The old lady, built in 1954, does not have an electric starter. "The first time I was allowed to start the motorbike was the greatest feeling ever. Even now I still find it fantastic to kick-start her - there is so much passion in it." Maxi has been driving her motorbike and sidecar for eight years now, and is in no doubt: "Hessen is simply the best German state for motorbikes." Its many and varied routes with forests and exciting bends, beautiful towns and lonely paths constantly present new challenges to the 29-year-old and her love. She loves to take the side roads through the Taunus hills, with their enchanting bends, to the little Weil river, before continuing through Dombach, Waldems and Wüstems to the Großer Feldberg mountain - a tour she does whenever she can.
Emma's sidecar does not have an engine of its own, so Maxi has to push back when braking and remember not to lean in to the curves. No problem, given that she used to sit in the sidecar herself as a small child. After all, the set-up has been in the family for more than 30 years. "I had to practise driving the set-up with my dad before he let me take it on myself," laughs the fiery red-head. All the practice paid off, and since then she has spent around 80 percent of her free time on, around or under her bike. "We are one. You have to sense the exact sweet spot in order to steer the motorbike in bends."
If you ask Maxi what her favourite route is, the passionate biker has to think for a moment. "I don't ride to get somewhere, but for the ride itself. The journey is the destination. I choose routes with the best features for biking - not much traffic, unknown routes. I like to ride along rivers and ideally stop to dip my toes in the water." But she does end up naming her favourite route: from Frankfurt to the Weiltal valley and on to Runkel - home to an ice cream shop that is very well known among bikers. She is sure to bump into someone she knows there.
And once she has stopped, she might as well enjoy an ice cream before getting back on the bike and returning via Vogelburg near Weilrod. She especially likes to stop here at weekends and pay the parrots a visit - not forgetting a coffee from the kiosk at the viewing platform and a chat with other bikers. At 881 m, the mountain near Frankfurt is a popular meeting point for bikers. More than 500 can gather there on busy days. For their safety, however, the mountain is sometimes closed in May and September. "That is one of my favourite routes, as it offers everything I love about biking: countryside, forests and water. You ride along stunning bends through the Taunus hills, which are every biker's dream, and get to know other bikers. Plus you get to eat ice cream and feed parrots - what more could you possibly want?!" Maxi is so enthusiastic that you can almost hear the rattling of the engines and the squawks of the parrots in her voice.
Not far from the Taunus hills, the Spessart region also offers extraordinary routes with a breathtaking mix of landscapes and cultural highlights. There is plenty to please both the eyes and the engine here. The mysteriously dark Spessart harbours a certain sense of adventure: Its rich variety and extraordinarily winding mountain routes and valley roads make every biker's heart beat a little faster. Anyone looking for nature and a little peace and quiet will find it in the depths of the densely forested nature park - the perfect place to enjoy the winding routes undisturbed.
There is plenty to keep motorbike fans entertained in northern Hessen, too. The low mountain range is home to beautiful rolling hills, picturesque river valleys and ridges. The Knüll and Schwalm ranges offer plenty of variety, from relaxed cruising to real Alpine flavour. The Red Riding Hood country is characterised by its enchanting landscapes, historic half-timbered towns like Homberg (Efze), Neustadt and Schwalmstadt, various castles and palaces, and the Wildpark Knüll animal park. Wonderful biking routes also lead to the Vogelsberg, Rhön and Ederbergland region and to the Edersee lake, Germany's third-largest reservoir. Just a few hundred metres below its dam is the "Zündstoff Steakhaus" - hotel, restaurant, and one of Maxi's favourite stops in northern Hessen. It is also one of Germany's biggest biker meeting points. Anyone - not just bikers - is welcome to enjoy the unique flair of the little Wild West town and its nostalgic reminders of days gone by.
Hessen's Werratal valley and Eichsfeld are still considered insider tips among bikers. Bike tours along magnificent little winding country roads with wonderful views across lush meadows, green valleys, crystal-clear lakes, forests, castles, mountains, woods and water - it all makes for a unique biker experience. If you cross the Weser near Reinhardshagen and then ride back into the Meissner hills, you will travel along stunning side roads to the Mother Hulda Pond. It is a truly magical tour, and even the entrance to this pond is considered a real, unmissable treat by bikers. The "Landgasthof Hessenmühle" restaurant in Großenlüder near Fulda is a good starting point for tours to the north and south. Bikers and their bikes are made to feel right at home with covered parking facilities, a washing area and workshop.
Biker meeting point (nothern Hessen): Zündstoff
Biker meeting point & vintage café (Vogelsberg): Oldtimer-Cafe
Museum (Taunus): Central Garage Automuseum
(actually a car museum but with special motorbike exhibitions, e.g. one featuring vintage BMWs last year)
My mechanic who helps when I get suck with Emma (specialises in vintage BMWs) (Frankfurt): Ulis Motorradladen
Bad Soden-Salmünster (Main-Kinzig-district): Landhotel Betz
Bebra (Hersfeld-Rotenburg): Motorradhotel Sonnenblick
Braunfels (Lahn-Dill-Kreis): Gasthof am Turm
Edersee (Waldeck-Frankenberg): Hotel Sassor
Fulda: Gasthof Schmitt
Großenlüder (Fulda rural district): Landgasthof Hessenmühle
Laubach (Gießen rural district): Biker Hotel Alt Laubach
Rüdesheim (Rheingau): ; Zum Bären
Weilrod (Hochtaunus): Hotel Sonnenberg