You are here
Home > Other news >

Round the World in 34 Years

We’ve all heard of overland riders whose 12-month trip across the world extends to several years, but how about being on the road for 34 years? Not only that, but on the same bike!

That’s what Australian couple Sam and Stew Saunders have done, having been travelling since 1989 on their BMW R100GS, covering 150,000km (over 90,000 miles).

They started out riding from the UK to Australia, getting there in 1991, and later shipped the bike to the US and rode through South and North America. More recently they planned shipping to Japan and riding to South Korea and Vladivostok before turning west and riding back to Europe through Mongolia and Russia. First Covid, then Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, has put paid to that, so they’ve decided to ship back to Europe before heading back to Oz via Africa.

Wagha border India 2016

Sam and Stew are old hands at long bike trips, having toured on a Yamaha XS650 and Honda CX500 previously, but the faithful GS clearly ticks all of their boxes. They cite the BMW’s shaft drive and tubeless tyres as big advantages, the shaft cutting down on maintenance and the bike suffering just one puncture in all those miles. This old, air-cooled GS also scores with its simplicity, making it easy to maintain and fix.

Failures have been very few. Apart from that puncture, on top of routine maintenance and consumables, they’ve had to replace the rear shock, a UJ bearing (whole drive shaft replaced), the starter motor, a gearbox bearing, one fork seal and a CDI unit – not bad for over 90,000 miles, two-up with luggage, all over the world.

Sam and Stew Saunders, who won’t be replacing the GS any time soon, reckon it has already been ridden the equivalent of round the world one and a half times – make that twice round when they arrive back in Australia, probably in 2025.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, thought this spoke volumes for the useability of older, simpler bikes. “I stand to be corrected, but those failures are all pretty well-known Boxer BMW issues. The only one that would worry me would be the gearbox bearing, the rest are bolt on ‘roadside’ fixes. In fact, the ignition unit might be something I’d carry. The starter, if there are two of you, bump starting shouldn’t be the end of the world. Great story, I wonder what they did for income? Most people save up for the world trip, but over 30 years? That would be a story on its own. ”

Written by Peter Henshaw

All images courtesy of Sam and Stew –