Bret Tkacs, owner of one of the most popular ADV motorcycle YouTube channels, tour leader, and a traveling motorcycle coach, seems to have the dream life of many adventure riders. He runs motorcycle and adventure motorcycle coaching sessions around the world, shares his knowledge and tips on YouTube, and is constantly riding someplace exotic and remote.
I caught up with Bret as he was training riders in India before taking off on an adventure ride there.
Bret, how did you make it all happen?
I started my riding and driving school in 1996. In 2001, I became motorcycle exclusive, and around 2003, I got into off road riding and later, into adventure riding. I got hooked, got an ADV bike, and soon began traveling on it, at first domestically and then around 2008, I went to Mexico, South America, Europe, Africa, and so on.
I do have a dream job, but I made it my job. It didn’t come quickly or easily! The training industry is a passion. For example, here in India, I pretty much work for the cost of travel because local economy is very different here and people just can’t afford regular training prices. And another thing is, people are happy to buy the best or newest bike, the most expensive helmets or gear, but when it comes to paying for training, people are still reluctant – even though good training can prevent trouble just as much as protective gear!
What’s your secret of success?
What most people don’t realize is how much I am in the industry. I’m a professional educator by degree and profession, I work with the military, motorcycle safety, I am a guest speaker at multiple events, I write curricula for rider training in multiple states. On top of that, I am a student every chance I get: I do rally, off road schools, because studying helps me do better and learn better. I film myself teaching so I know what I can do better, how I can explain things better from different angles. When I teach people, I make things simple and easy to understand.
Books, videos, and practice on your own – all those things are great, but the thing is, you also need a skilled eye who sees how you do things and why. You can learn the basics and the theories, but a professional coach will help you interpret those basics and perform them correctly.
When I’m watching riders and I see someone struggling, I see exactly why or what is going on. I will spot things the rider doesn’t see. I will see that maybe it’s not even them, it’s bike ergonomics, for example. Often, people stand up on the pegs, but they don’t know why they are standing up.
I want people to truly understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how. I want them to see and really, truly get it. With riding, even the smallest nuances can make a huge difference.
You have to live and breathe motorcycle riding to be good at teaching it. A book or a video is a recipe, but you need to interpret that recipe and use it correctly to really be good at it. You can’t share passion in words and video. You can’t ask questions.
You produce these short, concise training videos on YouTube, and your channel has over 55 k subscribers. How did you grow your channel so quickly?
A year and a half ago, I partnered up with Tim, a video producer, and we started making video content. I am doing these videos to provide value, and to invite people to come to the training tours and school. I am in India solely because of MotoTrek. My YouTube channel has opened opportunities for me to travel the world and I’ll continue doing this for as long as I can.
As for growing the channel, frankly, we were gaining fair numbers from the beginning, but when we did a U turn and Figure of 8 videos, it really took off. I decide on content, Tim spends a lot of time optimizing videos, and we both always try to respond to viewers and interact with them.
My videos are for people who maybe don’t have access to training or can’t afford it. I’m hoping to share some of those golden nuggets of information that may be helpful. I hope to enrich people’s lives, and if I can help people with the videos, that’s the best reward.
The emails and messages I get from people as a result are so inspiring. It makes me feel like I’m making a change.
The videos aren’t in an exact sequence, so you can mix and match according to your needs.
I would say, if you’re new to adventure riding, start at the videos that focus on the fundamentals – boots, gear, motorcycle set up, do the foundation, make sure you are safe. Only then move on to riding videos. We have some basic gravel riding videos, and then just build on that!
If you’re thinking of creating a susscessful ADV motorcycling YouTube channel, here are some of Bret’s tips for success:
- Don’t do it for the money. Do it for the passion!
- Be very active on your channel.
- Have a clear focus. Why do people want to come to your channel?
- Produce quality content. You can’t just blabber on, every video needs to be concise, short and to the point.
- Focus on content and your message, not the production. It does have to be quality, but don’t worry about it too much! Sound quality is important though, so make sure you have a microphone.
- Optimize your videos as best as you can. If you don’t know much about optimization, partner up with someone who knows that stuff. There’s no point in creating great content if nobody can find it!
- I’m a good trainer, but I’m a poor businessman. Keep in mind that advertising and marketing matters. You can have the best quality training but if you don’t advertise well, it’s just not going to happen. So on Youtube, although it’s very time consuming, you just have to optimize or you won’t get found.
Want to know more? Visit Bret’s webpage and check out his YouTube channel!