You’ve probably flown in an airplane, ridden in a boat, and taken a train somewhere in the world but never have hopped on the back of a motorcycle for a single road trip. There are of course a number of motorcycle riders and drivers who have and you should be one of them, at least just once in your life.
Riding a motorcycle across an open road from one destination to the next is the modern-day equivalent of setting off into the sunset on horseback. Let your fear and the thrill put you on two wheels and not keep you from it.
A Motorcycle Connects You With The Road
Like no other form of travel a motorcycle connects you with the road in a way that a bicycle, or even walking can’t. It’s the travel experience firsthand on a macro level. Ultimately your own fate and route are in your own hands on a motorcycle. Your senses are heightened both due to anxiety and the need to be highly aware and responsive to your surroundings. You’ll notice things on a motorcycle you never would in a car.
There are no distractions, no chance to check emails on your hacked iPhone, no windows to drown out the noise, and certainly no heat or air conditioning. All you have to focus on is the travel at hand.
Traffic Is Easier To Get Around
Depending on where exactly in the world you are, being on the back of a motorcycle gives you access to narrow back roads, the space between cars, and in some places, even sidewalks. You’ll be more mobile and able to sneak your way through even the worst traffic jams on a bike. At worst you can simply pull your bike up on a nearby curb and check out some of the local restaurants or just hang out until the heavy rush passes.
You’re Nervous About It
The more you travel the harder it can be to evoke that same sense of danger and excitement you had when you first started seeing the world. Anytime you jump on a motorcycle you’ll feel a thrill knowing that only traffic stands between you any anywhere you want to go. Even a casual trip around town is made more interesting on a motorcycle.
The element is different. People are closer to you and there are no barriers to the outside world. You and the bike are the outside world.
You Can’t Deny It, It’s Cool
Hop on the back of any motorcycle and you’ll instantly feel like a road warrior. Motorcycles evoke a sense of nostalgia, adventure, and danger. You can add these elements to any trip while traveling anywhere in the world simply by changing your mode of transportation. No matter where you are a motorcycle can have you channeling Marlon Brando in The Wild One or any number of other great motorcycle movies.
If you’re still on the fence about your next road trip, watch some of these DVDs to inspire your inner gypsy.
- The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara’s legendary trip through South America with his friend Alberto Granado on their motorcycle, La Poderosa (“The Mighty One”).
- Long Way Round – Ewan McGregor and Charley Borrman traveled from London to New York on motorcycle in 2004 and Long Way Round is a documentary of their travels. One of the most inspirational travel stories I’ve every seen.
- Easy Rider – Two hippies (played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda) take a road trip on motorcycle from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Beautiful scenery and invigorating music to go along with a wild story.
Of course you’ll need to learn how to drive a motorcycle and if it’s only going to be a one time event I’d recommend taking one of several great international courses which I’ll be posting more about next week. Learning to drive a motorcycle is a several day task (with a good instructor) and an excellent addition to your pre-trip plans. Having the ability to get on a motorcycle after that is a another way to harmonize planning and spontaneity, and reconnect with any open road.
[photos by: Jeff Bauche, jotor, Shaheer Shahid]
This is a post after my heart! There is this amazing bike weekend here called Caravan de Zorros. Over 10,000 bikes go together from Guatemala City to this Spiritual place.
WE ARE GOING!!!!! We’re renting a super comfy big ass bike for our family and going with the rest. I can’t wait!
I’ll tell you all about it!
I’d love to hear more about it, can’t wait!
I enjoyed listening about the Enduro India trip in Southern India that Ben Curtis made – you can hear about it on a couple of podcasts
I quite like the idea of riding a bike in more rural areas, but not in the city. My husband has a fantasty about riding an Enfield Bullet across India.
Thanks for posting those links Heather, I enjoyed the podcasts. Central Asia and east Africa are my dream places to ride.
It is undeniably cool but perhaps unattainable to do alone if you have no previous skills! I love the idea of motorcycling around South America but 1) don’t yet know how to ride a motorcycle and 2) don’t know how to repair one if it broke down on the road… overcome-able obstacles for sure…and it sounds lovely…now you have me thinking!
I’ve got just the post coming up about that sometime next week or so. But you’re completely right, going it alone isn’t wise, even if you have the skills to fix a broken down bike. Best to have a partner or go in a group, lots of great tours out there (and they’ll teach you how to ride first too!)
I look forward to seeing it! Thanks! 🙂
Hiya, thanks for popping by my travel blog. It’s funny you should write about a bike journey. I’ve just moved to Australia and am thinking exactly that. What could be better than two wheels and the Outback 🙂
Hi Alex, sounds like a great plan – doesn’t get better than that to me!
I learned how to drive a motorbike (ok – I know it’s not as cool as a motorcycle) 6 months ago in Vietnam and it’s been the highlight of my time here. It’s a wonderful feeling when you do hit the open road (which is rare in Vietnam!). However I agree with you about it being faster – you can get around much fast through smaller spaces…hell, in Vietnam the usually drive on the sidewalks if the the roads are jammed with cars!
haha, I’ve found in many places it’s probably safer to be on a bike than a pedestrian on the sidewalk!
I couldn’t agree more! I find traveling by motorbike especially rewarding in Asia – you go places you’d never see in a car!
love to do it! i’m planning to journey up PCH1 to oregon from texas next summer and maybe hit up national parks on the way back…can’t wait.
Sounds like an awesome trip. Keep in touch – I’d love to hear how the trip goes.
Guys – you may not know much about Pakistan motorcycling scene. I have been doing trips up the Himalayas in Pakistan for over 20 years. It is certainly one of the most amazing places in the world. Perfect mix of off-road and on road – views vary from classical green beauty to rugged very high altitude himalyas.
Sounds incredible Ahmed, you’ve got my attention. I’d love to learn more, I’ll send you an email about it.
Hey hey you know I am extremely partial to bicycles and cycling satisfies everything you said above, except that they are slow!
Slow yes, but it’s fun to be your own motor and good for your body too!
Another great resource for inspiration, ideas, community and assistance on motorcycling trips is the Adventure Rider forums at http://www.advrider.com
It was started by one of the co-founders of SmugMug.com, the photography site. Looking through the ride reports forums alone is a way to get lost in travels in every part of the world (my favorite is any thread by MetalJockey. Do a search for Angola on the site.)
Thanks James, I’ll be sure to check it out…ok back! Searched for ‘MetalJockey’ and was looking through his Zambian adventure on one of my favorite bikes btw. Awesome pictures too, thanks for the link and recommendation.
I am getting ready to ride on my own from Fenton, Missouri to San Antonia TX and down along Padre island. I will be camping on the way. Any idea how I shown plan on what to take? I am very excited about the trip and wonder if anyone else has decided to just pack up and go to Padre island. Thank MJ
I haven’t been there myself but will ask on Twitter for you to see if anyone else has advice for you.
MJ, you could look around on the ADV site I posted above in the comments. There are tons of people there who can help you, as well as plenty of packing lists and such you could probably search through.
You can take as much or as little as you need 🙂
What is the best website to plane a Bike Trip including destination points, and maps routing.
There are many resources in the comments here, I’d start by browsing those first.