Early April was the date for this years trip to Ireland – this time with just one bike, one rider and one pillion (Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein… er well, perhaps not). We took the mighty ZZR1400 and had two fantastic weeks, covering 1100 miles on Ireland’s mad, beautiful and almost empty roads. We also took along several bits of new kit to review…

Have luggage, can travel...

Have luggage, can travel…

The sun shone, the sky was (mostly) blue and the Guinness was cool and dark. The bike didn’t miss a beat, locals were simply great, and we had generally good experiences with the gear we took along to test.

A Ghost HD camera came along for the ride, so we’ll be publishing videos as well as reviews of the gear alongside reports on what to see and where to stay. Ireland is truly one of the best biking destinations in the world, a largely undiscovered gem, and the South West is simply stunning. Catch a flavour here then book your ticket for the ferry. You won’t be sorry.

INTERACTIVE TOUR MAP. Enlarge/ Navigate on map to see more detail. Click on icons for description, links, images and video.
Map shows basic route to and from ferry at Rosslare and main base at Killarney ( east -west blue / purple route). Other coloured routes are day trips out from the main base.
This map is taken from our 2013 tour – we’ll be updating in due course with this year’s rides, but for now its here for general reference

The Plan

The plan for this year’s tour was to stick to the South West of Ireland, staying at our usual base, the Killarney Plaza Hotel in Killarney, but with a pre-ferry stop (either end) at Kilcannon House in Dungarvan. It was an ace trip – stunningly good weather, friendly locals and fabulous riding in some of the maddest roads, though some of the wildest scenery anywhere in the world. The South West of Ireland really should be on everyone’s bucket list – its amazing.

What made 2014 different however was that we took a few items along for an in depth, on-the-road review; The Dynastar Evo Jacket, the Weise budget rainsuit, Black Rain gloves, Psycho trousers, TCX’s Track Evo boots and Shark’s Evoline flip-front helmet among them. Links to these reviews can be found down the edge of this article. We’ll be adding the links as the articles are published – a couple a week over the next few weeks.

We also took a Ghost HD camera, and some of the footage from our travels can be found in the video gallery at the bottom of this page.

Preparation

This was always going to be the biggest trip of the year, so we started preparation in November 2013. The ZZR we’d ridden there in 2013 had been a great bike so we began with a list of modifications. Unable to afford to pay a mechanic Dave also had to learn how to wield a hex key and spanner himself. The mods / service items we did included;

•Spark plug change
•Oil and filter change
•Air filter change
•Upgraded battery
•Scottoiler
•Yoke / handlebar conversion
•Heated grips
•Upgraded suspension
•New screen
•Gel seat
•GIVI E55 Maxia with Admore Lighting

Further info and videos regarding these can be found on our ZZR Project Page, (click on image below).

We gave the bike a good deal of preparation

We gave the bike a good deal of preparation

Our previous article ‘Three Bikes in Three Summers’ describes what you need in terms of paperwork to visit Ireland; among these you’d be wise to include a breakdown recovery service given the remote nature of some of the riding, your licence, MOT, Reg. Document or receipt for the bike are also advisable although we’ve never been asked to produce any of these.

Police presence in much of the South West is focused on the main centers like Killarney and cameras and patrols are few. Remember that the speed limits are displayed in km/h – the limit outside of towns normally being ‘100’ – funny how we forgot this was not MPH – and on numerous occasions too …

Pre-historic huts (3,000 BC) are currently being excavated on Slea Head

Pre-historic huts (3,000 BC) are currently being excavated on Slea Head

This year’s rides

We found 5 Ace new rides
•Gap of Dunloe (As you face Molls gap cafe, turn right on N568, then first right. This will take you all the way back to Killarney.

•Tralee to Inch (N86) (head to Tralee and then ride over the mountains to the huge beach at Inch)

•Dingle and Slea Head (Go to Dingle and then add this extra bit. R 549 / R559).

•Bunane Pass (N 71 heading south from Kenmare )

•The Mad, Bad Beara Way R571/ R572). Pick it up at Kenmare

Rather than describe these though, we are adding video so you can see for yourself (see Video Gallery below). If you’d like directions, just drop us an e mail via the contact tab.

Views are awesome

Views are awesome

Things to do

There’s lots to do in Ireland ‘off-moto’. A few ideas are as follows;

Jarvey Carts

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Tired of 150 horse power? Find out what it’s like with just one.

Shopping

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We don’t pack many clothes. Loads of cheap stuff in Killarney.

Food and Drink!

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Food and drink is pretty good in Ireland. Especially good is the beef and the salmon.

Don't worry, you can hire wetsuits and boards by the hour. This is Inch beach and there's a cafe and surf shop right on the sand.

Don’t worry, you can hire wetsuits and boards by the hour. This is Inch beach and there’s a cafe and surf shop right on the sand.

Killarney is a tourist town, but has many restaurants, bars and shops. Its central location makes it a good base for the entire South West.

Killarney is a tourist town, but has many restaurants, bars and shops. Its central location makes it a good base for the entire South West.

Things to do

The riding is fantastic, but its worth taking the time to have a day or two off the bike as there is loads to see and do. The coastline (and hence fishing, boating and empty sandy beaches are key elements of Cork and Kerry tourism). But the food is pretty good, shopping for cloths can grab a bargain and there are traditional tourist attractions aplenty. Killarney makes a good base for the whole region, although it is touristy.

Lead Soldier Factory

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Childish fun casting your own model soldiers in metal. Just don’t tell the missus.

Boat Trips

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Boat trips and a whole load of outdoor activities from these guys at Kenmare

Sea Fishing

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Great fishing trips from these guys at Dingle. You can cook your fish afterwards!

The country is sparsely populated and unspoilt

The country is sparsely populated and unspoilt

Ireland 2014: trip stats

Here’s this year in summary
Total Mileage 1108
Fuel Consumption 42 mpg
Oil Consumption nil
Best Road Bunane Pass
Suspension Setting Max pre-load!
Max luggage load 55kg
Best breakfast Kilcannon House (whiskey porridge..hmm)
Best product on test Shark Evoline helmet
April Day temp 14C / 60F
Rainy Days 2 / 14

Inch Strand. A fabulous bit of sand smashed by crashing Atlantic rollers

Inch Strand. A fabulous bit of sand smashed by crashing Atlantic rollers

Ireland 2014: cost stats

Unleaded Fuel 1.53 / litre (Euros)
Meal for 2 40-80 (Euros – no wine)
4 star Hotel 110 (Euros – with spa and pool)
B and B 80 (Farmhouse)
Pint of Guinness 4 (Euros)
Michelin PR3 rear 190 (GBP, fitted)

The Bunane Pass is fab - sweeping curves and spectacular views

The Bunane Pass is fab – sweeping curves and spectacular views

Clean Up

The first thing we did on returning was to give the faithful bike a well deserved clean. We’d used the jet wash at Doyle’s in Killarney to keep the bike reasonably tidy, but, even though the weather has been good, we’d managed to pick up a grungy crust of dust, bugs and road crud. We used Muc-Off’s three stage clean; Nano-Tech Cleaner / Jet wash (set to low power), Bike Spray and Speed Polish. The results were superb. Welcome home, Bike.

Dark glasses now required for viewing bike in sunshine. Job done!

Dark glasses now required for viewing bike in sunshine. Job done!

Conclusion

South West Ireland should be on everyone’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ list. Almost empty roads, more bends than you’d think possible, fine food and cool, dark Guinness. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, throw in bike-friendly locals, some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and an amazingly rugged coastline.

Riding can be challenging (allow much more time than the distance alone suggests) and the climate is proverbially variable, but for a full-on riding (and great off-bike holiday experience) Ireland is hard to beat.