There are a number of motorcycle touring companies operating in Europe, running organized tours complete with motorcycles, luggage vans and tour guides. One of the largest and oldest of these just celebrated their 25th year of continuous operation. Another, much smaller, and not so well known company, Knopf Tours, located in Heidelberg (about 45 miles from Frankfurt International Airport), Germany, just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Knopf specializes in serving the do-it-yourself crowd.
Knopf Tours (http://www.knopftours.com or email: Knopftours@aol.com) is a small operation with just one "touring center" operated by Stefan Knopf (MOA Lifetime Member No. 32264). Often, first-time customers will usually rent their motorcycle from Knopf, taking a local, one-day guided or self-guided tour before launching off on their own, sometimes for weeks at a time. Experienced motorcyclists, but infrequent travelers to Europe, will also rent from Knopf. And because folks usually arrive jet-lagged, Knopf provides bed and breakfast accommodations, which comes in handy at the end of a trip, too. Plus Knopf can provide pick-up from and drop-off at the Frankfurt Airport.
Knopf Tours also handles the shipping of customers' own bikes over from the U.S. These are typically experienced travelers who have an extra bike they'll keep in Europe at Knopf's, at the ready for several rides a year. In addition to shipping and storing bikes in his 30,000 square-foot facility, Knopf also provides a small, but well-equipped area for customers to do their own maintenance and minor repairs, as well for washing their bikes. And if a customer needs more services, Knopf can arrange for this, too.
After September 11th, 2001, shipping bikes to and from Europe has become a little nightmarish. Interested parties now include Homeland Security, the FBI, unnamed government agencies, as well as Customs. Knopf knows how to get this done, and it's more efficient to do this with many bikes than with one at a time.
Knopf ships a container each year (by sea) in Feb/Mar, full of customer bikes from Orlando, Florida, handling all the paperwork and logistics. He'll also ship another container from other cities when there's demand. Likewise, a container is shippied from Germany to Orlando each year in November, with somewhat fewer bikes. That's because, more often than not, customers choose to leave their bikes in storage with Knopf in anticipation of the next year's rides.
In addition to handling the shipping and storage of your bike there are things Knopf offers that conventional touring companies don't need to or wouldn't want to do. Such as a roadside assistance policy that covers you from Morocco to Moscow, health insurance, and Green Card liability insurance. Then there is the free cell phone (he'll give you the phone number in advance of your trip) so you can stay in touch with folks at home as well as Knopf. Plus there's the little benefits you would never think of, such as how U.S. license plates are as good as stealth again photo radar.
Stefan Knopf says that 65% of his customers are repeat business, which explains why he forms personal bonds with many of them, who in turn trust Stefan with their pride and joy, their motorcycles.