Interview: Charley Boorman

Charley Boorman
As one of the stars of Long Way Round and Long Way Down, Charley Boorman has become a popular ambassador for motorcycling. Although he was born in England, he grew up in Ireland; his father is John Boorman, director of Deliverance and Point Blank. Charley’s latest endeavor is Extreme Frontiers, an epic 10,300-mile journey across Canada. Mostly on motorcycles, of course, so we asked him to reveal some of his own motorcycling history.

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? It was a Yamaha DT100 (below) and I still have it today. Both of my girls learned to ride on it. It’s such a fantastic bike.

Yamaha DT100

What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? I think that would have to be the Ducati 916 (below). There are six or seven bikes that are my ultimate bike, ranging from the Ducati to an old Indian and everything in between!

Ducati 916 SPS
What motorcycle do you despise? Absolutely none.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Driving in my van with two dirt bikes in the back heading towards an enduro race is definitely perfect happiness. But there’s also nothing better than riding with a great bunch of mates.

Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? Yes, because I think electric motorcycles definitely have a place in certain areas like city commuter bikes. It’s a great way to travel to work in the morning.

What is your favorite journey? All of them, it’s very difficult to say which one. Bits of each of them have been outstanding like the Road of Bones (below), Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Mongolia and Kenya. Every place has its own story and I have loved experiencing them.

Road of Bones via http://www.flickr.com/photos/misspudding/2913468085/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like? My DT100 still looks pretty great after 30 years!

Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? When I was a kid I had three posters on my wall; Easy Rider, Barry Sheene and Farrah Fawcett in the red swimsuit. These were the people I grew up with. I watched Ron Haslam and Barry Sheene (below) race against each other which was amazing. Plus—Barry tried to pick my wife up in a restaurant so he obviously has impeccable taste!

Barry Sheene
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? Yes, it’s the only way forward.

With thanks to Gary Inman of Sideburn magazine. Charley Boorman’s Extreme Frontiers is available on book and DVD from Amazon UK. Outside the UK, can get the book from the US Amazon store.

Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers