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What kind of bike and riding kit do I need?

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Any road bike in good condition of around 500cc or 600cc upwards will make this journey. (400cc pocket rockets would be the minimum) In France, bikers are less focused on one particular style of bike. You will see all sorts from trail bikes, to super motards, to sports bikes to low riders and cruisers right up to fully dressed tourers in these mountains. See 2002 line up in front of Mont Blanc (left), the highest mountain in Europe.

Just ensure your bike has been serviced fairly recently, take out some recovery insurance, and check your tyres have enough rubber left for riding up to 2500 miles on hot Tarmac. (see section on Tyres to the right as this is important)

For the journey down and back, you will need your usual all weather gear you would use in England. Once in the Alps, although you still some protective riding gear, you will be unlikely to need the multiple layers and heavy waterproof clothing you would need here in England.


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Most bikes in previous years have ranged from sports 600s like CBRs, general all rounders (such as Bandits) through to large tourers such as FJRs, Pan Europeans and BMWs. We have even had the odd Cruiser! not the obvious choice for the mountains, but the guy did well, generating sparks on every hairpin. Bear in mind that once we are in Bourg, you can dump your luggage, and ride your bike without the bags on. So you do not necessarily need a true Touring bike capable of hauling vast amounts of gear day after day. I took my Firestorm in 2002, which was fantastic in the mountains, but the limited tank range was a bit embarrassing on the journey there and back. So I now use my trusty old FJ1200 or Bandit 1200. From 2004 and beyond, I have used my Fazer 1000.


We have had a disproportionate number of Triumphs on recent Alps trips (as in Edward's RS to the right). This kind of sports touring bike seems a great compromise between a hard edged sports bike and lardy tourer which becomes a handful in the twisties.


In 2001, we took a couple of trail bikes down to the Alps, as well as road bikes. These were excellent fun, and just as useable in the mountains as the faster, pure road machines. If I get a firm commitment from guests on trail bikes or small road bikes, I will consider laying on a van to transport bikes down there. This will also serve as a back-up vehicle for spares and luggage.

However, at the time of writing this update (December 2003) the 2004, 2005, and 2006 French trips are planned as road bike trips, without van support.

 
  Tyres

  Water supply

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