There are many reasons why a road might be considered as being
very good for motorcycling. It may be
because it is twisty, fast, scenic, or with great places to see along its
Some roads are famous and well less well known. Some are found by accident, but however you
came across your favourite roads, they are likely to remain in your memory for
a long time.
For me, I can only consider a road to be worthy of ‘best’ if
I have personally ridden it. Here are my
top 20 roads, and the reasons why I like them so much. The lower the number, the more I like it.
20. Almost any road in Cuba
Cuba is one of the most remarkable places I have been lucky
enough to ride. Despite being a very
poor country, it is rich in culture and the warmth of its people is incredible
to experience. Its communist regime has
no doubt hurt the country and its people, as has the trading blockade put in
place by the USA in 1960. The road
surfaces are terrible and accommodation is generally of a poor quality, but
riding a motorcycle around this remarkable country was both eye-opening and a
real pleasure. I saw a way of life that
I haven’t experienced anywhere else.
19. St Gotthard Pass, Switzerland
There are many parts to St Gotthard Pass, but my favourite
is the old road, called Tremola, to the south of Lago della Piazza. This is a twisting, cobbled road that snakes
its way northwards, up through a series of tight hairpin bends to the lake at
the top of the road. Due to its rough
and bumpy surface the road has to be ridden slowly, but the excitement level is
high. The best view of the road is from
the later built highway 2 which runs to the west of the old road.
18. N-621 / C-I 627, Picos de Europa, Spain
There are many good riding roads in the Picos, with my
favourite being a road that follows the River Deva as it flows through an impressive
canyon. The road starts at Penamellera
Baja and heads south. The town of Potes
makes a good halfway stopping point before continuing onto Cervera de Pisuerga. The scenery is impressive and the road
narrow. Try to avoid at weekends when
the traffic can get heavy.
17. Pikes Peak, Colorado, USA
At 14,115 feet, this is the second highest paved road in the
USA. It twists and turns its way up this
spectacular and steep mountain. Much of
the edge of the road is un-guarded, with steep drop-offs, meaning the road is
not for everyone. It is a toll road, but
the fee payable is worth every penny, and it sees an annual motorcycle and car
race to reach its summit. It is so
steep, on the way down, all vehicles are subject to a brake heat check, as it
would be very easy to overheat your brakes unless the gears are used regularly
to slow your vehicle down. The road is
closed in winter.
16. Atlas Mountains, Morocco
While no single road stands out as being excellent, there
are a few really good roads which together make the Atlas Mountains worth
riding. One of these is the Tizi-n-Test Pass, situated to the
south west of Marrakech. This is shown
on maps as a ‘difficult or dangerous section of road’, but it really isn’t.
Narrow and with gravel or sand covering the road in places, the road twists and
turns through some glorious mountain scenery.
The Tizi-n-Tichka Pass and the road in Dades Gorge (pictured) is more
Sometimes a road is considered very good because of the
scenery. The road through Verdun Gorge
is certainly one of them. Verdun Gorge
is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe's most
beautiful. The river is a stunning turquoise-green colour and the view of the river from the bridge
at the western end as it flows into the Sainte-Croix lake of the gorge is
wonderful. There are two roads that
follow the canyon and the better one is on the north side of the river.
14. Million Dollar Highway, Colorado, USA
Otherwise known as US 550, the best part of this road runs
from Durango to Ouray. A diversion into
Silverton is also worthwhile. There are
a number of reasons why this road may have obtained its unusual name, with the
most popular being how much it cost to build and how much silver was contained
within the rocks used under the road. As
you leave Durango and head north the road gets more and more spectacular. The first part of the road has terrific
scenery, the next part as it approaches Silverton sweeps around wonderfully
long bends and the northern part, nearer to Ouray, is dramatic as the road is
carved into the side of a mountain with no guard rail to protect wayward
13. Triglavski Narodni Park, Slovenia
In the very northernmost part of Slovenia, road 206 runs
broadly south west from Kranjska Gora through the Triglavski Narodni
Park. This is a mountainous area with
the road following the contours of the rugged nature of the mountains. The road is narrow, with certain parts
cobbled, but it is certainly good enough to ride and enjoy. The views from the road are excellent. Another excellent nearby road is number 902
within the park. It is a dead-end toll
road with spectacular scenery. The road
is to the east of Cave del Predil, across the border in northern Italy.
12. Needles Highway, South Dakota, USA
South Dakota Highway 87 is a road running through the Black
Hills in South Dakota. The highway runs
through the Custer State Park and it is the northern 14 miles of the road that
are known as the Needles Highway. The
‘needles’ are jagged spire shaped rocks that rise out of the wooded hills. The road is best ridden on a weekday, well
away from the August Sturgis Rally which is held nearby and draws hundreds of
thousands of motorcyclists. The road
twists and turns through the hills and makes for challenging riding. The northern end of the road is at its
junction with US 385, about 3 miles south of Hill City. The road has several dramatic tunnels cut
through the rocks, including one part that is narrow and often
photographed. The road has a relatively
slow speed limit.
11. Furka, Grimsel and Susten Passes loop,
Although four separate roads, these connect to form a 75
mile loop road high up in the Swiss Alps.
Running west out of Andermatt is road 19 which features both the Rhone
Glacier and Furka Pass [7,969 ft]. Just
beyond Furka you turn northward on road 6 and immediately ride up Grimsel Pass
[7,100 ft]. At Innertkirchen, turn eastward
on road 11 and ride Susten Pass [7,427 ft], before turning south on road 2 back
to Andermatt. These are three of the
best pass roads in the Alps and feature some wonderful views and terrific
10. Grossglockner Pass, Austria
This is a stunning road set amongst very dramatic scenery. Grossglockner Pass is a toll road that rises
up to 8,215 ft in the Alps. Near the top
of the pass is a spur road up to the Edelweisspitze viewpoint. The road to the viewpoint has tight hairpin
bends and part cobbled, but it is worth the ride up as the view from the top is
one of the best in the Alps. Another
spur road takes riders to the longest glacier in the eastern Alps, the Pasterze. Grossglockner Pass is closed in winter.
9. Highway 1, California, USA
While not a great riding road, Highway 1 is full of character
and it feels like a part of history. The
road runs along the west coast of America, through the states of Washington,
Oregon and California, although the best part of the road is starting in San
Francisco, heading south and takes in Big Sur, Half Moon Bay, Sanat Cruz,
Monterey, Carmel, Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Malibu and the
Ventura Highway before reaching Las Angeles.
There are well-known names guaranteed to give you about 350 miles of
Built as part of the local logging industry between 1861 and
1898, the road at Combe Laval is stunning.
The most spectacular section of the road is cut into the cliff that
forms one side of a deep canyon and runs through a series of short tunnels cut
into the rock. The drop to the side of
the road is sheer and it is a very long way down, so this road is not for those
afraid of heights. The rest of us though
have a great time on this very exciting road.
The most dramatic section is the D76 to the southeast of
Saint-Jean-En-Royans as far as Chamaloc.
7. Monument Valley, Utah / Arizona, USA
I have included Monument Valley in my list due only to one
thing. The scenery is amazing. Is it really a top 20 motorcycle road? Its straight roads would lead me to say no,
but this is more than made up for by the glorious nature of the geography. The view in the picture is US 163 in Utah,
perhaps one of the most iconic road images from anywhere in the world. It certainly makes the hairs on the back of
your neck stand up when you see it from the seat of a motorcycle.
6. Beartooth Pass, Wyoming / Montana , USA
On the Wyoming / Montana border, this is US Highway 212
which runs 69 miles between Red Lodge in Wyoming and Cooke City in Montana.
Rising up to 10,947 feet / 3,337 metres, the road climbs and falls quickly.
Even though I rode the Beartooth Pass in August, it was cold and very windy on
the top of the mountains, with a dramatic wind-chill factor. Occasionally you hear people say they are
“feeling on top of the world.” On Beartooth Pass, you really do feel that way,
as the view looking down on other mountains is amazing. The road is good with long fast bends. To make my top six, each road needs to have
the ‘wow’ factor and Beartooth Pass certainly has that.
What list of the world’s best roads would be complete
without Stelvio Pass? It is dramatic,
stunning and with 75 hairpins bends, somewhat challenging. Split into two ramps, the west side of the
pass road is wider, with easy hairpins and less steep. The east side is more difficult with tighter
bends on a significantly narrower road.
The second highest paved road in the Alps, Stelvio is closed by
significant snowfall every winter.
Sometime the road doesn’t re-open until May or even June, so check if it
is open before you set out. The road has
become very busy in recent years and the best time to ride it is early morning
on a weekday.
4. D8 coastline road, northern Croatia
This is a pure riders road, with no frills, but plenty of
thrills. It follows the Adriatic coast
for 130 miles of wonderfully twisty enjoyment.
The road rises and falls as it hugs the coast with the beautiful
turquoise colour of the sea being a constant companion at your side. The best part of the road is from Rijeka to
Rovanjska, although there are very few good places to stay or good restaurants
to eat at, so take your chance when you see somewhere. The weather is normally very good too. What’s not to like?
3. Sella Group Ring, Dolomites, Italy
The Sella group is a plateau-shaped rock massif in the
Dolomites Mountains of northern Italy. There are four roads surrounding
this rock formation that are a joy to ride.
Starting at Canazei and working clockwise, the four roads are the SS48 /
SS242, which includes Sella Pass, the SS243, which includes Gardena Pass, the SS244,
which includes Campolongo Pass and the SS48, which includes Pordoi Pass. The road is fantastic, the bends amazing and
the scenery magnificent. What a series
Running through the Black Forest in a north-south direction,
the B500 is a stunning road for motorcycles.
It doesn’t have many great views, but the sheer excitement of the road
more than makes up for that. The road
was intended as a tourist route when it was conceived in the 1930’s, but it was
never completed and today there are two sections of the road, with the centre
piece still missing. The northern part
runs from Baden-Baden to Freudenstadt and has a length of about 29 miles
and the southern part is between Triberg and Waldshut, a length of 56 miles. The road is fast in places, with long
sweeping bends and an absolute joy to ride on a motorcycle.
Almost everyone has heard of Stelvio Pass in Italy, but very
few know about, or have ridden Gavia Pass, which is very near to Stelvio. The SS300 runs south from Bormio to Ponte di
Legno for about 26 miles and has just about everything a biker can ask for in a
road. It is high at 8,701 feet, it has
some fast sweeping bends as well as some tight hairpins. It has a glacier and it has magnificent
views. It has a narrow, tight section as
well as a few long straights. But the
best reason I rank it as number 1 is it has very little traffic as most riders
/ drivers are drawn towards nearby Stelvio Pass, leaving Gavia relatively
quiet. Although the road surface is not
great, it is one of the most exciting roads I have ridden that continues to put
a smile on my face every time I ride it.
It is my favourite road.
What is your favourite road and why?