If you want the ride of a lifetime, you like riding in mountains, on twisty roads with fantastic scenery, then you are in the right place!
Riding a Harley-Davidson in the spectacular Alps Mountains, on some of the World’s best roads among dramatic scenery is an amazing adventure and great fun.
However, many riders don’t have the experience of riding abroad, or don’t have time to research and plan the best routes to get the best out of a European ride. Wouldn’t it be terrific if someone was able to do all the hard work for you, plan great routes, book good hotels and lead the ride to show you some of the best riding in the world? That is exactly what we do!
This is one of our premier tours, where we have selected our favourite Swiss mountain roads. These are some of the best riding roads in the world. The tour has to be in mid-summer, during a very short window when we can guarantee the high alpine roads we will be riding will be open. This is our most technical tour of the year and should only be undertaken by experienced riders who enjoy challenging and twisty roads, with many tight hairpin bends. You need to be reasonably fit as we will be riding long days, for many days in a row. We will be riding over 40 mountains passes!
We will ride almost every day, but do have a rest day where we take it easy. The total distance we will ride will be just under 1,400 miles. A lot of these miles are done on some of the very best riding roads available, set among wonderful alpine scenery.
There are a good mixture of road types, from tight and twisty to faster and sweeping. We have chosen many that we know will put a smile on rider’s faces.
Depending on where you are from, you could ride your own bike on the tour, or rent one from one of the Harley-Davidson dealers we work closely with (see ‘Rentals’ tab at the top of this page).
Day One – Tuesday 2 August
The tour officially starts in Geneva.
You can either (a), make your own way to Geneva on your own bike and meet us there, or (b), ride on your own bike with us from Folkestone, UK, leaving on Monday morning to get to Geneva on Tuesday afternoon, or (c), you could fly to Geneva and rent a bike there. We can help with the arrangements for any of those methods if needed (let us know when booking). For specific information about renting a motorcycle for this tour, see the ‘Rentals’ tab at the top of this page.
However you choose to get to Geneva, you need to be at our hotel, with your bike, late afternoon on day 1 of the tour to meet your tour leader.
Tonight we stay in an 18th century chateau just to the north of Geneva.
The hotels we stay at vary in size and quality, and where possible, we only use hotels with good off-road parking. All are 3 or 4 star. We don’t use large chain hotels in larger towns, but prefer smaller remote locations. On two of the nights on the tour, your evening meal is included within the tour price and on the rest of the evenings, you are free to eat where you like. Often, we will eat as a group, but it is really up to you.
Day Two – Wednesday 3 August
This is our first main day of riding on the tour and what a day it is, for we ride the highest mountain pass in Europe during the afternoon! First thing this morning, we ride south through Geneva and as we do so, we cross the border into France. We then ride some wonderful roads in the Aravis Range of the French Alps.
We start as we mean to continue as the first mountain pass we ride is the famous Col de la Colombiere, which has featured in the Tour de France cycle race 22 times. Then we ride further south and ride another five mountain passes, including the well-known Cormet de Roselend and after riding through Val-d’Isère, we press onto and ride up the Col de l’Iseran. At 9,068 ft (2,764m) the Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved pass in Europe.
We then back-track to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, where we stay the night.
Day Three – Thursday 4 August
Immediately we depart the hotel on the morning of day 3, the great riding begins as we climb up the Col Du Petit Saint-Bernard (Small St Bernard Pass). The first part of this road has 19 hairpin bends in quick succession and the climb is a joy to ride. Then we cross the border into Italy for the first time and ride a few more mountains passes before crossing into the main part of Switzerland. As we cross the border, we will be on the Grand St Bernard Pass, which rises up to8,100 ft (2,469m).
We push on past the town of Martigny to stay at a chalet-style hotel with wonderful views.
Day Four – Friday 5 August
Day 4 is in two distinct halves. In the morning we ride a few off-the-beaten-track and less well-known passes in the Swiss Alps. These are twisty and have great views. Around the middle of the day we make progress on faster roads as we head northeast.
The afternoon sees us riding two of the great Swiss passes, Grimsel and Susten.
Grimsel Pass crosses the Bernese Alps at an elevation of 7,100 ft (2,164m). The mountain ridge that the pass crosses is the continental divide, where rain falling to the west of the ridge eventually flows into the North Sea, whereas rain falling anywhere to the east side of the ridge flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Grimsel is a steep pass with many hairpins.
Susten Pass (7,421 ft) follows shortly after and this is a gradual rise where the road flows making it a joy to ride. We stop to look at the glacier high above the road.
We stay the night close to Andermatt, which will be our base for 3 nights.
Day Five – Saturday 6 August
This is a rest day, but with such great roads in this part of the Swiss Alps, it will be hard to not go riding. You could either stay in Andermatt, go on a train up the Oberalp Pass, or we have planned a short days riding of 95 miles for those that will not be able to stay off their bikes.
If you choose to go riding, we will go to three mountain passes, two of which are some of the best in the Alps. The first of these is Furka Pass, made famous the the location for the driving chase scenes in the movie Goldfinger.
We then also ride Nufenen Pass before arriving at St Gotthard Pass, which has been upgraded into 3 different optional routes over many decades and we will ride the most spectacular, the old road. We ride this road quite slowly as it has many hairpins and the surface of the road is cobbled! This was originally done to help horses get better grip in snow conditions, but it doesn’t really help large heavy motorcycles centuries later! The views of the road across a valley are spectacular and really build anticipation of what you are about to ride.
Day Six – Sunday 7 August
From Andermatt, we go on a two-day ride to see the Italian Alps and the Italian Lakes. As we will be returning, we can leave most of our luggage in Andermatt and just take what we need for two days.
So, on day 6 we start to head south into Italy, but not before riding more dramatic passes in Switzerland. There are 3 of these and the first is Oberalp Pass which has a small surprise we will share with you when we get there. The second is the famous San Bernadino Pass, a stunning road, set high in the mountains. The third is actually a Tour1 favourite. Called Susten Pass this road straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy. The Swiss side is neat and very ordered, while the Italian side is dramatic and crazy! Just like some Italians, maybe?
In the afternoon we reach the first of the lakes we will see – Lake Como. We stay the night near the lake.
Day Seven – Monday 8 August
The second day of our Italian Lakes side-trip sees us riding alongside Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore. We will also ride some lesser-known passes in the mountains between these lakes.
After the lakes, we head north and re-renter Switzerland where we ride through the Santa Maria Valley to arrive back at Andermatt where we stay for one more night.
Day Eight – Tuesday 9 August
Day 8 sees us mainly heading west. First we ride to Lake Lucerne and a coffee stop in a fabulous location on the banks of the lake. We then get a ferry across the lake to go back to its southern shore. We ride through the beautiful Entlebuch Biosphere, a natural reserve at the foot of the Alps. This will include riding our 29th mountain pass of the tour, Escholzmatt Pass.
We then ride alongside an impressive Alps lake called Thunersee, before riding Juan Pass, another high mountain road that takes us to our hotel for the night.
Day Nine – Wednesday 10 August
Of course, we have more mountain passes to ride today, including some that are very dramatic. We ride a total of 169 miles today, but because we want to make sure you ride the very best roads in the area, we only end up about 55 miles away from last nights hotel, as the crow flies.
We ride through the huge nature park to the east of Lake Geneva, before heading south and riding up the col de Forclaz on our way to the stunning town of Chamonix, where we stay in the foothills of Europe tallest mountain, Mont Blanc.
Day Ten – Thursday 11 August
Today is our last main riding day and even as we near the end point of the tour back in Geneva, we still have 6 mountain passes to ride today!
If we have time and if the weather is good, we will also stop next to Lake Geneva to take a photo of its famous fountain.
We stay tonight in the same chateau we started the tour in.
Day Eleven – Friday 12 August
The tour officially finishes this morning after breakfast.
For those who rode to Geneva on your own bikes, you will start your journey home this morning (riding with Tour1 if you so choose). For those who rented motorcycles, you can either ride back to the Harley-Davidson dealership in Lyon today (subject to their opening days /times), or later depending on your onward travel plans.
Our group sizes normally range from 10 to 14 motorcycles.
Each day, we normally start riding at 8.30am sharp and cover in the region of 100 to 190 miles. We try to avoid motorways wherever possible and only use these when there is no real alternative. We take mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks and of course find somewhere for lunch. Our plan is to normally arrive at that evening’s hotel by around 6pm.
The hotels we stay at vary in size and quality, and where possible, we only use hotels with good off-road parking. The hotels are not super luxury and not bottom end, but mid-range – normally 3 and 4-star. We don’t use large chain hotels in larger towns, but prefer smaller remote locations. On some nights on the tour, your evening meal is included within the tour price and on the rest of the evenings, you are free to eat where you like. Often, we will eat as a group, but it is really up to you.
We ride at a pace to suit all of the riders. We stick to all speed limits in towns, but in rural areas we ride at, let’s call them ‘more appropriate’ speeds. We generally ride in staggered convoy on straighter roads.
As we have pre-booked hotels and a schedule to stick to, we ride in all weathers. During any exceptionally inclement weather, we will pull over for short periods. We could experience a range of different types of weather, so bring waterproofs, just in case.
We like these tours to be about having a real adventure, riding on great roads with like-minded people. For that reason, we do not use a support van, but we always have a back-marker.
Each of our tours has a difficulty rating and this tour is rated as ‘challenging’. That means this tour is for experienced riders only, with say, a minimum of five years of riding large motorcycles. You must have ridden on the right-hand side of the road before on many occasions and you must be comfortable with travelling in a group of riders and be able to keep a good pace within that group. We do not ride very fast, but at the same time, it is better if riders do not go too slowly. The route will include many twisty roads, plus many high mountain roads with many tight hairpin bends / switchbacks. There will be some sections of road with steep drop-offs at the side and no guardrail. If you or your pillion are at all uncomfortable at riding at height, then this tour is not for you. If you are from the USA, please note some of the roads you will be riding are significantly narrower and have tighter bends than in the USA. All roads are fully paved. While there is not much motorway riding on the tour, as a guide, the group will be riding at speeds of 75mph+ on motorways. You must be confident of riding in rain and on wet roads.
Each day’s riding will be around 9 hours, with breaks. You must be able to ride all day. If you are at all unsure if your riding ability is good enough for this tour, then you must contact us by telephone to discuss.