Motorcycles and books have a lot more in common than at first glance. They both have the unique ability to transport their reader or rider away from all of their problems and, for a few hours, provide a blissful retreat.
Given the unfortunate turn of events that has become 2020, a lot of us have had to turn to get our adrenaline kick elsewhere. This is why we thought it would be a good time to provide exactly that in the form of our picks for the best motorcycle adventure books.
There is no doubt that most of us prefer riding over reading, but given the fact that going for a six-week cross country adventure is probably not viable, we have the next best thing.
So whether you are looking for a hair raising adventure that will keep you on your toes, wanting to see how someone toured your backyard, or just want to relax and let someone else do the long miles in an uncomfortable seat, we have you sorted with recommendations like
Related post: What to Take on a Motorcycle Road Trip
Top Picks for the Best Motorcycle Adventure Books
Best Overall – Bitten By the Bullet
Bitten by The Bullet is the motorcycle adventure that has it all. It is written by two kiwis (that in itself is a great start) Steve Krzystyniak and Lily, his partner, who spent their youth traveling the world.
The story follows Steve and Lily as they travel on Royal Enfields through the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. The timeline jumps between their first trip alone to taking a tour group of which Karan, who helped co-author the book, is part of with her husband.
It covers Steve and Lily’s first encounter with locals, the good and the bad as well as highlights how their relationships grow during their time in India. We get to see how a single conversation with a stranger in a foreign land can set you down a path you never imagined, which is exactly what happens in Bitten by the Bullet.
This book perfectly captures the easy-going nature of Steve, and by the end of it, you can’t help but want to go along on the next tour. I would highly recommend this book for armchair travelers and adventure seekers alike. The fact that it is told with differing points of view means we get a very well rounded view of the trip.
This is one of my favorite books. It effortlessly combines travel and adventure with motorcycles. I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants an escape.
Best Adventure Book for Women – Lone Rider
The Lone Rider is the true story of Elspeth Beard and how in late 1982 she left England with a plan to ride solo around the world on her second hand 1974 BMW R 60/6 flat-twin bike.
The book itself wasn’t published until 2017 after Elspeth was contacted by a Hollywood agent who wanted to make a film about it. Once Lone Rider was finally published, it went on to win the Best Shextreme Adventure Book Award 2018.
Don’t let the fact that so much time passed between the actual ride around the world and Elspeth putting it on paper put you off. Being a true adventurer, had kept diaries, photos, paperwork, and other bits and bobs from her travels which helped her recreate her adventure. After having spent two years in the works, the final product is an adventure-packed non-fiction novel that keeps you hanging on right up until the final page.
This adventure happened before all the fancy navigation gear, which is what sets her story apart, that and the fact she was a stereotype smasher.
The plot (with no spoilers, of course) recounts Elspeth’s journey from New York, around the globe through Canada, to New Zealand, then back up to London as well as almost everywhere in between, over the course of two years and 35,000 miles.
During her time on the road, she had more than her fair share of accidents and bad luck and break downs. But she managed to deal with them all and met some very interesting characters along the way.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good old fashion adventure.
Best Humor Book – Is That Bike Diesel, Mate?
Is That Bike Diesel, Mate? is the third book by Paul Carter. Paul Carter has a unique sense of humor which when combined with his can-do attitude, makes this book something you will either love or hate.
Now, if you have read any of Paul’s other books, the first being ‘Don’t Tell Mum I work On the Rigs, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse’, you may be slightly let down by ‘Is That Bike Diesel Mate?’. Although very funny, it is not quite up to his usual standard.
The story follows Paul on a trip around Australia on a biofuel bike trying to escape his responsibilities one last time before settling down to life with a wife and child. The hitch is the bike was built by students on a very tight budget.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I can also understand why it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Best Uplifting Motorcycle Adventure Book – Touching The World: A Blind Woman, Two Wheels and 25,000 Miles
Riding around the world on the pillion seat of your partner’s BMW R100RT would make enough people turn around and walk the other way. Not Cathy Birchall though. In 2008 she climbed on the back of her partner Bernard’s bike, and together they set out on a 25,000-mile adventure.
The thing that sets Touching The World: A Blind Woman, Two Wheels and 25,000 Miles story apart is the fact that Cathy is blind and yet together with Bernad, she travels through 31 countries. This book is not about seeing the world but experiencing it. Cathy is a very talented writer and her book is refreshing and inspirational.
I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone, motorcyclist or not. It will move you and is one of those books you will find yourself thinking of in years to come.
Best Book for Inspiration – Jupiter’s Travels
Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon is perhaps one of the most well-known motorcycle adventure books out there. It is crazy enough when someone who has been riding all their life decides to travel the world on two wheels. But for someone who didn’t even have a license, well, it makes for one great book.
In 1973, that’s exactly what Ted Simons did – after he re-sat his motorcycle license because he failed the first time, of course. This English journalist managed to convince a major British newspaper to support him and got Triumph to give him a 500cc T100 in order to start his adventure.
He then spent four years having the adventure of a lifetime and traveling around the world, doing nearly 80,000 miles across six continents.
This book is a must-read for any motorcyclist. It is filled with ups and downs but in the end, goes to show all the best (and the worst) bits of riding a motorbike and is guaranteed to have you planning your next adventure.
What to Consider When Choosing Motorcycle Adventure Books
Type of Adventure
Reading allows you to experience a thousand lifetimes. Finding the right adventure book will no only be an enjoyable read while you have it but may also plant an idea in your mind for later.
There are three main types of motorcycle adventure books:
The Solo Trip
The solo trip often happens after a life-changing experience like a near-death experience or releasing the life they had built no longer fulfilled them. They are packed with self-development and reflection and almost always end with the person coming out the other side with a differing worldview.
The Partner Trip
This isn’t always with a romantic partner, sometimes just a good friend, but the idea is the same. These often end up being some of the most wild adventures because, depending on the people, they end up egging each other and winding up in unique situations. The Partner Trip type of book is often a lot more light-hearted than solo trip books.
The Pack Trips
These are were great hoards of bikers flock together for one big adventure. These books are often very humorous but not as common as the other two.
Unfortunately, books are expensive, especially if you are the kind of person to read it once and never touch it again. Thankfully there is a range of ways to get around this.
Check out your local library to see if they have a decent collection or even better, if you request a specific title, they should be able to order it from other libraries so you can pick it up in-store.
You could also post up on your local motorcycle group Facebook page to see if anyone has some they would be willing to lend you.
Depending on the popularity of the book, you may also be able to find an online PDF version that you can download and read.
If you are like me, however, and find pleasure in reading books again and again, then investing in the book itself is a good idea. The first port of call should be to a local second-hand bookstore to see if you can find something that spins your wheels. The advantage of second-hand book stores is, the books are often insanely cheap and usually in good condition as well.
Other options include looking online through sights like craigslist or Facebook marketplace, and if all else fails, Amazon is always there for you.
Frequently Asked Question
Where can I find more adventure books like these?
Asking other bikers or at local meet-ups is a good way to find some great books, and maybe even an offer to have it loaned to you. If this proves unsuccessful, then a simple google search of motorcycle adventure books will give you lots of options to choose from.