Vespa GTS touring – VWD St Tropez | Rallery
Due to a never-ending yearning for freedom and adventure I will be loading the Vespa up later today and heading south tomorrow. Sticky (and his little helpers) will be looking after SLUK for the next couple of weeks whilst I’m off on a road trip. I don’t want to big it up too much because the long one is a bit tetchy about having to look after the place whilst I’m away riding those beautiful roads, traversing mountains and cooling off in deep blue waters.
If you read my Croatia piece from last year’s event you’ll understand why a scooter tour is more than ‘just another’ holiday. Lying on a hot beach is ok for a day or two but getting out there and seeing new places, staying in a different town almost every night, camping with a few mates in different countries after a hard day on the road. Cool beers washing away the heat of the day…
Vespa World Days St Tropez
Anyway, just to fill you in on the trip, this year we’ll be riding down to Portsmouth to catch the 24-hour ferry to Santander. This is a good move for two reasons, firstly it gives us six days to ride in Spain before heading to the South of France for VWD the following weekend. Secondly, and more importantly, it means we have a good chance of dodging the French fuel/ferry/airport strikes and blockades that have crippled the country this week. Many of the 200 or so other British scooter riders who are going aren’t so lucky though, they’ve opted for the ride through France on the way down. Hopefully the petrol situation will ease but as I write this quite a few ferry crossings have been cancelled and if you have a look at the map below every orange marker is a fuel station without fuel, it covers the whole of France. Scary when you’re on a scooter that can only cover 70-100 miles to a tank and you’ve got 600 or so miles to ride through it, one way.
The loose itinerary
After a weekend at Vespa World Days we’ve got a week riding in France, camping here and there (nothing booked or planned) before heading to Bordeaux for Paddy Smith’s Sun Run, an intimate rally in a small village. After Paddy’s we’ve got two days to ride the 600-miles home through France, via Le-Havre (if the petrol and ferry strike is over).
Having done the Croatia trip last year most of our preparation and kit was already sorted, I didn’t even have a GTS when we decided to go last time so had to buy one before the trip. To prepare the scooter for this year’s 2,000-mile journey it’s had a full service, plus new belt and rollers. The rest of the modifications were done last year but were as follows…
- Front and rear racks fitted
- Clear vinyl to panels, glovebox door, front seam to protect paintwork – especially from panniers
- Mirrors with indicators fitted (front indicators are obscured by luggage)
- 12v charge point added
- Datatool Trakking
- TomTom Rider 400 sat nav
On a GTS you don’t really need too many spares and space is very tight when you’re riding two up with camping gear and enough luggage for 17 days, but here are some sensible precautions a GTS rider should take – in order of importance.
- Exhaust gasket (I’ve got a Scorpion so don’t need the gasket) – it’s the one thing likely to go on a standard exhaust though
- Also spare standard exhaust manifold, they can snap
- Springs for my Scorpion
- Spare bolts, just in case
- Tubeless tyre repair kit – can save you being stranded
- Spare drive belt – might just get you or a mate home
- Spare rollers – worth changing if you have to go in the transmission
- Brake lever – accidentally drop the scooter and you might just need one
- Oil to top the scooter up if need be
- Spark plug – I’ve never needed one between services on a GTS but you never know
- Tie wraps – always handy for bodging things like a snapped rack
- Jubilee clips – can be used to bodge a snapped exhaust, or rack
- Extra bungees
- A strip of Gaffa tape stuck inside the toolbox
- Stanley knife blade, also taped inside the toolbox
- 12v USB adaptor
When travelling abroad there are a few legal things you’re meant to do, items you need to carry, etc. To be honest I’m a little bit lax on that kind of thing but as soon as I get an on the spot fine I’ll start taking more care.
It’s always worth checking for the latest information about the countries you’re riding through, things change, hearsay and planned changes get mixed up down the pub and you can end up taking unnecessary items, like a breathalyser or didgeridoo.
Items needed for riding through France
- High-viz vest – although not compulsory to wear it whilst riding, you do have to wear one if you break down in France
- First aid kit – sensible and a requirement
- GB sticker (I use an EU number plate instead)
- Documents – V5, insurance certificate, licence
- Spare bulbs – I’ve got bulbs with me but they aren’t the ones for my scooter…
- Reflective helmet stickers – it’s a grey area (well reflective silver to be precise) but if you’re a foreigner you’re exempt (I won’t be bothering)
Aufweidershein as they say in France…