Over the past year, my girlfriend Kathleen and I have traveled to Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and now, Croatia. We have rented motorcycles in many of those locations and will share why a bike makes so much sense.
I never had any “respect” for scooters since I was a motorcycle rider since 1974. Scooters used to be small, not very powerful and truthfully, looked wimpy. Vespa was the big brand that came out in the ’60s and they became the “cool bikes” for the hip crowd. Entire clubs and groups formed around them and they still exist today. In the US scooters never made it big until the bikes got big. Now you can get a 650 cc bike which is powerful enough for almost anything you need to do, and Suzuki and even BMW are strong in that space. Many riders are getting up in age (vs. “older”) and can ride a scooter much easier than a shift bike. Most of these scooters are automatic, i.e., no clutch.
Europe LIVES on two wheels!
They are small, affordable, both to buy and maintain, and with $6 US or so per gallon of gas, they make sense. Over here parking is no problem with a bike. You can park on most sidewalks and when you go down to the beach or some hard to reach area, in most cases they offer dedicated bike parking. Why park your car up the hill and walk a half mile, when you can ride down to the shoreline? Driving a car in most European cities is a pain and can be dangerous. With a bike, much easier.
The other day we rented a Piaggio Beverly, which is 300 cc and more than adequate for two people. It is comfortable, but you wouldn’t want to ride it more than 150 miles a day or so. Storage is abundant in most of these scooters since you will usually have a tank bag on the rear and almost always find storage under the seat, including a safe area for your helmets. That means carrying beach towels and changes of clothing are easy since you have room to carry. The added beauty of a bike is that you can decide to turn around and go back to see that amazing view you just passed and make that turn effortlessly vs a car.
The other benefits:
You immerse yourself in the scenery. In the US cars are called “cages” and many bikers disdain cars and drivers since they don’t respect bikes. Here the European drivers truly make you feel respected probably since they have a bike too or have someone they love on one of them. There are pieces of crap bikes here that are dirty and look ancient, but they are afforded the same room as a $20,000 Italian Superbike.
Riding down the road with the waves just yards away or the smell of the flowers wafting in your nose is a unique experience you don’t get in a car. Yes, AC is awesome but you can either be a viewer or participant. Which do you prefer?
To rent a bike in Europe is easy but having a valid bike license from your state or country is highly recommended. Many countries only allow you to rent a 50 cc or similar without a bike license and case in point, this 300 cc that we rented required a valid bike license. The costs vary, but we’ve rented for about $20 per day to $40 per day. These are not usually long term commitments, but can be, and instead can be treated as a special treat. Another thing to look at is an “International Driver’s License” which is required in some countries, including Spain, and is easy to get in the US. They cost about $20 and AAA offers them with just filling in a form and supplying two photos.
The other day we went to Krka Falls here in Croatia, just east of Sibenik. The falls were spectacular, but the ride there was almost as much fun as the destination.
Have I convinced you? Do you ride in Europe or elsewhere? Do you agree??
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