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Old Gits European Motorcycle Tours
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The Old Gits is not a commercial organisation. We don't charge anything and don't make a profit. Those on the trips simply pay their own costs but benefit from any group discounts that can be arranged.

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Hints & Tips

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What works for us. Here are some of the things that we have found work for us either in preparation for a European motorcycle tour, in general motorcycling or in touring as a whole. Please feel free to let us know of anything that works for you.

 Helpful Hints.

When packing, roll clothes as this reduces the number of creases. The use of vacuum backs can also reduce the space required.

Only ever take the minimum you require. (Even then, you'll still pack more than you need!)

The best place to carry weight on a bike is as low as possible and mid way between the axles. As this is not a practical location for luggage, get it as close to that as you can. (i.e. not high on a rear rack behind the rear wheel.)

Pack heavy items at the bottom of bags/panniers, with lighter items at the top.

Don't overfill your tankbag, it may get in the way of you riding the bike.

Put all your luggage in waterproof  bags (such as bin bags) before it goes into tank bags/panniers etc. as this will ensure that your clothes remain dry even in the worst weather conditions.

Always carry a couple of spare bungee straps. You never know when they may be needed.

Try to bungee the bottom of throw-over panniers down to stop them flapping in the wind.

Make sure the bottoms of magnetic tank bags are totally clean before they go on your tank otherwise they will scratch your tank.

French toll stations take credit cards - easier to handle than cash with gloves on! Don't use the automatic toll lanes when paying by credit card. There is a good chance you will get charged the car rate rather than the bike rate.

When riding around Europe without your luggage attached to the bike, carry all your essential documents in the back protector pocket of your jacket to keep them safe and flat in case you are stopped by the local police.

If carrying luggage on your pillion seat, fit anti-slip matting first. Don't buy the expensive bit's claiming to be bike specific. Go to your local DIY shop or carpet shop and get a roll designed to stop rugs slipping on polished floors. It's exactly the same, considerably cheaper and all you have to do is cut to size.

Make sure your travel insurance covers motorcycling, many don't and many are limited to 125cc bikes.

Over the years, I have found long, thin (about half an inch wide) adjustable luggage straps useful as tie downs on a variety of ferries. Quick and simple to use (and you are not reliant on greasy lengths of old rope) they are more than strong enough to cope with the weight of the bike. - Martyn G

Group riding tips.

Firstly, we don't agree with large groups. A limit of about 4 off motorway and about 6 on motorways is practical without slowing everyone down to the speed of the slowest or upsetting other road users.

There are many different ways to ensure that groups stay together when out riding. Some work better than others with different groups. For the Old Gits, what works is the following:

Rider in front.

Each rider is responsible for keeping the person behind them in their mirror. This does not mean that you have to be able to see them all the time only that you get regular periodic glimpses of them. If the rider behind has not been in your mirror for a little while, slow down and let them catch up.

If you are turning off the road you are on then make sure that the rider behind can see you make that manoeuvre.

If you do go off ahead of the rider behind and lose sight of the rider behind for some time then stop and wait if you come to a junction that requires you leaving the road you are currently on.

If you have managed to overtake slower traffic and you can see that the road in front is clear for the other riders overtake then ride on the "wrong" side of the road. Do not switch your indicator on as the rider behind will not know if you intend turning off at the next junction and thus will not take the overtake.

Watch for the rider behind wanting to go faster than you and making an overtake manoeuvre.

Rider behind

Do not try to keep up with the rider in front if they are riding at a speed that you are not comfortable with.

Do not ride too closely to the rider in front as it will significantly reduce your space and make the rider in front feel uncomfortable.

Do not deliberately ride in the wheel tracks of the rider in front.

If you are riding in traffic then ride in a staggered formation of offside, nearside then offside to allow maximum visibility.

If the rider in front is riding slower than you would wish to travel then make a clear and correct overtaking manoeuvre to pass them, but only when it is safe to do so.

If the rider in front has managed to pass slower traffic and is now riding on the "wrong" side of the road than it is up to you as to whether you trust their judgement and take the overtake or whether you wait until you can see that it is completely clear.

If the rider in front is going a different way to the way your sat nav suggests, ignore your sat nav.

If you can't see the rider in front then continue on the road you are on. Do not turn off..

Using the above techniques allows each of the Old Gits to ride at a pace they are comfortable with while still keeping the group together (although it can get very spread out).