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Swiss Alps


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I'm planning to ride the Swiss Alps with a friend in June.  We have ridden in Utah, then Arizona in prior years.  First time to Alps.  I am interested in your thoughts, suggestions and comments, please.

We are not all day high mileage riders.  Instead of traveling place to place, my idea is to stay in one place and take day trips from the base.    This will be good for safety, less packing, unpacking, better sleep, and ability to explore an area.  I am planning to stay in Interlaken and take day trips:

Wed/Thurs: Day 1/2: overnight to Zurich; train to Interlaken; rent bikes in Thun
Friday: Day 3: Short rides to Wengen, Murren & Grindlewald (Eiger, Jungfrau, Monch)
Saturday: Day 4: longer ride to Andermatt
Sunday: Day 5: longer ride to Gstaad
Monday: Day 6:  North shore loop
Tuesday: Day 7: Return bikes, hang out
Wednesday: train to Zurich
Thursday, fly home
We usually rent BMW R1200RT with bags, but I wonder if they will be too big for this trip.  Maybe the BMW F800GT would be better?  http://www.2wheeltravel.com/Motorcycle Hire/switzerlandhire.htm
We usually ride for 1-2 hours, get off and hike for 1-2 hours, lunch, ride 1-2 hours, done.




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Have done the alps a few times. Personally i wouldn't bother with the R1200GT as they are way too big. The alpine passes are single lane roads so having something more manoeuvrable would make it more fun. I usually don't book accommodation and just pull into towns looking for bike friendly guesthouses (they are absolutely everywhere!).  If you are renting in Switzerland make sure you are allowed to cross borders, and do not speed in Switzerland as they have absolutely zero tolerance for it!!!

Make sure you keep 20 euro notes on you for emergency fuel. A lot of petrol stations in the mountains are closed on Sunday, and in the afternoons so you may need to have money at hand for the automatic machines (a lot of small towns won't have automatic fuel machines) and a lot don't accept Visa cards.

This should help you plot day trips: http://www.alpentourer.com/alpine_passes/ 

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This is excellent advice.  Thank you, Bugie.

I was thinking that the 1200 was too big and this confirms it.  Also, since we will avoid highways, the powerful 1200 is not needed.

Now I'm going to examine this site you mentioned.

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Did a week of Alps on a Multistrada 1200s and loved the bike but never really used it. Well, did use it more than a bit on the autobahn heading back to Munich. Did another week using Andermatt as a base for day trips on a BMW 800ST and that was plenty of bike while still having decent luggage capacity. 

Lately on my fly and rents in the Old World I'm happy with a Versys or similar. 

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It does not look like you plan to leave Switzerland so do not bother with cash in Euros. They use Swiss Francs and this will be more welcome than Euros (plus you will get a really bad exchange rate). 

On the day you go to Andermatt, make sure you take a different route from Meiringen  on the way there to the way back. Susten pass in one direction, Grimsel & Furka on the way back. Or vice versa. Meiringen itself is a pleasant town with a Sherlock Holmes museum as it is close to the Reichenback Falls. 

The RT will be a bit of a bus on the high passes. The corners on the eastern side of the Susten pass are quite tight (although I was riding the day after they opened the pass so had 30 foot banks of snow the made the effect more pronounced. The F800GT would be easier (but check the seat height before you commit). The R1200RS is closest to the FJ09 and a cracking bike (I would say that as I changed from Tracer to RS). 

Make sure you understand the road signs for "motorways" that need a Vignette. The roads are not necessarily dual carriageway.  Your hire bike might already have one fitted as they are annual stickers that stay with the vehicle. They cost 40CHF for 12 months and there is no tourist pass for 2 weeks like Austria. Big fines if caught on a motorway without one. There are sections around Thun & Interlaken. Details with map: 


Autobahnen.CH the page about the Swiss motorways. Here you will find further information regarding, toll/vignette, service areas, webcams, expansions and more than 1500 pictures and many more.

 When in June are you going? Sometimes the high passes aren't open until mid-June so have some back-up plans for alternative trips. One would be go to Giswil just north of Meiringen and ride the Panoramastrasse to Fluhli then return via Marbach and the Honegg mountain - only 1200m altitude rather than 2500m. A nice little loop of 85 miles or so. I tend to string 3 or 4 of these together for a leisurely ride in the Alps as I don't do the walking & flower pressing side of touring. 

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