The Dumb Way Round

Nimbus motorcycle touring
Norwegians have always had the travel bug. After all, they discovered Iceland in the 9th century and, as Vikings, spent a good amount of time raiding the British Isles. Upholding this fine tradition over a thousand years later are Tormod Amlien and Klaus Ulvestad: as we speak, they’re circumnavigating the globe on two ancient Danish Nimbus motorcycles. The bikes are rough-and-ready, well-used motorcycles—they’re ostensibly late 1930s models, but in reality, both are a motley assortment of parts from multiple sources, including the military and police. They’ve been fitted with sidecars and extensively overhauled, because Tormod and Klaus don’t have a support crew to help with motorcycle parts when the bikes invariably break down. (They left New York in the freezing cold a week ago, so hopefully they’re still in one piece.) The engines are 750 cc OHC straight fours, with exposed valves and rocker arms, and shaft drive. And although these bikes are hardtails—ouch—they’re also the world’s earliest production bikes with telescopic front ends, beating BMW by a year. The ‘King Croesus Contempt for Death Trip 2009’ is chronicled on a website and blog, complete with video diary, and the Minneapolis episode (27) is especially worth watching—with an interview and a segment that includes Erik Buell. Suddenly, my life seems much less interesting. [With thanks to Søren Grønbech, who looks after the project website, and whose own stunning Nimbus we’ll be featuring in the near future.]