Traveling by motorcycle is one of the most liberating ways of exploring the world. The art of adventure riding a motorcycle is both a convenient, fun, independent and flexible way of traveling. The level of freedom and excitement that can be felt on a bike compares with very little out there in the world of travel so it’s no surprise that many motorcycle documentary films have emerged over the years. We will round up the 25 most kickass motorcycle documentary films of all time that are out there so you can soak them up, get inspired and hit the road for a fresh kickass adventure yourself.
25 Diverse Motorcycle Documentary Films
The 25 inspiring visual motorcycle documentary travelogues you will find below form a very diverse bunch. There are documentaries about motorcycle trips over the Himalayas and through each and every desert on planet Earth. Trips that are cinematic masterpieces due to its visuals. And there are old school classics that prevail through there pure and unbound adventure spirit.
Among all these motorcycle documentary films are: a pink Harley Davidson journey with a teddy bear, the only ‘biker-filmmaker’ of India, a trip on a motorbike that runs on used-cooking oil, a round-the-world motorbike circumnavigation in 19 days and even the world’s first ever motorcycle travel documentary that was made by two unlikely Iranian brothers.
So if you are craving some moto inspiration….start your engines….go….
Somewhere Else Tomorrow
We start straightaway with a real masterpiece that raises the bar for motorcycle travel documentaries to an unprecedented level and is sure to inspire you. A professional filmmaker himself, Daniel Rintz, the protagonist of the film and journey, has delivered a truly wonderful piece of motorbike film art.
Daniel Rintz has a dream to travel the world by motorbike.
“There was nothing I wanted more that to travel the world by motorbike. And I was sick of only dreaming about it. So instead of saving up first I decided to go and make money along the way”
So Daniel hit the road riding a BMW R80 – lovingly nicknamed Marianne – and together with a good friend they headed for Australia. Without a penny to their pockets. Along the way they worked to finance the trip which worked out well as they had the luxury of unlimited time.
When they reach Egypt his buddy has had enough and so Daniel is on his own to continue all the way to Australia.
Up to now it sounds like an average motorbike travel story like any other. Nothing special you think. But it all changes once you start watching the documentary. The difference being that Daniel Rintz is a professional film maker and photographer. And he proves his talent with this visually stunning travelogue.
To make the film Rintz raised money through a successful kickstarter campaign and spent a year editing all his raw footage. The result shows it..
From the moment the motorcycle documentary starts the spectacular images start hitting you from the screen. There are abundant moments in the film where you really sit on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. The level of detail is stunning and even Marianne, the R80, has a voice-over.
The documentary is as funny as stunning and would easily fit on the National Geographic channel. It is that good.
Somewhere else tomorrow is a spectacularly beautiful and well-told story, a lot more accessible than, say Long way round (reviewed below) and a contemporary version of Mondo Enduro (also reviewed below) with very high image quality that immortalizes Daniel Rintz among the greatest motorbike travel documentary classics.
Get this kickass travel motorcycle documentary on Daniel Rintz website www.open-explorers.com/movie
Mondo Enduro is perhaps one of the most famous motorcycle expeditions to have been caught on camera. Between 1995 and 1996, a team of 7 experienced long-distance riders decided to travel the longest way round the world – in the shortest time possible. Using Suzuki DR350 Dual Sport bikes, they documented their epic journey while often camping rough and travelling through some of the most dangerous terrain in the world.
Their route took them from London, through Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Siberia; then from Alaska to Chile and finally from Cape Town through Africa and the Middle East back to London.
The kickass motorcycle expedition encountered some serious problems in the Zilov Gap, the 400 mile roadless section in Siberia where they got stuck in the insurmountable amounts of mud and eventually ended up taking the Trans-Siberian railroad and a river barge to circumvent this problem.
The expedition diaries and resulting motorcycle documentary (ISBN 1-904466-28-1) are a fascinating account of a round-the-world motorcycle expedition done on a shoestring, with rough camping the order of the day. The expedition was filmed and was subsequently made into a 2 part documentary which – due to its ground up, shoestring and loose traveling approach – gave it a cult following that continues today.
The Mondo Enduro round the world motorbike expedition attempted but did not cross the Zilov Gap in Central Siberia, taking the Trans Sib train and a barge instead. This meant they had not made the full loop around the world on their motorbikes. In 2000 a follow-up expedition, Terra Circa, was organised by Dave Greenhough, brother of one of the Mondo Enduro team members. The goal was to make another world spanning motorbike touring trip and documentary and becoming the first motorbike expedition to cross the infamous Zilov Gap.
The route went from London across Europe, western Russia and Siberia to Vladivostok. The team then embarked for Japan and returned to Europe crossing the United States. It took 7 months and they drove 20 000 miles.
The expedition was filmed and made into a six-part TV series which also got a Cult following among real adventure motorbiking enthusiasts.
Badly behaved, rock’n’roll and one of the ultimate old-fashioned motorcycle road movies – Cycles South (1971) is about three guys riding from Denver, Colorado to the Panama Canal – crossing seven countries with the sole objective of doing a cool trip and having a good time. Action and adventure is the name of the game and their ultra tight budget but unlimited time constraints make it a real fun roadtrip movie with hedonism packed into every spare minute.
They ride their motorcycle through the mountains, check out a local motocross, stay at a Hippy commune a few days, meet some mighty friendly gals and get all weird. They snow ski and meet some ski bunnies, in fact there are friendly gals just about around every corner. In Mexico they fight bulls and enter a local dirt bike race, deep sea dive, surf, water ski behind their bikes along the shoreline, camp on the beach and have good eatin’. Finally they make it to Panama and meet more gals. Brilliant film!
Riding Solo to the Top of the World
Meet Gaurav Jani, perhaps the only ‘biker-filmmaker’ in India!
As the name of the film suggests, Filmmaker Gaurav Jani did exactly this ‘Riding Solo to the Top of the World’ – journeying from Mumbai to one of the most remote places on earth, the Changthang high-altitude Plateau in the fabled Ladakh region of India. Jani films the landscapes he passes by and the people he interacts with, capturing moments of beauty, pain, love, hardship, self doubt and spiritual triumphs. It showcases his experiences riding a motorbike in a land that is as surreal as it is mesmerizing. Impressively Jani was a one-man camera crew unit who loaded his Royal Enfield Bullet 350CC Motorcycle (Loner) with 300 kilograms (660 lb) of equipment/supplies and set off on a journey to one of the world’s most difficult terrains with a very kickass motorbike documentary as a result.
One Crazy Ride
One Crazy Ride is a 2009 Indian documentary film based on a 2002 route-charting expedition in the unexplored North Eastern region of Arunachal Pradesh in India.
Jani had had tremendous success with his first motorbike travel documentary film, Riding Solo to the Top of the World and following this project he decided to attempt a similar feat across Arunachal Pradesh, that remote area of India to the East of Bangladesh.
Shot in the same format as “Riding Solo To The Top Of The World” with no back-up vehicle or film crew, in parts of India hardly seen, filmed or explored, the documentary captures the interactions and experiences of the riders who are trying to chart a route, which according to everyone does not exist.
Formerly in the fashion industry, Gaurav Jani had quit his job to become a filmmaker and bike rider. He founded a bikers club named 60KPH Club in India and together with four fellow bike riders from the 60KPH club Gaurav sets out on an expedition across the less travelled Indian north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh to chart a route that supposedly does not exist. The bikers chronicle their attempt to travel from Tawang in west Arunachal to Dong in the east without entering the state of Assam.
The film is directed by Gaurav Jani and produced by Dirt Track Productions with a commercial release in Indian cinemas in February 2009.
For what it’s worth: The film won the award for best film at the international motorcycle film festival of Slovakia
Omidvar Brothers – ‘World’s first’ motorcycle documentary
This is an unknown gem you should know about.
In 1954 Iranian natives Issa and Abdullah Omidvar were in their twenties and growing restless in the suburbs of Tehran. In that golden age before Iran de-selected itself from the high table of western nations it was still possible for youngsters to dream ‘large’. The Omidvar brothers had a dream of traveling to the world’s remote corners. On motorbikes!
The brothers ordered a couple of 500cc Matchless bikes and set off to see the world and make films about it!
Throwing their film-making kit on their bikes and with just $90 each to spend, they set out to see the most remote people they could possibly find. En route they created a visual record that is now a milestone in film history and can be considered one of the earliest motorbike travel documentaries ever created.
Read the full Omidvar brother travel story here and have a look at some of their unique footage..
The Motorcycle Diaries
Another classic, this film recounts the wellknown written memoir of the 23 year-old Che Guevara who went on a kickass motorbike expedition across Central & South America in 1952. The movies is modern reenactment of that journey. Stunningly shot, with some great bike sequences combined with an adventure fuelled coming of age story – it’s almost certainly worth a watch. The story is a motorbike adventure story that focuses on the developing ideas of a young Che Guevara who gets inspired and streetwise while driving around the continent. It is a life forming trip that makes Che Guevara the politically engaged person he would later become fabled for.
Dust to Glory
The Baja 1000 in Mexico has a reputation as the most dangerous race in the world but every year, this one-of-a-kind event draws fans and enthusiasts determined to brave the harsh course, which includes deserts, swaths of cactus and the metallic carcasses of vehicles left for dead. The annual road rally pits drivers against punishing conditions as they attempt to cover the thousand-mile course in 36 hours or less. With a wide variety of different vehicles competing — from normal and modified motorbikes to abused trucks and stock Volkswagens — Dust to Glory takes viewers into the middle of the race
This motorcycle documentary about the race includes interviews with drivers of everything from bikes to trucks, and from celebrities of the racing world to those looking for their first shot at glory.
A real adventure motorbike touring trip across the Eurasian continent with the goal of mapping an offroad trail from the EU to Magadan. The Sibirsky Extreme crew set out on adventure motorcycles, from the Poland-Ukraine border, in May 2012, with a plan to spend over 3 months on the road.
The planned route took in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Siberia and involved riders from the UK, Holland, USA and Norway as they took on challenges as diverse as the steppes of Russia, the mountains of the Altai, the grasslands of Mongolia and the pinnacles of Siberian adventure challenges, the BAM Road and the Road of Bones.
Natural Born Traveller
This is a lonely planet produced motorcycle documentary chronicling a journey across the Great Dividing Range by Australian Steve Crombie, a twenty-nine year old Australian thrill-seeker who travelled half way round the world in search of adventure, but had never looked in his own backyard. That’s about to change when Crombie embarks on an 8,000km, bone-breaking motorcycle journey along one of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes: The Great Dividing Range. The remote and picturesque mountain range is home to a colourful cast of characters and thrill-seeker delights, with world class climbing, caving, fishing, skiing and white water rafting for the lonely traveller. Steve Crombie is taking his bike into the unknown heart of the country, on a quest to discover it all. The Great Dividing Range is the first in a series of motorcycle travel series that Steve Crombie will produce for Lonely Planet Television.
Winner of Best Cinematography at the Asian TV awards 2010
Get Lost Oregon & Get Lost Baja
A set of motorcycle offroad adventure documentaries that are hard to get by these days. The focus is on offroad motorcycling adventures in Oregon and a more adventurous trip to Baja Mexico the peninsula that extends 1,247 kilometres (775 mi) from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south.
The first film “Get Lost: Oregon,” features David Wachs on a trip that takes an unexpected turn. Van Buskirk’s second film, “Get Lost: Baja” is even more inspiring, following moto-goddess Kacey Smith (aka, the Lizard Lady of Baja GPS Guide) and company on a rugged and beautiful adventure south of the US border into the unknown baja peninsula.
Exploring the Deserts of the Earth
Michael Martin, a photographer, and Elke Wallner, a filmmaker embark on a very ambitious motorbike world tour in which they attempt to cross all of the world’s deserts on a motorbike in only 900 days. After starting off in Munich, they head first to the Arabian deserts, then to Asia, Australia, through South and North America and finally to Africa, documenting not only their adventures and experiences but each country’s unique culture along the way.
The result is a film document of their travels in a 12-part series/ 2 DVD box.
It’s a decidedly low-key adventure documentary as the duo ride a motorcycle with no escort vehicle or special supplies and singlehandedly document their journey through five continents and fifty countries.
If you are the sandy & beachy type find more kickass desert trips here.
Journey Beyond Reason: Fastest Man Around the World
When you are talking motorbike travel there is one man that has to be named and that is Nick Sanders!
Nick Sanders is the only person ever to have held multiple records for having motorcycled and bicycled full loops around the world. At one time he held the title ‘fastest man around the world on a bicycle’ having first accomplished this in 131 days and a second time in a Guinness record of 79 days. But after all the cycling he swapped his bicycle for a motorbike and became a touring legend….
Now he is best known for his extreme motorcycle journeys. He has ridden a motorbike around the world none less than 7 times! On his fastest circumnavigation he rode 19,625 miles in 19 days and 4 hours. It rightfully earned him the title ‘the Fastest Man Around the World’.
He made a great travel motorcycle documentary about this record breaking round the world trip named: ‘Journey beyond Reason: Fastest Man around the World’. It is a high-paced travelogue that will shine a light on motorbike travel with the goal of breaking records. Not everyone’s cup of tea but definitely a unique and highly interesting documentary worth watching.
Nick has also motorbiked the length of the Americas eight times and currently holds the record for a double transit from Alaska to Ushuaia and back in 46 days. Yet this “ordinary man in his extraordinary world,” as he describes himself, has also cycled to the source of the Nile, across the Sahara to Timbuktu and the length of South America before taking two narrowboats across the English Channel and along the Danube to the Black Sea and back. Read more about Nick Sanders here.
Father and son take on India and Nepal’s most majestic and treacherous terrain in this 4500km epic journey. 150cc motorcycles carry them through the struggles of deadly roads, altitude sickness, and, their past differences. This is a life adventure like no other and the dad/son teamup gives this motorcycle documentary a very unique angle .
More crazy and original Himalaya adventure trips can be found here.
The story of two mates who endure a 7000km motorcycle adventure from Austria to Egypt through 7 countries on KTM 500EXC’s dir bikes they ride loads of offroad and show some real skills.
But what would you expect from a pro-level racer-turned-videographer hell bent on chronicling all of the unseen places one can access on a dirt bike. Always one to challenge himself, Riemann concocted yet another plan to gather some of the greatest off-road motorcycle travel footage. This time the basic plan was to get two KTM 500 EXC motorbikes from the KTM factory in Mattighofen, Austria, and ride them to the most significant landmark that they could find. In Riemann’s mind, that meant the destination would be a UNESCO World Heritage site: the pyramids in Giza, Egypt.
They ride without luggage panniers but carry backpacks with their gear to travel as light as possible. Sleeping mats are attached to the side and off they go on a real moto nomadic adventure.
Long Way Round
Between April and July 2004, Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor travelled from London to New York ‘the long way round’ driving Eastwards across the entire Eurasian continent. They rode two BMW R1150GS bikes and traversed some of the most difficult terrain the world had to throw at them (notably Eastern Siberia). It was an epic documentary series, and still one of the best watches for a combination of travel, adventure and motorcycle fuelled action.
For the full ‘Long Way Round’ trip story read on here.
Long Way Down
Long Way Down is the follow-up trip to the Long Way Round. The motorcycle documentary shows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, as they team up again, this time for a motorbike journey southwards through 18 countries from John o’ Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa via Europe and Africa in 2007.
As sequels go this one is not as good as the original ‘Long Way Round’ however the African scenery and exoticism makes more than up for that!
Into the Unknown
Into the unknown is a feature-length motorcycle documentary following ex-footballer and superstar David Beckham on an Amazon journey, travelling through the rainforest on a classical Triumph motorbike with three mates.
Beckham and his friends ride Triumph Scrambler bikes throughout the Amazon rainforest and the documentary about their trip wins some cred for the classic Triumph Scrambler motorbike in the same way that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did for BMW’s GS bikes in their two Long Way Round series. The regular crashes in the muddy Amazon are not surprising given the tacky mud and the standard semi-knobby tyres on the Scrambler. And they definitely add to the appeal of this feel good road trip motorcycle documentary.
Find a detailed report about the ‘Into the Unknown’ journey here.
Four lads with no motorbike experience decide to ride motorbikes from Cape Town to London the length of the vast African Continent.
There is no support crew, no makeup, no camera man, just four mates on the adventure of a lifetime, riding bikes most people wouldn’t ride to the cow shed.
The scenery is dramatic, some of the calls are classic and the music and editing compliment the trip beautifully resulting in this African Odyssey motorcycle documentary.
Is That Thing Diesel?: One Man, One Bike and the First Lap Around Australia on Used Cooking Oil
Take one mad adventurer, one film maker, and a motor bike that runs on bio fuel (cooking oil to you and me) and send them on a road trip around Australia just to see what happens. Paul Carter decides to find out and takes a 8 horse power bio-diesel powered Cagiva W16 around Australia. What you get is a story full of characters, implausible (but true) situations, unlikely events and unfortunate breakdowns and accidents, all at a breakneck pace. And of course a motorcycle documentary that is unlike any other!
Race to Dakar
Race to Dakar is a motorcycle documentary series following actor and keen motorcyclist Charley Boorman’s entry into the 2006 Dakar Rally from Lisbon to Dakar. It gives a very good insider’s look into the rally and it’s amazing difficulty.
After having completed the Long Way Round trip with Ewan McGregor Charley Boorman decided to focus on another motorbiking challenge: his lifelong dream to enter the fabled Dakar Rally. He proposed the idea to Russ Malkin, one of the producers of Long Way Round. Malkin liked the idea but was concerned that Boorman might not finish the rally should he enter alone, so Boorman approached Simon Pavey to see if he was interested in making the documentary and also training him. A third rider, Matt Hall, was chosen to film their participation and, if necessary, allow his bike to be used for parts if anything happened to Boorman’s or Pavey’s. They entered the rally riding BMW F650RR rally bikes.
The film focuses on the many physical and mental hardships of the rally with quite a bit of interesting focus on the mental and emotional battles involved.
First aired on Sky2 and ABC Television (Australia) during 2006, it was also released as a book.
The Highest Pass
This motorcycle documentary features a journey through the Himalayas of India over the highest motorable road in the world. Basically a bunch of yanks looking for enlightenment following their guru on a motorcycle trip in the Himalayas – or – smart Indian dude tricks a bunch of yanks into paying for him to take a motorcycle trip in the Himalayas.
A more official description would be: Soon after Adam Schomer meets a modern yogi and guru, Anand Mehrotra, they plan an expedition through the highest passes of the Himalayas in Northern India. A journey of physical and spiritual exploration.
The bikers ride on the edges of Himalayan cliffs navigating dirt, gravel, snow, ice and the onslaught of loaded trucks, known as “road killers”, as they journey for 21 days towards the highest motorable road on earth. It is a pass open only three months a year and at a height 18,000ft, is on par with Everest base camp. Low oxygen, altitude sickness, river flooded roads, and a constrictive fear all live along this one lane road.
Their goal is to reach Ladakh, the land known as little Tibet where spirituality lives and breathes in everyone’s life.
Carrying a prophecy of death in his late twenties, their Yogi leader Anand Mehrotra inspires each of the riders to question what it means to truly live and pushes them to the limits of his teachings: “Only the one who dies, truly lives”. It is both haunting and inspiring. Great scenery and pretty decent motorbike riding are featured in this documentary.
This adventure cracks the foundations we think we stand on. And in this case, the foundation is a one lane road winding through the Himalayas.
The Last Hurrah
Motorcycle travel books normally tell the tales of 20-40 somethings travelling to far flung places, rarely are they the tales of 60 or 70 year olds. Kiwis Des Molloy and Dick Huurdeman just changed all that. Not only are they old blokes on bikes but old blokes on old bikes – ‘Penelope’ a Yorkshire-made 1965 650 Panther and ‘Dutch Courage’ a 1954 Norton 600 motorcycle.
The Last Hurrah is yet another fantastic motorcycle touring adventure tale about two elderly gentlemen who decide in 2005 to ride these two real Old Timer bikes from Beijing to Arnhem (Holland) to fulfill a lifelong dream and have their “Last Hurrah”.
Add to that the fact that both of them have health problems – Dick Huurdeman is a septuagenarian survivor of several strokes and a diabetes patient, Des Molloy had his own health problems that would see him in the hospital multiple times along their journey.
Now you may think, and rightly so, that two gentlemen of this vintage and with these health problems should most certainly not be setting out on a trip like this. Is is lunacy? Or adventure? A little of both, to be sure. But one thing is certain — they are definitely kickass motorcyclists!
Ten Days of Alan: Grayson Perry’s pink motorbike teddy bear pilgrimage
Kickasstrips wouldn’t be kickass if we wouldn’t finish this list with a very bizarre motorcycle documentary. It involves an eccentric artist, a pink Harley and a teddy bear!
Sometimes referred to as ‘troubled’ and ’eccentric’ Perry’s ‘take’ on the world is certainly different than anyone and his take on motorcycle touring is certainly unlike any other on our humble planet.
Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry is known for his bizarre crossdressing as his alter ego ‘Claire’ and his even more bizarre, but highly acclaimed art! Not many people know about his kickass motorbike journey where he toured halfway across Europe on a pink madly decorated Harley Knucklehead motorbike carrying his teddybear and childhood hero, Alan Measles, in a glass shrine on the back. A glass shrine? Yes Perry had seen the popemobile and knew his teddybear deserved nothing less than the pope for the motorbike trip he was going to undertake in honour of his best pal, Alan Measles the teddybear.
True to Perry’s originality he made an audio documentary about the teddybear honouring motorcycle trip. And bizarrely the audio account of that trip was broadcast on BBC radio. A pure audio documentary strangely enhances the surreal pink motorbike travel experience. With no visual cues it is left to the listener to imagine the reaction to Perry’s arrival and focus on his very personal explanation of the ride. As they go, Grayson and Alan the teddy reflect on the nature of art and pilgrimage, share memories of childhood and the speed of their motorbike on Tyrolean mountain passes.
Thank you Grayson Perry, do it again soon! Ride safe, and cuddle your kickass teddy with pride!
Find the Radio report about his kickasstrip here at the BBC: http://bbc.in/SsV7Ix
Nordkapp Honda Roadtrip – a Northbound Motorcycle Touring Adventure Film
Norway’s Nordkapp, Europe’s Northern most point named North Cape in English, captures many a traveler’s imagination. It is one of those ultimate roadtrip destinations that you have to visit once in a lifetime. And that’s exactly what 3 Greek friends did in 2016. On motorcycles. And they documented it beautifully in a kickass motorcycle touring Film with amazing drone footage…all the way up North to the Nordkapp on their Honda twin motocycles…A kickass Honda Roadtrip was born!
Find the full story + documentary film here.
BONUS: Storm Wave, around the world in 80 days on the world’s first full electric touring motorbike
Not a full-fledged documentary, but rather a collection of 1/2 minute video updates is this unique round the world trip on the world’s first electric motorbike.
The brainchild of a group of Engineering students from Holland who developed this motorbike – named Storm Wave – from scratch and subsequently drove it around the world in 80 days. Find the full story, technical details of the electric motorbike and the video updates here.
As we are always keen to hear about more kickass motorcycle documentaries and films feel free to add any film you feel is missing in this list.