Edelweiss Bike Travel Tours – if you haven’t heard of them and are considering doing a bike trip, it’s worth taking a look through their website. The company has been around for 36 years and has done 2,350 trips with more then 38,000 motorcycles! You can choose from trips taken on a Vespa, to (if you are feeling ambitious) ones spanning 6 continents, appropriately named the “Around the World Expedition“. The trip filter on their website allows you to search their database by Continent, Tour Category, Date and Even the Bike brand you would prefer to ride! Impressive right? I would say so!
When I went on my trip with Edelweiss, we spent 6 days travelling around Germany and Belgum (yes, I had waffles while I was there!), before heading to Cologne for Intermot, one of the biggest motorcycle shows in the world! The guides for the tour were great, having a chase vehicle was essential (I am not known for packing light), and everything was pre-planned/booked which saves a lot of time pre-trip. As with any one of their tours, the roads are the real highlight. The routes they take have been ridden many times before and they are able to plan for good/bad weather days based on having taken these roads before. They even broke us off into separate groups depending on skill level and how ambitious you were feeling that day.
The downside is you loose a little freedom. Maybe you decide to you want to backtrack and go through a particularly fun twisty section, or you end up on a mini pub crawl with some locals and need a few extra hours of sleep, or you become transfixed by the history of the small town decide you want to stay an extra day. Not exactly an option on a preplanned trip.
But there is an alternative…
Frank and Helene, a couple for over 20 years, decided on the alternative. Frank had been invited to speak at the IFZ International Motorcycle safety Conference in Cologne, Germany in early October and, because the couple had always wanted to take a trip through the Alps, they decided to plan their adventure independent of a pre-organized group. They gave themselves a three week time frame and that is where their planning began.
Of the three weeks they planned to travel, it was decided that they would spend two weeks travelling on bikes before returning to Cologne for the pre-opening of Intermot. Frank explained his impression of the show: “Cologne is considered to one of the top three industry shows in the world, and encompassed eight convention halls. To appreciate the scale, one hall devoted just to tools and equipment was about twice the size of the show we had in Ottawa last year”.
But, before heading to the show, they had 14 days of riding through the Apls…. Their collective preplanning resulted in the following itinerary:
– 6 days riding the Alps
– 5 days riding in the Italian countryside
– 3 days on the German Autobahns
– 4000 km total
** More on costs and planning tips below **
After arriving in Germany, they picked up the rented bikes from All-round Motorcycle Rentals in Frankfurt Germany, another long standing motorcycle adventure company across the pond. You can choose from all the big brands, and are given options for scooters, choppers, sport bikes and big touring bikes, preference dependent of course. Frank and Helene picked a sporty pair of bikes for their excursion;
“I (Frank) rode a 600 cc four cylinder Yamaha Diversion which was a semi-naked version of the FZ-6 sold here (in Canada); Helene had a Kawasaki ER-6F 650 cc twin, a/k/a the Ninja 650 in North America. The choice of who took which bike came down to the fact that we couldn’t get the seat off the Ninja 650 to attach the lead for an electric vest, and Helene didn’t care but wimpy me did! It turned out that there was no tool kit on the Yamaha, so we had to borrow a screwdriver from the hotel janitor before we left Frankfurt. I wasn’t worried though, being Japanese bikes we had zero problems in the 4000 km we rode. And they were perfect for the application; with so many “zero degree” turns in the Alps a big bike or one with clip-on style handlebars would be exhausting.”
** All picture’s/comments were provided by Frank **
And they were off! The destinations were as follows….
Close to the summit of Passo del Stelvio – Italy
The pass is located in the Ortler Alps in Italy between Stilfs (“Stelvio” in Italian) in South Tyrol and Bormio in the province of Sondrio. It is about 75 km (47 mi) from Bolzano and a mere 200 m from the Swiss border. The Umbrail Pass runs northwards from the Stelvio’s western ramp, and the “Three Languages Peak” (Dreisprachenspitze) above the pass is so named because this is where the Italian, German, and Romansh languages meet.
The road connects the Valtellina with the mid Venosta valley.
Frank on the use of a GPS:
Cost Breakdown for the Trip (2 People and 2 Bikes)
Bike Costs per KM
(Alternative) Using the Edelweiss Tours
Good Things to Know
A Few Final Words from Frank:
For anyone considering planning their own trip I highly recommend the book “Motorcycle Journeys Through the Alps and Beyond”, by John Hermann, available through Whitehorse Press. We had the fourth edition published in 2008; I now have the fifth edition which came out in 2014. The book carries this warning:
“Alpine roads and scenery and culture are known to cause Alpinitis, a disease that causes an almost uncontrollable urge to return. There is no cure. The only relief is more Alpine riding, which results in re-infection”.
I am currently planning a return trip for this September.
** Quick Update: Frank has booked his flights for his return trip this upcoming September!