How far will you ride to a bike event in 2017? Our events section is packed with the top events home and abroad but, to whet your appetite, we've picked out 10 of the best from around Europe. Get planning now!
If the Bol d’Or in mid-September (now back at the classic Paul Ricard circuit on the French Riviera that made the 24-hour race an annual pilgrimage in the Eighties and Nineties) is THE Continental ride-to event, which closes off the biking summer, then Le Mans, traditionally in mid-April, is the one that gets the whole season going. Although a classic race in its own right – 24-hour endurance races have to be seen to believed – Le Mans, like the Bol, is much, much more than that. Located conveniently a few hours down the road from the channel ferry ports, Le Mans is convenient to get to and, taking place at the historic Bugatti circuit, it’s also spectacular and passionate. Best of all, it’s a three-day party of camping, beers, barbecues, fairgrounds and more. Grab some friends, take a tent or two and go. You won’t regret it. Advance weekend tickets €55.
Staying in France, Harley’s three-day mini-festival in St Tropez/Port Grimaud is about as glamorous and exotic as biking rallies go. Now in its 11th year, it takes place at Port Grimaud,on the outskirts of the fabulously glamorous St Tropez on the French Riviera. It is aimed primarily at H.O.G. (Harley Owners’ Group) members (although non-members can attend) and features bands (last year’s event included Europe among the headliners), custom shows, dealers and trade stands, ride-outs, parades and more for three days of Harley partying with the most exotic back drop of all. If you’ve got a Harley it’s a great ride down (as long as you spread it over a couple of days). Make a week of it and go!
Non-HOG members, €113
OK, so technically it’s in the UK but seeing as the TT is such a biggie and the one that really needs AT LEAST three days (ideally a week or more) to experience properly, we felt it sat better among the big boys. In short: it’s the one motorcycling event you simply MUST do once in your lifetime, so if you haven’t been before make 2017 your year. An event like no other, the TT takes over the Isle of Man for two weeks with its mix of incomparable, heart-in-mouth road racing (‘race’ week begins June 4th with the Superbike TT and first Sidecar races, rounded off with the six-lap Senior on the 10th), biker rallies, bands, custom shows, the Ramsay Sprint and more. Practice week begins May 27th, legendary ‘Mad Sunday’, is June 5th, accommodation remains available (but can be expensive, camping is a popular alternative) as are ferry crossings via www.steam-packet.com. Watching the racing, however, unless you want a grandstand seat, is FREE.
27 May-9 June 2017
We couldn’t talk about European biking events without getting a Continental MotoGP in here. But which? The season-closing event at Valencia is worth considering, for its combination of a decent ride down (although we’d recommend taking the long ferry to Spain first) and having probably the best atmosphere of any Spanish event. But ultimately it has to Mugello and the prospect of joining the hordes, noise and colour of a sea of Valentino Rossi worshippers. See it and you won’t believe it. Besides, Mugello is also a great track for viewing and is located in beautiful Tuscany, just north east of Florence and a great two days’ ride from Blighty. Race day tickets start at €80.
Although only in existence since 2012, W&W has quickly established itself as THE ‘hipster-style’ motorcycling festival thanks to its incomparable mix of custom bikes and surf culture (Biarritz is a European Mecca for the latter). It’s also proved a huge commercial success with increasing backing from the major manufacturers. Like most festivals there’s custom shows, independent stalls, racing, music, art and more, but this time all done with an extra dollop of Hipster cool. Best of all, being based in southwest France means it’s a tempting event to ride to as long as you give yourself reasonable time and machinery. Don’t expect to do it in a day on a 250 scrambler!
Another upcoming and exceedingly ‘cool’ event, Club of Newchurch (nee Tridays) is a week-long motorcycling event in the Alps. The event started out as a quirky three day Triumph festival in 2005 and and has now grown to a week long festival of bikes, bands, custom shows, stunt shows, light-hearted drag races, ride-outs, parties and more in, of all places, Austria. This year the festival has broken its exclusive link with Triumph but the host village of Neukirchen, which has previously adopted the name 'Newchurch' and swathed itself in British stereotype, including London bobbies, black cabs and Union Jacks galore. For 2017, the anglicised name remains, as do most of the attractions that made Tridays such a massive success - including stunt god Kevin Carmichael (pictured) on his new fleet of KTMs. The location reasonably accessible and a pleasant place to ride to from the UK, and when you get there you'll be surrounded by some of the best twisties Europe has to offer.
Long established as one of the best of all manufacturer-backed/themed motorcycle festivals and now an annual fixture over a long weekend in early July. There are plenty of the expected attractions – stunt shows, ride-outs, trade stalls, BMW test rides, bands and more – but most of the appeal is two-fold. First, its location in the ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the very south of Germany right on the Austrian border is hugely picturesque and a great place to ride to over two days, especially on, say, something like a BMW R1200GS. And second, being in Bavaria, it won’t surprise you that the whole event has a German beer festival atmosphere a la Munich’s famous Oktoberfest, with all the lederhosen, buxom barmaids and steins of lager that it brings. Do it. You won’t regret it.
Glemseck, which is another ultra-cool, up-coming event that’s quickly becoming a must-do on the international motorcycling calendar, is basically a cool custom biking festival based around a 1/8-mile run-what-you-brung sprint located at Glemseck, just west of Stuttgart in southern Germany. As such, it’s in a great location for a ride from Britain, there’s plenty of camping and lots to do, as well. What’s more, it was recently supported by Triumph and, with Carl Fogarty and Guy Martin competing in recent years, it’s become very fashionable as well.
This season-closing endurance race was, for most of the Eighties and Nineties, one of THE must-see events, partly due to its fantastic location at Circuit Paul Ricard on the French Riviera. When it was moved to Magny Cours in the late Nineties that all changed. Now, however, it’s back. Visiting it from the UK combines a great two-day ride south, an inimitable track; a fabulous festival atmosphere with bands, beer, BBQs, fairgrounds and more and all just a 15-minute ride from the beach. France itself, having toughened up severely on speeders, may not be the motorcycling nirvana it once was, but there’s still no better way to end summer. Advance weekend tickets €66.
OK, we admit this won’t be your warmest ride of the year and your journey may lack the glamour of the burn down to the Bol or the blast over to Garmisch, but the huge EICMA Show in Milan is definitely one of the biggest events all year. Now firmly established as THE motorcycling show, nearly all of 2018’s new models will be unveiled at an event that makes Motorcycle Live look like a garden fete. Held at the enormous Milan Fiero it fills around eight halls including vast stands from not just all the leading manufacturers but also accessories and clothing firms, magazines and customizers. Plan to spend a couple of days if you want to see it all. It’s a decent ride down, too, over the Alps – although you’d be advised to book your hotel early as demand is always high.
November (exact dates to be confirmed)