Heaven for hire!

If you’re worried about investing in a new adventure bike and can’t quite decide which one, make sure you really try before you buy – go and play in the Alps with them all. Just £250 for 3 nights hotel and 2 days hire.

Motorcyclists have various ideas of what constitutes a heavenly experience, but for many, the Alps figure in there somewhere. Stunning scenery, generally reliable summer weather and gloriously sinuous roads with perfect tarmac can all come together to create a truly memorable experience. The only thing that could perhaps make it any better would be if the bike you were riding was the latest model of adventure bike. So if you are thinking of making a big purchase, where in the world would be a better place to try one before you buy it? Spending a day and about 400 Alpine kilometres with a machine, certainly beats a 30 minute ride around your local town.

Well there is a facility in Austria with the keys for around 40 brand new models and from just 70 Euros, depending on machine, you can pick a set!

The High-Bike Test Centre in Ischgl has just entered its third year and is, perhaps not surprisingly, proving to be very popular. Its situation in the Austrian Tyrol means that you can, as I did, imagine yourself in a Bond movie and have breakfast in Austria, lunch in Italy, and an evening meal in Switzerland. And all the time you can pretend that the KTM 1190 Adventure parked outside the restaurant is yours…

You put it off and on the stand and manhandle it in every scenario. Put fuel in it. Conquer a couple of high passes on it, or just sit and stare, imagining how you’re going to pay for it.

When you’re deliberating about the purchase later, over a few beers in one of the many cosy bars back in Ischgl, you can always accept that it may be too expensive, so the next day you can just try something else. What about BMW’s F800GS Adventure through Austria, Germany and Lichtenstein? And if you fancy seeing what the factory luggage is like to live with too, that’s no problem, it’s also available for some models.

The High-Bike centre even provides Rukka clothing, Schuberth helmets and Daytona boots if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about and want to try out some expensive gear.

If you’ve ridden over to the Tyrol on your own bike and want to do a direct comparison with a new machine, you will of course have all your own clothing with you. But if you just want to fly in to Innsbruck after work on Friday evening, everything can be laid on; gloves, boots, the lot. Florian will check you have a valid licence, make sure all the equipment fits and give you a whole selection of route maps. Then he just smiles and you’re on your own. He always seems to smile, but then, for the 4 summer months that the High-Bike centre is open – June to September – he is surrounded with every imaginable piece of European motorcycling machinery.

It really is the case that you can try a KTM 690 one day and a 1200 Skyhook Multistrada, or new Aprilia Caponord the next, but they also cater for riders who fancy sampling a Panigale, K1300R or even a Triumph Scrambler.

They started with four manufacturers; KTM, Ducati, BMW and Triumph, but now include Aprilia, so maybe even the Moto Guzzi Stelvio will be available soon. It would be nice if it was, as the 2,757m Stelvio Pass it’s named after is easily part of a day’s ride from Ischgl. It’s just one of 30 passes within easy reach, but don’t worry, they don’t usually have snow mid summer!

And if you aren’t just visiting to have the time of your life, riding over 300kms in a day means you can get to see just how economical your prospective purchase may be, according to your real-world riding style. It really is the most comprehensive test ride you could imagine, from 8am to 7pm.

Accommodation in the town of Ischgl and surrounding valley is plentiful and varies in price, as it is a ski resort for the rest of the year, but staying in the town gets you a visitor card which provides discounts on loads of other things, not just bike hire.

It is hard to think of a better way to spend a weekend.

Because we like it so much and are convinced you should never make a snap decision on a bike you will be living with every day, we’ve set up a special Overland package for readers.  Working with Zenith Holidays who have been operating in the Austrian Tyrol since 2009, we can arrange as much or as little as you want. For 2 day’s of bike hire and 3 nights B&B from only £250, Click here.

Or just ride over there yourself and say “Hello. I’d like that one please!”  highbike-paznaun.com