Adventure Motorcycling inspirational book list

You keep telling yourself one day you'll do that big motorcycle adventure. Think of this as a book-based kick up the arse

Posted: 12 January 2011
by Ben Cope


Everyone needs to start somewhere and this 887 page book is a great place to start. It's not motorcycle focused but that doesn't matter because we're looking for inspiration first, right? It lists almost every country in the world in alphabetical order, with a few images from each country, some basic facts, things to experience there, the best time to visit and also further books you can read. It's been responsible for some of my best travel experiences, both with and without a motorcycle. So grab yourself a copy!

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Like or loathe our famously daring motorcycle adventuring brothers Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, you can't deny their trip has inspired thousands to head off on two wheels for their own personal Long Way Down. Even if they only make it as far as their local bike meet. In this book the pair head through Africa on a 15,000 mile adventure, almost breaking their unlikely bromance along the way. Ignore the support team and movie-sized budget, you'll feel inspired after you've read this book. Afterall, if they can do it, so can you.

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I used to think that a 'motorcycle adventure' was about picking a spot on the map that no-one thought I could reach in the time I'd planned and then firing myself in its direction, covering hundreds of miles day after day in my relentless pursuit to achieve my goal. It's not fun, it's not satisfying and it's not an adventure. And I think a lot of people get this wrong. Fly abroad, rent a bike, ride to somewhere where you can do something inspiring, memorable and fun. This book has 1,000 suggestions for great looking places to see and things to experience. Just make them that bit better by weaving a motorcycle into the adventure.

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This book reminds me of the SAS Survival Guide that I used to live my life by as a kid. It's a pocket-sized guide that's packed full of hints and tips from other travellers and travel experts to help your trip go smoothly. Ok, so a few of the tips are very basic (drink plenty of water to stay hydrated) but if, like me, you pick up a handful of tips that save you a few quid and a load of stress then it's well worth it.

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You may think I'm biased because Lois Pryce has written articles for Visordown but she's written for us because she's a truly inspiration character. This is one of two of her books on my list. Lois is the absolute opposite of the Long Way approach to adventure motorcycling and in this book, Red Tape and White Knuckles, you join Lois on her trip to Cape Town from London - with just the small matter of a few dodgy African borders to cross! Lois is a fantastic story teller and you'll really feel like you were part of her adventure.

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This is my first recommendation for a technical book. And why did I choose it? Well I think Morocco is a destination every budding adventure motorcyclist should visit. Forget Europe and step outside of your comfort zone. I've been there twice now and it offers everything from twisty tarmac roads to properly serious Saharan desert. Morocco Overland, by famous adventure motorcyclist, Chris Scott, tells you everything you need to know about Morocco with thousands of miles of suggested routes, how to plan your trip and what it'll cost. Now all you need to do is book your ferry..

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This is The Bible, the second of my technical suggestions. It contains everything you ever wanted to know about motorcycle adventuring. Its vast and extensive offering includes tips on how to ride through difficult conditions, what to do if you get bitten by a snake, what bike to choose, how to pack and so much more. It is the book I go to time and time again when I'm scribbling down the bare bones of my next adventure. It's priceless.

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Discuss this story

Ben, I'd add the well written and very humorous exploits of Mike Carter in his book 'Uneasy Rider' ISBN 978-0-09-192326-6. It will be an inspiration to anyone facing up to a mid-life crisis, giving them the courage to take the plunge and have their own adventure. I liked his writing style and wit, and have no hesitation in recommending it to fellow bikers.

Posted: 12/01/2011 at 20:35

You are missing Lost on Earth by Steve Crombie! Have just finished it and had trouble putting it down.

Posted: 18/01/2011 at 04:36

I've read a few motorcycle travel books - Jupiter's travels (surprised not to see it on this list), Running with the moon (a ride from UK to South Africa and back again - my favourite), Uneasy rider - midlife crisis material, Triumph around the world - a short guy who leaves everything and heads off on a bike far too big for him, Lonesome Rhodes - a guy who rides from south america to north america ... and the Ewan/Charlie books plus the Lois ones.

 My problem with the article recommending the Ewan/Charlie ones is that it says if they can do it so can you - while neglecting to mention the support crew and organisational support they had, plus a lot of whining in the books about them missing their families.  As for Lois' books - I was definitely unimpressed with these regarding both her attitude to people around her, general incompetence and reliance again and again on getting others to help her. 

But there are parts in all these books which bring the countries and experiences alive and make you want to take the plunge and see the world on your bike.   

Posted: 20/01/2011 at 13:35

Edit - it does mention their support crew and budget, but it's ridiculous to ignore it.

Posted: 20/01/2011 at 13:36

That's a really good list. It's going to draw a few bucks out of my pocket. 

I'd also recommend One Man Caravan.  It's remarkable to see how much the world has changed, yet how much has stayed the same since the author biked the world in the 1930s.  He had to leave room for thousands of feet of film where we only need to take some memory cards.   Yet he also had the same types of run-ins with police as did Ted Simon in Jupiter's Travels.  




Posted: 20/01/2011 at 16:17

One book missing from your list is Benka Pulko's "Circling the Sun". It is the story of her Guinness World Record setting 5.5 year solo trip reaching all seven continents. The book was published in 2011, so that's probably why it didn't make the list. It is reviewed on Amazon, but only available through her webpage.

Amazon: Store:

Posted: 06/05/2014 at 10:01

I agree Jupiters Travels is surely the book that started it all, it did for me ?

Posted: 29/12/2014 at 17:12

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