We can imagine that you have to put different motorcycle dreams on hold because of the pandemic. One of those dreams might be an amazing world trip. To inspire you, we visited Mike Schram, a true adventurer at heart.
Although Mike Schram is only 25 years old, the Dutchman has already been on quite a few adventures in his life. He and his parents left for Australia when he was eight years old. “We used to live in Friesland (a dutch province), but then emigrated to the other side of the world. My parents thought it was a better place for me to grow up. More space and no crowds around you. So I grew up on a cattle station, where I also got to experience sitting on a motorcycle for the first time.” The adventurous nature of his parents eventually led to a rigorous decision when Mike reached the age of 16. They sold their house again, said goodbye to almost all of their possessions and spent the end of 2012 discovering a big part of the world per motorcycle.
“In Australia you can already get a motorcycle licence at the age of sixteen, so of course I did. The first year when you have your licence you can ride a maximum of 660cc, so I quickly chose the Yamaha XT660R.” Both father Aad and mother Jeanette chose a Triumph Bonneville and after minimal preparation they started their biggest adventure to date. “Obviously it was amazing!” , explains Mike. “Feeling the need to go on an adventure started for me when I saw Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. That was the first time I saw that it was possible to combine two fun activities, motorcycling and camping. The show was also a wise lesson to see how it should not be done by the way: on the road with motorcycles that are too big and not enough time to enjoy the journey. So we wanted to do it differently.
The Schram family's plan was to visit New Zealand first, then travel to Alaska to draw a straight line from there to Argentina. “That turned out differently in the end. Once in Central America, we had to return to the Netherlands to take care of our grandparents. They needed help so we decided to change the itinerary.” They shipped the three motorcycles to Spain, from the Southern European country they set course to the Netherlands. “Back in the Netherlands my parents got divorced,” explains Mike. “I don't think it was because of the world tour, but I still haven't been able to figure out the actual reason. That remains a big question mark for me. It was clear that my mother was not feeling well. The kilometers in Europe were the last that the three of us rode.”
Mike and Aad decide to continue their world tour and continue their trip. They leave for Eastern Europe, followed by a journey through Asia. Via China, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia they eventually end up in the country where they started the journey, Australia. It’s during this Asian part of their world trip that the idea for another adventure arises. One that ensures that Mike Schram, together with his father, has now settled in the Netherlands. Hellevoetsluis to be precise. “To be able to travel through Myanmar, we had to hire a government guide. We did that with a few other people, including an Australian couple who were traveling around on a motorcycle. We got along well, so we started traveling together a bit longer. But in Thailand things went terribly wrong, because the Australian woman got into an accident and broke her arm, with both bones sticking out. Small problem, the nearest hospital was three hundred kilometers away.”
The Australian couple urgently rides to the hospital, while Mike and Aad pack up everything to chase the duo. “Once at the hospital, we had to wait a while and the first pictures of the Husqvarna 701 came out. We had already spent a few nights thinking about the ideal travel bike and it came pretty close. We thought that with some modifications this could be the best travel bike." With the end of the world trip in sight, father and son had a bold idea.
They decide to settle in the Netherlands, work out their plan and start their business Nomad-ADV. “During our trip we got to know different companies and in the beginning we started selling their products. Bags, suitcases, gear, things like that. With that we were able to collect the necessary money to buy a lathe. “With the ability to make their own products, Mike and Aad have a talk with Husqvarna. “They liked the idea, so we were able to use one of their demo motorcycles to develop our own adventure kit. We hoped that we would eventually be able to sell at least ten units, so that we would at least recoup the material costs. In the end, about three hundred kits were sold in the first year.” This unexpected success made the company grow rapidly and today they already have adventure kits available for ten different models. “And we actually achieved that result naturally. The feedback we got is that we deliver good quality for a reasonable price. That way we can probably make a difference with other parties who supply these kinds of kits.”
Although Mike is on another adventure with the establishment of his own company, the establishment of Nomad-ADV also has an unpleasant downside. He is no longer able to 'just' make a long trip on his motorcycle. “We are busy and that means that there is no room for a big trip. So I will have to put that on the back burner for the next few years”, says Mike sadly. “If I win the lottery, however, I'll pack my bags tomorrow. Obviously that probably won’t happen of course. We have chosen to continue with the company, because it is nice to do this together. I think it is a shame that we won’t be able to make another long motorcycle tour in the short term, but it does not mean that I won’t make any more trips at all.
Mike doesn't have to think long to spoon up a travel wishlist. “I want to go back to Scandinavia again, and then completely off-road towards the North Cape. I secretly hope to be able to make that trip in the autumn of 2021, but that is of course also very much depending on the corona crisis.” At an even higher place, however, is a voyage of discovery through South America. Mike didn't get around to do that during his previous world trip. “That will certainly have to happen again. We were supposed to go there, but the situation that had arisen made us have to go to Europe. In the winter it will be less busier in our company so therefore it will be easier for us to close the doors of Nomad ADV. We don't have any other staff, so that can be done in the end. Hopefully that possibility will arise sometime in the coming years, so that we can still make that trip.”
“It’s very important to take a bike that is not too heavy. And make sure it has good suspension. If you ride on a bad road all day, you will end up with a sore back if the suspension is not in order and you’ll suffer from it the next day. That’s a shame, because then you enjoy the trip much less. Also, do not bring too much luggage, that way you’ll bring a lot of kilos with you. Pack your things and then put it on the scale. You will be shocked. After that you can decide what you can possibly leave at home. For example, many travelers take a lot of parts with them, but you can also get them at a nearest dealer when it’s necessary. The parts you bring might not even break at all and you end up dragging along parts that you won't need throughout the journey.”
“Obviously you have to put some preparation into your journey, but don't spend months on it. We met a few Germans along the way and they had spent a year and a half preparing. Ultimately, you cannot plan everything in advance and it is sometimes even more convenient to arrange certain things in the country itself. Plus, if you have arranged shipping in advance, for example, you must be in the port on that date. What if you have problems with your motorcycle? Not very handy.”
“A tip that links up with the previous point, take your time. Many travelers have a certain timetable in their head and that unconsciously gives you less freedom. People often ask how many kilometers you can ride a day. My father always says: the less, the better. That means that the scenery was very beautiful along the way. Of course it varies a lot, because if you know that you are heading for a boring stretch, then of course you try to make a few more kilometers in a day. I normally assume that on average I ride around two hundred kilometers a day. And during a long trip I also included a rest day every week.”