Ride the coastline, your hotel sailing along
What happens when two adventure riders on mud-splattered dual sport bikes join a tour with the Harley-Davidson crowd? MOTOURISMO Scouts Egle and Lennart were let loose on the scenic Croatian roads to chase a group of fast chopper and sportsbike riders - and here’s what happened.
By Eglé Gerulaityté, 19.02.2022
Croatia is one of the most spectacular motorcycling destinations in Europe, and the Adriatic Coast road with its fast curves and breath-taking views is nothing short of a bike paradise. What’s more, MOTOURISMO has a motorcycle tour in Croatia with a twist so good it’s hard to believe. As riders cruise along the sun-drenched Adriatic Sea coast, a sailboat follows the tour along carrying everyone’s luggage and acting as a floating hotel and bar. In other words, it’s eight days in paradise… But here’s the kicker: riders who join this tour usually ride new, shiny machines like Harley-Davidson Pan America, Indian Roadmaster, or the BMW XR. We, on the other hand, showed up on our grime-covered, road-weary dual sports… Gulp. Would we be able to keep up with the cruiser crowd, fit in, and make friends as we tackled hundreds of miles along the Croatian Coast? There was only one way to find out.
Croatia Motorcycle Tour with a Twist
Croatia Bike Cruise concept was created by Patrick, an experienced motorcycle tour designer and guide based in Austria. For Patrick, motorcycle tours aren’t just about the riding or the scenery – it’s also about the experience. This is why Croatia Bike Cruise was born: riders join the tour on their own motorcycles, then ride along the coast enjoying the countless twisties and generous bends of the road.
In the meantime, a large sailboat, MS Morena, follows the tour from port to port and carries everyone’s luggage – in other words, there’s no tedious packing and unpacking every day – and after the ride, participants dine aboard the sailboat and sleep in the cabins.
Every now and then, the captain of the sailboat takes riders out to sea for a swim and a relaxed afternoon in the Adriatic, and if some of the pillion passengers don’t feel like riding some of the days, they can simply stay on the sailboat and lounge on the upper deck enjoying the sailing, the sunbathing, and a cocktail or two.
The Beauties and the Beasts
Rolling up to the sun-baked marina in Zadar, one of Croatia’s most beautiful seaside towns with a stunning historical centre, we spotted the MS Morena immediately – a gleaming white sailboat bobbing gently in the turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic, it was to become our home for the next few days. As we parked up next to the other riders’ bikes, we felt a tad self-conscious: we’d just completed the Dinaric Rally race, and both our bikes were covered in mud and held together by nothing but zip ties and hope. All the other motorcycles were all shiny chrome and engines so powerful we stood there in awe – how on Earth we’d ever integrate into this crowd?
Greeted by Patrick, we received our tour briefing and, after a short walk in Zadar’s Old Town, met the other tour riders for dinner. Hailing from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, these were experienced motorcyclists on a mission to have motorcycle holiday to remember: each they, they would rack up some 200-250 kilometers along the coastline, leaving all their belongings on the sailboat and enjoying the ride with no luggage and no worries about the next hotel. To make sure everyone was having fun on the tour, Patrick has divided the group into the Cappuccino and the Espresso squads: for those wanting a more relaxed, leisurely cruise, Cappuccino offered a more chilled out pace. For the more spirited riders, Espresso group kept a livelier rhythm, but both groups would link up for coffee, lunch, and the final destination each day.
Motorcycling in Croatia
Fearing our old thumpers would be no match for the powerful 1200-1300cc beasts, we stuck with the Cappuccino crew for the first day, leaning into the gentle curves and taking in the views. The roads along the Adriatic Coasts are break-your-heart-beautiful: around every bend, there’s a view of the glimmering blue sea, white sand islands shimmering in the distance, dramatic cliffs plunging into the water, and quaint little seaside towns with fishermen’s boats tied up in little marinas complete with sunny piers hosting cafes and restaurants. As we followed the Cappuccino riders, we slowly relaxed: this, after all, was a motorcycle holiday, and there was nowhere to rush, no accommodation to find, no crazy mileage to do.
But the best part was yet to come. As we rode on, we quickly realized the different motorcycles had exactly zero influence on…the riders. Regardless of what bikes everyone was riding, we were, first and foremost, just motorcyclists, and we soon began making friends. Ralph and his wife Alexandra aboard a Triumph Tiger were eager to chat, swap stories, and exchange tips on European tours they’ve done; Herbert, the owner of the blood red BMW XR, infected everyone with his boundless enthusiasm (if we had a shot every time he said “fantastic” at dinner, we’d be under the table in less than five minutes), and Bruno, the rider of that stunning Roadmaster, shared how he’d backpacked around the world solo in the eighties and how he planned to buy and overland truck and do the Alaska-Ushuaia pilgrimage on day. In other words, we were among friends – and this tour was all about the riding, the views, the sailing, and…the connection.
The days seemed to fly by as we rode on, trying our mojo with the Espresso group from time to time (Can a DR650 keep up with a BMW XR? Yes, if it’s downhill and with tailwind, and the rider of the XR is distracted by the scenery) and relaxing on the sailboat in the afternoons, frolicking in the sea and soaking up the sun. It all felt so relaxed and so dreamy we thought we’d breeze through…but what’s a motorcycle tour without a touch of adventure? On the last day of the tour, Lennart’s bike decided that enough was enough and started leaking coolant to the point of almost frying the engine. We had just twenty kilometres left to Rijeka, our final destination, but the KLR refused to move an inch. As luck would have it, Patrick was sweeping the tour in his van, and the roadside rescue mission was quick: we loaded Lennart’s stubborn pony into the van and made it to the farewell dinner just in time. Rijeka greeted us with torrential rain, but as we toasted the end of the tour with the riders, it felt like we’d just completed a mission. And we did – the Croatia Bike Cruise was a welcome contrast to our usual mayhem and madness rushing from rally races to off-road tours, fixing the bikes on the go, and doing high mileage on sketchy dirt roads.
If you’d like to go on a leisurely cruise down the Adriatic Coast, relax on a sailboat whenever you please, and enjoy those big sweepers and fast corners, here’s how to join the Croatia Bike Cruise:
Booking a Motorcycle Tour in Croatia
First things first: this tour is designed for road riders who love silky smooth tarmac, roads a la Pacific Coast Highway, plenty of fast curves, big, gentle bends, and island hopping. Croatia Bike Cruise is for you if: • You love riding paved twisties • You ride a sport, sport tourer, cruiser, or adventure sport tourer motorcycle • You appreciate good food and comfortable accommodation without the hassle of daily packing and unpacking • You ride with a pillion passenger – your passenger always has the option to stay and relax on the sailboat if they don’t feel like riding! • Your riding skills are medium to advanced • You prefer joining motorcycle tours on your own bike • You enjoy scenic views and coastal roads • You love riding with like-minded people
Croatia Bike Cruise is more of a luxurious, relaxed motorcycle holiday rather than a full-blown adventure; it’s perfect for riders who don’t have the time to research routes and plan their own accommodation and other logistic, and busy professionals who want the tour to be organized and planned with Austrian precision leaving nothing to chance and providing excellent roads, scenery, and cuisine. If you only get a couple of weeks’ vacation time per year and would like to really unplug, unwind, and relax while enjoying the motorcycling to the fullest, Croatia Bike Cruise is for you – and your significant other.
Tips When Booking Croatia Bike Cruise:
• Book early! This is a unique tour, so it tends to sell out quickly. • Pack only the bare essentials – you won’t need much, and all your luggage will be safely stored away on the sailboat when you ride • Pack sunscreen – even in September, the Adriatic Coast is hot and sunny • Don’t worry about cruising speeds: there is the Cappuccino and the Espresso group to choose from, and you can alternate between the two depending on how you feel
Check out the Croatia Bike Cruise tour description and reserve your spot – here...