saw 124 degrees on the temp gauge and a big red warning triangle flashing at me. Queue the screwdriver and the alloy cover went straight into the German recycling bin leaving a thick layer of mud outlining a perfect ‘rad cover’ imprint on the radiator, choking the fins completely. Just removing the cover did little to sort the problem so in Imst, Austria after abandoning twisties for Autobahn (cool and constant air flow!) the hotel lent me the use of they power-washer and a cheap toothbrush from the market combined with some careful blasting and scrubbing and the rad was looking like new. The temperature issue immediately solved I never saw it rise above 105, even in heavy traffic, for the rest of the trip and normal service was resumed.

The panniers were small but standard fit, having been spoilt by my RT I was acclimatised to having lots of space to pack, that and the rad, and the urge to ride like Valentino Fogarty everywhere meant we were not destined to be together, so we parted on amicable terms.

My love affair with the XR - or as I like to call it, the ASBO lasting only 6 months, but boy, what a ride, what a 6 months! Excellent bike, but for long trips it wasn’t me me (I pack too many hair products!) and for 2-up riding, same issue.

Single rider with a touch of hooligan (or with a pillion who is used to sports bike already), who has a love of dirty weekends away…

…Go for it!

(Photograph: J Wilton)

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Bye Bye RT - You've been amazing!

Bye Bye RT - You've been amazing!
After owning 2 R1100RTs and having ridden a number of oil cooled R1200RTs it was a straightforward decision to stick with the brand and also the boxer engined RT, this time in its latest liquid (water) cooled guise. We picked up our machine, an R1200RT-SE in June 2015 with high expectations of a machine which is regarded highly among the bike touring community.

While the aesthetically pleasing side panniers are standard fit I did add BMWs 49-litre top box to the deal with liners for all 3 boxes and the Navigator 5 sat nav while the BMW dealer upgraded the exhaust to something with a bit more throaty.

In its ebony black finish the RT looked every inch a thoroughbred and firing up that boxer engine did not disappoint but I did not expect what happened when riding. The RT has always been full of character and immediately riding the liquid cooled bike I was struck by how efficiently it clicked through the gears, not Japanese bike perfection but a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. The brakes too, worked better especially the rear brake and the engine itself, smooth! Very smooth! So far so good then, well strangely I was a little sad as the clunky gear change and wavering rev-counter were things I liked with the old bike and added a certain imperfection which actual gave it depth and a personality. Watching the rev needle dip and falter every few seconds was a sick kind of fun and I felt I was helping the bike breath whenever I nursed the throttle, proving we were united and reliant on each other.

Quickly casting aside the wistful & melancholy I got on developing a new relationship with the 2015 bike and was immediately struck but how much quicker and responsive it was compared to the older oil/air. The power was instant and the front end nimble, quick, light and easy to turn. Engine and brakes hitting the mark, the gear shifting now positive and no longer involving guesswork the water cooled RT was ticking all the right boxes. Turning the key lit up a glorious display of colour and a full scale deflection on the rev-counter. The electric adjustable screen provided superb wind protection and when fully raised would allow the rider to open their visor at almost all speeds with no wind issue. A neat party trick being the screen returning to its lowest position when the bike was turned off only to return to its previous raised position when the bike was turned on again and ridden away. Small things eh?

The seat height was noticeably lower on the liquid cooled bike though I felt the standard seat would have been a item soon on my upgrade list as after a time it cut into my inside leg a little. Staying with the seat, The heating element would’ve certainly benefitted from being a little more beefed up. The heated grips lava like heat wasn’t repeated in the bottom department sadly.

I’m being picky, the 2015 RT-LC was virtually faultless and the hit or miss suspense when starting the old one was replaced with a positive Instant roar when firing the bike up from cold. Riding 20,000 miles in the 3 years of owning it was a joy. Some very minor warranty issues raised their head, the ignition ‘rocker’ switch was replaced after it became a little wobbly and the butterfly valve inside the exhaust was replaced after it developed a squeak when the key was turned. The control wheel on the left handlebar stiffened up when the bike was left standing for a few days but again, nothing major or distracting from an excellent bike.

Fuel economy - I was sad enough to monitor the miles-per-gallon over the entire 20k miles and without trying to ride ‘conservatively’ I achieved a 54 mpg average. That covered commutes, loaded touring, two-up riding and Sunday thrashes. Very impressed!

Night riding was not a problem as the candle powered lights of the old bike were replaced with twin full-beam lights which would make even the sun squint!

There are a lot of nice touches and a good finish with the RT-LC you won't find elsewhere - reassuring quality in abundance.

Generally the ride was relaxed, comfortable, positive and inspiring.

Would I buy it again? Hell yes!
Why did I sell this one? Good question, and to be fair I am not sure why. I have always been a fan of the GS and also became a little tempted by the ruthless power and speed of the XR which I ended up buying as a short term replacement but that's another story.
Did I regret selling her? Yes I did in honesty.
Returning to the 'would I buy again?' question... I would, in fact I would probably buy the very same one back! We have history together.

Ultimately the RT ticked every box and its bulky size disappeared the second you started moving. For sensible touring, two up or single riding I can not recommend it highly enough. BMW riders will love and embrace it, riders new to the brand will be hooked and never look back. An immense machine with superb heritage and lets face it, it is more pleasing to the eye than the GS (in some peoples view), better lines, more beautiful, more elegant.

At the time of writing our RT was for sale as an approved used BMW at Ocean Motorrad Plymouth. If you are in the market for a good RT, look no further...

https://approvedused.bmw-motorrad.co.uk/UK/21904/detail.cshtml?on=381643
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‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’ a short tale of Insurance!

‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’ a short tale of Insurance!
While I could have picked a number of gorgeous photos to sum up our Adriatic tour in June I opted for this one, the old bridge at Mostar!

Sat here sipping coffee and eating lunch (Yes this was the view from my restaurant table) I couldn't help think how being sat in this spot 25 years ago would've been suicide and while we were reminded constantly of the war from 92-95 I want to briefly mention something else.

INSURANCE!

All but one of our group needed to purchase insurance at the border of ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’, something which is common place when leaving the EU so please check which countries you are covered to ride in. 20€ at the border (after asking where we had to go to buy it) and we were covered for up to 2 weeks. It would've been easy to ride on through and the chances of actually being stopped and asked to produce it, well who knows?

Shortly after taking this photo and while riding back to the coast, one of our group was knocked off their motorcycle by a vehicle which pulled out of a junction having not seen him. The damage to the bike was mostly cosmetic, mirrors smashed, instrument panel bent, brake lever snapped and pannier fixings broken but overall not too bad. The engine was intact and running.

The ambulance was there within 4 minutes and the police even sooner (well we were outside the police station I suppose) and photographs were taken and the paperwork started. Our rider escaped with bruising and a dented pride, and while the police were brilliant, allowing us time to sort admin in their office and make the necessary phone calls I couldn't help but think how lucky we were not to think 'Do I really really need insurance?' Well the short answer is yes you do! Not for the admin or hassle of being fined but for the simple reason you may need it!

Accidents are by their very nature, unexpected and you do not know when the proverbial will hit the fan, so stop concentrating efforts on avoiding it (yes I do read about it on social media how "you don't really need it!", "I didn't get stopped" and "no one asked for it" etc and stump up the wedge! Its twenty euros instead of a few thousand if it goes wrong!

A brief round up of our trip will follow on the next blog!
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"Delight in the Ultimate Devon Stop-over"

"Delight in the Ultimate Devon Stop-over"
Carlsberg don't make biker stop-overs but if they did, it would be Union Road Moto-Velo in Crediton. 

"Moto Ventura Tours" are proud to share this jewel in the crown of Devon with you. 

Everything you could ask for to explore Devon and then some... Accommodation, garage for your bike, dining room, drying room and more, Union Road is perfect for Motorcyclists wanting to unwind and get away for a while. Union Road Moto-Velo is a biker cafe & shop complete with 6 en-suite B&B rooms and the warmest of welcomes. 

Cafe Latte? Earl Grey? Maybe a BMW R-nine-T or a Triumph Thruxton? No bike is no problem as Union Road Moto-Velo will hire you a retro classic to go exploring on so what are you waiting for?

Neil is a true biking 'force of nature' and a real ambassador to the spirit of motorcycling. When he isn't out front talking bikes and travels while brewing the coffee beans he's out back building customs, but don't just take our word for it. Go say 'hi' and join the Moto-Velo community. Just tell him we sent you...

Union Road, Crediton, Devon EX17 3AL, GB

01363 777 299
https://unionroadmotovelo.com
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Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Hopefully spring may have finally arrived. Certainly from where I’m standing, the sun is shining and the roads are starting to dry nicely which means many of us will be looking at getting their bikes out of the stables with the mind occupied with thoughts of a good riding season ahead.

Without teaching granny different methods of egg consumption I thought it worth reminding you nice folks of a few basics before you throw your leg over and ‘head out on the highway, looking for adventure…'

So, stop, breathe and count (or rather read) to 10.

1 - RUBBER. Check tyre pressures, check wear level, check for damage, snagging and contaminants (perished, damaged and foreign object damage i.e. nails, screws, glass)

2 - WHEELS. When you check your rubber you will need to turn the wheels so that is an opportunity to check your wheels do actually turn freely. Grab then with both hands and give them a sturdy wobble to check for play in the wheel bearings. This will also help identify if your brakes and discs have any issues.

3 - BRAKES. Hoses, look for Damage, deformity, splits, cracks and brittleness - look for leakage and seepage. Check the levels in your reservoir and the levers and pedals for positive ‘non-spongey’ action and return. Remember, your lever should NOT come back and touch the bars with pulled! Brake Pads, look for damage, wear and debris in the pads and check the discs for cracks, splits and chunks missing. Also, RUST! How much has grown on the disc since you laid the bike up? And even if you are happy everything is fine, always perform a rolling brake check when you first ride. Remember you have two brakes, check and use both accordingly!

4 - FUEL. Do you have some and depending on how long your bike has been sat, is the fuel you have dirty and likely to cause the bike to stall.

5 - OIL. (and other fluids). Yes, have a look! Is there some? Does it leak, has it leaked?

6 - DAMAGE. Have your bike suffered any damage while stored and also, have you forgotten that ‘job’ you said you’d sort over the winter only to realise now? Get it sorted now before it goes another season as a ‘must do’.

7 - ELECTRICS. Well obviously if your battery ist kaput then you aren’t going anywhere fast but if you do have enough lightning juice how about other electrics mainly - lights! indicators, headlights (check your flash function works! switches can seize and play up) and check that both of you brake functions activate the brake light.

8 - DRIVE. Chain, sprockets, shaft, belt, whatever method of transferring the power to the rear wheel check for wear and tear and lube where necessary. If applicable, check the chain for slack and tighten. If neglecte, a slack chain can make your day go bad very quickly!

9 - KIT - It’s still a bit chilly out there so may be worth having your thermals handy (any excuse to put on the wife’s tights!) and remember that waterproofs could still be needed at a moments notice but mostly this is about your safety kit. Helmet, check straps, check damage and check visor. Hopefully you’ve stored it well and there won’t be any issues but mould may creep in and add an unwanted and distracting whiff to your lid! Gloves get stiff if stored when damp. Give them a flex and free them up before riding.

10 - YOU! - Finally, make sure you are fit to ride. If you’ve had some time off then break yourself in slowly. Go somewhere quiet like a car park and practise some slow speed manoeuvres and turns. You may feel like a plonker for a bit so pretend you’re looking for that Rolex you dropped. You are not invincible and getting back on a bike after a break can leave you as sore as going for a run for the first time in months… Be sensible. None of us are Benjamin Button and are getting younger.

Remember this is a guide for the obvious so it’s worth asking a local garage for a check over if you’ve had your bike off the roads for considerable length of time. Most will give you a health check for free or a small amount.

Oh, if you are still lucky enough to get out then think about a nice fresh water wash of your bike afterwards. There is still salt and grit about and a little loving bath would be worth while.

Enjoy the sunshine!

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Motorcycling, a cure for depression?

Motorcycling, a cure for depression?

With all the pressures of modern day living is it any wonder that Mental Wellness is more topical now than ever before

Ask Mental Health professionals about techniques to help alleviate depression and they will state exercise is vital.

I believe exercising the spirit of freedom is as important and motorcycling is one of my remedies for the times when you just need a ‘pick me up’

Motorcycling somewhere exotic and warm is a bonus but the simple act of riding a bike is priceless but caution, it does come at a price.

Possible Cons and their cures.

1 - Sat in the bay window as the rain beats down, looking at the garage door containing your favourite toy.
Cure - A motorcycle DVD. Anything by Nick Sanders, Austin Vince or a ‘Long Way Round’ marathon is good for the soul

2 - Michael Fish drops another clanger and the weather changes while you’re out.
Cure - Be prepared. A good one piece rain suit under a cargo net strapped to the pillion seat and a squirt of de-mister for the visor

3 - Breakdown
Cure - Spend your down-time investing effort and elbow grease into your bike to reduce the chance of breakdown. Learn basic bike maintenance and join a recovery service or have a mate with a truck/bike trailer on speed dial.

4 - All this motorcycling costs money
Cure - eBay, Shpock it, Gumtree. Hunt for bargains. Keywoods such as ‘worn once’, ‘given up biking’, ‘didn’t fit’ or ‘unwanted present’ can all bring a smile to your face and save you a small fortune.

5 - No bike
Cure - Go to a motorcycle dealer with a good cafe, smell some bikes and coffee and even take your licence and helmet for a cheeky ‘test ride’. Who knows, you may be offered a deal you cant resist. Talk to the dealer - they may surprise you!

Likely Pro’s or “smiling side effects”

1 - Improve your skills
2 - Make new mates
3 - Rekindle old friendships
4 - See
5 - Travel
6 - Experience but most importantly;
7 - LIVE LIFE!

Just get on your bike! It’s Spring again, well done! You’ve made it!

Photo: 'Moto Ventura Tours in the Pyrenees'

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Toll On, Toll Off...

Toll On, Toll Off...
Toll Roads in Europe divide opinion with us more than Donald Trump or Brexit with many pluses and minuses on each side. The pros are that they act as a quick means of getting from A to B without getting bogged down by endless junctions, roundabouts and slow moving traffic while the cons are having to put you hand in your pocket to use them, having to stop and do the side-stand shuffle to get your money or bank card out (then waiting on the other side for your mates to come through) and that fuel prices on the péage is generally higher.

My own view point is to avoid wherever possible but use as a quick hop on to a main route to help get us to the fun stuff quicker and pass by the more mundane hum-drum areas.

My advice for tolls is to budget some in at the very start of your ride/trip so you’re not financially caught-out and feeling aggrieved at spending for a few euros here and there then they won’t ruin your trip as much.

Across Europe payment methods change from toll road style to vignette style one-off annual payments. While a toll has to be paid for each passage at least with a vignette you find you’re then covered for most major roads for the remainder of your trip - plus some riders feel the sticker is a bit like a “badge of honour” and a “look where I’ve been riding!”

If you’re choosing to use them then fine, enjoy the convenience they offer. If not, then plan your route well so you don’t fall foul of buying a vignette only to do 20 miles before leaving and never returning to that country again.

We have found, for your convenience and to assist planning, one of the better and clearer websites covering which roads, in which countries are charged.

http://www.tolls.eu/europe

tolls.eu breaks down the countries into tolls, Vignette and even reassures you about which countries do NOT have toll roads. It also covers the many bridges and tunnels in each country too so there really is an easy reference for your jaunts to Europe

To add to the hassle some cities now also charge an ‘Urban Access’ toll, aka a congestion charge or Low Emission Charge. The idea is simply to keep the big polluters out of the city, and that means ANYTHING burning fossil fuels, lorries, cars, motorcycles, the lot.

http://urbanaccessregulations.eu

It’s worth spending a bit of time navigating around these sites as they appear to have all the info you need to assure you are not caught out.

The only thing which was a little frustrating was that I couldn’t find a ‘date’ of last update

We hope these links are useful. Ultimately, don’t let tolls ruin your trip! They’re just a handful of Euros here and there and how often do we find ourselves riding over such well maintained roads - certainly becoming a rarer thing to find in the UK these days.
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Budget Touring Bikes...

Budget Touring Bikes...
NEWSFLASH - You do not need a £15,000 motorcycle to enjoy touring... You also do not need to spend 5 to 10 grand getting mobile in fact, and this may be a shock to many, almost any motorcycle of mechanically soundness will make the grade! I first toured on a Triumph Speed Tripe with bags fastened to the bike via bungee straps. I then continued my newly discover passion for bike trips on a ZRX1100, another machine not entirely fitting the touring 'category' but a small improvement as I could throw over some soft panniers and had a little more space for loading up.

So for those on a smaller budget we have found (following a quick scan of the classifieds) 3 machines under £3000 which, with touring in mind, would provide thousands of miles of open road and smiles!

Oh, just note - We Are Not Endorsing Any Of The Bikes Below Or The Dealerships... This is a quick scan of the market to encourage you to put your 'can't afford a bike' excuse in the bin and get some mileage done. Purchasing ANY motorcycle comes with risk so do your research, get a mechanic to check the bike over and check the service history. When in doubt, there is no doubt!

1 - DEALER - BMW R1100RT 1998 - We found an nice example from BMW Motorrad specialist, James Sherlock in South Molton, Devon for the tantalising sum of £2,995. Ok it is imported but with only 33k on the clock the BMW boxer is good for another 200,000 miles. If you purchased and kept it clean you would probably wouldn't lose much when you re-sold the bike later on. Bikes like this find a bottom-price and sit there. Complete with two hard panniers, electric screen, heated grips, radio and (from experience) a superbly comfortable riding portion, the older RT's are staggering value for money! SHERLOCKS do not state what warranty is provided with the bike but as they are a dealer your consumer rights should be respected and a warranty should be included...

2 - DEALER - Triumph Sprint ST 1050 2006= Another dealer bike. We found a 2006 Sprint complete with factory colour coded hard panniers from RiteBike in Bradford. With ABS and 12 months MOT the Sprint fits the sports tourer bikers and is a very capable and quick machine! With 42k on the clock it is worth a decent look over but promising all the same. RiteBIke provide a 30 day warranty on their bikes.

3 - PRIVATE - Suzuki DL650 V-Strom - We couldn't go without mentioning the fantastic V-Strom, or rather the 'wee-strom'. This little 650 is brilliant at solo touring, a little too small in the power department for taking a pillion we feel, but as a nod to enduro's you can't get a more satisfying bike. The big bonus with the Wee, sorry V-strom is that it's good for the newer tourer who is finding their feet. The one we found on eBay for £2250 (or best offer) was a 2005 model, included hard panniers and top box, heated grips, sump guard and was low on miles at 22k but only MOT's til July 2017. The ad is tempting, it looks and sounds loved and the seller isn't letting test pilots ride it unless you can provide insurance... The downfall os private is No Warranty but these an be purchased online privately these days. Check the service schedule and have an open mind. Best Offer means - I need to sell this bike! This little gem is in Burnham-on-Sea and it curious, is item number 183082533898 on eBay.

There you have it, 3 bikes to stop you coming up with the 'I cant afford a BMW-GS' excuse!

It's coming up to tour season - now is the time to get your bargain, but be quick!

Oh, for those who do have a little bit more money to spend, our old RT is now available at Ocean Motorrad Plymouth for a very tempting £10,495. We know this bike doesn't mis a beat.... Ring Ocean and ask for Spencer - Tell him John from Moto Ventura sent you. ;)
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Who Gives a 'Puc' These Days Anyway?

Who Gives a 'Puc' These Days Anyway?
I recently required our new tourer and was flipping through the extras catalogue, as you do, when I spotted something which always divides opinion. The side stand enlarger plate!

The logic is that the plate increases the footprint on the contact area and reduces the likelihood of the stand sinking on softer ground like grass making it an ideal ‘adventure’ bolt on... but wait! Hold your horses a moment...
If you have the genetic make-up of a hobbit like myself you’re probably not blessed in the inside leg measurement and this makes hopping on and off your favourite adventure bike a bit more challenging with some being quite high at the saddle. Adding a plate to the side stand adds thickness to the foot and actually results in your bike standing more upright when on its stand, only a tad but still enough to make a difference.

Okay, by itself that isn’t bad news but if you’re looking to park up on some ‘rough ground’ this can cause an issue getting the bike stable enough to then dismount. This is exactly the problem one of our riders found in the Alps once. Because the bike wouldn’t lean as much on the already 'sketchy’ parking area it became even harder to settle the bike and he struggled to dismount. (In response to the obvious ‘park elsewhere then’ comments, we were very limited to places to put the bike and it was already quite a slope)

While these plates look great and all 'Bear Grrrrrrrrylls’ bolted to the bottom of your stand why not simply invest in £3 puc which you can throw on the floor and drop your stand on to. Simples! it's about £25-£30 cheaper, quick to fit i.e. instant and if you have a nice smooth bit of tarmac to park on, which let's face it, is most of the time then you don't have to waste time using it.

Isn't it time to get the 'Puc' out?
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BMW R1200RT SE Liquid (Water) Cooled - June 2015 - No Reserve - Read Description | eBay

Folks - Moto Ventura have put their gorgeous RT on an eBay auction. 

No reserve at 'trade-in' starting price. 7 days only. Click title 'link' for details

John Wilton

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RT update - Now on eBay

Folks

We have put our RT on an eBay auction.

No reserve at 'trade-in' starting price. 7 days only. See ad link below for details

John Wilton

https://goo.gl/PXtDXW
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Moto Ventura's RT is looking for a new home.

Moto Ventura's RT is looking for a new home.
2015 BMW R1200RT SE Liquid Cooled in Ebony Black.
Registered 17 June 2015 (Reg plate shows 12 as its a private plate)
Mileage 19,200 rising slightly due to being in use.
MOT not required until June 2018
One owner since new - me!
I am selling my trusty BMW R1200RT. She has been with me since new having being registered in June 2015 and has not let me down once.
Current Tyres are in very good condition. The bike comes with usual SE refinements, cruise control, heated front & rear seats, heated grips etc.
The Sat Nav is not included with the motorcycle but a BMW Navigator 5 or 6 will slot directly into place. In the meantime, there is s removable blanking panel in its place.
The bike has been maintained by Ocean BMW in Plymouth and has recently (Summer 17) had the full exhaust system replaced worth £1000
The service book is up to date and stamped by BMW.
The bike naturally includes the side panniers but the top box is not included as it will eventually move to our next RT.
2 keys present.
The motorcycle is currently sign written with the Moto Ventura Tours graphics (as pictured)
The bike has been an extremely reliable machine and has clocked up the majority of its 19,000 miles in the European continent.
Just to clarify that the Top Box, private plate and Sat Nav are not included - sorry.
This bike has never been hired out. It’s soul use was as a professional guides motorcycle and has only ever been ridden by myself
Viewing recommended.
Phone John on 07590 599662 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Stuck for Christmas?

Christmas presents for bikers
What do you buy a biker (or pillion) for Christmas? While you are struggling to find your partner, mate, loved one, Mum, Dad etc a suitable 'biker' Christmas Present we thought we would brain storm you with a list of potential ideas... If you are stuck then scan below for inspiration. All prices ranges cover from a £2.50 puk to a Track Day or a full tour with ‘Moto Ventura’, What ever your budget, be it a stocking filler or main present I hope something below may trigger a thought or idea.

20 Quickfire ideas:
1 - BikeSafe
What better piece of mind is there than getting a police motorcyclist to give your loved ones riding a once over. BikeSafes are relaxed and very informative. It’s also a nice day out on the bike and a chance to meet other riders. Search ‘BikeSafe’ to find your local police bikeSafe sessions. Safety is a priceless gift!
2 - TrackDay
In much the same respect as a BIkeSafe, riding skills on a track come with huge benefits. A bit like learning a Kung Fu so you don’t actually get hurt in a fight, track days teach discipline, improve confidence and also get the urge to ride fast dealt with in the appropriate place, on the track.
3 - Post Test Training
Unlike BikeSafe, which is a one day input with the police, Post-Test Training can often be bespoke and delivered to the rider over a period of time to suit them and cover topics in greater depth than BikeSafe. At the end of the Training some riders feel confident enough to go an Advanced group such as IAM or ROSPA. You’re never too old to learn new tricks!
4 - Thermals/Neck Tubes
Anything that helps keep you snug during the winter months (and beyond) is very welcome! bikers can never have enough warm weather gear! Thermal leggings and long sleeve tops can be a God-send!
5 - Helmet Care Kit
A good scrub of the helmet can do wonders. A simply clean of the visor can improve vision and confidence, a new visor, well… How many brownie points will that achieve? Answer - lots!
6 - Puk
A great little stocking filler, a puk (plastic disc with sits beneath the side stand) is an essential must have for every motorcyclist and they are very inexpensive.
7 - Heated Souls for you boots
These are in the same field as thermal and neck tubes but a good idea if your loved one already has the others and is still complaining of the cold. Warm feet and so nice!
8 - Anything else heated!
Let’s keep the heated theme, heated grips, heated waistcoats… Oh I am feeling warm already!
9 - Armoured Jeans
We LOVE armoured jeans, but choose wisely! Personal preference is buy a good pair and buy that I mean look at your ‘bikers’ everyday jeans and try to replicate them. I have number of unworn kevlar jeans in the wardrobe because they are dyed/coloured blue instead of looking like natural denim. Everyone has a preference and as jeans are very ‘fashionable’ pick a pair that your biker will be happy to stroll about town in.
10 - Magazine subscription
The gift that lasts all year! A subscription to one of his/her favourite motorcycle magazines will make them smile every month, then get another subscription the following year.
11 - Bike Cleaning Kit
An array of sponges, brushes lotions and potions to help clean their pride and joy of course.
12 - Guardian Bell
I have a special place in my heart (and on my bike) for one of these. Scroll down my blog to see why I love them so much but a Guardian Bell is a lovely little gift to say your are thinking of them.
13 - DVD and/or book
It’s raining, its icy, it’s snowing, bike’s broken, whatever the excuse for not riding there is still something to help put a smile back on your bikers face - Our friend Nick Sanders has a vast array of DVDs from his two wheeled adventures but also some Moto GP highlights or a look at last years TT. You could even journey you own 'Long Way Round'.
14 - Pillion Pal
A handy belt which, when fastened around the rider, reveals a pair of grab handles on either side of the wearers waist. Also known as ‘love handles’ these are great for use on the bike as some people have suggested another place in the home to use them too!
15 - Weekend away (on the bike)
Okay it is bike related. You may use the bike to ride to your chosen holiday OR you may have routes galore emerging from your accommodation to keep you busy in the saddle throughout your short break.
16 - Mach Tickets
If you love bikes, live music, organised routes, great food camping, meeting new biker mates and hanging out with Nick Sanders then a couple tickets to the MACH Motorcycle festival is a must! Held the last weekend of May 2018 you will have plenty of time to get your tent aired and pack your bike.
17 - Sat Nav
Fed up of getting lost, want to take phone calls as you ride or need a little extra bling - A bike sat-nav is a great bit of kit and there are plenty of choices out there. Garmin, Tom-Tom or you could even get a kit which will help you attach your existing smart phone to the bars and away you go!
18 - Tattoo
Why not? You inly live once! It doesn’t have to be bike related but will certainly help with your bad-boy/girl image!
19 - Ear Plugs
Up there with other safety equipment and so very often over-looked when getting kitted up. These little suckers will save your hearing, reduce fatigue and can help with noisy neighbours too! Buy as a pair or buy in bulk. Super stocking filler!
20 - Or tell him/her you really care with a space on one of our amazing 2018 tours!
Well, we would be doing ourselves an injustice if we didn’t mention our tours, so have a look at our 2018 tours and give us a shout if you’d like to know more. We can guarantee it will be a Christmas present you will never forget.

I hope that's provided a little food for thought...

Merry Christmas!

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Motorcycle-Live, 2018 Tours and other chat. Big engines aren't always the way to ride...

Motorcycle-Live, 2018 Tours and other chat.  Big engines aren't always the way to ride...

The Motorcycle Live show is like Christmas for us at Moto Ventura Tours and 2017 was no exception. Just being surrounded by so many shiny bikes is bliss.

We had a chance to look at the latest offerings from every manufacturer and what is most obvious is the style of motorcycles we are buying these days. Exciting because now more than ever touring bikes seem to be taking a firm lead in the market. Not just the big ones, but surprisingly smaller cc machines. We had a good catch up with motorcycle adventurer and friend of Moto Ventura, Nick Sanders and were surprised to hear that his latest long distance journey was completed on a Tracer from Yamaha instead of his trusty 1200cc Super-Ténéré. We know that everyone runs out to buy the latest 1200 (or more) when touring but actually, wait a minute. Do you need to? I would suggest if you are riding all day with a pillion and 'packing for 2' then yes but as a solo rider then sub one litre surely has to be a consideration and the market opens out with some amazing options from nearly all manufacturers.

The other growing market trend is fashion bikes, by that I mean the less practical but more enjoyable and soulful additions to the range - last year we saw the scrambler have it's foothold with everyone including Yamaha, Triumph, BMW and Ducati all pushing big bore Scramble bikes but they seem to already be taking a role as support act to the mighty Bobber. I personally am hoping Bobbers run the distance as their coolness is undeniable though practical uses are. questionable.

Sundays look so much better on a Bobber!

If I had to pick Bobbers to race for pink-slips then it would be the Indian Scout Bobber and the Triumph Bonneville Bobber that would go head to head. Any thoughts on which would win the race for cool? US v UK? If only we had a TopGear budget to play with we could fly to LA and drag race them from stock.

Naturally when you mix cool and tour you get Cool Tourers and the big cruiser heavy weight Harley Davidson has some real nice iron this year and a favourite for us is the 2018 114 cubic inch soft-tailed Fat Bob though fitting luggage on would require work it still hit the spot. Harley purists will frown but it's aggressive lines and sharp handling will surely make it one of the biggest bikes in their range over the coming years. RIP FatBob Dyna, Long Live the new King Bob!

The big cruisers from HD and Indian have long had a band of faithful. Indian seem to be setting the bench mark without trying while HD are bringing out equally fantastic bikes to stay current but may inadvertently lose the faith of the Harley pure-bloods. Interesting times coming!

BMW have looked a little towards this 'cruiser' market as they did a few years ago with the R1200C and are pushing their K1600B (Bagger) with many drooling customers throwing their German made cowboy boots over the beastie at the show. It will no doubt sell, but will it drag riders from their GT's and RT's? The GS faithful won't budge thats a given.

This brings me on to the other touring option (we do run a touring company after-all). We've done small engine, we've done big engine, So where is the fun actually happening? It surely has to be the new one-litre sports tourers. Sports Tourer used to be an evolution of sports bike with panniers fitted like the Kawasaki ZZR and the Honda VFR but now Sports-Tourer seems to be the tag placed on the likes of the BMW S1000Xr and Ducati's Multi-Strada. Theses drew more crowds than any other bike at the show...

Are we excited? Hell yes!

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Mach 2 - Bike Festival

Mach 2 - Bike Festival
It's one thing to meet world famous motorcyclist Nick Sanders but did you know you can pop to his place for a party?

This year Nick hosted Mach 2, the aptly named successor to Mach 1, the 'biker festival' at Machynlleth, Powys. The 'Mach' duelling as an obvious reference to speed for the petrol heads but it is also the fondly used shortening for Machynlleth.

This idyllic setting is absolutely perfect for an event which ticks all the boxes in the provision of biker friendly, social excellence with healthy helpings of real ale and cider with delicious treats from Caroline's Kitchen to keep your stomach happy. A huge bonus and testimony to Nicks passion for the area and local business is that the town is on your doorstep and those attending are encouraged to explore Machynlleth and sample the delights. Indeed, as you soon discover on the organised 'treasure hunt' you are signposted to get in to the sticks and hunt out many of the little coffee stops and cafes in return for scoring points.

Mach 2 is plenty big enough for the abundance of bikes, tents, campers and trailers which pitched up and there is enough space around you that you'll feel your privacy is respected and you can 'stretch out'. You will also have no problem when it comes to queuing for food and refreshments or visiting one of the many portable, yet luxury loo's which are scattered liberally around the site. Nick & Caroline have ensured there are more than adequate amounts and they are kept a close eye on with regular cleaning so no loo roll shortage occurs!

A variety of live acts keep you entertained during the evening with a liberal dose of fire jugglers thrown in for good measure.

Walking around the bikes revealed a broad diversity of machines and number plates with riders coming from all over Europe to take part in a little R 'n' R along with some that made the journey specifically for Nicks event. With such an event right on your doorstep you would be foolish to miss it, and if you eventually do take the plunge and go along you will be kicking yourself for not doing it earlier.

We are definitely looking forward to Mach 3, in fact stop-press, Nick has announced Mach 2.5 to be held on the last weekend (Bank Holiday) of August). Hosting a smaller number of visitors Mach 2.5 will be sure to sell out fast.

Festival fun for the biker family!
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Does size really matter? Riding the 2017 K1600-GT

Does size really matter? Riding the 2017 K1600-GT

The K1600 has been around since 2010 and is becoming a familiar site touring the big roads. The cautious are warming to it and the purists are no longer turning their noses up. As we know every new machine has a few tweaks and modifications to improve and rectify issues but testament to the K16 is that very little has changed. Bar a few styling and rider comfort options the 2017 K1600GT is much the same beast as before. One of the most noticeable changes however is the re-introduction of the ‘reverse’ function. Like a Sumo Wrestler squeezing in to a toilet cubicle the vast weight and size of the K16 mean that the reverse function is a long over due ‘must’ in making life easier for the rider and lets face it, the K16 is all about making life easier.

Big touring bikes are becoming more and more popular, insurance hikes, the ease of getting abroad along with the constant threat of having your licence tainted have push more and more into getting riding thrills elsewhere. The power rangers are growing up and the missus wants to come away on the bike trips. It’s easy to see why a massive brand like BMW attract a lions share of the touring market. Celebrity endorsements have rocketed GS sales and taken the limelight from the GS siblings. The R & K-series of tourers that have long been the mainstay of Motorrad have kept their faithful band of followers despite regulations surrounding emissions forcing a big change to the boxer engine.

You don’t just buy a BMW on a whim. You have to be introduced to the brand by a friend, a bit like finding your spouse the ‘old fashioned’ way via your mate’s sister. You don’t speed date a BMW. So you know the brand already and are already familiar with some of the BMW quirkiness. It is safe to say you will already be expecting a level of quality and a prestige above that of it’s competitors. Well, fear not! The K1600 is not going to let you down.

If you are new to the K1600 but familiar with touring bikes and in particular BMW’s then you need to brace yourself though, it is Heavy. Sure, you're used to your ‘in-line four’ K12 or K13 or you are ditching the torquey boxer powered RT for the ‘big 6’ but you seriously need to be aware what you’re getting yourself into. At around 320kgs bare naked it’s a whole rugby player heavier than the R1200RT. Therefore it doesn't take much before you, your pillion and your luggage are topping the scales at over half a ton. All this weight despite BMW’s weight watcher considerations of a magnesium alloy subframe and hollow camshafts. Where was that reverse function again?

Throw a leg over and heave it off the side stand and you would be forgiven for thinking your pillion has jumped on before you. Engage first and twist the throttle however and suddenly you realise why the K16 is such an epic bike to ride. In fact why stop at first gear, the K1600’s delivery of power ensure all gears are in the frame for play-time. The turbine roar of 6 cylinders is captivating and will have you looking for any excuse to give it a little wrist action. It’s flies!

Braking is superb and positive on both front and rear wheels, giving the rider confidence and enabling you to relax knowing that the 160 horses and sheer weight is fairly easy to keep under control. Especially useful as rolling off the throttle with 6 cylinders doesn't bring the expected reduction of speed. The dashboard has been updated and will have the techies gasping in wonder at the bright lights and full scale deflection of the tacho on start-up. You really do feel you are sitting somewhere special enhancing the GT experience. The K16 real does feel like the King of the road. But it is King of some roads but sadly not all. The long reach of the bike make it great for mile munching Grand Touring but I do feel that as a quick leap on, leap off bike it is just too cumbersome. Its like putting on a dinner suit every time you pop down to the kitchen for a snack. Sure you can manoeuvre the K16 and I’m sure there are loads of clips on the web of riders throwing it around the tight cones on an agility course but for common and garden day rides I did feel like I was taking the Winnebago to the beach.

The tank is big but it’s not the biggest tank in the touring arena and the MPG isn't as good as some of the competition either so if you’re out devouring miles, some of you mates will be tutting each time the K16 needs a drink but it’s not a titanic gap so you do still get a respectable range and far better than that of the sports-tourer faithful.

As far as we can see the K16 only has one real contender to worry about, its own sibling, the Cain to this Abel, the R1200RT. The RT can be fitted with the same luxury extras as the GT, the same sparkly dashboard lights, the same adaptive ‘look around the bend’ headlights, the same ‘warm the bum’ buttons, same panniers and baggage space, same rider aids to help cope with varying road conditions, but the RT is cheaper, more economical, lighter, more nimble and, some may even dare to suggest, much prettier than the K16. It handles better from the off and still carries you and your pillion in exquisite luxury to your hotel in the south of France but it does lack the smoothness of the big 6 cylinder and that fantastic soundtrack.

It really comes down to personal choice - You are already sold on having a BMW or you wouldn't have walked into the showroom and therefore the rivals from Japan or elsewhere aren't even in with a shout, it’s just which one do you blow you twenty-ish grand on?

So who is the target customer? The K16 engine characteristics and its additive turn of speed mean it will suit the sports-bike come touring rider perfectly. Leaping from a pure sport or even a sport-tourer on to a full tour specific machine will have you grinning from ear to ear and possibly wondering why on earth you hadn't made the leap years ago.

The model we rode, supplied by Ocean BMW Plymouth, came with keyless start and central locking. Oh, how I scoffed but actually once the novelty of pretending I was unlocking the car has passed I found it was actually very useful for quickly throwing helmets etc in the pannier without the hassle of old fashioned keys. And that’s the big plus with the K16, you get ‘useful’ and ‘convenient’ wrapped up nicely with a biblical turn of speed and a feeling of real provenance.

It absolutely, thoroughly and inexcusably punches the Grand into ‘Grand Tour’.

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Nick Sanders Night

Nick Sanders Night
Thank you to all who came to our 'Evening with Nick Sanders'.

The night was a big success and Nick was genuinely amazed by the atmosphere and number of you who came along.

For those who did not attend, Nick gave a 90 minute talk from everything from his early days getting sponsorship to more recent times and his plans for the future including the 'Mach 2' festival in Wales.

The guys from Ocean BMW put a couple of tempting machines in the lobby and the Waie Inn provided wonderful food and beer to keep hunger away in the amazing Devon setting.

It was also great to see so many friends and also to put faces to names and voices.

We hope to announce some more similar events soon - watch this space.

Thanks again
John and the team at Moto Ventura Tours
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