Traveling by bicycle is one of the most adventurous and rewarding ways to explore the world. And watching a great bicycle touring documentary is a perfect mood maker for it. So for all your bike touring addicts, bikepackers and novices we have compiled a list of 25 of the best and most inspirational bicycle touring documentary films. It ranges from record breaking round-the-world trips, surfing & cycling missions, peak-to-peak climbing rides, a crossing of the Sahara desert on two wheels to fixie riding nutters that attempt to cross Iceland….and a whole lot more. If you love bike riding and bikepacking you are sure to find a great bicycle adventure film in the following list…
Janapar: Love on a bicycle
In 2007, 23-year-old Englishman Tom Allen is all set for a successful career, but he finds himself persisted by the question of our time: isn’t there more to life than this? Leaving it all behind, Tom sets off on the ultimate quest for freedom.
A total newbie to the world of long-distance bicycle touring, 23-year-old Tom Allen pedaled away from his comfortable English lifestyle and set off into the unknown to “cycle a lap of the Earth”.
With his mates Mark and Andy, Tom sets off across Europe. Together they encounter a host of idealists, eccentrics and fellow travellers, who help – and sometimes hinder – them on their epic journey. But as winter approaches, temperatures drop and tensions start to rise. Romances old and new pull his friends away from the trip, leaving Tom to face the road alone.
For the next 12,000 miles, with neither maps nor guidebooks, Tom films the unfolding of his dream. Despite his lack of experience and questionable athletic talent, he cycles and camps his way across three continents. But the journey takes an unlikely detour when he meets a beautiful, feisty Iranian-Armenian girl – Tenny.
Totally smitten but determined to keep his dream alive, Tom convinces Tenny to leave her life in Yerevan behind and get on a bicycle and join him. But after cycling to Iran together, they come up against the toughest obstacle yet: Tenny’s parents, who forbid their beloved daughter from continuing on this harebrained scheme.
Tom is forced to choose between staying with Tenny or continuing his ride alone…..
For the full info on this kickass bicycle touing travel tale check out our previou article about this love story on two wheels: http://kickasstrips.com/2014/05/janapar-love-on-a-bike-around-the-world/
Pedal the World
“What if your only desire is a journey around the globe…on a bike”
That is the starting premise of this stunning bicycle documentary. Arguably the most impressive trailer of all the top 25 bicycle touring documentary films in this list. Watching the trailer you will immediately get sucked into the bike travel vibe and will make you want to watch the full 90-minute documentary movie, Pedal The World.
German-born Felix Starck sets out from home and pedals a bicycle more than 18,000 kilometers through 22 countries in just 365 days and creates an amazing cinematic account of it. Borrowing some filming techniques and tricks from viral film “The Longest Way” actually benefit the film and turn it into a small bicycle touring documentary masterpiece.
For more info check: http://www.pedal-the-world.com/en/
The road from Karakol
A hilarious account of Kyle Dempster’s cycling and climbing adventure across Kyrgyzstan.
In the Summer of 2011, alpinist and self proclaimed long-distance cyclist Kyle Dempster set out across Kyrgyzstan’s back roads on his bike. His goal – ride across the country via old Soviet roads while climbing as many of the region’s impressive peaks as possible. He was alone, choose a bike instead of a partner and he carried only a minimalist’s ration of climbing gear. Ten Kyrgyz words rounded out his vocabulary. He’d purchased his bike just weeks before and had never bike toured. But an amazing cycling and climbing adventure in Kyrgyzstan, the “Switzerland of central Asia” was born.
More info about the entire bike trip here: http://kickasstrips.com/2017/02/the-road-from-karakol-a-cycling-and-climbing-adventure-in-kyrgyzstan/
Eat. Sleep. Surf Taiwan: a bicycle and surfing adventure film
Eat Sleep Surf: Taiwan is a 2-hour-long video series produced by Australian filmmakers, Rian Cope and Dylan Brayshaw… and it’s the story of the duo’s own self-supported bicycle/surfing adventure on the island nation of Taiwan. The originality factor of combining bicycle touring with surf wave searching puts this film in a league of its own. Over the course of four 30-minute episodes, Rian and Dylan slowly make their way across the island of Taiwan, from Taipei (the capital city) in the north to Kenting National Park in the south while surfing epic and unknown breaks along the way.
Fix the Iceland
This is definitely one of the more original and crazy bicycle adventure films in our list. It follows a two man, unsupported journey on fixed gear bicycles in hellish conditions to cross Iceland. On their fixies they have to cross deserts, lava fields, frozen rivers and a constant and unrelenting wind.
Cycling Great Britain: John O’Groats to Land’s End
Bike touring the classic 950 miles across the island of Great Britian from John O’Groats to Land’s End. With a lot of mini adventures squeezed in between the cycling: camping on the Great Glen Way above Loch Ness, waking up to 360 degree views on the West Highland Way, hiking Ben Nevis and eating thousands and thousands of calories! Good quality and great fun adventure cycling and bikepacking documentary.
Ten months, ten countries, and ten thousand kilometres of Silk Road cycling….in roughly ten minutes! This video offers a partial and hodgepodge portrayal of an amazing cycling trip
For more details on this expedition check out cyclingsilk.com
I want to see the world
A documentary following a bike ride from the shore of the Arctic Ocean (Northwest Territories, Canada) all the way to Argentina. Currently there are 17 episodes all very entertainingly filmed and the general bicycle touring documentary vibe is amazing. The first episode follows Iohan – a self declared bikewanderer – cycling in snow and on ice between the Northwest territories to British Columbia Canada. He cycles on ice roads where Alaskan ice truckers stop by to yell encouraging stuff to him. And then there is the bear encounters that will literally get you on the tip of your chair…. Holy shit they had me on the edge of my seat!
The films are both epic, quirky and original with a certain “can’t stop watching them” energy that makes it really good. The soothing voice of Iohan – who narrates all films himself – makes all even better.
Due to the many amazing episodes (17 so far, all under the name ‘SEE THE WORLD’) there is a good chance you end up binge watching them all!
Cycling touring the Tibetan Plateau
Many people don’t understand why some choose to travel on a bicycle. I was one of them… then I tried it. Now I don’t want to do it any other way.
This bike tour video is an attempt at providing a glimpse into the challenging, exciting, and incredibly rewarding world of cycle touring. The clips are from a Summer 2007 trip, about 4500kms from Kashgar, Xinjiang, to Dali, Yunnan (in China) crossing Tibet and its high altitude plateau along the way. A grand landscape combined with a great insight into the daily struggles and rewards of a bikepacker.
The man who cycled the world
A real bicycle touring documentary classic: Mark Beaumont’s mission to break the cycling round the world record.
The inside story of Mark Beaumont’s extraordinary solo attempt to smash the Guinness World Record for cycling around the world is well filmed and award winning..
In August 2007, 24 year-old Scot Mark Beaumont left Paris at the start of an 18,000 mile journey across four continents, one of the greatest endurance challenges ever attempted. Aiming to cover 100 miles a day, he faces the challenge of finding food and water while racing against the clock.
A Bike Ride out West
This bicycle travel documentary’s highlight is its amazing music and footage combination. The moment it starts and Edddie Vedder sings “Have no f ear for when I am alone, I am better off, than I was before…..” you are emotionally attached to the film. It is followed by a bunch of other great soundtracks that make this bicycle touring documentary film worth watching.
Japan by Bicycle
One month after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami Andrew, Scott and Dylan cycled the entire length of Japan to raise relief aid and finish off Andrew’s 2 year stint living in the land of the rising sun. A cycling trip covering 3500km in 43 days, a total of 175 hours on the bike and $13,092 (USD) raised is all packed in this fantastic Japanese cycling documentary. Watch the first 23 seconds of the film and you already know that you are in for a fun adventure
Brilliantly the movie is subtitled both in Japanese and English (日本語字幕付き) and the total amount of crashes is 7 (Andrew:4, Scott:3, Dylan:0).
Duzer across America
Not your full fledged massive bicycle touring documentary. Instead a 4 minute fun summary video of Duzer cycling across America on a three-speed bicycle.
Westbound & Down
A bicycle touring documentary that will greatly appeal to novice bicycle travelers. This film captures “flat tires, sore knees and discovering the ultimate way to travel” through the eyes of two first-time bike tourists that take on the Oregon and California coasts. In this 20-day adventure, Lacey Worel and Adrian Palenchar ride from Ft. Steven’s State Park (Oregon) to San Francisco (California).
Riding North is a professionally filmed and produced bicycle touring documentary film. Steve Langston and a film crew embark on a one-month bicycle journey from Whitehorse, Yukon to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Along the way they encounter bike problems, wildlife, extreme weather conditions and giant flies that take huge bleeding chunks from their flesh. With hundreds of kilometers between services, food and water become scarce and road conditions deteriorate. They are left with no other choice but to put their heads down and grind it out inch by inch to Yellowknife.
Find the full movie here: https://ridingnorthmovie.com/
Cycling home from Siberia
A real DIY bicycle touring documentary gem. Rob Lilwal sets out all by himself – without a film crew or sponsorship – to cycle from Siberia to Australia to London. The film covers the full 35,000 mile trip on his bicycle.
Happenstance: Life on a bike
Bicycle touring is like no other type of travel. You are physically and emotionally connected to every hill, every storm, and you travel slowly through every little town along the way. Though riding and camping on the side of the road is full of hazard, amazing things can happen when you embrace the uncertainty and vulnerability that accompany the open road. This documentary tells the stories of four cyclists and their experiences with being welcomed into diverse communities around the world, including SE Asia, Latin America, and the United States. This film examines the happenstance of community through life on a bike, and offers a unique perspective on the opportunity for building community here at home.
A British 23-year-old has conquered the challenge of a lifetime by cycling 1800 kilometres across the Sahara. Daniel Ofili, from Kent, swapped a routine of work and time spent with his friends to spend 36-days traveling the treacherous trail from Morocco to Senegal. Battling the elements, Daniel rode his bike far from civilisation, avoiding villages and roads and sleeping in a tent covered in foil to protect him from the heat. Facing temperatures as high as 40 degrees and hazardous conditions, Daniel was forced to catch and eat raw lizards and drink his own urine to survive the trip. See it all in this sandy and hot bicycle touring documentary.
More about Daniel and his mad trip on www.adventurevoidcollective.com
Life Lessons From a 7-Thousand-Mile Bike Ride
Part of National Geographic’s short film showcase comes this insighful bicycle travel short film.
Jedidiah Jenkins quit his job and decided to bike from Oregon to the southern tip of South America. His best friend, filmmaker Kenny Laubbacher, came along for the ride.
This short film follows Jenkins as he shares what he’s learned from his journey so far. “When you’re a kid, everything is astonishing. Everything is new, and so your brain is awake and turned on … Once your brain establishes a routine, it stops … the alertness goes away,” he says. By choosing adventure Jenkins is able to reactivate his brain and turn his “hundred years on this planet into a thousand.
One mile above
One Mile Above is the true story of a young, 24-year-old Taiwanese man named Shuhao who, after his brother (Shuwei) dies in an accident while cycling from Taiwan to Tibet, takes it upon himself to complete the bicycle touring journey his brother never managed to finish. Shuhao decides to complete Shuwei’s journey, hoping to prove himself through this challenging trip. Instead of placing his brother’s travel diary in his casket to be buried with its owner – as tradition dictates – Shuhao uses the book as inspiration to follow his brother’s path and fulfil his ultimate dream of riding to Lhasa.
It is actually a real movie that is based on the true story and book by the same name: One Mile Above.
For the full story check our previous in depth article about this travel adventure movie http://kickasstrips.com/2014/05/one-mile-above-a-brotherly-cycling-adventure-from-taiwan-to-the-highest-point-in-tibet/
Within Reach: a bicycle touring documentary in search of sustainable communities
“If you could do anything you wanted, and money did not matter at all, what would you be doing?”
That is the opening line of this original documentary film.
Mandy Creighton and Ryan Mlynarczyk are an inspirational young couple that decided to leave their homes, sell almost all of their possessions, and travel more than 12,000 miles around the United States by bike. But this wasn’t just a normal bicycle tour for this young couple. No! Mandy and Ryan were on a mission to visit more than 100 sustainable communities throughout the United States of America in a two year period in hopes of 1) learning more about sustainable communities and 2) to search for a place that they could call home.
For more info visit: http://www.withinreachmovie.com/home.shtml
Bike Against The Wind
Mark Vashro cycled 4,700+ miles across the United States while shooting a documentary film titled “Bike Against The Wind.”
Bike Against The Wind documents a vulnerable personal bicycle journey across 4700 miles of the United Statese. Setting off to learn about his own opinions and desires Mark Vashro finds that the people and landscape around him offer everything he needs. He learns that he doesn’t need to know all the answers, but to simply be happy and positive about where he is.
Ride the Divide
An award-winning feature film about the world’s toughest mountain bike race, which traverses over 2700 miles along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The film weaves the story of three characters’ experiences with immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border.
The movie, which was shot during The Great Divide Mountain Bike Race of 2008, follows the story of three brave cyclists: Mike Dion, who drops out of the race relatively early on; Mary Metcalf-Collier, the first woman to ever attempt the challenging course (and finish); and Matthew Lee, a four-time winner of previous Great Divide Race competitions.
The film is beautifully shot and edited and gives a great insight about how challenging this epic race is. Along the way riders are stretched out across hundreds of miles, often times in completely different states, greatly frustrating the Ride The Divide filmmakers as they have difficulties capturing race on film. They do succeed however to film this grueling long distance mountainbike tour that is one of a kind in the world!
For more info check: http://www.ridethedividemovie.com/
Inspired to ride
From the same producers of ride the divide comes ‘Inspired to Ride’. Forty-five cyclists from around the world set out on the inaugural Trans American Bike Race, following the famed TransAmerica Trail. Their mission is to cover 4,233 miles in one enormous stage race, traversing through ten states in a transcontinental adventure of epic proportions.
Inspired to ride follows closely the journey of a handful of these cyclists as they prepare, compete and experience what riding 300 miles a day feels like with only a few hours sleep.
There are no support teams, no follow vehicles and no prize money waiting at the end. They endure the agonizing slopes and sleet of the Rockies, the driving winds and heat of the Great Plains, and the saw tooth switchbacks of the Appalachians all for a pat on the back, bragging rights and a cold beer when its all over. Some are out to win, while others are simply trying to finish.
As they battle lack of sleep, injuries and spirited competition the bicyle touring adventure film takes us on an invigorating road trip amidst the jaw dropping beauty of the TransAmerica Trail with its varied landscapes, intriguing locals and found stories which dot this path of discovery.
Life is a pass
Mountainbiking the Haute Route From Chamonix to Zermatt
Life is a pass! To make it to the top, it takes determination, stamina, the will to suffer & reaching limits. Two friends ride the world’s most famous ski tour, the Haute Route, on mountain bikes. Their adventure is about reaching limits, real challenges, glaciers & mountain bikes on the Haute Route…..a very unique and unlikely bicycle adventure that gets them across glaciers and slippery slopes in the Alps’ most hostile (but rewarding) environment.
More bicycle touring adventures
For even more kickass bicycle touring, bikepacking and bike touring adventure stories have a look at our previous covered stories here: http://kickasstrips.com/tag/bicycle-touring/
The diversity is great with stories ranging for Couchbiking, a Trans-Africa ride on a Trandem (3 person tandem), Unicycling across the USA to bicycle-hitchhiking. Loads of kickass bicycle travel tales to be found.