tips

Advice

Touring

Petrol: Petrol is available at Petrol Stations (stating the obvious) such as Shell and BP but also available at larger supermarkets such as Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Generally the larger supermarkets sell petrol slightly cheaper than the Petrol Stations. Virtually every fuel point will have 95 octane unleaded (green hose/trigger) and some will have 98 octane or similar. Petrol is priced in litres and the +95 octane petrol is normally a few pennies more expensive. F.Y.I. there are 3.8 litres in a US Gallon and 4.5 litres in a UK gallon.

Beware, there are fewer petrol stations the further one goes from the more populated areas. Fuel gets more expensive the further one goes from the larger towns and cities and the further one travels from the central belt of Scotland. There is only one refinery serving all of Scotland so the further you are from Grangemouth the more expensive it is for fuel to be delivered to the petrol station, so the more expensive it will be to you… the customer. Additionally some of the rural petrol stations might not remain open in the late evening and 24hrs fuel is really only available in the large towns / cities. Some supermarkets provide a 24/7 fuel service through automated petrol pumps which accept credit cards. The most popular method for paying for fuel is via a credit card (Visa & Mastercard are the most popular). If you have a credit card which is not the usual Visa/Mastercard, please check with the petrol station before attempting to fill. In the far north of Scotland a solitary petrol pump can be found in some very small villages. Expect fuel at these outlets to be quite a bit more expensive (but they are a bonus if you have miscalculated time and distance and are about to run on air). Some of these very rural pumps may be beside the village shop or post office and might only accept cash.

Currently fuel prices (taking into account exchange rates) are far higher than in the USA and on a par with the more expensive countries in mainland Europe. The Euro/GB Pound rate does favour the visitor from mainland Europe. You can see the Automobile Association’s fuel price reports here.

Tyres: Your bike will have been checked over before you take it out on hire. However you should check the tread for abnormal wear if you have your machine out on hire for a long period and are covering a high mileage. Some machines are equipped with built-in tyre (tire for those from the USA) pressure monitors but most petrol stations have air hoses… but not all of these have accurate gauges! The legal minimum tread depth is 1mm around the whole tyre, but I suggest you should not be happy with less than 2mm.

Roads: Scotland has relatively few miles of motorway and no motorway north of Perth. Having said this, unless one needs to get quickly from one city to another, the motorways are probably best avoided by most touring by motorcycle. There are some very good dual carriageways but even the main routes north, A-9 and A-90 have sections of single carriageway. You should be prepared to use single track roads, some of which have a superb new road surface, whilst others can be badly worn. Have a look here for some examples of the single track road and the signage you might encounter. The joy of touring by bike is you can generally stop by the roadside to take a few photographs and not hold up the traffic… even on the single track roads – but be careful and use your common sense.

Tolls: A few years ago the Scottish Government abolished the tolls on the main bridges. There are now, no toll bridges and no toll roads, in Scotland.

Ferries: There are some ferry links to the main Scottish Islands and the main company providing these services in the north and west is Caledonian MacBrayne, often referred to as ‘CalMac’. Some ferries run like a shuttle whilst others might only have a few sailings per day… so plan ahead and remember whilst these services are accustomed to handling less than favourable sailing weather, under extreme conditions, ferries will be canceled, so perhaps relying on a ferry the day before you are due to return the machine to us, is not the best plan.

Public Transport: Traveline Scotland is a great website which provides information on all public transport services in Scotland.