No, this isn’t a crafty plan to relieve you of your pride-and-joy at the end of a tour, but a clever way of letting you maximise the great times you have riding your motorcycle. Many of the tours operated by Harley-Davidson authorised tour provider Tour1 go to Harley-Davidson European rallies, and here is the odd thing, you ride your own bike there, but the tours are one-way. Since starting these tours a few years ago, they have been sold-out, so we asked Gary France, who runs Tour1, about these one-way tours and why they are so popular.
What exactly is a one-way tour on your own bike? The one-way tours all start in the UK and we ride across Europe to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally. These are fully-guided tours that use some of the best roads Europe has to offer. We take six days to ride to the rally, then spend 3 days there enjoying the sights and sounds of that rally. Our customers then fly back to the UK on the Sunday afternoon as the rally ends and your bikes are bought back to the UK on a truck. You get your bike back less than a week later.
Where do you run these tours to? In 2017, these tours go to the rallies in St Tropez (May), to the main HOG European Rally (June) and European Bike Week at Faaker See (September).
Why do riders like one-way tours so much? Riders love the ride to a rally, as they are full of anticipation for what is ahead. The roads are terrific and generally they are heading south into better weather. We stay in good quality three and four-star hotels and the sense of adventure, riding in a group across Europe is exciting. Riding back from a rally however is generally dull, often ridden on motorways, heading back to worse weather and nearly always done in a rush. Eliminating that slog of a ride home is a real benefit as it allows riders to travel back comfortably, to be at home just a few hours later on Sunday evening, refreshed and ready for work the next day.
How long do the tours take? Most of our tours leave on a Saturday morning and last 9 days, so finish when people fly home on the following Sunday. For most people, that means they take just 5 days off work.
Do you ride a direct route to the rallies? No. Direct routes are often not the most exciting, nor the most scenic. Take our route to St Tropez for example. The direct route from Calais is about 730 miles of boring riding, but our tour is 1,200 miles to get there. We ride fantastic roads in Belgium and Luxembourg, then two of the very best motorcycling roads in Germany, over parts of The Alps and finally, through some amazing gorges in France on our route. We chose roads because they are spectacular, not simply because they get you there.
How do the motorcycles get back to the UK? There is a company called ‘We Move Bikes’ who transport Harley-Davidson demonstrator bikes to events across Europe, for people to test-ride at the rallies. They are an authorised logistics partner of Harley-Davidson, who use specially designed trucks and cradles to move the bikes. We use those same facilities to bring our customers bikes back to the UK. WMB are highly professional and fully insured for moving Harley-Davidsons.
So, a one-way tour allows people to ride across Europe for six days, on fantastic roads, stay in good quality hotels, then spend 3 days at a Harley-Davidson rally, and then be back home on the Sunday night, ready for work the next day. What’s not to love! www.tour1.co.uk