As the current COVID-19 crisis is shaking up the entire world, the travel industry is taking some big hits, and the prognosis, at least for now, isn’t great. It’s affecting the adventure motorcycling world, too, probably in more ways we can imagine right now.
To find out what’s going on in the motorcycle tours industry, I decided to chat with Court Rand, co-founder of Ecuador Freedom motorcycle rentals and tours company based in Quito, Ecuador, and Aleksandra “Ola” Trzaskowska, owner of a motorcycle shipping and tours company Motobirds based in Europe.
Motorcycles vs Cruise Ships
Under lockdown in Quito, Ecuador Freedom founders Court Rand and Sylvain Gallea are currently busy working on their new maintenance center and staying optimistic about the future. “I think for the first six months or so, people will travel less, that’s for sure. But once the crisis is over, I have a feeling that we’ll actually see an increase in business here in Ecuador. We have excellent weather here, healthy food, the country is small and the locals have a very healthy lifestyle; besides, we typically have small groups on our tours, stay in boutique hotels, and ride off the beaten path as much as we can, so I think in reality, riding motorcycles in Ecuador will be a very attractive option.
Motorcycle adventures are a very healthy and active way to travel, after all. I’m pretty sure people may be a bit wary of cruise ships and crowded resorts for a while, and reasonably so, but motorcycle tours will remain an excellent way to spend your holidays and stay healthy”, Court said.
Emergency Motorcycle Shipping and a New Focus on Self-Guided Tours
Meanwhile, in self-isolation at her home in Warsaw, Poland, Aleksandra Trzaskowska is working around the clock to help people get their motorcycles out of South America and back to the US and Europe safely.
“We’re organizing extra shipping containers to be able to help people out. A lot of riders got stranded in South America, because I think it’s safe to say nobody could have predicted this massive pandemic, countries closing their borders, restricting movement – this is all very new to us all, so we’re navigating the situation as best as we can. Right now, our priority is to get those motorcycles back home safely. As of now, ports are still open, customs clearances are still being done with no issues, warehouses are open, port and warehouse workers are still working full-time. I’m a little concerned about delivering motorcycles to each individual country in Europe – we have over sixty bikes coming to our base in Poland right now, but once the shipping containers get here, we will need to deliver those bikes to their owners all over the continent – Italy, Switzerland, France… Again, right now, goods can still be moved freely, and we are still able to process the paperwork, but nobody knows whether there might be some restrictions to this, too”, Aleksandra said.
When it comes to motorcycle tours, she admits she has had to postpone several planned tours in South America and the Himalayas. “Luckily, people didn’t ask to cancel, we all agreed to simply move the dates a little further. At first, it was a little tough negotiating with hotel owners and tour operators in places like Patagonia or Colombia, as South America was hit a little later and they’re only closing down borders and imposing restrictions now. I think just a few weeks back, very few governments and authorities took the COVID-19 crisis seriously. Now, however, they’re all realizing just how big this thing is”, Aleksandra said.
According to her, even though people aren’t canceling their planned tours just yet, the 2020 and potentially 2021 adventure motorcycle tour scene might look different than what we’ve been used to until now. “It’s already obvious that the travel industry is suffering, and will continue to suffer even after we crest this shock wave. I expect that people will get a lot more careful about their spending, so longer motorcycle tours in remote, exotic places probably aren’t going to be high on their priorities for the foreseeable future. Having that in mind, we are now shifting our focus to more localized events, smaller gatherings, shorter rides. I think people will still want to ride and go on adventures, but perhaps they will be aiming to do it more locally, perhaps just within their own country or continent. Because of this, we’re also thinking of releasing some of our recommended routes and tracks and working hard on self-guided tours, because I believe there will be an increased demand for this. Planning a trip to Patagonia just doesn’t seem very rational right now, but a shorter ride around the European TET? Why not”, Aleksandra said.
Will you be going on two-wheeled adventures as soon as the borders oen up again?