Embarking on a solo motorcycle journey around the world is a testament to the human spirit of adventure and exploration. Throughout history, courageous individuals have set out on incredible quests, traversing continents, and documenting their experiences.
Here, we present 17 remarkable motorcycle travelers who have left their tire tracks on the global map, shared their stories through books, and even inspired cinematic adaptations.
Carl Stearns Clancy – The first person to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle.
Carl Stearns Clancy was a pioneering adventurer and author who made history as the first person to travel the world by motorbike. Born in 1890, Clancy’s life was characterized by a thirst for exploration and a love for motorcycles. His groundbreaking journey and written account have left an indelible mark on the world of motorcycle travel literature.
In 1912, at the age of 21, Clancy embarked on a daring motorcycle adventure that took him on an epic journey around the globe. Riding a 1912 Henderson Four, Clancy set out to conquer the unknown, traversing continents and overcoming countless challenges along the way. His journey spanned approximately 18,000 miles, covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Clancy chronicled his remarkable expedition in “The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review”, a popular American magazine that covered topics related to bicycling and motorcycles during the early 20th century.
Clancy’s chronicles became a seminal piece of motorcycle travel literature. Years later in fact, Dr. Gregory Frazier, an avid motorcycle adventurer and author, recognizing the historical significance and captivating nature of Clancy’s journey, meticulously compiled and edited the chronicles to create a comprehensive book titled “Motorcycle Adventurer: Carl Stearns Clancy’s Record-Setting Ride Around the World 1912-1913“.
While no films or documentaries have been specifically made about Carl Stearns Clancy or his book, his incredible feat has undoubtedly influenced and inspired countless motorcycle enthusiasts and travelers over the years. His story remains an enduring testament to the spirit of adventure and the boundless possibilities of motorcycle travel.
Dr. Gregory Frazier – Over 1,000,000 miles on two wheels.
Dr. Gregory Frazier is a renowned motorcycle adventurer and author known for his captivating journeys across various continents. With a deep passion for exploration, Frazier has spent a significant part of his life embarking on thrilling motorcycle expeditions.
Born in the United States, Frazier’s adventurous spirit led him to undertake his first notable motorcycle journey in 1973. This expedition took him across Europe, Asia, and Africa, as he traversed numerous countries and encountered diverse cultures and landscapes. It was during this transformative journey that Frazier’s love for motorcycle travel and exploration truly blossomed.
Throughout his extensive travels, Dr. Gregory Frazier has ridden a variety of motorcycles, each chosen for its durability, versatility, and suitability for different terrains. Some of the motorcycles he has used include the BMW R80G/S, Yamaha XT500, and Honda Africa Twin. These reliable and rugged machines have accompanied him on his daring escapades, allowing him to navigate challenging roads and conquer remote destinations.
Frazier’s motorcycle voyages have been chronicled in several books, showcasing his experiences and providing valuable insights for fellow adventurers. Some of his notable works include “Motorcycle Voyaging“, “Motorcycle Camping Made Easy“, and “Motorcycle Adventurer’s Handbook“. Published at different times throughout his career, these books offer practical advice, inspiring stories, and an abundance of knowledge for motorcycle enthusiasts seeking their own thrilling journeys.
His books serve as essential guides and sources of inspiration for riders around the world, fostering a spirit of exploration and encouraging others to embark on their own two-wheeled adventures. Frazier’s contributions to the genre of motorcycle travel literature have solidified his reputation as a respected authority and a beloved figure among adventure-seeking riders.
Anne-France Dautheville – The first woman to ride solo around the world
In 1973, Anne-France Dautheville embarked on a groundbreaking motorcycle expedition, becoming the first woman to ride solo around the world. Riding a Moto Guzzi 750cc, she embarked on an epic journey that took her through diverse landscapes, cultures, and challenging terrains across continents. Her fearless attitude and resilience were evident as she conquered new frontiers and defied societal expectations.
Anne-France chronicled her incredible journey in her book “Et j’ai suivi le vent” (“And I Followed the Wind”), published in 1975. The book captures her exhilarating experiences, the encounters she had with locals, and the personal transformations she underwent during her extraordinary adventure. Through her writing, she shares not only the physical challenges of motorcycle travel but also the emotional and spiritual growth that comes with pushing one’s boundaries.
Anne-France’s groundbreaking journey and her captivating storytelling have inspired countless individuals, especially women, to embrace their own adventurous spirit and pursue their dreams fearlessly. Her trailblazing achievement as a female solo motorcycle traveler has left an indelible mark on the world of travel and continues to inspire generations of adventurers.
While her journey may not have been adapted into film or television, Anne-France Dautheville’s extraordinary feat and her unwavering determination have made her an iconic figure in the realm of motorcycle travel. Her legacy serves as a reminder that the open road holds endless possibilities for those who dare to embark on their own extraordinary adventures.
Ernesto Che Guevara – The Motorcycle Diaries
Che Guevara, born as Ernesto Guevara de la Serna on June 14, 1928, in Rosario, Argentina, was an iconic figure of the 20th century. He was a Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, and guerrilla leader, and he played a significant role in the Cuban Revolution. Che Guevara’s book “The Motorcycle Diaries” provides a glimpse into his early life and the experiences that shaped his revolutionary ideology.
“The Motorcycle Diaries” is a memoir written by Che Guevara based on his journey across South America in 1952 with his friend Alberto Granado. The two young men set out on a 9,000-kilometer trip on a dilapidated Norton 500 motorcycle, affectionately called “La Poderosa” (The Mighty One). This transformative journey took them through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela.
The book depicts Guevara’s observations of the poverty, inequality, and social injustices he encountered during the trip. It explores his evolving political consciousness and his growing empathy for the marginalized and oppressed. Through encounters with indigenous people, lepers, and workers in various occupations, Guevara’s worldview is shaped, setting the foundation for his later revolutionary activities.
“The Motorcycle Diaries” offers an intimate account of Che Guevara’s youthful adventures, his reflections on societal issues, and his personal growth as a young man. It captures his encounters with diverse landscapes, cultures, and people, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the social and political conditions in Latin America during that time.
The book was published posthumously in 1993, over three decades after Guevara’s assassination in 1967. It became a bestseller and achieved widespread acclaim for its vivid storytelling and its portrayal of Guevara’s formative years. The book’s publication led to a renewed interest in Guevara’s life and ideas.
In 2004, “The Motorcycle Diaries” was adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by Walter Salles. The movie, also titled “The Motorcycle Diaries,” starred Gael García Bernal as Che Guevara and Rodrigo de la Serna as Alberto Granado. It captured the essence of the book, showcasing the youthful spirit of adventure, the social awakening, and the transformative journey that influenced Guevara’s revolutionary path.
Walter J. Colebatch – The Siberian Extreme Project
In 2009, Motorcycle adventurer Walter J. Colebatch led “The Sibirsky (Siberian) Extreme Project”, a remarkable testament to human exploration and the pursuit of adventure. This audacious undertaking sought to delve into the very heart of Siberia, unearthing the untamed beauty and rugged landscapes that lay hidden within. With an unwavering spirit of discovery and a deep passion for motorcycling, Colebatch embarked on a quest that would push the boundaries of what was known and what was possible in the realm of two-wheeled exploration.
Within the pages of his book, Colebatch takes readers on an enthralling journey, delving into the intricate planning, the adrenaline-fueled riding, the hardships faced, the triumphant moments, and the heart-wrenching disappointments that defined this extraordinary odyssey. With vivid descriptions, poignant reflections, and an unwavering honesty, he captures the essence of the Sibirsky Extreme Project and offers readers a front-row seat to witness the immense courage, unwavering determination, and unyielding spirit of adventure that propelled him through this epic expedition.
Through his eloquent prose and meticulous attention to detail, Colebatch not only invites us to embark on an unforgettable journey across the vast and untamed landscapes of Siberia but also imparts invaluable insights into the human spirit and the relentless pursuit of dreams. The Sibirsky Extreme Project serves as a testament to the resilience of the human soul, reminding us that, with unwavering determination, even the most daunting challenges can be conquered and the wildest dreams can be transformed into remarkable realities.
Ted Simon – 4 years, 45 countries, 64,000 miles
Ted Simon is a renowned British author and adventurer who gained worldwide acclaim for his remarkable motorcycle journey around the world. Born in 1931, Simon’s life has been defined by a deep passion for exploration and a thirst for adventure.
In 1973, at the age of 42, Ted Simon embarked on an extraordinary solo motorcycle expedition that would become the foundation of his literary career. Riding a 500cc Triumph Tiger 100, he set out on a four-year journey across 45 countries, covering a staggering distance of 64,000 miles. His travels took him through diverse landscapes, cultures, and challenging terrains, providing him with a wealth of experiences to share with the world.
Simon’s most famous book, “Jupiter’s Travels“, was published in 1979 and has since become a classic in the genre of motorcycle travel literature. The book encapsulates his transformative journey, delving into the essence of his encounters, personal growth, and the profound impact of his odyssey. “Jupiter’s Travels” has inspired countless readers and remains a seminal work in the realm of adventure writing.
While Ted Simon’s journey and book have not been adapted into a feature film, his story was documented in the television series “The Long Way Round.” This series, featuring actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, showcased their own motorcycle expedition but drew inspiration from Simon’s original journey. It aired in 2004 and captivated audiences with its portrayal of motorcycle travel and the spirit of adventure.
Ted Simon’s legacy extends beyond his literary achievements. He continues to inspire aspiring adventurers and is celebrated as a true pioneer in the world of motorcycle exploration. His life’s work serves as a testament to the transformative power of travel and the enduring spirit of human curiosity.
Elspeth Beard – The first British women around the world on two-wheels
In 1982, at the age of 23, Elspeth embarked on an ambitious solo motorcycle journey around the world, becoming one of the first British women to achieve such a feat. Riding a BMW R60/6, she set off on a multi-year adventure that took her across continents, through diverse landscapes, and into the hearts of countless people she met along the way. Her journey spanned more than 35,000 miles and covered various countries, offering her a unique perspective on the world.
Elspeth documented her incredible odyssey in her captivating memoir, “Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World“, published in 2017. The book chronicles her physical and emotional challenges, the triumphs and setbacks she faced, and the personal growth she experienced throughout her extraordinary journey. Through her honest and engaging narrative, Elspeth not only provides a vivid account of her travels but also delves into her own introspection and self-discovery.
Although Elspeth Beard’s remarkable journey has yet to be adapted into film or television, her story has resonated with countless readers and aspiring adventurers around the world. Her courage, resilience, and determination serve as an inspiration for those seeking to break free from societal norms and explore the vast wonders of the world on two wheels.
Sam Manicom – From corporate life to journeying around the world
Born in the United Kingdom, Sam Manicom left his corporate job in 1993 and embarked on a life-changing journey around the world on his trusty motorcycle. He has traversed continents, encountered diverse cultures, and faced numerous challenges along the way.
Throughout his travels, Manicom has used multiple motorcycles to navigate various terrains. In his earlier journeys, he rode a heavily customized 1982 BMW R80G/S, which became his reliable companion as he explored remote corners of the world. Later, he switched to a more modern and versatile 2003 BMW R1150GS Adventure, allowing him to tackle both on-road and off-road adventures with ease.
Sam Manicom has authored several captivating books that chronicle his motorcycle journeys. His first book, “Into Africa“, was published in 1996 and recounts his thrilling ride across the African continent. It offers a vivid portrayal of the landscapes, people, and challenges he encountered during his solo expedition.
Following the success of his debut, Manicom continued his explorations and penned subsequent books. “Under Asian Skies” (2005) details his journey through Asia, exploring countries like India, Nepal, and Thailand, while “Distant Suns” (2009) takes readers on an adventure across the Americas, from Alaska to Argentina.
His engaging storytelling style and genuine reflections on the human experience make his books a captivating read for anyone seeking adventure, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of the world we live in.
Lois Pryce – Captivating expedition across Africa
Originally from the UK, Lois Pryce left her job as a graphic designer in 2003 to embark on a remarkable journey that has since inspired many.
Lois Pryce has undertaken several noteworthy motorcycle expeditions. She has traveled extensively through remote and challenging regions such as the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. Throughout her travels, she has documented her experiences with wit, humor, and a deep sense of adventure.
One of her acclaimed books is “Lois on the Loose: One Woman, One Motorcycle, 20,000 Miles Across the Americas” (2007). In this memoir, Pryce recounts her solo motorcycle journey from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina, encountering diverse landscapes, cultures, and personal challenges along the way.
Another notable work by Lois Pryce is “Red Tape and White Knuckles: One Woman’s Motorcycle Adventure through Africa” (2010). In this book, she shares her captivating expedition across the African continent, navigating bureaucratic hurdles, treacherous roads, and unique encounters that showcase the beauty and complexities of Africa.
Lois Pryce has made appearances in travel and adventure documentaries. She has been featured in various media outlets and has shared her experiences through public speaking engagements, inspiring others to embrace adventure and explore the world on two wheels.
Lois Pryce’s writing style, combined with her daring spirit and passion for exploration, has earned her a loyal following among adventure enthusiasts and readers seeking immersive travel narratives. Her works continue to inspire and encourage others to pursue their own dreams of motorcycle travel and discovery.
Austin Vince – Adventure motorcyclist, film-maker and author
Austin Vince is a renowned adventure motorcyclist, filmmaker, and author who has left an indelible mark on the world of motorcycle travel. Known for his daring expeditions and entertaining storytelling, Vince has become a prominent figure in the motorcycle adventure community.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Austin Vince gained widespread recognition for his epic journey documented in the book and film “Mondo Enduro” (1995). Alongside a group of fellow riders, he embarked on an audacious round-the-world motorcycle expedition, traversing challenging terrains and encountering various cultures and obstacles along the way. “Mondo Enduro” captures the spirit of their remarkable adventure, showcasing their triumphs, mishaps, and the sheer thrill of exploration.
In addition to “Mondo Enduro,” Austin Vince has co-authored another captivating motorcycle travel book titled “Terra Circa: Around the World through the Backroads of 47 Countries” (2013). This book details his second global expedition, where he and his team explored lesser-known routes and off-the-beaten-path destinations across the globe, creating an engaging narrative of their discoveries and encounters.
Aside from his books, Austin Vince has also produced notable adventure motorcycle documentaries. One of his acclaimed works is “Terra Circa” (2008), a documentary series that follows the thrilling journey chronicled in the book of the same name. The series showcases the team’s adventures, challenges, and the breathtaking landscapes they encountered during their global exploration.
As a filmmaker and presenter, Austin Vince has contributed to numerous television programs, sharing his passion for motorcycle travel and adventure. He has also organized adventure motorcycle events and workshops, inspiring and empowering others to embark on their own two-wheeled adventures.
With his adventurous spirit, infectious enthusiasm, and unique storytelling abilities, Austin Vince has become a prominent figure in the motorcycle adventure world. His books, films, and contributions to the community continue to inspire and entertain motorcycle enthusiasts, encouraging them to embrace the spirit of exploration and seek their own extraordinary adventures.
Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman – Actors, adventurers and motorcycle enthusiasts
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are internationally acclaimed actors, adventurers, and motorcycle enthusiasts who have captivated audiences with their thrilling motorcycle journeys around the world. Their collaborative expeditions have showcased not only their love for motorcycles but also their deep appreciation for diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes.
In 2004, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman embarked on their first iconic journey, chronicled in the book and television series “Long Way Round“. Riding BMW R 1150 GS Adventure motorcycles, they embarked on an epic 20,000-mile motorcycle odyssey from London to New York, traversing through Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, and North America. The journey tested their endurance, pushing them to their limits as they encountered rugged terrains, extreme weather conditions, and fascinating encounters with locals along the way.
Their next adventure, “Long Way Down” (2007), took them from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. Riding BMW R 1200 GS motorcycles, they covered over 15,000 miles, exploring diverse landscapes and cultures across Africa. The expedition offered them thrilling experiences, from encountering wildlife on safari to navigating challenging off-road tracks.
In addition to their books documenting these expeditions, both “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” were adapted into television series. Directed by David Alexanian and Russ Malkin, the shows became hugely popular, capturing the imaginations of viewers worldwide. The series provided a captivating visual experience, showcasing the duo’s camaraderie, the challenges they faced, and the remarkable sights they encountered along their journeys.
Tiffany Coates – Alaska to Argentina, Cairo to Cape Town
In 1999, Tiffany Coates embarked on her first solo motorcycle journey, riding a Yamaha XT225 Serow, from Alaska to Argentina. This epic adventure, chronicled in her book “Alaska to Argentina: Riding the Pan American Highway,” took her through breathtaking landscapes, diverse cultures, and challenging terrains spanning the entire length of the Americas. Her fearless spirit and determination shone through as she overcame obstacles and embraced the incredible experiences along the way.
Continuing her global motorcycle explorations, Tiffany embarked on another notable expedition, riding across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. Documented in her book “Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town“, she conquered over 20,000 miles on her BMW F650GS motorcycle, navigating through deserts, savannas, and rugged terrains. The journey was a test of her endurance, showcasing her unwavering determination and deep connection with the African continent.
Tiffany Coates’ incredible adventures have not only been documented in her books but also featured in various media platforms. Her journeys have inspired many and have been covered in television programs and documentaries, bringing her inspiring tales to a broader audience. Through her storytelling, she shares her experiences, the challenges she faced, and the incredible people she encountered along the way.
Dr. Gaurav Jani – From the Himalayas to the Artic
Dr. Gaurav Jani is a renowned adventurer, filmmaker, and author whose remarkable motorcycle journeys have captivated audiences around the world. With an insatiable passion for exploration and a desire to experience the raw beauty of remote places, he has embarked on daring expeditions that have pushed the boundaries of adventure.
Dr. Gaurav Jani’s motorcycle journeys have taken him to some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet. From traversing the desolate landscapes of the Himalayas to navigating the rugged terrains of the Arctic, he has fearlessly ventured into uncharted territories, documenting his experiences along the way.
In his critically acclaimed documentary series “Riding Solo to the Top of the World“, released in 2006, Dr. Jani chronicles his awe-inspiring solo motorcycle expedition to the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, India. The film showcases not only the breathtaking landscapes but also delves into the inner journey of self-discovery and solitude that comes with such an audacious adventure. Driven by his passion for filmmaking and a desire to share his experiences, Dr. Jani’s documentary has become an inspiration for aspiring adventurers and a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
Dr. Gaurav Jani’s expeditions and films have garnered international recognition and have been celebrated for their authenticity and raw storytelling. Through his lens, he has captured the beauty of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, and the power of solitude in a way that transports viewers to the very heart of his journeys.
In addition to his filmmaking endeavors, Dr. Jani is also an accomplished author. His book “The Trail of Gods and Mankind: An Odyssey on Two Wheels“, published in 2010, offers a deep dive into his motorcycle expeditions and provides a compelling account of his encounters with diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and the challenges that come with traveling off the beaten path. Dr. Jani’s writing is imbued with a sense of wonder and reverence for the world, inspiring readers to embrace their own spirit of adventure and explore the unknown.
Carla King – Solo adventure across America
Carla’s motorcycle travels began in the late 1990s when she set off on a solo adventure across America, riding a Kawasaki KLR650. This transformative journey ignited her wanderlust and sparked a lifelong passion for motorcycle exploration. Inspired by the freedom and exhilaration of the road, she continued to push her boundaries, undertaking thrilling expeditions in various parts of the world.
In her book “American Borders: A Solo Circumnavigation of the United States on a Russian Sidecar Motorcycle“, published in 2002, Carla chronicles her daring expedition along the U.S. borders. The book offers a fascinating glimpse into the diverse landscapes, captivating encounters, and personal reflections that colored her epic journey.
Carla’s indomitable spirit and zest for adventure have also led her to explore other parts of the world. From traversing the treacherous mountain passes of the Himalayas to riding through remote regions of Africa, she has embraced the challenges and joys of motorcycle travel on a global scale.
Heather Ellis – 15 months through Africa
Heather’s journey began in the late 1980s when she made the bold decision to ride her motorcycle from her home country of Australia to London. Setting off on a Yamaha TT600, she embarked on an epic solo adventure that spanned continents and pushed the boundaries of what was deemed possible. Throughout her travels, she encountered breathtaking landscapes, diverse cultures, and a myriad of challenges that tested her resilience and determination.
In her captivating book “Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa“, published in 2016, Heather recounts her incredible 15-month journey through Africa. From the deserts of Sudan to the savannahs of Kenya, she weaves a compelling narrative of her encounters with local communities, wildlife, and the harsh realities of life on the road. The book not only offers a glimpse into the awe-inspiring landscapes of Africa but also delves into the personal growth and transformative experiences that shaped Heather’s adventure.
Heather’s motorcycle expeditions have not only provided her with unforgettable experiences but have also allowed her to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Her stories of resilience, compassion, and the triumph of the human spirit have resonated with readers, inspiring them to embrace their own sense of adventure and explore the unknown.
Beyond her travels, Heather is a passionate advocate for women in motorcycling and has become a role model for aspiring female adventurers. Her determination to challenge stereotypes and break barriers has paved the way for others to follow their dreams, regardless of gender or societal expectations.
Nick Sanders – From Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in record time
Nick Sanders is a legendary figure in the world of motorcycle travel, known for his daring expeditions and remarkable achievements. With a thirst for adventure and a passion for pushing boundaries, he has embarked on incredible journeys that have solidified his status as one of the most accomplished long-distance motorcyclists of our time.
Born in 1959 in England, Nick Sanders discovered his love for motorcycles at a young age and quickly realized that two wheels would be his preferred mode of transportation for exploring the world. In 1984, he set out on his first major expedition, riding solo from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in record time. This monumental feat marked the beginning of a series of extraordinary adventures that would define his career.
Over the years, Nick Sanders has undertaken numerous epic motorcycle expeditions, crisscrossing continents and conquering vast distances. From circumnavigating the globe multiple times to setting speed records on various routes, his accomplishments have captivated the imagination of motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide.
Throughout his travels, Nick Sanders has relied on a range of motorcycles, each chosen for its suitability to the terrain and the challenges that lay ahead. He has tackled rugged off-road tracks on dual-sport bikes, conquered high-speed stretches on sport motorcycles, and navigated through diverse landscapes on adventure tourers. His choice of motorcycle is a testament to his expertise in selecting the right machine for the job, ensuring both performance and reliability on his demanding expeditions.
In addition to his impressive motorcycle journeys, Nick Sanders is also an accomplished author and filmmaker. He has written several books, including “Jupiter’s Travels” and “Condor and the Cows“, in which he shares his thrilling experiences and provides a glimpse into the trials and triumphs of his adventures. His storytelling prowess and candid writing style allow readers to join him on his extraordinary quests, immersing themselves in the challenges, the beauty, and the sheer thrill of the open road.
Nick Sanders’ accomplishments have not gone unnoticed in the world of film and television. His expeditions have been documented in various media productions, including the acclaimed series “Ultimate Motorcycling: Legends of the Road“, which showcases his incredible feats and introduces viewers to the man behind the extraordinary journeys. Through his appearances on screen, Nick Sanders has inspired countless individuals to embark on their own motorcycle adventures and embrace the spirit of exploration.
Each of these remarkable individuals has left an indelible mark on the world of motorcycle travel. Through their captivating books and, in some cases, other media platforms, they have shared their extraordinary journeys, triumphs over adversity, and profound insights, igniting a spark of inspiration within those who long to embark on their own two-wheeled odysseys.
Their stories stand as a testament to the boundless possibilities that await those brave enough to embrace the freedom of the open road.