Prepping for the Trans Euro Trail? Here’s What You Need to Know
So you’re ready for your Trans Euro Trail motorcycle expedition? We’re officially jealous: the Trans Euro Trail project has been on our radar for years now, and we know it’s an awesome adventure. But if you’re doing the TET for the first time, there are a few handy things to keep in mind before you set off into the sunset.
Here’s a list of tips from the TET vets we’ve been chatting with:
The Best Motorcycle for the TET
What’s the best bike for riding the Trans Euro Trail?
The one you currently own.
Now, if you go on any TET group on social media, you’ll get a whole bunch of different opinions about the best TET bikes. Some folks will say you need a lightweight dirt bike with minimal luggage. Some will argue big adventure motorcycles are just fine for the TET, and others will swear you need a dual-sport mule like the KLR650 or the Dakar-inspired T7.
All these opinions are equally valid – and equally useless.
Only you know your riding skill level, your own bike preferences, and your own TET plans. Sure, lightweight dirt bikes always make life easier on the trails, but if you know you’ll need to cover some serious paved miles to get back, strangling the life out of a 250cc on a highway is going to suck. On the other hand, if you know your GS feels somewhat sketchy on gnarly trails, a dual-sport may be a better option… But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to choose what you ride – and how. If your current bike fits the bill, go with that. If it doesn’t, go with whatever feels right, and enjoy the hell out of the journey!
TET Motorcycle Luggage
Whichever motorcycle you choose for the TET, you’ll need some luggage. Our vote goes to soft panniers and duffel bags, since the general rule of off-road travel is the lighter, the better. Make sure the stuff’s secured well, waterproof, and crash proof, and the rest doesn’t matter much; as long as you can easily transport your camping gear, tools, and a change of clothes with you, that’s about all you need for the Trans Euro Trail.
Now, if you feel like tackling the TET armed with hard cases and a top box, more power to you – there’s no one-fits-all formula when it comes to motorcycle packing, except, perhaps, that less is more factor.
Not All Trans Euro Trail Routes Are Created Equal
Probably the most common Trans Euro Trail rookie mistake is assuming that all TET trails are more or less similar.
Some of the TET sections in France or Slovenia may be mellow enough, but once you hit the Balkans or the Pyrenees, things can get hairy. Some trails are just hard-packed dirt roads, others can quickly turn into rocky, bouldery singletrack; you’ll get mud soup in Hungary, gnarly climbs in Romania, and rutty tracks from hell if you happen to ride Andalusia’s desert routes in spring.
If you’re an experienced enduro maniac on a sprightly 350-450cc dirt bike, this is of no concern. But if you’re a dual sport or an adventure rider aboard something bigger than 650cc, it’s well worth getting in touch with the TET Linesmen of the countries you’re traveling through and ask about the condition of the trails. Of course, what’s difficult or technical to you may be an easy cruise to a local enduro rider, and it’s hard to accurately gauge the difficulty of the trails. We’re all different, and one man’s terrifying river crossing is another man’s splash across an adorable puddle.
So what’s a TET newbie to do?
We find the best policy is to ask, “is this easy to ride on an Africa Twin/BMW GS 1200/Triumph Tiger 900?”. If the answer is “hell no”, you may be talking gnarly stuff. If it’s a “maybe”, it’s probably somewhat moderate. And if it’s a definite “yes”, it’ll probably be forest service roads you could do on a Gixxer with your eyes closed.
Best Motorcycle Tires for the Trans Euro Trail
After the endless debates on best TET bikes comes another endless debate on the best TET tires, and to date, there’s no consensus. Perhaps we should hold a referendum to decide on the matter once and for all; but for now, you need to make up your own mind.
How much off road vs on road are you going to do? What kind of bike you’re riding, and where are you headed? What kind of terrain are you most likely to encounter?
Once you figure that out, choosing the right tires will be as easy as pie. Still unsure? Read our blog post about the best adventure motorcycle tires – and hit those damned trails already.
I’ve done many TET rides, Portugal, Spain, France, Sweden, Finland and Wales. Unless you are very, very good you need a dual sport or smaller. Portugal is demanding, so are the Pyrenees routes. Wales on a GS, good luck, mate. And you’ll need proper tyres. Motoz Rallz, Anakee Wilds or for shorter runs, TKC80s. Hard luggage is a really bad idea. Finland and Sweden are 99% easy on a GS or similar but you’ll still need fairly aggressive tyres in Nordic forests.