2-Wheeled Inspiration – Elspeth Beard

Thinking about Elspeth Beard today as I pack up my motorcycle for a long weekend tour. I’m heading south to the BMW Motorcycle Owners International Rally in Pennsylvania to check out the latest and greatest motorcycling gear from custom earplugs to battery chargers, rendezvous with friends, listen to some great live music, take a riding course and be transported by adventure travel presentations.

Back to Elspeth. I only recently learned about her and was instantaneously impressed with her intrepid spirit, and am more than a bit jealous of her bravery. In 1980, at age 24, Elspeth dropped out of architecture school and began a solo around-the-world motorcycle journey. (Today she runs a successful architecture firm in England and still rides.)

Her travels took her from her native London to the U.S., up to Canada and down to Mexico and then on to Australia. From there she headed to Indonesia and then Burma, India and Nepal. Her route home took her through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Europe. By the time she returned to England, after three years on the road, she’d clocked 48,000 miles on her odometer and lost fifty pounds. She survived crashes and illness and rebuilt and maintained her bike single handedly.


I love the confidence and ease Elspeth exudes in this photo while straddling her 1974 R60/6 BMW. She stopped and made the aluminum panniers part way round the world.

Read more of Elspeth’s amazing story here. I hope she writes a book someday about her adventures. It’s tales like hers that light my imagination and make me realize that almost any dream is possible if I really want it to come true!

I’ll get back to blogging when my motorcyle’s back in the barn.


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6 comments on “2-Wheeled Inspiration – Elspeth Beard

  1. Paul Blezard’s avatarPaul Blezard on said:

    Hello, you’ve got some key facts wrong in your second paragraph!
    Elspeth was only *22* when she set out on her trip around the world in *1982*. SHE DID NOT DROP OUT OF ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL! She took time out after COMPLETING the first part of her studies, and got some practical experience at an architect’s practice in Sydney, during her RTW trip. She then successfully COMPLETED her 7 year architecture degree upon her return to England!
    FWIW I wrote an article for BMW about Elspeth’s trip around the world back in 2009; it went out as an international press release which was picked up by Motorcyclist Online and many other on-line publications. I also wrote a longer article about her which ran across two issues of Overland magazine (No.3 & No.4) in 2012. A precis of that article also appeared in BMW’s 90th anniversary book, complete with two great photos of Elspeth. Your readers might like to know that she has a book about her RTW trip coming out in 2017 and BMW made a great 4 minute video interview with her in and on her water tower home last summer, featuring her freshly restored RTW BMW R60, which she rides off on at the end. PNB See here:

  2. Lisiane Pletiskaitz’s avatarLisiane Pletiskaitz on said:

    Here in Brazil, I traveled 23000 km in 2012. This year I hope to ride a bike through 130000km worldwide. Elspeth Beard is an inspiration.

  3. Charlotte Hall’s avatarCharlotte Hall on said:

    A book!?? A film please!!! She’s a true inspiration especially to women, thankyou so much for your courage, imagination and capability.

  4. Wende’s avatarWende on said:

    I am going to show this to my 23 year old son, a mechanical engineer, who is counting pennies for an adventure like this… Have an awesome weekend in the bike world. You are such an inspiration to me!!!! xoxo

  5. Marin’s avatarMarin on said:

    What a great story! I was just watching The Motorcycle Diaries last night and am inspired to go on a big trip!

  6. Kathleen’s avatarKathleen on said:

    What a great story (I followed the link and read the whole thing) and an amazing woman.

    Have a great trip.

    I want that jacket Elspeth is wearing…

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