The best travel books proving you don’t need the latest expensive ‘adventure’ motorbike with electronic devices

Who am I?

Most motorcycle travellers spend months planning their trips but I took off on a whim having been lured by romance and tales of the open road. When my conventional life fell apart, I surprised even myself by flying to India and buying a brand new 500cc Enfield Bullet motorcycle and began my haphazard global wanderings learning to trust that the world I had been told was a dangerous place, wasn't at all (except for a couple of occasions at sea!) I liked the meandering life so much, it became a way of life.


I wrote...

Hit the Road, Jac! Seven Years, Twenty Countries, No Plan

By Jacqui Furneaux,

Book cover of Hit the Road, Jac! Seven Years, Twenty Countries, No Plan

What is my book about?

Instead of continuing my nursing career and saving for my pension, I naively embarked on an unplanned and exciting journey on a motorbike. This led to travelling through twenty countries and learning that the world is generally a friendly place. I didn't know I was on a quest at the time, but I made some enlightening discoveries.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Hunt for Puerto del Faglioli: A Motorcycle Adventure in Search of the Improbable

By Paddy Tyson,

Book cover of The Hunt for Puerto del Faglioli: A Motorcycle Adventure in Search of the Improbable

Why this book?

I live in a small space with little room for books I don’t want to re-read. This one stays! Paddy chose his travel bike, a 2002 Aprilia Pegaso 650ie, because it was cheap. His ‘mend and make do’ approach was put to good use on this journey in the Americas, time-defined by how long the money lasted. I delighted in his eye for the puzzling and ridiculous, and how he depicts the essence of the people and places he sees. Spotting a fellow non-planner, I was hooked when I read, “…the plans of man are but thoughts and ideas easily revoked should anything more interesting crop up in the meantime.” So did this Irishman successfully complete his quest? Where is Puerto Faraglioni anyway?

The Hunt for Puerto del Faglioli: A Motorcycle Adventure in Search of the Improbable

By Paddy Tyson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hunt for Puerto del Faglioli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Motorcycle Adventure In Search Of The Improbable

It’s 2008. The world enters economic meltdown. A global flu pandemic looms. An historical US presidential election is taking place and, somewhere in the Americas, a lone Irishman is coaxing his temperamental Italian motorcycle through another electrical breakdown…

Interspersed with anecdote, social observation and liberal doses of humour, this book follows writer and seasoned overland traveller Paddy Tyson, through his battle with bureaucracy, bike breaking road surfaces, illness, accident, gun toting police and a pasty Celtic complexion remarkably unsuited to the Central American sun.

Published as a collection for the first time,…


The Rugged Road

By Theresa Wallach,

Book cover of The Rugged Road

Why this book?

The Sahara Desert, more used to Bedouins and camels, had never seen a motorcycle before let alone two Englishwomen riding one. Setting off from London in December 1934, Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron rode their 600cc Panther through Africa from north to south. They maintained a ‘why not?’ attitude that got them through despite frequent punctures, delays whilst waiting for permits and none of the technology provided for today’s motorcycle traveller. These two qualified engineers who had already broken motorcycle speed records at Brooklands, took their motorcycle outfit and trailer with not even a compass... just a map that showed each oasis on the way. I was in a permanent state of suspense when reading about each encounter they experienced and their outstanding ingenuity and perseverance.

The Rugged Road

By Theresa Wallach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rugged Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The remarkable story of two women, the first in the world to drive the length of Africa, and the first to cross the Sahara on a motorcycle. London to Cape Town overland by motorcycle and sidecar, pulling a trailer. No roads, no back up - just straight across the Sahara through equatorial Africa, and South to the Cape - in 1934/35, without even a compass! Undeterred by nomads, sand drifts, heat, rain, rivers, breakdowns and politics, Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron completed a journey that might well defeat a modern motorcycle, and Florence even rode back as far as the…


The Long Ride Home: From Sydney to London

By Nathan Millward,

Book cover of The Long Ride Home: From Sydney to London

Why this book?

Any book that starts with an impulsive decision is bound to engage someone like me who doesn’t like to plan much before a journey. With his Australian visa shortly to expire and his relationship going the same way, Nathan, aged twenty-nine doesn’t do the sensible thing and fly back home to the UK. Instead, he buys a potentially unsuitable decommissioned postal delivery 105cc Honda "Postie" motorbike. He names it Dorothy and starts the homeward journey from Sydney to London. I found his story riveting as, like me, he finds delight in the simpleness of life on the road and in meeting local people and other travellers.

I bet he’s glad he didn’t get that flight home!

The Long Ride Home: From Sydney to London

By Nathan Millward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Long Ride Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of my 35,000 kilometres ride from Sydney to London on a 105cc Honda called Dorothy. It was journey of nine months, through eighteen countries, with barely any planning, hardly equipment, just setting off one day and hoping that somehow I'd make it to the other side of the world.

The book was originally released by HarperCollins in Australia where it is known as Going Postal. This is the international release, with a few changes to the text and a list of images and videos at the end. Hope you enjoy.


A Ride In The Sun or Gasoline Gypsy

By Peggy Iris Thomas,

Book cover of A Ride In The Sun or Gasoline Gypsy

Why this book?

What I like about this book is that Peggy writes as if riding a 125cc BSA Bantam through Canada, North America, and Mexico with an Airedale dog as pillion is quite the normal thing to do! In 1951, she left Liverpool for Nova Scotia. Arriving with only $60, she took various jobs to fund the two years she spent on the trip. I identified with this as I worked as a nurse in New Zealand during my own motorcycle travels. Her matter-of-fact attitude is smile-worthy, as she describes her wonderful experiences. “Oppy” the BSA proves perfect for the job. Matelot, the dog who travels on a metal box behind her, adjusts to his life on the road with similar alacrity.

A Ride In The Sun or Gasoline Gypsy

By Peggy Iris Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Ride In The Sun or Gasoline Gypsy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a tale about an incredible trio: Oppy, the indomitable motorcycle, its 125-pound frame swaying under three times its weight; Matelot, the automotive Airedale, perched on his box, ears flying in the breeze; and the gasoline gypsy, Peggy Iris Thomas, who bumped her way over 14,000 miles of the United States, Mexico and Canada. There is a touch of the vagabond in all of us. But few have the determination and courage that started Peggy off from Liverpool in the spring of 1951 with 60 dollars in her pocket and the gleam of adventure in her eye. Her new…


Short Way Up: A Classic Ride Through Southern Africa - 5,000 Solo Miles on a 1950s Ariel

By Steve Wilson,

Book cover of Short Way Up: A Classic Ride Through Southern Africa - 5,000 Solo Miles on a 1950s Ariel

Why this book?

Some motorcycle travel books say little about the motorbike itself but I like the nuts and bolts in a story of this genre. This book is very much about the bike. Steve’s Ariel was fifty-five years old and he was sixty-six when he embarked on his trip from Capetown to South Luangwa. I identified with Steve; neither of us had any modern gadgetry nor much in the way of mechanical expertise, therefore we both discovered new levels of patience and were blessed with experiencing people’s generosity in a different culture together with spectacular scenery. Like me, he thought of himself and his motorbike as ‘we’; when you travel solo, it is like a partnership. There’s nothing like travelling with a classic motorcycle as your (sometimes frustrating!) companion. 

Short Way Up: A Classic Ride Through Southern Africa - 5,000 Solo Miles on a 1950s Ariel

By Steve Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Short Way Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When classic motorcycle author Steve Wilson planned his 6,000-mile ride through Africa, perhaps his last real run on two wheels before the bus pass took over, the journey sounded challenging enough - just two Brits on 1950s Ariels, using their own resources to survive life on the wild roads. It became even more hair-raising when events meant he would have to do the ride solo. In this moving account Steve chronicles the entire experience: bike preparation, organisation, mechanical mayhem, personal discovery and - one of the reasons for the trip - raising a cheque for GBP2,000 for a small school…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in motorcycles, Southern Africa, and Sydney Australia?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about motorcycles, Southern Africa, and Sydney Australia.

Motorcycles Explore 22 books about motorcycles
Southern Africa Explore 13 books about Southern Africa
Sydney Australia Explore 35 books about Sydney Australia

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Girl on a Motorcycle, Hell's Angels, and Rabbit and the Motorbike if you like this list.