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Adventure Motorcycling Handbook - wBW Book Review

BMW GS 30 Year Catalog

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

by Chris Scott
Paperback, 384 pages (Sixth Edition)
Publisher: Trailblazer Guides
November 2012
Dimensions (inches): 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.3
ISBN: 1905864469

wBW Book Review
by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

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"The first thing we did was buy the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook" - Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, Long Way 'Round.

Update to the 6th Edition

The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook can now officially be called a "classic".

First started as what was once called a "monograph", it has morphed into a 384-page guide to "Everything You Wanted to Know About Adventure Touring But Were Afraid to Ask", to paraphrase Woody Allen.

I reviewed the 5th edition back in May of 2005, and that review is included below.

So many books have passed across my lap since then that I didn't realize we had reviewed this one previously until I started putting pixels to screen, as it were.

And after reading my original review, I realized there's not much more I can say about this book.

I no longer have the 5th edition, so I can't comment on the differences.

In fact, there's nothing in the 6th edition itself, in the press material that came with the book or anywhere else I can find that describes the differences -- an oversight, in my opinion.

So whether or not 5th edition owners should upgrade is unknown. But I think the sections on "Route Outlines" are new; they include specific country guides for Asia, Mexico, Central and South America and Africa. These are no-nonsense, concise route guidance, customs and border information sections for many countries.

I believe the Route Outlines would indeed be "worth their weight in gold", should you find yourself traveling in those countries. The guidance of a very experienced traveler would indeed come in very handy.

But the 6th edition of Adventure Motorcycling Handbook also contains a huge amount of useful information for nimrods like me. Although even six editions still haven't convinced me to consider taking off on a worldwide adventure myself, it's a good armchair read, packed with tips that may also help your local backwoods "adventure".

In fact, reading the book is fun but actually further convinces me that this type of adventure touring is not for me. Maybe 30 years ago, when I was younger and even dumber, but certainly not now.

Now I'm sure some smartie will write to ask why a guy who isn't an adventure touring type wrote the review. My answer to that is this: the number of true adventure tourers in the entire world who have accomplished what this book describes can probably be counted on one hand. We just do not have one of them handy to do this book review, sorry!

Now I don't really think that anyone seriously considering a 'round-the-world motorcycle adventure can read this one book and then hop on a bike and take off. Obviously -- to me anyway -- there is a huge amount of preparation for any cross-continent trip, be it on dirt or street.

But surely this book will point you in the right direction in a number of ways. For example, I found some of the tips on border crossings to be most helpful and it is information I wasn't previously aware of. And I also find the stories about travel to places I will most likely never see in my entire life to be very interesting also.

If you are considering a cross-border motorcycle adventure, I can think of no other book I'd recommend first.

The Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

This is one of those books that is "worth its weight in gold", as they say.

Not that I've ever taken a 'round the world journey on an R80GS...or will.

But it doesn't take a genius to realize that this book has, pound for pound, more hard facts and information about international motorcycle touring than anything else around

This is the 5th version of the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, so you know this book must be very popular, because no publisher is going to get to release 5 without a huge demand.

Published by Trailblazer Guides in the UK, Adventure Motorcycling Handbook is jam-packed with information, maps, charts, photos and more and is considered to be the "Bible" of motorcycle adventure touring.

Trailblazer is an incredibly specialized boutique publisher, and one that - thank goodness - has remained alive in this age of relentless press consolidation.

They specialize in "hard core" information for travelers to obscure and remote regions of the world.

Take a gander at their website for books on places you probably never heard of. They have trekking guides to places like Ladakh, Annapurna, Everest, Langtang, Pyrenees, Dolomites, Morocco; rail guides for the Trans-Siberian, Silk Route, China, BAM, Trans-Canada, Australia; budget route guides for Asia Overland, Istanbul to Cairo Overland, driving guides through the Sahara Overland and even an Indian Ashram Guide.

Oh, and by the way - they also have motorcycle adventure guides!

Let's face facts: most of us are "armchair" adventure tourers, equipping our KLR650's or BMW GS-series bikes for the someday world tour. We surely don't need a book like this to make a run down to the local motorcycle shop. But hey - you never know when you'll be asked to take that R80 on your next trans-African trek, so you may as well read up and get ready.

This book is really fascinating. It includes information on the top ten overland routes on all the major continents: Africa, Asia, Australia and Central, South and North America.

It's loaded with information on which gear to pack and why; bike preparation; documentation; shipping and even medical information, navigation, survival and more! 

And it's all interwoven with first-hand tips by the author and others, gleaned from years of motorcycle adventure touring. There's even a "Women and Adventure Motorcycling" section! The book is also broken up by sections of great color photos from motorcycle treks around the world.

The author, Chris Scott, has a long and varied motorcycling career, doing everything from London dispatch (on a Ducati 900SS!) to exploring the Sahara. He wrote Desert Travels and has even made adventure films, such as Call of the Wild, Desert Riders (featured on the National Geographic Channel) and Gorge Riders. He's also written Sahara Overland for Trailblazer and parts of Rough Guide Australia.

I'm an armchair adventurer myself, and this book has given me hours of enjoyment and fantasizing. If you're at all interested in what might lie over the horizon, Adventure Motorcycling Handbook is for you.

Review Date: March 2013. First reviewed in May of 2005.

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