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Rider Becomes Youngest to Circle the Globe Solo on a Motorcycle

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When Londoner Henry Crew started riding motorcycles at age 19 he couldn’t get enough. He sold his car, bought a 1982 Yamaha XS400 and immediately felt his life shift in a new and positive direction. Four years later he was riding away from home, solo and unsupported, on a journey that would make him the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe on a motorcycle. This last April, 381 days and nearly 53,000 miles later, Henry returned home to a cheering London mob as a new record breaker.

His improbable mount for the journey: A Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, a bike he says he chose because it’s light and nimble, great off and on road, and holds highway speed.


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“Conventional things normally suck,” he explains. “Why would you choose to do something a certain way just because everyone else does. Elspeth Beard did it on her BMW R60. You can do it on any bike. If locals can ride around the most remote parts of the world every day on banged up old Chinese bikes then you’ll be fine.”

Henry Crew youngest person to ride the world solo on a motorcycle

So how did Henry’s RTW quest come about in the first place? “I was putting in 60-70-hour weeks and getting pretty depressed with work in general,” he says. He kept planning small trips on his bike that would never happen because he was working so much. And then one morning he turned on his computer and an article came up about Kane Avellano being the youngest man to circumnavigate the globe on a motorcycle. “As soon as I saw I could beat it I decided to do it, right there and then.”

Eleven months later Henry was on the road, green to adventure riding, with no planned route. His quest for the record attempt had a few requirements. He needed to start and end in the same place, travel at least 24,500 miles (he ended up riding 20,000 extra miles) and hit several antipodal points (opposite points in relation to the globe) proven by evidentiary receipts, time stamped photos or videos, witness reports or GPS tracks, that is if Henry had been using a GPS. In another unconventional move Henry navigated his entire journey using only google maps and his iPhone 6.

Henry Crew youngest person to ride the world solo on a motorcycle

That’s a lot of routing on a trip that took him to 35 countries through Europe, Russia, down and back up Kazakhstan, through Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, Malaysia and then Western Australia. From Australia he flew to Chile, rode to Colombia, took a boat to Panama, rode every country in Central America, up through Mexico and into North America where he rode for a couple of months, and finally to NYC from which he flew to Lisbon, Portugal, and rode on to return to London just one month younger than Kane Avellano had been. “Kane’s record was 23 years and 365 days as he got back on his 24th birthday. I beat that by just under a month,” he added.

We can hear you thinking… how can a 23-year-old have enough dough on hand to pack up and ride around the world for a year? “Hard work,” Henry will tell you. “I worked stupid hours, took every job available, moved back to my parents, saved everything, spent all my savings and still had to take out a loan.” Henry also had a pretty big setback a few months into the planning. He was originally going to use his daily ride for the journey but totaled it in a crash. Luckily, Ducati came to the rescue and eventually loaned him a bike for the trip. Henry says in the end the whole year cost him about £20,000 (around $35,000 U.S), and that was with staying with friends he met on social media 70% of the time (he says the rest of the time was split between camping, hotels or hostels). “Money was one of the biggest and most consistent stresses,” Henry adds.

Riding to Cope

Henry Crew youngest person to ride the world solo on a motorcycle

In spite of his financial worries, Henry decided to raise money for the Movember Foundation with his trip. The charity that — yes — asks men to sprout a ‘stache during the month of November to support prostate cancer research, but fewer realize has grown to be a world-renown supporter of men’s mental health issues as well. “As soon as I decided to do the trip I knew I wanted to make money for Movember,” says Henry. “The act of riding a motorcycle has been helping me deal with my mental health. I had issues with depression. Issues with anxiety as well. I just kind of put up with it. No one was talking about mental health,” he says, except Movember.

Of course Henry had many ups and downs during his journey. Highlights being riding the beaches of Esperance in Australia, and spending time in the Himalayas, which felt like a huge accomplishment. He also met his girlfriend during his travels. On the grittier side he says “I went blind from altitude sickness for a few hours in the Himalayas, stayed in a prison for my own protection in Pakistan, had landslides and monsoons, fled from the police in Honduras and had a car spin out and stop about 30cm from my back wheel coming down a hill in Chile.”

Machine vs World

Henry Crew youngest person to ride the world solo on a motorcycle

How did the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, survive the journey? There were the expected wear issues: “The clutch went really early on, I had a couple of oil pump issues too, other than that it was bearings going at inconvenient times, punctures, chains and sprockets and bent shift levers, etc.” Otherwise Henry says his unorthodox mount behaved well and was a pleasure to ride both on and off-road, comfortable enough of the highway and really fun to ride on the twisty roads.

The only modifications to the Scrambler were the addition of a rear luggage rack, engine guards, off-road pegs and a fly screen. Henry also added Bark Buster Hand Guards and a pair of 6.6L (1.75 gallon) Rotopax fuel flasks, which he mounted to the bike using generic mounting plates.

The Record

For Henry, the record was more of a secondary thing. “The experience and the adventure and so many other things are much more valuable,” he says. If he could do it all over again the main thing he’d change is not rushing. “I wouldn’t do it as a continuous trip, I would give myself more time and no deadlines, I would just go with the seasons and on people’s recommendations.”

Henry affirms that even though he’s still wet behind the ears himself, he’d like to support others who want to accomplish similar feats, reminding viewers, for example, that there hasn’t been a record set for the youngest woman to ride around the world. “She could be 50,” he laughs.

Henry Crew youngest person to ride the world solo on a motorcycle

But he also advises would-be adventurers not to focus too much on massive expeditions. “Do as much as you can,” he adds. “You don’t have to ride the world to have an adventure.”

With virtually his whole life ahead of him, Henry has every option open, though he knows in the future he will continue to be involved with charity, and also keep talking about the positive effects both travel and motorcycling have on mental health. “It’s the main reason I don’t think I can ever stop riding,” he says.

Check out Henry’s website 35000miles.com for more details about his plans and causes. Find him on Instagram too, where you’ll find all the highlights of his remarkable journey.

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Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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