Being able to go on long road trips is one of the biggest advantages of being a biker. Road trips are a great way to escape from the monotony of weekly routines and rejuvenate yourself. The destination isn’t even that important; the roads and the bike you’re on matter more. But if you find brilliant roads coupled to amazing destinations, it’s an absolute dream come true. Here are 10 of the world’s best bike trips in no particular order.
1. Manali to Leh, India
Distance: 490 kilometres
The route from Manali to Leh is quite gruelling but it’s completely worth it. You’ll be tackling high mountain passes, narrow roads and the harshest terrains. But you’ll also witness views that just can’t be described by words; Snow-clad Himalayan passes, green valleys and long stretches without a soul in sight are what await you on this route which is considered a holy grail for Indian bikers.
2. Chasing Che, Cuba
Distance: 2,000 kilometres
Chasing Che Guevara’s ghost down the highway of an enigmatic Communist island nation that resembles a Hollywood stage set is a thrill in itself (Motorcycle Diaries for those of you who don’t get the reference). Classic American cars and creaky ox carts are companions on your clockwise loop from Havana to Baracoa, with plenty of time for salsa, cigars and rum.
3. Ceuta to Marrakesh loop, Morocco
Distance: 2,570 kilometres
Bikers on this route journey through an exotic realm of ancient kasbahs (citadels), souks (bazaars) and desert cultures. After rolling off the ferry at Ceuta, riders switchback through the wild Rif Mountains to Fez, then traverse the Atlas Mountains (snow-capped in winter) to hit the Sahara at Erfoud. Snaking west through the Todra Gorge, the route passes palm groves of Ouarzazate and the imperial city of Marrakesh.
4. Pyrenees Loop, France and Spain
Distance: 2,410 kilometres, Bilbao to Biarritz
A head turner for its sensational scenery and mind-bending hairpins, this route is a favorite among European bikers.
From Bilbao you spin east on the N260 (a legendary biking road worming into the Pyrenees), hit La Seu d’Urgell, then wind north to Andorra, dropping back to Spain at Bourg-Madame for 48 kilometers (30 miles) of twisties coiling down to Ripoli. At Figueres you can stop at the Dalí museum before rolling along the Mediterranean coast to France. The D117 from Perpignan threads through narrow mountain passes to Col d’Aspin, with grin-inducing bends all the way to Biarritz.
5. The Great Ocean Road, Australia
Distance: 290 kilometres
This one-day ride from Melbourne to Petersbrough winds through shoreline rainforest, skirts sensational surfing beaches and unfurls along the rugged Shipwreck Coast, renowned for limestone pinnacles piercing the sea like witch’s fingers. The route is perfect for a winter ride.
6. California and the American West
Distance: 5,630 kilometres, Los Angeles to San Francisco (the long way)
This undisputed champion of road trips weaves together many of the West’s iconic national parks. From Los Angeles, Route 66 traces back in time to Arizona, the Grand Canyon and mesmerizing formations of Monument Valley.
Heading north, the road takes in Natural Bridges National Park, then arcing west takes in Bryce and Zion national parks. You can twist the throttle across the Mojave Desert to Death Valley then skirt the snow-capped Sierra Nevada northbound to Lee Vining and Yosemite National Park — unrivaled in grandeur.
7. Cape Town Circuit, South Africa
Distance: 1,690 kilometres
Fantastic roads, amazing scenery and excellent climate — South Africa is perfect for a one- or two-week fly-ride vacation. From Cape Town the wild coast heads east then the road turns north over the Olifantskip Pass to Addo National Park. A throttle-open ride across the Great Karoo to Oudtshoorn heralds dizzying switchbacks, via Route 62, over the Little Karoo Mountains to sample the wines around Robertson before closing your loop in Cape Town.
8. Pacific Coast Highway, California
Distance: 320 kilometres, San Luis Obispo to San Francisco
No top 10 would be complete without this stellar ride.
Civilization disappears quickly as you dance a thrilling two-lane tango past seal-strewn beaches, redwood forests, plunging cliffs and the crashing surf of Big Sur. Also en route – the fishing town of Monterey, the surfing capital of Santa Cruz, and everyone’s favourite city with a famous bridge, San Francisco.
9. Dales and Moors, Yorkshire, England
Distance: 440 kilometres, Kendal to Whitby
This one-day ride across North Yorkshire offers nonstop bends, fast straights, wild scenery and gentle vales dotted with market towns. The A684 launches you over the Pennines to Hawes, gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park via Aysgarth to Leyburn. Turn south here to Masham for Ripon and Thirsk, then over the heather-clad moors via Pickering to drop down to the peaceful fishing village of Whitby, where you can celebrate an exhilarating ride with fresh fish ‘n’ chips and a pint of ale.
10. Fjordland, Norway
Distance: 450 kilometres, Bergen to Andalsnes
The land of the Vikings is biking Nirvana. The road network takes in terrific switchbacks and awesome fjords (some crossed by ferries). You begin in Bergen and head for Gudvangern where a ferry takes you through Naerlandsford, the world’s longest and deepest fjord. Beyond Belstrand, you’ll need to drop gears as you climb over Gaularfjell to Moskog, then Stryn and Eidsdal, where a ferry links to the Trollstigen road, zigzagging crazily to deliver you exhilarated to Andalsness.
So which one of these trips would you want to undertake if you had the time and money to do so? For the road trip to Ladakh you can rent a bike from Wheelstreet to check off one the best bike trips in the world from your list.