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Motorcycles and London

An Adventure to Find Our Rental Motorcycles

Motorcycles and London - it was quite an adventure!

Usually, when traveling by motorcycle in a foreign country, just getting to the motorcycles is a bit challenging. Our most recent trip to the UK was no exception.

We start on a plane. One short layover in Ottawa, where we screw up and almost don't get our luggage through customs.

Note to self: Ask whether luggage is automatically transferred to connecting flight when dealing with layovers in foreign countries. Good idea not to assume anything.

A lovely morning in London. We arrive in London the next morning, and it's lovely. Not.

Quite the opposite, it's pouring rain.

Actually, if it is going to rain,
doing so before you even get your motorcycle
isn't half bad. As long as it stops. When thinking of riding motorcycles in London, I always pictured it raining. Prophetic perhaps?

After arriving at our hotel, we load up on coffee, meet up with our group and make plans to get to the other side of the city, where our rental bikes are waiting - we hope.

A quick consultation at the train schedule board is necessary. We learn that we will need to take one train, and then switch to another - probably a 2 hour trip.

The first train in London, 2 blocks from our hotel.

We make it successfully to the second train depot, purchase our tickets, and wait for the train.

The train depot where we catch the second train.

I looked out of the window while on the train, listened to my IPOD, and fell asleep. Relying on my companions completely, we finally arrived at the right destination, found the right road, but...no motorcycles!

By this time, I had been up (except for my short train nap) for well over 24 hours. We still needed to find the London motorcycle rental company, sign the contracts, and then make our way to Birmingham - a few hours away, at least.

A Sea of Motorcycles

Finally, we find the motorcycles at the London rental company - though it wasn't easy.

Motorcycles and London - a perfectly wonderful BMW

To my surprise and delight, we are allowed to rent a BMW
RT, instead of the Honda VFR that we ordered. I had been a bit worried about hanging on to the back of the Honda, given that I'm usually not riding on the back, but rather piloting my own motorcycle.
The RT would provide me with a stable place to rest my backside for the trip ahead.

Finally, on the motorcycles, ready to leave London We were delayed at the rental company while many of the motorcycles got new tires, and were tweaked to the satisfaction of their renter riders. Knowing that we probably had 2000 miles of riding through England, Scotland and the Isle of Man, tires wearing thin were not acceptable.

Finally, mid-afternoon, we were ready to make our way out of London by motorcycles- a daunting task to say the least.

Fortunately, one of our group members had a GPS, programmed from London to Birmingham. Another had researched the area through Google Maps, and had a visual idea of our route, at least leaving London. Even with this assistance, our exit from the city took about 3 attempts before we successfully were on our way to Birmingham.

A portable GPS navigation system is a really excellent gadget to have along on a motorcycle trip if you are going to be traveling in, or near London. We truly would have been lost without one on more than one occasion.

Group Riding in Formation for Visibility

Group riding - in formation for visibility

Tips From the Novice Files - Renting a Motorcycle

  • Make sure you know how to get to the rental company - directions are good.
  • Carefully inspect the motorcycle - check the tires, oil, etc.
  • Ask for a demonstration of all the features, unless you are familiar with the model.
  • If the motorcycle is not mechanically sound, or if you are not comfortable on the bike, ask for a replacement. (Remember, you're probably paying a pretty good price to rent this motorcycle - get what you're paying for)
  • Get the telephone number of the rental company.
  • Ask about their emergency procedures - what if the motorcycle breaks down on the trip?
  • If the tires need to be changed, don't leave until you have new rubber.
  • I wish I could say that we have never had mechanical problems with rented motorcycles, but that wouldn't be true. On every trip, someone has some sort of problem - mechanically or accident-related. So, the most important thing to work out with the rental company...What happens if there is a problem? Know in advance who to call, and what to do. Then, just deal with it.

    After all, it is an adventure...Enjoy!

    Related - Invasion of the Brits.

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