If you haven’t ridden a motorbike in Spain before, you don’t know what you are missing. Of course, other European countries like France and Italy also have wonderful scenery and beautiful villages, but theres something different about riding in Spain, and you have to experience it to know exactly what I mean, but I’ll try to explain it.
Spain is quite a relaxed country, and its also very bike friendly. As you ride around, you will notice everyone is conscious of bikes. Young, old, male, female, it doesn’t matter. Catch up to the car in front, and they will see you and move over to allow you to pass. They will even move over when its not possible or legal to pass. As a biker, you don’t have to look for biker friendly accommodation or go to biker friendly bars, everywhere welcomes everyone here, whatever you ride or drive.
And it doesn’t matter what you ride, here, a biker is a biker. You will see groups of friends all riding different styles of bikes, but still riding together. One will be on a sportsbike, another on a naked bike, plus a cruiser and one or two adventure bikes. Nobody cares, they just go out and ride what they want to ride.
So what do you need to know about riding in Spain? The essentials are that you must carry your original vehicle documents with you, valid insurance documents and green card, plus your driving licence, IDP and passport. You should always ride with your lights on and having anything like earphones in your ears are illegal. The alcohol limit is so low, its not even worth thinking about drinking and riding, and the fines start at a four figure sum, and don’t even think about riding under the influence of drugs. People have been fined four figure amounts for being over the limit more than 48 hours after having smoked cannabis.
Speed limits are clearly signed but unlike some other countries, speed cameras are simply grey boxes at the side of the road. There will be one speed camera warning sign approximately 1km before the camera, but thats it. Failure to stop at a STOP sign, or clipping or crossing a solid white line can land you with a €120 fine. For more detailed information, take a look at the N332 website.
The other consideration, particularly in the summer months, is to carry some water with you. I know its not ideal to have 1500ml bottle of water strapped to the passenger seat, but you can guarantee you will get a puncture at the hottest part of the day, on a stretch of road without a phone signal. Imagine walking in temperatures of 45 degrees centigrade, just to ring for assistance, then possibly waiting an hour for recovery. I have lived here for year, I’m somewhat acclimatised, but I still get through a few litres of water every day in the summer just doing day to day things.
And on the subject of breaking down, don’t forget to buy some good EU breakdown insurance. Preferably not the sort that expects you to pay and then claim it back when you return home. Depending on the age and value of your bike, it may not be worth the paper its written on, but at least try to get some. Many policies won’t repatriate the bike if the transport will cost half what the bike is worth. If you have to get your bike recovered, take photographs of it before it goes on the truck, and once it has been secured by the recovery driver.
Obviously, wearing a helmet is compulsory, and one with a recognised safety rating. All helmets sold in Spain must conform to ECE 22-05, and most helmets sold in Europe will conform to this safety standard. I used to ride with a dark visor, and I never had any problems, but my visor was a genuine Arai which was stamped ‘for road use’.
There are regular police checkpoints throughout Spain, and they can vary quite a bit. Often it is just 4 officers and two cars checking documents, but one particular check point was on a mountain pass and there were around 20 Guardia Civil officers with assault rifles, which is quite intimidating. After a few years here, you get used to it, and the best way to deal with it is to slow right down, open your visor, pull down your goggles or remove your sunglasses and look into the eyes of the officer who is stopping the traffic. What they generally look for is someone avoiding eye contact or looking suspicious, so staring into their eyes displays confidence, and you will generally be waved through.
That covers of what you need to know to enjoy riding your motorbike in Spain, all you need to do now is decide when you want to come here and book one of my incredible guided tours so you avoid the commercialised tourist traps, and get to see the real Spain and experience the wonderful Spanish culture.
If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at my article about Road Rides in Spain