Where are you going to ride this year? Which road will live in your memory, becoming one of those roads you’ll dream about? We reckon it could be one of these – all recommended by riders who rate them highly enough to keep going back to enjoy them again. Let’s check out the best roads for motorbike rides.
B6277 Alston to Middleton-in-Teesdale | ENGLAND
Our tip for a great road to ride in England is a glorious 22-mile strip of tarmac laid invitingly across the wild moors of Teesdale. Most of the road is well surfaced and usually there’s very little traffic, but keep an eye out for free-roaming sheep – especially in spring, when the lambs are out. It goes past the spectacular High Force waterfall, which is well worth a visit.
“I RODE IT”
I first rode it eight years ago and I keep coming back, several times a year if I can. The Alston end joins Hartside Pass, while from Middleton there’s the brilliant B6276 to Brough – Dave Sims
B6278 First rode this road in County Durham on a 50cc, 28 years ago. Still love riding it now. Fast in places, with plenty of twisties – Mark Dunne Willows
A39 OK, it can be busy on Bank Holidays, but a quiet summer afternoon on the Atlantic Highway is still one of the best rides I know – Barry Loweshaw
B5289 Honister Pass This Lake District pass is the most scenic I’ve ever ridden (even in the rain). Have to go back and ride it in the sunshine – Jane Edwards
Bill Roughton Bike Tours UK – It’s not just the sheep you need to watch out for up there – you also need to take care when crossing the cattle grids. Keep the bike upright as you cross and don’t give it a load of gas until you’re off the grid. Don’t follow cars too closely, especially they’re labouring up a steep incline. If you ride some of the smaller, higher roads in the area, have a good look before you start a climb. If there’s anything coming the other way, try to plan it so you’re not likely to meet on a steep corner. Don’t stop on corners where the camber’s likely to make it hard to get your foot down. www.motorbiketours.org
The Ring of Kerry | IRELAND
When Ireland’s N70 heads west from Kenmare or Killorgin, you see the brown signs: Ring of Kerry. It’s the start of a fantastic coastal ride, with the N71 over the Moll’s Gap pass and N72 completing the 105 mile circular ring through some of South West Ireland’s most dramatic scenery. Blue seas, white waves, towering mountains… It’s simply stunning. You can extend the ride by adding the Skellig ring at the very tip of the Iveragh peninsula, or by taking the trip to Valentia Island. For us, though, the Ring itself is enough of a ride.
“I RODE IT!”
I’ve been to the Ring of Kerry three times and it only rained once. The other times itwas bright and sunny, like Route Napoleon but with better Guinness. I’m going again in September, when there are fewer coaches than August – Jim Steele
Ring of Beara I think it’s more impressive than the Ring of Kerry and you don’t get the coaches, so it’s much quieter and less touristy – Ray Parkinson
R335/N59 Westport to Clifden Imagine the best bits of the Ring of Kerry but with nobody there. That’s what this road in County Mayo was like. Best bit of last year’s tour by a mile – James Stephenson
N56 Letterkenny to Donegal Loved this road. Was really quiet, with great views, great riding. Lovely bends but still relaxed. Perfect – Paul Wilson
Dave Galloway White Rose Tours – We’ve never had a tour over there without someone getting a puncture – so make sure your tyres have plenty of tread and take a good puncture repair kit (we carry the Stop ‘n’ Go Pocket Tyre Plugger). Killarney is the ideal base for touring South West Ireland but as it also has a lot of rich American visitors, it can be expensive to eat out there – save money by taking advantage of the “early doors” (before 7pm) offers in many restaurants. When you’re riding the Ring of Kerry, it’s best to go clockwise – the tourist coaches usually go anti-clockwise. www.motorcycletours.co.uk
NA137 Col de la Pierre St Martin | FRANCE / SPAIN
Spiralling up into the Pyrenees, with flights of hairpins and even a sweeping 270° corner, this super-quiet road manages to rise above the quality of the other amazing roads in the region. From Yesa Lake in the lowlands, the NA137 scrambles up to the French border in 35 thrilling miles. Another 20 miles gets you to the French town of Arette, and even if the surface isn’t so good in France, the views and bends are still brilliant.
“I RODE IT!”
It’s racetrack smooth, with fantastic bends, wonderful views and virtually no traffic. We did 3700 miles through Europe and it was the best road – Lee Earnshaw
MA2141 Sa Calobre This road on the west coast of Mallorca is pretty special, plunging thousands of feet to a stunning gorge and the Mediterranean sea. The highlight is the 270° loop – John Drogan
N623 Santander to Burgos Up the mountain, down around the lake, through the gorge and across the plane before finally dropping down into the town… this road is truly outstanding. And it’s equally good to ride in both directions – Chris Hall
A397 San Pedro to Ronda Of all the roads we discovered in Andalucia, this was my favourite. It’s famous for a reason. The views, the quality of the tarmac, the number and variety of the corners… just heaven – Andy Simpson
Juan Alvarez Astur Tarmac Tours – The north of Spain never gets as hot as it does in the centre or the south, where it’s all yellow and brown, so the north is more pleasant when you’re riding around. It does still get warm, though – so you still need to take care not to overheat when you stop. Drink lots of fluids – especially at altitude in the Pyrenees. Do try the local foods, especially in the Basque Country and in Asturias – they are delicious. If you take the ferry, you’ll arrive in Santander mid-afternoon. You can get some great riding in straight away, in the Picos de Europa. www.asturtarmactours.co.uk
D906 Langone to Alés | FRANCE
In a country crammed full of brilliant and famous roads, sometimes it’s the lesser known ones that blow your mind. There are other parts of France beside the Alps and the Pyrenees that are brilliant for bike trips. We love the quiet city of Alés (rhymes with palace) and you can reach it on this cracking gallop through the hills of the gorge-riven Tarn region. It has everything you could want in a biking road: big views, fast straights, endless corners and 90 miles of racetrack-grade tarmac. But because it isn’t famous, it’s quiet. Perfect.
“I RODE IT!”
Long straights, fast sweepers, nadgery, gnarly bends, stunning views… and bugger-all traffic – Steve Beckett
D6/D3 Gorges du Loup Outstanding. No traffic and the most beautiful views – Phil Miners
N85/D4085 Route Napoleon Just the best road I’ve ever ridden. From Grenoble to the coast, it has a million corners and they’re all good – Matt Fisher
D902 Cormet Roselend Of all the roads in the Alps, this is my favourite: scenic, great bends and no traffic – Tom Berry
Tony Lang Riders’ Rest – Watch out for French drivers cutting corners on those twisty gorge roads. With your kit, use lots of layers so you can take them off, as it’s pretty hot down here, or add them if it gets cooler. Remember, waterproofs also work as an extra warm layer. Pack light, don’t forget your European Health Insurance Card (ECIH), set your phone to roaming and tell your credit card company that you’re going to France – you don’t want it stopped when you’re away. www.ridersrest.eu
A87 The Road to the Isles | SCOTLAND
Brooding peaks, fragrant forests, mirror-bright lochs, ancient castles and 50 miles of twisty, well maintained tarmac… it’s no surprise everyone loves the A87 from Invergarry to Kyle of Lochalsh. Carrying on to Skye brings another 50 miles sublime riding in an even more untamed landscape. That’s 100 miles on one amazing road.
“I RODE IT!”
My favourite road simply has to be the A87, the Road to the Isles. Moves the soul every time – Daniel Prince
A838 The A838 from Lairg to Scourie and the A894/A835 from Scourie south over the Kylesku Bridge to Ullapool is one of the great biking rides and definitely the most scenic – Geoff Blackburn
A701 The road from Moffat to Peebles is a full 23 miles of twisty fun with great views and just off the M74, so a cross- country way to get to Edinburgh if you’re not in a mad rush – Ed Gibson
Bealach na Ba The road to Applecross, the Pass of the Cattle, is as good as any road I’ve ridden in the Pyrenees. It’s narrow and steep and bumpy and utterly brilliant, every time – Steve Barnes
Malcolm Cooper, Zen Motorcycle Tours – When you get to Skye, visit The Storr on east coast of the island – the dramatic landscape featured in the film Prometheus. The 50m Old Man of Storr can be seen for miles around. You should also ride the Bealach na Ba to Applecross. Midges can be a problem in the Highlands in summer, but Avon’s “Skin So Soft” dry-oil body spray works as an excellent insect repellant. Also, make sure have visor wipes or cleaner with you. www.zenmotorcycletours.co.uk
Atlantic Road | NORWAY
It’s not easy to get to, it’s not cheap and the police have a stern anti-speed policy… and despite all that it’s still one of the very best places in the world to ride a motorcycle.
The combination of quiet roads and breathtaking scenery is intoxicating, especially around the fjords –culminating in the short but spectacular Atlantic Road, hopping from island to island over a series of beautiful bridges.
“I RODE IT!”
Norway is the best place to ride a bike if you like mountains and stunning scenery. Even though I went at the end of May, the weather was awful – Peter Robinson
Alastair McFarlane MCi Tours Take an extra SD card for your camera! Don’t go too early or it will be wet – and accept that you do need to be lucky with the weather. Don’t risk speeding. Norway’s not the easiest destination to visit, especially planning routes around all the ferries, but the rewards are immense. www.mcitours.com
B107 Grossglocknerhochalpenstrasse | AUSTRIA
Never mind the mouthful of a name, some people are put off by the thought of paying a toll to ride this 29-mile stretch of road… but the bikers understand. The toll pays for keeping this carefully engineered Alpine treasure in immaculate condition – though on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road that includes maintaining a few cobbled sections. Mostly, though, it’s perfect tarmac with an endless stream of forgiving bends, epic views and several cafes – well worth the price of admission. For toll info, see www.grossglockner.at
“I RODE IT!”
Rode it in the summer of 2013 and I absolutely have to go back. It’s simply the most spectacular road I’ve been on – Chris Fisher
B90 Nassfeldpass After the busy roads of the Dolomites, coming north to the quieter roads of the Austrian Tyrol was a delight. My favourite road ran through the ski town of Nassfeld – Sam Blackwell
B105 Gerlospass It’s another toll road, but it’s worth it. Well maintained, scenic and even though it’s shorter than the Grossglockner, it’s also far quieter, which is why I like it – Will Thornbury
John Cundiff Alpine TT – You should get to the Grossglockner early and plan to spend a good part of the day there as there’s lots to see. Go up to the Bikers’ Nest and the glacier – make sure you have a €1 coin for the lockers. Keep your ticket and you’ll get a discount if you go there again within 12 months. www.alpine-tt.com