16,000 kilometres on a 50-cc pedal-start moped
April 6, 2021 10:36 AM   Subscribe

In the summer of 2018, Austrian Stephan Regensburger went on a 13,000-kilometre journey from Ulaanbataar - where he had shipped his Puch Maxi a few months earlier - back home to Innsbruck. This journey, documented in this 14-video YouTube playlist, took 92 days across Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia. The next year, Stephan's wanderlust took him on a 3000-km trip from Austria to Tunisia on the same valiant little bike. Read more about his adventures on his blog here.
posted by mdonley (16 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Ah good, something for when Ed March hasn't updated his Super Cub / C90 adventures for a few months. Something about this format grabs my attention, although not all of the motoscoot adventures quite work out the same.
posted by Kyol at 11:20 AM on April 6

I've done a lot of miles on various Puch, Garelli, and Tomos mopeds in my day, so I was impressed that he did so much of this on dirt roads. I did note though that on some of the most rugged terrain in these videos, he appears to be riding a Honda Cub, which is not quite a moped. Still, what a journey.
posted by spudsilo at 11:21 AM on April 6

Oof. That is one crazy feat. Twenty years ago I spent a year commuting about 30 km a day on country highways, including in winter, on my 1978 Honda Express. Then I had enough of that and never drove it again.

It is still sitting in my basement. If I didn't feel guilty about the cloud of 2-stroke exhaust smoke trail it produces I would consider starting it up again. Oh well. Bicycles are much better for my and the environment's health.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:51 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]

(spudsilo, he talks in one of the videos about how he knows the Puch can't make it up and around the Pamirs. Looking through the comments, I noticed the guy he rents the Honda Cub from is Ryan Hornung at Iron Horse Nomads in Bishkek.)
posted by mdonley at 12:07 PM on April 6

Wow what a priviledge to be able to make these journeys in safety. I'd love to do this.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:23 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]

The Honda Cub is the world's most popular motor vehicle period. It, and its multitudes of clones, and all the repair parts you could ever hope for, are available essentially everywhere. I wanted one (and kind of still do) but carburetors are just so wonky compared to a decent fuel injection system.

I've done a six week motorcycle camping trip over 16,000km; the bike was a bit bigger but the gear was mostly the same. I wouldn't say it was 100% fun, but it was definitely an adventure. May do another sometime, finances permitting.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:43 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

And yeah, I'm always sort of surprised how relatively straightforward a lot of the people who do this make it seem like - it's not just dudes, there's Itchy Boots having done a cross-Asia ride in the first season and an Ushuaia to Alaska trip that got aborted by COVID-19 last year, so now she's tooling around South Africa.

And then there's Onherbike, although I haven't watched too many of her videos, something about the format is less appealing to me than Boots' videos, I guess.

I'm not sure if they've all just been lucky or if honestly once you get out of the cities, people in the countryside tend to be more open to strangers passing through than you might otherwise expect? The latest season of Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman's Long Way series got awfully weird going through Mexico, but on the other hand I guess you could argue that Ewan is a more appealing celebrity-napping than some rando Europeans. Or maybe it was just an excuse for a construction montage making a "stealth" tour bus.

At least I kind of get the financial appeal of this - some of the costs involved seem low enough that if you could afford to save up enough of a nest egg (which I get is moderately privileged), your daily burn rate isn't bad. Not like cruisers that spend thousands yearly in boat insurance and dang near domestic costs for island living and such on top of a mortgage-sized boat loan.
posted by Kyol at 1:12 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Glad to have another adventure to follow along. As mentioned above Ed March is fantastic. Also don't miss Iohan Gueorguiev, and the (now no longer updated) Motoventuring series. Lastly, Walter Muma rode a moped from Toronto to Alaska in 1978.
posted by kiblinger at 3:02 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]

I was inspired by Ed March above to start planning a slow, friends and family ride across the Trans America Trail on tiny, ancient motorcycles. I have gotten as far as buying a 40 year old Honda CT 110 and tootling around town. I have been telling everyone who will listen about the plan, but so far have had zero people jumping to sign up for some strange reason. Mefi meetup perhaps?
posted by Maxwell's demon at 4:07 PM on April 6

some of the costs involved seem low enough that if you could afford to save up enough of a nest egg (which I get is moderately privileged), your daily burn rate isn't bad.

Done right, the costs are not extravagant. Still privileged (not just financially; also things like not being the primary caregiver for young children or older relatives), but far from space tourist finances.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:35 PM on April 6

Next up, the same journey on an all-electric motorbike with a backpack full of socket dongles and power bricks!
posted by fairmettle at 11:07 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

This is totally my jam. I did a motorbike trip across Africa on a 600 cc Honda enduro, back in 2000, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But if I could pick any bike, I would probably go lighter, and certainly not heavier. I might land somewhere near a 250.

I would also pick a different travel companion this time.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:42 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]

My trip was on a Honda 750 and while I might say it was overkill, I was also glad to have that power because there were a lot of legs where the only road was a limited access highway and being able to keep up and get away if needed was the only thing ensuring safety. On a route with more sedate choices, a smaller bike would definitely be more relaxing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:40 AM on April 7

With all the advances in small vehicle transport - electric bikes and scooters - one would have hoped that the classic moped would have had a major overhaul in design by now. They used all manner of wonky, pared-down motor parts instead of standardized motorcycle parts, and - at least in the USA - were relegated to the status of toys instead of commuter vehicles. If you seriously ride one daily you spent a lot of time on repair. I was lucky that when used to ride a Garelli 50cc, and the local motorcycle shop guys were all fanatic Garelli fans and loved to work on it.

fimbulvetr: I inherited a 1978 Honda Express after my Garelli finally died. After it tried to kill me several times I threw it in a city dumpster and took a bus home. I sincerely love small bikes, but reading this blog convinced me that serious long distance tours probably should not be attempted on anything 50cc.
posted by zaelic at 10:29 AM on April 7

If you seriously ride one daily you spent a lot of time on repair.

Hoo-boy, you don't have to tell me that! So much time mucking around with keeping that Honda Express running on for my daily commute, and too many side-of-the-highway repairs. The thing was so reluctant to start in winter weather that I relied on using starter fluid, as that was the only way it was going to start. But the damn carburetor cover was screwed on. I finally got sick and tired of all the trouble removing and re-installing the cover every time I went to start it in the winter that I drilled a hole in the carburetor cover and hacked in an injection port to spray ether directly into the carb.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:45 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]

With all the advances in small vehicle transport - electric bikes and scooters - one would have hoped that the classic moped would have had a major overhaul in design by now .

Mopeds are an odd fit in modern infrastructure, I think. You need insurance (€) and a license to ride one (at least in Germany) and you can't use it on bike paths, even when you're pedalling.

If you don't want to deal with insurance and getting a license, and you want to use the many convenient bike paths to get around: get an e-bike.

If you want to be on the road and go up to 45kph, get a an e-scooter. Need more range? Get an additional swappable battery pack.

With a moped, if you run out of gas, you may get stuck on a road that doesn't allow pedal powered vehicles... Or a park/path that doesn't allow powered vehicles that go up to 45kph.
posted by romanb at 3:48 AM on April 8

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