Crossing the Channel

Oh merde – un probleme

It’s the worst feeling. You’re heading off to Europe – or coming back from a trip abroad –  and something’s up with your bike.

Independent Harley-Davidson specialists, Grizzly’s Custom Bikes, is only minutes from the Dover ferry port and Eurostar/Le Shuttle. We’re just the place you need if you’re away from home and something’s not quite right. We can also arrange a pick up and rescue service if needed. Remember too that we might have in stock something you’ve forgotten, such as last-minute extra oil. Just get in touch with us – the nearest Harley-Davidson specialist to all the Channel crossings in Kent, England.

Riders from all countries welcome – we all speak Harley.

Riding in France – the rules

French roads are brilliant. but there are all kinds of strange rules you have to be aware of or the local fuzz will be trousering your hard-earned Euros. Best of all buy a guide to riding in France as this is not a comprehensive list – just the greatest hits.

Ride on the right!
It IS easy to forget, especially after a couple of days when you’ve relaxed a bit. Be extra careful not to pull out from, say, a petrol station or parking lot onto the wrong side of the road.

You have to use dipped lights day and night.

Drink driving.
Just don’t. The French are really strict about this. You’re allowed a maximum of 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/ml in the UK. If you have between 0.5 and 0.8mg of alcohol in your blood you could be fined between €135 to €750. Above 0.8g/l and you’ll have to go to court. Remember the ‘morning after’ you may still be over the limit.

  • Speeding
    Another thing the French are hot on. Radar speed traps will get you if the police don’t and on the spot fines can be hundreds of euros. Can’t pay? The police will impound your bike until you do. Unless otherwise signposted, speed limits are:
     – Dry Weather
  • Built-Up Areas: 31mph (50 kph)
  • Outside Built-Up Areas (two lane roads): 50mph (80kph)
  • Dual Carriageways and Toll-free Motorways: 68mph (110 kph)
  • Toll Motorways: 80 mph (130 kph)
  • There’s also a minimum speed limit of 49mph (80kmh) on motorways.
    – Wet Weather (and riders with less than two years since passing the test)
  • Built-Up Areas: 31mph (50 kph)
  • Outside Built-Up Areas: 43mph (70kph)
  • Dual Carriageways and Toll-free Motorways: 62mph (100kph)
  • Toll Motorways: 68mph (110kph)

All motorcyclists and pillion passengers have to carry a fluorescent hi-viz vest or jacket in France. If you get stopped and don’t have one it’s an 11€ fine. If you’re caught not wearing it on the roadside if you stop or break down, the fine is €135. You must also carry a full set of spare bulbs. A breathalyser for each person on the bike is still listed as a requirement though oddly there is now no fine for not carrying one.

All riders must wear helmets and each has to have four reflective strips on the helmet. But it’s a bit of a grey area with the EU understanding this can’t apply retrospectively to older or UK-bought helmets already in use. But to avoid arguments just buy some reflective stickers and use them. It’s quite a good idea.

It’s now illegal to ride without CE certified gloves – pillions too. Being caught without will see both you and your passenger handing over €68 each.

If you wear prescription glasses you have to have a spare pair with you.

You can’t use them while you’re riding. But hands-free speakers fitted to the helmet – not in-ear – are allowed.

GB Sticker
You need to display a GB sticker or plate as near as possible to the rear registration plate.

You’ll need to carry the following or risk a fine: Registration documents, insurance certificate (make sure you know the emergency number to ring), your MOT, passport and driving licence. If you’re riding someone else’s bike you need a letter of permission from the owner.

Weaving through lanes of slow or stationary traffic is illegal.  You have to sit and wait in the traffic queue with everyone else.

Stop signs.
You have to properly stop, even if there is no one in sight.

Priorite a droite.
This is a homicidal throwback from the days of horses and carts, but still common on country roads just outside main towns. A yellow square within a white square sign tilted on its side (with or without the words Priorite a Droite) means that motorists joining a main road from little side roads on the right don’t have to stop. You have to slow up and let them in. Barking mad, but there it is.
This is a good site describing French road signs.

Er, try to have fun too…

Visit us

We carry a small supply of French riding essentials. Ring us direct or send an email out of hours and we’ll phone you back ASAP.

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