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A guide to shipping motorcycles from Australia to Europe or NZ

Motorcycle shipping from Australia to Europe

After last year’s intrepid odyssey around the UK on Triumph Explorers, this time around for 2019 it was to be a somewhat back to the future expedition on early model Honda Fireblades.

Get Routed specialise in shipping motorcycles to Europe and thus arranged to ship two of my early CBR900RR machines to the UK ahead of the 2019 Isle of Man TT.

TT Get Routed Loading Fireblade Oxford
Motorcycles being prepped for container transport from Australia to the UK with Get Routed

Thus the peregrination for the Fireblades started a long time before our own globe-trotting got underway. Of course the bikes were sent by sea, while ours was a very much quicker journey by air.

There is some paperwork that needs to be filled in some weeks prior to shipping the motorcycles but no actual paperwork required on the day. The most important requirement is the ‘Vehicle Import Application’ from the Australian Government. That’s right, despite the bikes being originally sold in Australia, and currently licenced in Australia, you need to fill in forms in order for them to be allowed back in to the country.

TT Get Routed Loading Triumph Street Twin
Motorcycles being prepped for container transport from Australia to the UK with Get Routed

Thankfully this is largely facilitated on-line but still requires you to register an account with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development. You will need a scan of your identification documents, be that a drivers lience or passport, and your account approval may take a couple of days. Then the Vehicle Import Application can commence. For which you will require clear and legible photographs of the ADR identification plates on your motorcycle, ensure the VIN number is easily read along with the relevant ADR approval numbers.

You will also need a copy of the registration documents for your motorcycle. It makes it easier if you have digital copies of these documents to upload with your on-line application. It costs around $50 and both requests for further information or approval documents are provided via email. You should then forward your approval documentation on to Dave in order for him to have the motorcycle released by customs when they arrive back in Australia.

Get Routed provide information sheets that help walk you through all the processes required ahead of the shipping. I must admit without their guidance I would have been well lost, red tape and me don’t mix all that well…

There was surprisingly not much preparation required for the motorcycles before they were checked in at a Spotswood freight depot on February 28.

TT Get Routed Loading
Motorcycles being prepped for container transport from Australia to the UK with Get Routed

Meeting us at the depot was Get Routed proprietor Dave Milligan. Get Routed have been shipping bikes around the world for over 20 years. The destinations specialised in range from just across the ditch to Christchurch (New Zealand), Barcelona (Spain), Athens (Greece), and the most common option which is the seaside town of Felixstowe in Suffolk, England.

At Spotswood they were tied on to their individual shipping platforms before being placed in the container by fork-lift.

TT Get Routed Loading Fireblade Container
Motorcycles being prepped for container transport from Australia to the UK with Get Routed

Felixstowe is where the bikes were waiting for us after we flew out of Melbourne on the morning of May 18. By this time our bikes had been stored at a Felixstowe storage depot for three weeks, and thus had arrived in the UK around two months after we dropped them off in Melbourne.

As a precaution we had disconnected the batteries on the Fireblades and taped up the terminals before they went into the container. Dave’s right-hand-man at Felixstowe, Mike Smith, then saved us a bit of time by re-connecting the batteries for us a few days prior to our arrival.

The bikes still had a small amount of fuel in the tanks for the trip, enough to get us to a service station outside the docks and recoil in horror once again at the price of fuel in the UK, which is approximately twice what we pay in Australia.

Fuel UK
The price of fuel in the UK is pretty horrendous. This works out to almost $100 to fill the two Fireblades.

We had also saved some hassle by fitting the Oxford tank-bags and tail-bags to the Fireblades before they left Melbourne, already filled with our gear ready for the trip. We had also put in a gear-bag with our touring suits and helmets in the container so we could fly in without having to cart a heap of luggage.

TT Get Routed Loading Fireblade Oxford
Oxford tail-pack on the 1995 Fireblade

Insurance in the UK and Europe is mandatory. This can prove extremely problematic via most insurance companies but Get Routed put us on to a German insurance company and the process was largely painless.

Travel Insurance is also something you of course need to consider prior to any journey. This can be a minefield while travelling by motorcycle. Those policies which say they cover motorcycle use, in the fine-print restrict that to 50 or 125cc maximums. Even some policy options where you tick a box for extra motorcycle cover that also in the fine-print restricts engine size to 125 or 250cc. Dave can also put you on to travel insurance companies that come recommended.

Your bikes will need to be washed before returning them to the Felixstowe depot for their return journey. Otherwise Australian customs might end up washing them for you and charging you a hefty fee in the process.

Wash Bikes Felixstowe
Dave also provides directions to the wash bay closest to the docks

The cost for the motorcycle shipping service to the Felixstowe depot in the UK is $3950.  To have your bike dropped off and picked up from Athens or Barcelona is $4225 for a standard sized motorcycles less than 2.3-metres long, which includes bikes such as BMW’s R 1200 GS.

There are no problems or extra costs with having your bike shipped to one of those ports, and then picked up from the UK port. Thus you could pick up your bike in to Barcelona or Athens, and then drop it off in the UK after your extensive tour of mainland Europe. Get Routed also have shipping packages for people that wish to attend the Isle of Man TT, these are inclusive of hard to get ferry tickets for you and your motorcycle to the Isle of Man, plus 14-nights accommodation on the Isle of Man across the TT fortnight.

IOM Scene
There are plenty of interesting places to explore on the Isle of Man away from the racing.

Check out www.GetRouted.com.au for more information and/or ask for Dave himself on 03 5625 9080 as he is the main man in the know for this motorcycle shipping business.

Source: MCNews.com.au

Exploring the Isle of Man | Trev’s TT Trip Part Seven

Trev’s TT Trip 2018 Part Seven

After a final dinner with the McWilliams family it was time to head for the Belfast docks and join the long queue for the late overnight ferry to the port of Douglas on the Isle of Man.

IOM Belfast
Waiting for the ferry from Belfast to the Isle of Man

Luckily, the night was not too cold and there was only a very slight bit of occasional drizzle to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of riders as they waited patiently with their motorcycles in the open air of the Belfast Ferry Terminal at Albert Quay.

As far as docks go these are quite pleasant. From the waiting area you look across the inlet to the blue lights of the Titanic Belfast building. Its leading edge designed to resemble the prow of the infamous ship itself. The Titanic was built in Belfast and launched in front of over 100,000 spectators on May 31, 1911, thus the homage to the ill-fated passenger liner.

IOM Belfast
Albert Quay, Belfast

While a lot less grand, I was hoping our Steam Packet Ferry across to the Isle of Man would perhaps prove a little more successful in being able to reach its destination.

Ferry tickets to the Isle of Man generally book out over 12 months ahead of each TT. Thus Dave Milligan, founder and proprietor of Get Routed, a company that specialises in travel packages to the Isle of Man TT, along with other bike shipment destinations (Felixstowe, UK, Athens, Greece and Barcelona, Spain) in Europe, had sourced our precious spots on the ferry.

Get Routed generally book dozens of tickets to ensure his clients have space for both themselves and their motorcycles. Dave also books a few houses on the Isle of Man to put his clients up during the TT fortnight.  Some prefer to take tents and camp out in one of the many campsites which spring up for the TT. It’s a cheaper option.

Get Routed had organised our unique package to my requirements. I didn’t want to do the straight-up regular ferry from Liverpool and back from the mainland like most TT goers. I had come a long way and desired a much more diverse itinerary to make the best of our few weeks away.

Triumph Tiger XCa Jurassic Dririder
Triumph Tiger 1200 XCa – Jurassic Coast, Devon

I wanted to tour the southern climes of Great Britain and Wales before the TT.  I was also keen to do some riding in Ireland, including a dirtbike tour up in Donegal, before then catching up with the McWilliams family in Belfast for a good craic.

To cater for this Dave had advised us to book a ferry from the Welsh port of Holyhead across the Irish Sea to Dublin.  Then our ferry to the Isle of Man from Belfast for the TT fortnight, and also sourced us ferry tickets that after race week would take us from the IOM across to Liverpool. Where we would then continue our motorcycle touring to take in England’s Peak and Lake Districts before returning our Explorers back to Triumph’s Hinckley HQ. It was a somewhat complicated plan of attack, but Dave had sourced the required tickets and just made it all happen. Obviously he did this over 12 months in advance.

As we waited in line for the ferry from Belfast we realised that we were probably the only first timers onboard for the trip across to the 572 square-kilometre island that has been made famous around the globe due to the 37.73-miles of tarmac that snakes its way up and down and around the central parts of the Isle of Man, the fabled ‘Mountain Course’ IOM TT.

IOM Ferry
Ferry port at Douglas, Isle of Man

The ferry was jam packed, seats were at a premium. Predictably, there was a little argy-bargy involved in order to try and get a reasonably comfortable spot. The trip itself is around a three-hour affair, and you also spend a good few hours standing around with your bike at the terminal waiting to board. In fact you spend almost as much time dicking around at the terminal as you do on the bloody ferry!  Check in closed at midnight but you are advised to get there well before that, despite the ferry not departing until 0200. It is a bit tedious, but the excitement in the air is palpable and makes up for it, we’re going to the TT! 

I got to talking to a group of Irish fellas who were long time TT goers. A couple of them clad in full leathers complete with knee-sliders, eager to lap the mountain course themselves when ever the roads are open during TT Practice week and to a lesser extent race week. The roads are generally open most of the time, you can cut a dozen laps or more during TT week without too much bother if you are keen.  Doing laps of the TT circuit also affords the time to seek out good viewing spots for when the real speed demons hit the circuit.

These Irish fellas I had got talking to, likely in their early 30s, so ten years or so younger than myself, were seasoned punters and knew the score. They had lost mates themselves at the TT. However, they were all proper Irish motorcycle nutters that had grown up around road racing, it was in their blood.

Their childhood heroes the likes of Joey Dunlop, 24-time winner of the Ulster GP and 26-time winner at the TT. Joey ‘Yer Maun’ Dunlop was a national treasure, awarded both an MBE and OBE before his tragic death while racing a 125 in Estonia in 2000.  Conversely enough, Joey died on a closed course rather than ‘on the roads’.

Death is a part of the TT. It always has been, and unfortunately, most likely always will be.  You always hear about the deaths of the famous riders losing their lives on road courses, Joey’s brother Robert lost his life on a 250 at the Northwest 200, Robert’s son William passed away this year after an accident at Skerries.

Scores more lives have been lost that never made any headlines. Almost every year a number of racegoers lose their own lives, crashing their motorcycles while on the Isle of Man to enjoy the TT fortnight. These crashes rarely make the news, its just part and parcel of what happens on this pretty patch of dirt in the middle of the Irish Sea.

I don’t wish to be morbid, but it is a simple fact of life, the Isle of Man TT also quite often involves death. It is what it is….

IOM Douglas
Douglas, Isle of Man

Changing tack somewhat…  It was a glorious morning in Douglas as our Triumph steeds turned their wheels for the first time on the Isle of Man tarmac. Dave from Get Routed was there to meet us as we rode off the ferry. We followed him out of town and down towards our digs at the southern end of the Isle, the picturesque Port Erin. That first morning though we were not up for seeing much of anything other than bed!

IOM Port Erin
Port Erin

The next day saw almost perfect weather unfold after a crisp and clear morning over the delightful sheltered harbour of Port Erin. This trend of sun and warmth continued for our entire time on the Island.

IOM Port St Mary
Port St. Mary

We were lucky enough to enjoy what was possibly the most glorious weather ever encountered over an entire TT fortnight. Later in the year Classic TT goers were not quite so lucky…

IOM Port Erin
Port Erin

I was taken aback at the beauty of the Island. I guess my thoughts surrounding the Isle of Man had never gone beyond the tarmac of the Mountain Course, and the men that lay black lines of rubber on it. But now my eyes were opened to its beauty and I was keen to drink it all in.

IOM Port Erin
Port Erin

Dave had situated us down on the southern coast of what proved to be a much larger island than I had imagined. We had motorcycles to explore it on, and better still our motorcycles were adventure bikes, thus we could also venture off-road when it suited us.

IOM Scene
Isle of Man

The beautiful landscapes and myriad walking trails got me to thinking that it would not be a mistake for someone to bring their family to the TT. 

IOM Port Erin
Port Erin at night

There were days where we never even ventured near the mountain course to take in practice sessions, instead hiking our way along the picturesque southern cliffs, which at some points look across to the Calf of Man.

IOM Calf Of Man
Hiking from Port Erin across the cliffs to the most south-west of the Isle of Man and looking across to the Calf of Man

The much needed exercise also made me a feel a little less guilty for indulging in the fantastic ales and awesome pub food that we encountered pretty much everywhere we toured throughout the UK. I am salivating at the memory!

IOM Beer
Much beer was enjoyed!

And of course the first pub I visited on the Isle of Man I bump into a group of Aussies, some of which I had crossed paths with before. 

IOM Scene Pub Crew
First pub I go to and it is full of Aussies!

We had got so lucky with the weather, the lush rolling green hills were picture perfect and the surprisingly brilliant clear blue of the Irish Sea sparkled in contrast, a backdrop good enough to paint.

IOM Port Erin
Port Erin

The visibility in the water was remarkable and allowed us to spot plenty of sealife from afar. Basking Sharks the most common sight visible from the Port Erin Harbour or the clifftops above.

IOM Scene
Isle of Man

Clearly, there is a lot more to enjoy on the Isle of Man than just the racing.

IOM Port Erin
Most places around the Isle of Man put on some entertainment of an evening during the TT fortnight, like this temporary stage set up at Port Erin

It was once a favoured holiday destination for much of the UK, but with these days of cheap flights to the warmer climes of Spain and the Greek Islands, it has fallen out of favour as a mainstream holiday destination for Brits.

IOM Scene
Plenty of interesting places to explore on the Isle of Man

The island comes alive for the TT though, and the TT (and farmers exporting rare breed bull semen), is now what keeps the island alive.

IOM Scene
Isle of Man

Race week saw new records set. Peter Hickman’s final lap to win the Senior TT was epic, his speed across the mountain section in particular was breathtaking and an outright lap record.

Peter Hickman on his way to victory in the 2018 IOM TT
Peter Hickman on his way to victory in the 2018 IOM TT

Racers that specialise on the ‘real roads’ circuits such as the IOM and the North West call traditional career motorcycle racers ‘car park racers’. Reflecting on the fact that they race on circuits with only a dozen turns, as compared to the hundreds found on the mountain course. The speed of Hickman and Harrison at this year’s TT though showed just what a dedicated season of speed on a Superbike or Superstock bike in BSB now brings to the table as speeds continuously rise and new records are set at the TT.  This pair regularly race in the tight cut and thrust of the British Superbike Championship, and look set to dominate TT proceedings for the foreseeable future.

Dean Harrison
Dean Harrison – 2018 Isle of Man TT

I got a couple of laps of the Mountain Course in myself onboard the Triumph Explorer 1200.   One of the days I was stuck near the top of the mountain section with hundreds of others riders, the road had been closed due to a rider making a fatal mistake that would prove his last. Strangely, there was still more excitement than sadness in the air, riders were keen to press on again as soon as the carnage had been cleared and the roads were open again. This is the TT, this is how it is.

I shot down a skinny side-road back towards town before turning my way back up towards the course along another farm lane that eventually met the course again only a few hundred metres from where the other hundreds of riders awaited the road to open again. Here though I was amongst only a few dozen waiting at the police manned barriers.  I quizzed the officers as to which barrier would get lifted first, ours or the one I could see just a little further back up the road, they said likely ours. I was keen to get the holeshot, keeping my helmet on as I wanted to get out ahead of the pack.

IOM Mountain Triumph
I sneaked around this traffic block to get out ahead of it when the roads were opened again.

It turned out just how I had planned, the barrier lifted and I launched that 1200 Explorer hard out of the hole to beat everyone else on to the circuit. This was it. I had a clear run over the final few miles of the mountain section and if I went fast enough, I would keep the hundreds of sportsbike riders behind me at bay due to their delay in getting away.  I did not want to get mixed up in that bunch of nutters so I had a crack.

It was glorious, two lanes of perfect blacktop to myself as I sped past landmarks that I had only seen before on TV.  Flying past Kate’s Cottage and then flat out down towards the tight right hand bend in front of Creg-ny-Baa.  I was still leading and could not see anyone in my mirrors as I sat up to brake for Creg-ny-Baa. Hundreds of onlookers out the front of the pub let out their cheers of congratulation as I lofted the front wheel past them on exit.

Dean Harrison - TT 2018
Dean Harrison – TT 2018 – Kate’s Cottage seen in the distance as Harrison rounds the bend outside Creg-Ny-Baa

Of course that last bit about the crowd was all just in my head, I think the people drinking at Creg-ny-Baa were really just thinking, ‘look at this fat bastard on an adventure bike reckoning he is John McGuinness’. Of course, when the real racers got at it later in the day I would have looked like I was at walking pace in comparison.

I didn’t care, I was on the Isle of Man, I was riding a motorcycle pretty fast, passing milestones and landmarks that I had only before seen a thousand times on TV, and it was glorious. It will stay with me for a long time. Hell, I think I might go again next year, care to join me?

IOM Scene
Isle of Man

If you want the chance to enjoy riding the Isle of Man then get the low down from Dave Milligan as to the ins and outs of how you can go about it. The old bugger can seem a bit ornery at first but once you get to know him he has a heart of gold.  Get Routed have been taking people to the TT for over 20 years. Dave is a font of knowledge and if he can’t help you, he will no doubt put you on to someone who can. Give him a bell on 03 5625 9080 to find out more. 

Source: MCNews.com.au