Custom Motorcycle Show Punta Bagna in Valloire

We took a slight detour on our Italian Lakes tour to stop by a ski resort in the French Alps to check out Punta Bagna custom motorcycle show.

Since 2009 Punta Bagna has attracted thousands of riders, visitors and partners such as W&W Cycles, Custom Chrome Europe, Victory & Indian Motorcycles, Vulcante, Frisco Choppers, Kustom Workshop to name a few.

Valloire normally attracts thousands of skiers every Winter.  Every June bikers visit for the Punta Bagna custom event.  Set high in the French Alps, it’s not your typical venue for a motorcycle show, which is what is so cool.

We met guys from Belgium, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy.  We wanted to meet the owner of this bike to see if those gatling guns are a factory option? and fully functional?  Fire off a couple of rounds and get tailgaters to back off quick.

Indian Motorcycles brought practically the entire fleet.

Chrome, leather, flake, fine craftsmanship were ever-present with the usual classic rock tunes filling the air.  With temps in the low 90’sF (30’s C), we were dire need of some cooler air.  We took to the bikes and headed for the Galibier mountain pass.

The cool breeze blowing across the snow felt like A/C.  We needed to keep cool negotiating this amazing road.  Punta Bagna was a great stop en route to the Italian Lakes.  We saw a lot of cool, unique bikes & met some pretty cool dudes as well.

 

BMW Passion Days Gets Your Pulse Racing

Gentlemen Start Your Engines. BMW Passion Days

The Monday following Easter is a holiday in France.  You might think that’s perfect for eating fine food, wine & cheese.  Our friends at BMW Motorrad France & BMW France had other plans for us…BMW Passion Days.

What better way to entertain the loyal following, attract new customers and cross-sell bikes to the car crowd & vice versa?  Sounds like a very tall order indeed…

Not only did BMW Motorrad France undertake the challenge, they put on a tour de force.

First, they selected the iconic Circuit Paul Ricard race track in beautiful Southern France.  (FYI, Paul Ricard hosts the Bol d’Or 24 hour endurance race, sports car racing and will welcome the return of Formula Grand Prix in 2018 after being absent for too long.)

Pit lane at Circuit Paul Ricard with M2 MotoTours at BMW Passion Days.

Do you think BMW chose a race track so participants could sit and watch a product parade or some kind of live informercial?

Far from it.  Instead riders and drivers were completely involved in the experience.  Everyone had full access to the track to see how they and their 2 or 4 wheel products perform.

That’s an awesome start, but BMW had even more to bring to the table.  What else you ask?  A complete motorcycle & car model lineup, available for track & street use.

BMW bikes & cars were available for track & street tests

As if that weren’t enough, they even provided professional drivers to give passengers a thrilling “taxi” ride around the circuit demonstrating exactly what these cars can do.  (They can do far more than you’ll experience on a test drive at your local dealer, trust us.)

The demonstration was nothing short of highly impressive.  Turning out lap times is one thing.  Doing it while explaining the features, advantages and benefits of the car at the same time is another.

BMW M4 at BMW Passion Days Circuit Paul Ricard

Overall the whole event ran like a finely tuned machine.  No one would expect anything less.

Riders were assigned to groups according to skill level.  The groups took turns of 20 minute track sessions.  Participants had at least 6 sessions which was plenty.  When the bikes weren’t on the track, the cars were.  Paul Ricard had a courtesy loge available right above the pit lane which was perfect for watching the action and having some refreshments.

Thanks goes to the BMW dealers in Southeastern region.  They rallied their customers to give up a free day to partake in some high octane, unregulated pleasure.  They didn’t have to twist many arms to get the troops to show up.  Over some 220 participants were on hand for the second annual event.  Based on some informal polling on our part, you can bet that it will be difficult to get a ticket for next year’s event.

Moto Speeder Grenoble taking care of participants & bikes at BMW Passion Days

As if product testing, getting a high speed ride wasn’t enough, there was a catered lunch and Big Jim and his motorcycle stunt show kept the lunchers entertained right on up to dessert and coffee.

BMW R NineT Racer prepared by Moto Speeder Grenoble

Special recognition goes to Moto Speeder of Grenoble.  Their expert mechanics were on hand preparing bikes for track duty.  Their experienced team had a lot of helpful advice for first-time and expert track riders.  We were thoroughly impressed with their NineT Racer build.

M2 MotoTours getting track advice pitlane at BMW passion days

Give Mother Nature some applause for pouring plenty of sunshine down on the venue, without making it too hot.  Even in full leathers the temps were ideal.

All the feedback we received was extremely positive.  From the track experience, to testing various bike or car models, as well as making new acquaintances, we can only say that we were very glad to have participated.

2 or 4 wheel fans of the brand should make it a point to attend BMW Passion Days, guaranteed to get your pulse racing.  We saw many owners of other brands in attendance.  Following the event, many admitted they will be visiting their local dealer to make a trade-in on their current machine.

M2 MotoTours going to test BMW R NineT Racer at BMW Passion Days

Would you like to test BMW bikes on a mythical race track in a picture postcard setting?  You can do that while touring Southern France with M2 MotoTours.  We’re so stoked after the event, we can’t wait to go back.  Now that the word is out, join us for a pulse racing event and unforgettable tour.

For more information, visit our Southern France Motorcycle Tour page.

 

Soiree Heritage Style

The night was neo-retro….

Local BMW motorcycle dealer, Moto Speeder and L’Atelier 1937, purveyor of clothes, accessories with a vintage vibe, hosted a great soiree this March.  Rather than using the dealership as the background, a shop fitting the neo-retro theme was the perfect setting.  Our gracious hosts at L’Atelier 1937 treated us to a warm welcome, so warm that attendees showed up early and stayed late.

On display was the new Heritage line of BMW motorcycles: the NineT, Racer, & Scrambler.  A BMW R90S build from Make Moto was on hand, underlining the “heritage”.  The Heritage line pays hommage to its roots retaining the classic flat boxer twin motor.

Not to be outdone, an array of clothes & accessories were on display as well.  L’Atelier 1937, located in the heart of Grenoble, has only been open for a few months, but has already established a loyal following.  This is definitely the place to update your wardrobe if you fall for a NineT or café racer.

Proprietors, Thomas & Remi, are both avid motorcyclists.  Their collection features an array of fine merchandise.  You can get outfitted head-to-toe while talking bikes with them and having a very good cup of coffee.  From helmets to footwear, leather jackets to silk scarves, everything you might need, or haven’t thought of is here.  The shop itself is extremely well decorated with vintage tin signs, gas pumps and the like.

There was plenty of great conversation that night.  We saw some familiar faces and also met a lot of new people we hopefully will soon call friends.

You can visit L’Atelier 1937 and Motospeeder in Grenoble when you join us for a motorcycle tour France.

 

Wheels, Wings & Wine Part Deux

After taking a flight in the auto-gyro, and with feet firmly back on the ground, it’s time for part 2 of Wheels Wings & Wine. 

Touching down on our runway in the middle of a clearing , we’ll settle in for our picnic meal.  You’ll be able to dine on local specialties as well as sample locally produced wines.

Le Domaine des Rutissons is a stone’s throw from our runway.  The region has a rich heritage of producing wines.  Government records dating back to 1780 make mention of wine production, at the zenith some 10,000 hl were produced annually.  With the onset of post WWII industrialization, the production was decimated. 

Meet Wilfrid (on right) and Laurent (left), proprietors of the Domaine des Rutissons, who are breathing new life into the once abandoned vineyards.

Wilfrid, a motorcycle and wine enthusiast had a chance meeting with Laurent and they formed a partnership based on respecting the terroir, and preserving the wine heritage of the area.  They adhere to creating wines using only Bio and natural methods.  Many of the varieties of grapes are extremely old and have been eclipsed by mass produced wines.  Among the varities they’ve resurrected are Etraire de la d’Huy, Verdesse, Mècle de Bourgoin, Persan, Onchette, Joubertin, Servanin…

In discussing wine, motorcycles, and other fine things in life, you’ll realize how passionate they are about their craft.  Not only are the wines a pleasure, but so is meeting them. 

Our generous hosts are quick to share stories, knowledge of wines, amongst other things, and plenty of good cheer.  Rather than attempt describing their art, it’s best done first person.  This writer simply lacks the vocabulary to do them and their craft justice.   

Enjoying the fruits of their labors, along with an array of wonderful locally produced meats, cheeses and other local dishes, you’ll have an unforgettable experience. 

Be sure to leave some room in your luggage to bring a bottle of wine back home to share with your friends and you’ll help a children’s charity.  (a portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold is donated to help needy children)

Wheels Wings & Wine is part of our select motorcycle tours in France, and can also be arranged as a pre or post-tour event.

For more information on the Domaine des Rutissons, visit their website:  http://domainedesrutissons.fr/

 

Wheels Wings & Wine Part 1-an afternoon of flying, eating & tasting

 

Wheels, Wings & Wine Part 1

 

For those of us wannabe-pilots, & amateur wine connoisseurs, we’ve got the next best thing.  An afternoon of private auto-gyro flights, picnic and wine tasting.  (Available as a pre-tour activity or during your tour.)

First, if you’re wondering what an auto-gyro is, as the name might suggest, it’s not some kind of sandwich served on pita bread.

An auto-gyro looks like a mini-helicopter.  The difference being the main rotor is not engine powered.  The main propeller provides forward thrust which in turn causes the main rotor to spin, thus generating lift.  Now that we’ve got our lesson in aeronautics out of the way…

If you like riding motorcycles, you’ll dig a ride in an auto-gyro.  You can feel the wind, acceleration on the open cockpit versions, just like on a bike.  You get similar sensations accelerating up & down, left and right.  In conjunction with Envie d’Ailes an expert auto-gyro training center featuring experienced pilots and instructors, and Domaine des Rutissons, we’ve put together a memorable activity for you.

Your flight will take you on a quick tour of the surroundings.  You’ll get to see cliffs, the Alps, maybe an old fort, forests, valleys.  The scenery is spectacular, so are the sensations.  You’ll even get to take a souvenir video home with you.

Now with your feet back on the ground, you’ll get the chance to sample some local wines and picnic lunch.  More on that in Part 2.

  Wheels Wings & Wine is a special event found on these motorcycle tours France.

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Supermotard Alpe d’Huez

Super Moto, Supermotard at the Alpe d’Huez

The Alpe d’Huez, 21 hairpin turns, average 8.1% grade, 13% maximum, 13.8km (8.6 miles).  Climbing the Alpe d’Huez is a regular event on the Tour de France, and played host to the bobsled events during the ’68 Winter Olympics.  Besides having a world class ski resort, what else can you do to attract summertime business?

Supermotard racing.  Supermotard combines ashphalt & dirt sections requiring riders to display 3 skills: road racing, dirt track and motocross.  Born in 1979 as “Superbikers” on the American TV show “Wide World of Sports”  The idea was to find the best all around rider.

Supermotard (aka Super TT or Super Moto) has spawned its own class of motorcycles.  (Think KTM Duke, Husqvarna, Yamaha YZ426F) These bikes are equipped specially adapted tires.  Any other type of bike will not work and attempting supermotard style is not a good idea.

It also has spawned a particular riding style.  Instead of leaning into the turns, stay on top of the bike and push it down beneath you.  Result is the back wheel slides out in a drift like fashion.  Put a boot down (appropriately called an ‘outrigger’)in the turn at redline to save yourself from disaster and soon enough you’ll be slippin’ and slidin’ with the best of them.

The racing is spectacular, drifting, passing, jumps, bumps, these guys go all out.  We particularly enjoy Supermoto racing since the Alpe d’Huez plays host to a weekend of race action every August.

We never get tired of riding up the Alpe d’Huez, all 21 turns.  The race is free, you can move to different parts of the track to see the dirt or street portion better.  It attracts plenty of riders and motorcycles and all around makes for a good time.

For more information, check the supermotard website.  You can also see Supermoto racing on our motorcycle tours in France.  The Alpe d’Huez is a regular part of our European motorcycle tours as well.

Triumphant Return Austrian MotoGP

motorcycle tour moto gp franceRecently the 2016 Austrian GP was awarded top honors as the best event of the season by the Grand Prix Commission (full article at the end of this post).

Our job is to pick winners, and coincidentally we just so happened to have been at the 2016 Austrian Moto GP.  We agree that it deserved top honors.

After a 19 year absence from the MotoGP calendar, to come back and get top honors means that they did it right and did it right off the bat.

 

(Watch Ducati Fans Celebrate)

Here are a few of our observations.

  • The weather was outstanding.  You couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
  • The crowd was huge, really huge, crazy huge.  It made for great ambience.
  • Great race action.  Ducati had a great race and earned a tough win.
  • The venue is awesome.  The Red Bull Ring is big.  Really big.  Lots of good seats.  General admission is not so good.
  • The logistics of getting in & out were good.  Everything kept moving smoothly.
  • Really nice airshow for starters.  Some classic propeller & jet planes entertained the crowd for a while before the race start.

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Here’s a few suggestions to potential attendees or the organizers of the Austrian MotoGP.

  • More food & refreshment options.  Some were wiped out of inventory and the race hadn’t started.
  • Some areas around the portable toilets turned into a muddy disaster.  (Not the place to wear flip-flops.)
  • Parking in fields quite far away with shuttles to get you close.  If you are riding your motorcycle, bring something to prevent the kickstand from sinking into the ground in case the ground is soft.
  • General admission seating.  You can sit, but not see.  You can stand and maybe see.  This area is crowded and too far in some places to see the race action.  For the non MotoGP fan, this is probably acceptable.  If you really want to see the race, buy a seat in the grandstands, or get there really early to secure something in the front of general admission.
  • If you want a seat, they go on sale several months in advance.  Make your purchase early, or you will be relegated to general admission.
  • As always sunscreen, hats sunglasses (although you can easily find a merchant who’ll sell you a Valentino Rossi cap)
  • Folding chairs are permitted in general admission.  The ground gets a little uncomfortable after an afternoon of sitting.

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Besides the Austrian MotoGP race, there’s an entire beautiful country to explore.  If you’re thinking about Austrian motorcycle tours, check out  our Mega Alpine motorcycle tour.  We think it’s the best way of discovering the Tyrol, Alps, Dolomites as well as Swiss mountain passes, the Stelvio pass and Grossglockner high mountain road..

 

 

Full news article here:  http://www.motogp.com/en/news/2016/12/09/austrian-gp-voted-best-of-2016/217382

 

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The Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

Monte Carlo

Since 1929 the Monaco Grand Prix is an annual event that draws spectators from the four corners of the globe. They come by car, motorcycle, train, plane or mega-yacht to see the best drivers in the world battle for the prestigious trophy.

The Monaco Grand Prix is one jewel in the triple crown of motor racing (Indy & Le Mans are the others). In the era of purpose built racing circuits designed for maximizing driver safety and paid attendance, Monaco has managed to stay on the Formula One circuit.

The logistics must be a nightmare. Erecting grandstands, hospitality tents, safety guard rails, etc. in a city that is still “open for business” is no small feat. Set-up for the race takes 6 weeks to complete, and post-race tear down about 3 weeks.

If you’re planning on attending here are some hopefully helpful suggestions.

-Research the various vantage points and see which you like best. There are places for sale on boats if you prefer.
-Purchase your ticket early. Think of getting different tickets for practice/qualifying/race.
-If you are planning on staying nearby, be prepared to pay a hefty price for accommodations. Reserve early. Other options include staying a little further away. Rooms are easier to find and less expensive.
-Take the train. Even with a motorcycle, traffic and parking are both impossible.
-Be prepared to walk. Your seat may be extremely far from the train station. The station itself is quite large and it might take 15-20 minutes just to exit. Put on your best walking shoes & give yourself plenty of time.
-Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses for obvious reasons. Maybe raingear depending on the forecast.
-Refreshments are available behind/under grandstands and on the sidewalk along the way.
-Ear protection. The engine noise will take its toll on your ears. You can buy some on site, sometimes sponsors hand them out.

There are plenty of large screens for seeing other parts of the circuit and statistics. If you are not a motor sports fan, you should at least go to a qualifying session to soak up the atmosphere and see the cars race against the backdrop of this iconic city.

If you are a motor sports or Formula One fan and plan on attending, you’ll be immersed in history. You’ll feel it as you approach the circuit. The sound, the vibration, the roar, it will move you. There’s something magic about racing in Monaco that you won’t experience elsewhere. Maybe you’ll have a better view at a purpose built circuit, but will you have the charm?, the ambience? and all the rest steeped in some 75+ years? (We won’t discuss the food part here, that alone is worthy of several posts).

*One of our premier events that we look forward to every year is our Monaco Grand Prix Corsica Motorcycle Tour. Whether you’re a race fan or not, this tour offers so much that you won’t see, eat or ride elsewhere.

Learn more about the Monaco Grand Prix Corsica Motorcycle tour here:

See Monaco GP on M2 MotoTours Motorcycle Tour

See Monaco GP on M2 MotoTours Motorcycle Tour

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Bol d’Or (Golden Bowl) Endurance Race

The Bol d’Or 24 Hour Endurance Race

MotoGP, Superbike, Motocross, Supercross, most motorcyclists probably have seen it on TV, internet, or have read about it in a magazine.

Endurance Racing is akin to the red-headed step-child of motorcycling events.  One could argue that endurance racing should be at the top of the heap considering what’s involved.  Teams racing on a circuit for 8 to 24 hours.  Pilots have to be at the top of their game, the bikes have to perform as do the pit crews….for 8 to 24 hours.

In today’s age of channel surfing, & short attention spans, Endurance Racing doesn’t get the attention, and maybe as a result have the same draw as MotoGP.  Maybe the powers that be haven’t figured out how to sell it, or maybe there’s little room for it in a crowded space?  Whatever the case, the racing is every bit as spectacular as anything else on 2 wheels…even more so at night!  Yes, they race at night.

bdo11One event that we have the pleasure of attending in the Bol d’Or.  A 24 hour endurance race held in Southern France in September.  The Bol d’Or has established a reputation on the European continent as a must-attend event for motorcycle race enthusiasts.  Dating back to 1922 the Bol d’Or is one of a handful of endurance races.  (others can be seen in Le Mans, Suzuka, or Oschersleben) Every year thousands of riders make the journey from the U.K., Spain, Benelux and beyond for a weekend of racing and entertainment.

The Bol d’Or has a storied past.  Much of the folklore is due to the ‘enthusiastic’ fans performing impromptu stunt shows in the campgrounds surrounding the track.  Burnouts, wheelies, blown motors, and other antics contributed to building the race into a legend.

The race takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the Var, near the Mediterranean coast.  The track has played host to Formula One, Le Mans and sports car race events.

What we like about the Bol d’Or?

Non-stop racing.  The race actually begins with a ‘Le Mans’ style start.  Similar to the start of the auto race of the same name, the pilots start on foot.  They have to run across the track, hop on their bike, get it started and take off.  It’s quite cool to see that the tradition has been maintained.

Then it’s off to the races for 24 hours.  That’s like seeing 10+ MotoGP races, all in one day.  Speaking of seeing, there are plenty of vantage points to explore.  A reasonably priced ticket allows you to roam around the circuit.  In 24 hours you can check out a variety of viewing points.  Very cool.

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We also like the entertainment.  Plenty of live music & stuff to see.

Stuff like merchants, builders, big & small.  All the big brands are there, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia.  Plus plenty of builders and parts suppliers too.  If you need to stretch your legs you can get lost among the various merchants.

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If you’re planning on attending the Bol d’Or, you can camp on-site.  Lots of riders choose to camp for the camaraderie and to see the sideshow antics.  There are a variety of reasonably priced options a little further away.  If you value a good night’s sleep, opt for staying more than 15km away.  Even at 15km you might be able to hear the bikes in the middle of the night.

Security:  The Gendarmes are out in force during the Bol d’Or.  They’ll be more than happy to pull you over for any monkey business.  Be prepared, make sure you have your papers, up to date insurance, yellow safety vest (it doesn’t need to be worn.  stowing it under the seat or in a bag is fine.) Also make sure your tires, lamps are up to snuff.  They may inspect your bike and write you up for any other infractions.  Lastly, drink responsibly if you choose to drink.  Chances are you will be tested if you get stopped.

Bike parking is secured.  You will need to show your bike registration to exit the premises.  There’s also a concierge on premises for secure helmet storage.

We’re not fans of the highway, but sometimes it can be handy.  During the Bol d’Or weekend most of the highways in proximity of the track are free to motorcyclists.  There are also a number of motorcycle friendly rest-stops along the line.  (you can search for “les relais calmos bol d’or” to find out their location)

If you’re a race fan or just an average bike enthusiast, the Bol d’Or is a rare opportunity to not only see great race action, but soak up some great ambience, and see a variety of bikes from all over.  We like meeting their owners, swapping stories over the din of motorcycle race engines.  It only comes once a year, but you will love that one day as much as we and the tens of thousands who attend.

One of the best things about the Bol d’Or is it means getting on the bikes and making a tour out of it.  Plenty of excellent riding in Southern France, so much so that it’s easy to sneak away from the racing and twist the throttle for a while.  We’ll cover that more in detail in another post.

If you want to learn more about our Bol d’Or Southern France motorcycle tours, click here.

Bol d’Or Race Action