Thanks in part to documentaries like Long Way Round and epic ride films like The Motorcycle Diaries, adventure motorcycling has grown massively in the last decade. Few activities offer more freedom, speed and adventure than taking a break for a long trip on your bike. There are hundreds of impressive scenic roads peppered around the globe, stacked with a combination of twists and smooth hardtops where you can crank the throttle, let loose and drink in the spectacular surrounds.
Here are just five of the best to get you thinking about taking that big adventure trip you’ve always daydreamed of.
1. Big Sur, Pacific Coast Highway, California, USA
Stretching between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this curvy road is a joy to ride. Civilisation quickly melts away as you head through this two-lane highway past ancient redwood forests, plunging cliffs and seal-strewn beaches.
Tip: Bixby Creek Bridge south of Monterey is one of the most photographed along the route. Stop off to recharge and make the most of the surroundings.
2. Ho Chi Minh trail, Vietnam
This epic trail that meanders between north and south Vietnam, and dips in and out of neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, was developed in the 60s to avoid the demilitarised zones between the two warring Vietnams. Now it’s a stunning route through rural countryside that’s only accessible by motorbike and foot.
Tip: Don’t even consider this trip during the wet season (October to April). The deluge of rain each year leaves the road temporarily prone to landslides and dangerous riding conditions.
3. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Technically the largest war memorial in the world, this 242 kilometer stretch of road runs from Port Campbell to Anglesea. Hugging the rugged coast before nipping inland to the Otway National Park, this road is less about adrenaline and more about cruising.
Tip: If you’re running this one both ways starting in the morning, begin your trip in Anglesea so you’re not riding into the glaring sun.
4. The Amalfi Coast, Italy
This is perhaps one of the finest examples of coastal scenery anywhere on the Italian peninsula. Much of the journey through this UNESCO world heritage site along the Strada Stratale 163 has been carved directly out of the sheer coastal cliffs. Starting from Sorrento and meandering along to Amalfi, this road is a delight to ride and a journey not easily forgotten.
Tip: Locals recommend taking this trip in shoulder season (mid-September to May) when the road is less crowded and the tour buses are fewer.
5. Ruta Nacional 40 (RN 40), Patagonia, Argentina
This iconic highway snakes its way up the western side of Argentina for over 5,000 kilometres. While the northern part of the road is still largely unpaved, the southern part from Bariloche down to El Calafate has largely been upgraded, making for a smooth cruise. Think jagged snowcapped peaks, alpine lakes, glaciers and ancient forests. The best time of year to hit this one is between December and March.
Tip: Stop off and visit the ancient Pinturas Valley (Valley of Paintings) to see the prehistoric cave paintings of the Teheulches people. The colourful handprints adorning the walls of Cueva de las Manos are not to bemissed.
These are just a handful of the world’s epic rides. There’s far more out there to explore. So let your imagination run wild and plan that epic trip where you can be at one with your wheels and the magnificent winding road ahead.