European Motorcycle Tours

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Tours
in Europe and the USA

The Worlds 20 Best Motorcycle Roads......

These are our favourite motorcycle roads, anywhere in the world.

There are many reasons why a road might be considered as being very good for motorcycling.  It may be because it is twisty, fast, scenic, or with great places to see along its route.  Some roads are famous and well less well known.  Some are found by accident, but however you came across your favourite roads, they are likely to remain in your memory for a long time.

Okay, there is a caveat to our list.  We have only included roads that we have actually ridden.  We don’t believe any list of the best roads can be right unless the people preparing that list has actually ridden them.  Yes, we know there are other great roads out there, but unless you have actually ridden them, how can you really be sure they are great?

So, here are ours.  The lower the number, the better the road……

20. Highway 6, New Zealand

20. Highway 6, New Zealand

The west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is pretty special.  The best part of Highway 6 begins in the adventure city of Queenstown and heads north towards the coast which it reaches after riding through Mount Aspiring National Park. You get your first glimpse of the sea here but make the most of it as even though the road largely follows the coast, a large proportion of the road is actually inland.  As you travel north you see very few cars, but lots of dramatic landscapes including Mount Tasman and Mount Cook with their stunning glaciers. It is also worthwhile stopping to look at Pancake Rocks before the best part of the road ends near Charleston.

19. St Gotthard Pass, Switzerland

19. St Gotthard Pass, Switzerland

There are many parts to St Gotthard Pass, but our favourite is the old road, called Tremola, to the south of Lago della Piazza.  This is a twisting, cobbled road that snakes its way northwards, up through a series of tight hairpin bends to the lake at the top of the road.  Due to its rough and bumpy surface the road has to be ridden slowly, but the excitement level is high.  The best view of the road is from the adjacent highway 2 which runs to the west of the old road.  If the old Tremola road wasn’t made of cobbles, it would come higher in our list.

18. Col Du Tourmalet, France

18. Col Du Tourmalet, France

There are many great riding roads in the Pyrenees Mountains which straddle the border between France and Spain. The Col du Tourmalet is the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees and also one of the best.  Closed in Winter, the road rises to 2,115 m (6,939 ft) which is not especially high, but the region has a lot of snow which closes these remote mountain roads.  The Col du Tourmalet has been included more than any other pass in the Tour de France.  For motorcycle riders, it is a must if you are riding in the Pyrenees.

17. Needles Highway, USA

17. Needles Highway, USA

South Dakota Highway 87 is a road running through the Black Hills in South Dakota.  The highway runs through the Custer State Park and it is the northern 14 miles of the road that are known as the Needles Highway.  The ‘needles’ are jagged spire shaped rocks that rise out of the wooded hills.  The road is best ridden on a weekday, well away from the August Sturgis Rally which is held nearby and draws hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists.  The road twists and turns through the hills and makes for challenging riding.  The northern end of the road is at its junction with US 385, about 3 miles south of Hill City.  The road has several dramatic tunnels cut through the rocks, including one part that is narrow and often photographed.

16. Splugen Pass, Switzerland / Italy border

16. Splugen Pass, Switzerland / Italy border

Splugen Pass is rather odd as it takes many forms.  The road starts just inside the south-eastern part of  Switzerland and heads south.  The first part is a series of ten hairpin bends strung out over what is no more than a very large field. Reach the top and the view back down is pretty cool.  The road, now called the SS36, then enters Italy and becomes narrow and twisty as it heads through tunnels, past lakes and you navigate some very tight hairpin bends. The views are spectacular, as are some of the roadside restaurants where you can stop and takes shade from the summer heat and feast on local specialties.  The best part of the road ends at Chiavenna.

15. Moki Dugway, USA

15. Moki Dugway, USA

This amazing gravel road was constructed in 1958 as a mining road. It rises 1,100 feet / 335 metres in just 3 miles / 5kms. As the road begins to rise, good solid tarmac tuns to compacted gravel and extreme caution is needed as it would not be advisible to brake sharply, especially if riding down the hill.  With its hairpin bends (some of which have now been paved), it’s steep drop-offs and no guard rail, you have to have your wits about you when riding this road.  Be careful and you will be fine!  It is certainly a very exciting road, with spectacular views but from part way up and from the top.  The road has the advantage of also being close to other wonderful places to ride in this part of Utah / Arizona.

14. Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, Morocco

14. Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, Morocco

There are plenty of roads in Morocco that are excellent to ride, especially those in the High Atlas Mountains.  One of these is the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass, situated to the south west of Marrakech.  This is shown on maps as a ‘difficult or dangerous section of road’, but it really isn’t. Narrow and with gravel or sand covering the road in places, the road twists and turns through some glorious mountain scenery.  The Tizi-n-Test Pass and the road in Dades Gorge are also good to ride.  Photo courtesy of Abdel Charaf.

13. Pacific Coast Highway, USA

13. Pacific Coast Highway, USA

While not a great riding road, Highway 1 is full of character and it feels like a part of history.  The road runs along the west coast of America, through the states of Washington, Oregon and California, although the best part of the road is starting in San Francisco, heading south and takes in Big Sur, Bixby Bridge (pictured), Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Malibu and the Ventura Highway before reaching Las Angeles.  These are well-known names guaranteed to give you about 350 miles of great memories!

12. B500, Germany

12. B500, Germany

Running through the Black Forest in a north-south direction, the B500 is a stunning road for riding motorcycles.  It doesn’t have many great views, but the sheer excitement of the road more than makes up for that.  The road was intended as a tourist route when it was conceived in the 1930’s, but it was never completed and today there are two sections of the road, with the centre piece still missing.  The northern part runs from Baden-Baden to Freudenstadt and has a length of about 29 miles and the southern part is between Triberg and Waldshut, a length of 56 miles.  The road is fast in places, with long sweeping bends and an absolute joy to ride on a motorcycle.

11. San Bernardino Pass, Switerland

11. San Bernardino Pass, Switerland

Located in southern Switzerland, the San Bernardino Pass is a stunning road. It should not be confused with the Great or Little St Bernard Passes which are elsewhere.  There are in fact two roads that are close together – the new road 13 with its San Bernardino tunnel, and the old San Bernardino Pass road.  It is the old road that bikers want to ride.  The road starts in Arbedo-Castion and heads north, becoming much more interesting just beyond Soazza where the road climbs steeply and more twisty.  There are a lake and a cafe at the summit of the pass before the northern part of the road heads steeply downhill, with a long series of 23 hairpin bends.

10. Sella Ring, Italy

10. Sella Ring, Italy

The Sella group is a plateau-shaped rock massif in the Dolomites Mountains of northern Italy. There are four roads surrounding this rock formation that are a joy to ride.  Starting at Canazei and working clockwise, the four roads are the SS48 / SS242, which includes Sella Pass, the SS243, which includes Gardena Pass, the SS244, which includes Campolongo Pass and the SS48, which includes Pordoi Pass.  The road is fantastic, the bends amazing and the scenery magnificent.  What a series of roads!

9. Grossglockner Pass, Austria

9. Grossglockner Pass, Austria

This is a stunning road set amongst very dramatic scenery.  Grossglockner Pass is a toll road that rises up to 8,215 ft in the Alps.  Near the top of the pass is a spur road up to the Edelweisspitze viewpoint.  The road to the viewpoint has tight hairpin bends and part cobbled, but it is worth the ride up as the view from the top is one of the best in the Alps.  Another spur road takes riders to the longest glacier in the eastern Alps, the Pasterze.  Grossglockner Pass is closed in winter.

8. Million Dollar Highway, USA

8. Million Dollar Highway, USA

Otherwise known as US 550, the best part of this road runs from Durango to Ouray.  A diversion into Silverton is also worthwhile.  There are a number of theories why this road may have obtained its unusual name, with two of the most popular being how much it cost to build and how much silver was contained within the rocks used under the road.  As you leave Durango and head north the road gets more and more spectacular.  The first part of the road has terrific scenery, the next part as it approaches Silverton sweeps around wonderfully long bends and the northern part, nearer to Ouray, is dramatic as the road is carved into the side of a mountain with no guard rail to protect wayward riders.

7. Combe Laval, France

7. Combe Laval, France

Built as part of the local logging industry between 1861 and 1898, the road at Combe Laval is stunning.  The most spectacular section of the road is cut into the cliff that forms one side of a deep canyon and runs through a series of short tunnels cut into the rock.  The drop to the side of the road is sheer and it is a very long way down, so this road is not for those afraid of heights.  The rest of us though have a great time on this very exciting road.  The most dramatic section is the D76 to the southeast of Saint-Jean-En-Royans as far as Chamaloc.

6. Beartooth Pass, USA

6. Beartooth Pass, USA

On the Wyoming / Montana border, this is US Highway 212 which runs 69 miles between Red Lodge in Wyoming and Cooke City in Montana. Rising up to 10,947 feet / 3,337 metres, the road climbs and falls quickly. Even though we rode the Beartooth Pass in August, it was cold and very windy on the top of the mountains, with a dramatic wind-chill factor.  Occasionally you hear people say they are “feeling on top of the world.” On Beartooth Pass, you really do feel that way, as the view looking down on other mountains is amazing.  The road is good with long fast bends.  To make our top twenty, each road needs to have the ‘wow’ factor and Beartooth Pass certainly has that.

5. Andermatt Ring, Switzerland

5. Andermatt Ring, Switzerland

The Andermatt ring is made up from four separate roads: Furka, Grimsel, Susten and St Gotthard Passes which connect to form a 75 mile loop road high up in the Swiss Alps.  Running west out of Andermatt is road 19 which features both the Rhone Glacier and Furka Pass [7,969 ft].  Just beyond Furka you turn northward on road 6 and immediately ride up Grimsel Pass [7,100 ft].  At Innertkirchen, turn eastward on road 11 and ride Susten Pass [7,427 ft], before turning south on road 2 back on the Old St Gotthard Pass to Andermatt.  Three of these are some of the best pass roads in the Alps and feature some wonderful views and terrific riding.

4. Route 89 / 89A, USA

4. Route 89 / 89A, USA

Route 89 / 89A starts in Congress, Arizona and heads north-east to Flagstaff.  It carries on further north, but the best parts are before you get to Flagstaff.  The road is just what bikers like – it’s twisty, it changes elevation often, has a good road surface and is very scenic. Heading north, as soon as you leave Congress and ride up Yarnell Hill the road will put a smile on your face. The road before Prescott is wonderful, as is the stretch before you arrive at Jerome.  Reach Sedona and you are presented with wonderful rock formations and the road further twists and turns as it nears Flagstaff. One not to be missed!

3. Stelvio Pass, Italy

3. Stelvio Pass, Italy

What list of the world’s best roads would be complete without Stelvio Pass?  It is dramatic, stunning and with 75 hairpins bends, somewhat challenging.  Split into two ramps, the west side of the pass road is wider, with easy hairpins and less steep.  The east side is more difficult with tighter bends on a significantly narrower road.  The second highest paved road in the Alps, Stelvio is closed by significant snowfall every winter.  Sometime the road doesn’t re-open until May or even June, so check if it is open before you set out.  The road has become very busy in recent years and the best time to ride it is early morning on a weekday.

2. D8 Coast Road, Croatia

2. D8 Coast Road, Croatia

This is a pure riders road, with no frills, but plenty of thrills.  It follows the Adriatic coast for 130 miles of wonderfully twisty enjoyment.  The road rises and falls as it hugs the coast with the beautiful turquoise colour of the sea being a constant companion at your side.  The best part of the road is from Rijeka to Rovanjska, although there are very few good places to stay or good restaurants to eat at, so take your chance when you see somewhere.  The weather is normally very good too.  What’s not to like?

1. Gavia Pass, Italy

1. Gavia Pass, Italy

Almost everyone has heard of Stelvio Pass in Italy, but very few know about, or have ridden Gavia Pass, which is very near to Stelvio.  Also known as the SS300, Gavia Pass runs south from Bormio to Ponte di Legno for about 26 miles and has just about everything a biker can ask for in a road.  It is high at 8,701 feet, it has some fast sweeping bends as well as some tight hairpins.  It has a glacier and magnificent views.  It has a narrow, tight section as well as a few long straights.  But the best reason we rank it as number 1 is it has very little traffic as most riders / drivers are drawn towards nearby Stelvio Pass, leaving Gavia relatively quiet.  Although the road surface is not great, it is one of the most exciting roads we have ridden that continues to put a smile on our faces every time we ride it.  It is our favourite road.

Other roads that nearly made this list…

Pikes Peak, USA.

N-621 / C-I 627, Picos de Europa, Spain.

Verdun Gorge, France.

US 163, through Monument Valley, USA.

Triglavski Narodni Park, Slovenia.

Various roads in Cuba.

Garden of the Gods, USA.