We stopped in Grenoble for a few days of walking tourism and learned to save money by havi
Sharon and I know that for travelers who love sunshine and shopping, the Cote d Azur is a perfect travel destination. We love motorcycling, so with a kiss to the sea, we turned our bike back to the mountains. The weather forecast indicated it was dry in the Italian Alps. Time to go.
Bruce Hansen is author of Motorcycle Journeys Through the Pacific Northwest (Whitehorse Press)
The rim ride around the Grand Canyon offers plenty of pull-outs to admire the view.
The Grand Canyon was believed to be impenetrable and wasn't fully explored until the 20th
This roadside sign proudly proclaims the Route of Napoleon.
On this trip we had only one brief rain shower, but that was not typical for a European motorcycle trip. Plan for rain. We took our Harley FXRG water-resistant leathers. We also brought the electric jackets and gloves, but didn't need them.
We drew a crowd nearly every time we parked the bike. This was outside of our hotel room
Bring serious protective riding gear because, when you ride in a strange place, with different traffic laws and signs, on a different bike . . . it is more likely that you could go down - most likely when turning the bike around in a gravel parking lot. Got gloves?
Bring your own helmet so you know the fit is right. We took our ultra-light carbon fiber full-face helmets. Helmets are required in Europe, and you will want the protection if you are going 160 kilometers per hour on the Autobahn and hit a bee. I thought I was struck by a baseball.
My favorite travel gadget turned out not to be the TomTom rider, which really did save our bacon a few times, but the iPod Touch. It allowed us to check the weather, translate signs and menus and check email. If you travel two-up like us, bring a communication system. We had a Scala Rider Q2 system that worked perfectly and had a battery that lasted over some really long days of riding.
Every one slows down when nearing the highest point on the rooftop of Europe.
Bring quick-dry clothes that you can rinse out in your hotel sink every evening and a pair of sturdy walking shoes. I loved my FXRG boots for riding and hiking in the snow, but was eager to put on my walking shoes when touring on foot.
We also brought a FirstGear Monza tank bag. I know what you are thinking; a tank bag on a Harley? Remember the walking shoes? You'll need the space, and it gives you a place to put your camera, phone, passports, money, GPS and it has backpack straps so you can haul it around when not on the bike.
The 2010 Ultra as a Two Up Bike
I want to say that the 2010 Ultra Limited made a great first impression with my wife, but alas we didn't have the rear shocks adjusted for two up riding. We hit a big bump, and Sharon feared she would fly off the bike. After inflating the air adjustable rear shocks, she was all smiles. Whenever we stopped among a group of bikers, other rear-seat riders would gaze enviously at the plush passenger accommodations on the Harley.
Let's face it, the bike wasn't designed for the sharp European Alpine switchbacks. That's sport bike territory. This was a two-up trip, and there's no way I would attempt to put Sharon on the back of a sport bike for a month. However, the Harley's low center of gravity, rear air shocks and the 2009 frame redesign worked together to make the bike steady when fully loaded and snapping through a series of switchbacks.
European roads are awash with turns somewhat more relaxed than the twisties that claw up and down the steep mountains. The Ultra truly shines as a serious road bike when on the sweepers. And the autobahn-the adjustable wind protection on the Ultra has always been first rate when the road is straight and the speed is fast.
Probably the hardest part of any motorcycle two-up trip is explaining to my wife that she needs to be able to fit all of her stuff in one saddlebag. The Harley saddlebag liners helped with our packing and the luggage rack held our too-long Nordic walking sticks. That trunk! It will swallow nearly anything a rider throws at it. The Harley luggage system is one of my favorites.
Why the Twin Cam 103 engine? I really liked the Twin Cam 96 when it came out. When Harley announced the 103 would go with the 2010 Ultra Limited, I wondered why. Then came this trip. We loved the extra 10 percent more torque when we needed to get the fully loaded bike up to Autobahn speed in an instant, or when we had the bike leaned over to the floorboards pulling up a steep hill and didn't want to make a downshift. I'm sold on the 103.