What to Bring
You’ll need a quality set of wheels to get around safely, so make sure your motorcycle is ready for the trip at hand. Whether you ride to Switzerland on your own bike, plan on renting or shipping your bike overseas, spend some time checking the various components or ask a professional to give it a tune-up. Switzerland is known as one of the highest countries in the world with an average elevation of 1,350 meters (4,429 feet) above sea level, so you’ll need to keep the brakes engaged when going downhill to decrease your speed. Some cities and roads are paved with cobblestone, which means more turbulence. Check the tire pressure as well and keep a portable pump in your pack to keep the PSI in the ideal range.
Rent or buy all the necessary riding safety gear, including a full-face helmet, gloves, boots and long sleeve shirts and long pants. Turn your helmet into a wireless headset with a motorcycle helmet Bluetooth kit to talk to your companions or passenger hands-free when riding. Mount your phone or GPS on the handlebars to keep them in your line of sight so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
Use the Cardo Packtalk Edge if you plan on traveling in a group of two riders or more. The device lets you connect to up to 15 riders at a time and uses dynamic mesh communication to keep you connected even when you fall out of formation. It will automatically reconnect when in range to keep you focused on the task at hand.
The best time of year to motorcycle through Switzerland is spring, summer and fall. Temperatures can drop precipitously the higher you go, so bring warm, insulating layers that you can take on and off as needed.
Where to Go
The country is full of beautiful landmarks and terrain to explore, including rural areas teeming with natural wonders and major cities like Zurich and Geneva. These routes are among the most notable drives in all of Europe, so take this opportunity to put your riding skills to the test.
1. Furka Pass
Perhaps most famous for its role in the James Bond film Goldeneye, in which 007 Sean Connery gets chased down the pass in an Aston Martin DB5 by Tilly, who’s driving a Ford Mustang. That won’t happen to you unless you happen to be an international spy, but the path up or down the mountain will still give you a thrill. It sits at 2,431 meters (7,975 feet) above sea level and runs 70 kilometers along the Furka from the town of Brig to Andermatt. It also plays host to a legendary ice tunnel drilled into the Rhone Glacier with a guided walk that takes place every year in the spring. Some stretches are cobblestone, but it is otherwise paved.
2. Gotthard Pass
Known as the “King of Mountain Passes,” the Gotthard Pass zigs and zags its way between the alpine towns Hospental and Airolo. It features an elevation of 2,108 meters (6,916 feet) and once served as the only route to a hospice that once sat at the top of the summit. If you don’t feel like weaving up the pass, you can also take the more modern route, which features a 16.9-kilometer-long tunnel opened in 1980 that takes you through a section of the mountain.
Source: Chris Rinckes/Shutterstock.com
With an elevation of 2,306 meters (7,565 feet) above sea level, this cliffside road isn’t for the faint of heart, mainly because there is nothing standing between you and the abyss except a thin strip of metal. It weaves 39.9 kilometers west-east from Albula/Alvra to La Punt Chamues-ch and is completely paved. You will need to be comfortable taking sharp turns and steep inclines, but the view at the top is more than worth it.
Explore Switzerland on a Motorcycle
Ready for more adventure? Start planning your Alps motorcycle tour today!