Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview: Jonathan Gibson, Sydney to London on a 350cc Royal Enfield

Who are you ?
My name is Jonathan Gibson. A guy who gave up his day job (it's hard to believe I used to wear a suit... and have clean finger nails) to ride an old Enfield from Sydney to London while raising money for charity.  

When did you first get interested in bikes?
I have always had a thing for bikes. As a kid I had a hard-backed poster of Mick Doohan hanging in my wall. As a teenager I owned a leather jacket and jackboots long before I ever had a motorcycle. Despite coming from 5 generations of motorcyclists my parents were always very adamant that I should stay away from motorcycles.   

What was the first bike you ever owned?
A bright yellow 1994 Suzuki Bandit 250 at age 18. My parents tried very hard to keep me away from them... but here we are.  I rode the be-jesus out of that bike. Multi-day trips with all my gear loaded up. Learning to ride it on the back winding mountain roads around Brisbane and just being a general delinquent and hoon. The girl I was seeing lived at the bottom of a notorious mountain called Mt Glorious which Charlie Boorman once described as  "A truly great stretch of road": I used to blast that late at night when there were no cars or other bikes around. None of my friends owned bikes so I learnt to push the boundaries of that bike by myself.  I am very surprised that was not my first and last bike.  

What was the first motorcycle trip you ever took?
To go camping with my grandparents at a camp site so I could go fishing with them. The camping and fishing spot was about 4 hours north of Brisbane on the back roads. I didn't bring any food apart from a few packets of Ramen noodles to eat. To this day my grandparents still remind me about the time I went camping with nothing but a few packets of noodles and they had to feed the underprepared starving motorcyclist. In my defence - I really love noodles. 

In in 2012 Jonathan did 12,000kms on a 150cc across South America.

Sydney to London on a 350cc Royal Enfield. How? What? Why?
I read a book called the yellow book or 'Across Asia on the Cheap' along with Ted Simons' - 'Jupiter's Travels'. They both painted a picture of large overland travel from years ago... A very much a DIY attitude - No support crew, no real budget... Well... that kind of travel just appealed to me.   I always wanted to do a big motorcycle trip after blasting across South America on a 150cc for which I put together a photo blog which picked up 1.2 million views! I (and other people apparently) really got a kick out of taking a non-traditional bike to its limits and doing things that people say "Can't be done". 

I am the 5th generation to ride an Enfield, and I was aware that my grandfather rode a post-war 350 Bullet. I liked old bikes. Then one day I was siting in an office... I made the call to do a trip. Combine a few things I love. Old bikes, travel, meeting people and put it in action while raising money for charity. A few months later I left Sydney. 

What kind of preparations did you make for this ride? 
Not many. I didn't have much of a budget so I spent some time making some gear, researching the most cost effective mods I could make to the old bike along with some googling of different visa requirements. 

What bank did you hold up for this ride? 
These kind of trips can be cheaper than most people think. For me this trip will cost around the same as a new Harley Davidson back home. My budget is roughly $15 AUD a day or 25 Rupees a KM over 1.5 years.   

Till now what was the best and the worst part of the ride you have encountered?
The best part would have been some of the back roads between Goa and Mumbai. The run along the North Coast of Sumatra was also amazing. The worst part... Outback Australia. Just long straight stretches for days with nothing to really see while the sun cooked both bike and rider. I am glad I did it... but I will not rush back into it.   

What's in your garage back home?
I could never afford to have a garage when I was in Sydney. I did have a small outside courtyard though that I shared with another motorcyclist I lived with. In that area there were a whole bunch of redbacks (potentially lethal spiders), my Cagiva Raptor, my '72 XL 250, my house mate's SV650 and his XL500. We would have to put up a tarp when we wanted to wrench to prevent major sunburn. That said, I sold all of my bikes to do this trip. One day I will own a garage... That will be a good day. 

What advice do you have for other motorcycle nomads?
Carry a Leatherman and a smile. Those things along will get you out of 99% of your issues. 

Where do we go to follow your journey to London?
The websiteFacebook, Instagram and Twitter 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The ZMR Wanderers 2nd ride.

The second edition of the wanderers ride took us out of Mumbai again to explore Maharashtra. 


The contest for the next ride is up on the Autocar Facebook page here so sign up who knows you may be on the next ride out with us.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Royal Enfield Crotch Rocket by Anthony

How fast is your Royal Enfield? That is hardly something you hear Enfield riders ever ask each other unless you frequent Anthony Auto Works in Mumbai. Anthony is an artist when it comes to building Enfields and just built this one that did the quarter mile in 13.454 sec (153kph) decimation all the competition in its class.

Now only if we could get a decent video of the run.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Garage52 BBQ Sunday

Before we went off to celebrate the end of 2014 we fired up the BBQ one last time at Garage52. Turns out while we were busy grillin and downing the beers the Awara Project was busy filming and this is what they put together.

Check it out and keep a watch out for more stuff happening at the Garage in 2015.

Pangi Valley

Have you started planning your sojourns to the mountains for 2015?

Well here is some inspiration from our friend Chris Zahner (who is soon going to be making his way to India to make his film on Royal Enfield) who rode with us last year to Pangi.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Wanderers ride

It's 2015 and its time to start planning out where we must go riding this year. So here is a great start.

Autocar India and Hero MotoCorp are hosting a monthly online contest for the next year on their Facebook pages. The winners get to hop on the new Karizma ZMR and spend a few days riding around the country. Now here is the clincher Vir from the Helmet Stories crew is running these rides. So here is your chance to go out riding with us check out the Autocar Events Page for the next upcoming ride and maybe you can be one of the lucky three. 

Here are some pictures from the first ride to Tapola and Murud from Mumbai. 

See you guys on the road.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Triumphant ride into the Himalayas

Almost a month ago Ouseph and I rode two Triumph Motorcycles deep into the Himalayas in the search of snow.The idea was to ride into the Spiti Valley and see if we could get to Kaza. The valley had already seen its first snowfall and Kaza was covered in a blanket of white a few weeks before we left so we needed to be peppered for the cold, the fact that there may be no where to stay in Kaza and that there may be no fuel for the bikes to make the trip back. We made it to Kaza and came back with heck of a story which you can check out out the January 2015 Edition of Evo India on stands now or just check here for the digital version. Google Play: and iOS App Store:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chasing the Bullet

We were introduced to Chris Zahner through a moto friend we came across on Instagram. He was travelling to India and after a few emails one thing led to another and Chris ended up joining us on our ride to Pangi. Now he is getting ready to make another trip to India to make a film on the Royal Enfield and the stories behind this motorcycle.

In his words Chasing the Bullet is going to be roughly 60 minutes long and will be a "people's history" of the the Royal Enfield. I have amassed a long list of contacts and various characters who will drive the narrative of this film. There will be anecdotes, historical contexts, personal stories and more. These stories of the Royal Enfield will be juxtaposed to modern day in which these themes, motifs and circumstances continue to exist. Overall, the film will show why the Royal Enfield was so relevant when it arrived in the mid-20th century from England, it's widespread use and survival in India against the backdrop of a developing world and most importantly, why it is still so relevant today. Additionally, this film will explore the future of the Royal Enfield in the context of a changing motorcycle scene and why its roots and characteristics are still incredibly relevant.

Check out his page on Kickstarter and needs all the help he can get to get his project off the ground.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chorla Ghat

An easy ride out of Goa over Chorla ghat to eat some mind blasting paranthas in Belgaum.