Posted On 27 Apr 2024
Comment: Off
This entry is part 20 of 29 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#28



Yes, sahib, this fine motorcycle has come into my possession… (Experience Asia)


A chat with one of our Bear Army troopers the other day reminded me of a question a reader asked a year or so ago; not because they were similar but because they were just about diametrically opposite.

Our trooper found himself in the interesting position of having some unexpected spare time – well, he was temporarily out of work – but not a lot of cash. The other bloke had money to spare, but almost no time. Yet both of them wanted to use what they had for an overseas motorcycle trip. Both of them also asked me what I’d recommend for them.

Oh what fun.

The obvious response of course is that they should each give the other some of what they had in excess, but I’ve long given up hope that anyone would ever do that.

Or that it would work if someone did. The realistic answers are almost as simple.

For our trooper, I suggested finding the cheapest flight on one of the budget airlines to either Cambodia or Thailand, or even Vietnam, and then renting a bike.

Do not be tempted to bring home any “herbs” from Vietnam!

Living in these countries is unbelievably cheap, and there are lots of things to see and do. If you’re time- as well as cash poor, an organised trip would be better.

Our well-off reader, I’d suggest, would be best served by a personalised guided tour.

Pick somewhere that has stuff you want to see, or roads you want to ride; choose a time when the weather is almost certain to be good; and get a personal guide from a motorcycle tour company. Where did I suggest he go? Either New Zealand because it’s closest, or Hawaii because it’s not all that much further. Both are reachable in a reasonable amount of time; both have good bike roads and a sophisticated rental system. And both can provide a terrific weekend’s riding, if you really don’t have any more time.

New Zealand tourist infrastructure is even better than Australia’s.


When I was in my 20s, in the 1970s, I took off backpacking to see the world and survived five years in SE Asia, Africa, Asia (including Iran & Afghanistan – scary even back then), South, Central and North America, says John Cayless. I’ve been riding since I was 18 but when I was backpacking I mostly didn’t have the funds to hire a motor bike, but I did splurge a few times!

Upon returning home I had ambitions to start a tour business of some kind but the reality of settling down, getting a job and having kids put a stop to that. After my two gorgeous kids were born we were on holidays and I was lying on the beach and realised that if I didn’t start a tour business then I never would. So off I went to the caravan and wrote down an itinerary for a tour to Nepal… it took all of five minutes as it was all in my head waiting to come out!!! I put an advert in a local newspaper and soon had a group of 13.

The tour was a great success, and I was on my way. On that first tour to Nepal we were finishing a trek into the Himalayas, and when we reached the road I asked a local if I could have spin on his motor bike. As I was riding along I thought “why not do it on motor bikes?” That was the beginning of Asian Experience.

I started out as an accountant. Looking back now, that’s so not me… Having spent those five years backpacking with two of them in Nepal and India, I felt that I had sufficient knowledge to put together itineraries taking in the best things to see and do. There were no Asian motor bike tour operators in the late 1980s so I thought there might be a market specialising only in motor bike tours. Since starting Asian Experience I’ve pioneered tours to Nepal, India, Tibet, Bhutan, Vietnam and Bali… these have since been copied by other operators, but I was the l pioneer which is something I’m very proud of!

A typical riding day begins with the bikes being started and warmed up by the mechanics and the riders’ luggage being loaded into the support vehicles. This is followed by a briefing about the day’s ride ahead.

You are more likely to be riding an Enfield than a Harley in India.

Hotels are usually in towns, so the first vehicle will lead the riders out of town while the rear vehicle which carries me, local guide, mechanic, bike spares and tools keeps the bikes moving. The vehicles communicate by CB in order to keep the riders together. Once out on the open road the riders can go ahead at their own pace with regular photo/rest/drink/snack/toilet stops to bring the group back together. I encourage the riders to take photos, look at the interesting things which the locals may be doing, visit a school which might severely disrupt their day… but the independence of riding a bike allows this. Lunch is at restaurants that I have used previously so I know the food and kitchen facilities. I aim to arrive at the destination hotel late afternoon so the riders can relax with a few drinks or go exploring and the mechanics can prepare the bikes for the next day’s ride.

I’ve never looked at what I do as a “job”. I’m doing it because I love the destinations. I feel privileged to introduce people to these wonderful countries which have such a diversity of people, scenery, climate, vegetation, culture, religions, architecture and lifestyles…..not to mention some great riding. John Cayless, Asian Experience Motor Bike Tours ( , Ph & Fax 03 59892512, mobile 0409 230 252.

The gift that keeps on giving includes 227 wonderful rides all over Australia.


Every motorcyclist will want the brand new Hema Maps Australia Motorcycle Atlas with 200 Top Rides. This is the 6th fully revised edition. “It soon becomes indispensable,” says Stuart, “so if you want to give a gift that will keep on giving, the Motorcycle Atla s is it. Of course it also makes the ideal present for… yourself!”

ONLY $44.95 plus $9.95 packing and postage (to most addresses in Australia).

Consists of two spiral-bound full colour books in a protective plastic sleeve. One is for your planning and the other holds the maps and is just the right size and format for your tank bag.

“Plus a huge wall map of Australia with another bonus 27 long rides” Stuart continues.

“Trace your travels in style!

With routes selected and described by our own, Peter “The Bear” Thoeming, this is the way to plan and track your rides all over Australia.”

Get this latest edition now, from our website or by writing to .


Lewis and Clark would not have come across one of these Indians on their travels.

We know him for many other things such as his philosophy of democracy, but US President Thomas Jefferson probably never did anything that was eventually more significant than despatching explorers Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. They were the first white Americans to explore the country between the mountains of Montana and the Pacific Ocean. Their efforts opened up the Pacific Northwest, blazing a trail for settlers to follow for years to come. Now you can ride with Moto Quest this September 17 to 30 to retrace the steps of the historic expedition with Moto Quest founder Phil Freeman and Jim Kohl, a Lewis and Clark historian.

More details about the Trail of Lewis & Clark Adventure from or on

Series Navigation<< LONG TERMERSUSED & REVIEWED >>
About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
Page Scroller Supported By Bottom to Top