Dan Williams from Wales has done what most of us have only ever dreamed about: Taking off on an epic world adventure on his KTM 1190 Adventure R and exploring over 25 countries in 10 months.
His adventure saw him travel from Europe through the tumultuous Middle East to India and Asia before heading Down Under – where things almost ended in a bad way in one of the most remote areas of Australia.
We met Dan as true adventure riders meet new friends – in slightly random circumstances! – and we are honoured to share his rider story here on RIDE KTM.
So, Dan . . . In a nutshell, what have you been doing for the past year?
So pretty much a year ago I went through my road bike training and test in the UK back in January and February, and already had a Thai trip firmly in my sights and had started planning a few months back. Then after that was passed I purchased my brand new KTM 1190 adventure R from Colwyn Bay KTM in North Wales and for the following few months adding things to the bike such as luggage and PowerParts and essentials for the trip, then on July 1st 2015, me and my friend Edd headed out of the U.K. into France. And here I am in New Zealand!
How many countries have you travelled through?
I have travelled through 24 counties before I came to Australia. New Zealand was country number 25!
How many kms covered?
Due to my quite serious stack I had in the Kimberley WA I am on my second cockpit but it’s in the pretty close on 40,000 km to date.
Where did you start your journey?
The journey started in Wales from my home village, called Kerry, but the journey felt more real when we left London on July the 1st. The Indian visa was still being processed in London so we were held up there for a couple of days.
Tell us a bit about your KTM . . . What goods does it have?
I kitted it out with a range of KTM PowerParts and Touratech equipment, some of it has proven to be a great addition, some of it maybe just for looks and not much purpose but I was new to it and probably went a bit over the top, the bike itself is great standard to be honest.
But I kitted it with:
– Heavy duty PowerPart Skid plate, (proven it’s worth it on more than enough occasions)
– Side stand larger scale foot. (Also proven to be gold as the bike weighs so much when fully stacked and) it now doesn’t sink.
– Touratech headlight protector, (numerous times been pelting with rocks and chippings that could of broken it)
– PowerPart LED spot lights, (a great addition for being seen and night time riding!!)
– Touring screen, was brilliant for wind deflection and also bug deflection. But the visibility was reduced quite a bit, I’m now running standard screen since I wrecked in the Kimberley and I have great visibility but not so great wind deflection or bug deflection! My visor looks like an insect massacre site.
– Touratech Zega Pro 2 luggage systems in black, with the luggage inserts. These have been great, almost completely watertight. Almost being the key word. And have taken quite a few knocks. The locking systems I run tend to release from the racks very easy if you knock them or fall. I don’t think it’s actually a bad thing, they don’t get ruined that way and if they didn’t come off when say another bike ran into them… (This happened) I may have lost control and fallen under a truck. But as they just came off – No biggey.
– Akropovic silencer. I believe 4kg lighter than standard, and with the baffles removed it sounds great 😉
– Touratech GPs mount with Garmin Zumo 590LM GPS. Great system, works awesome apart from some demons that Garmin will have to sort out with the GPS, only little ones. But it’s a great bike GPS.
– Extended crash bars, these have saved the bike quite a few times when I have dropped it, they look great, maybe add a couple of KG, they also make awesome leg rests for long tedious motorway runs.
– KTM alarm, fitted this and it’s very loud, great deterrent when someone sits on it or tried to take it, as soon as it moves it goes off.
– Brake calliper lock, once this is in, very few people would bother trying to move a 220kg bike with the front wheel locked.
– Front mudguard riser. Never needed it on the trip.
– Touratech chain running fin and protector, maybe not essential and adds weight.
Top 3 moments so far?
– Hanging out with Chris (Birch), Grabbo (Ben Grabham) and crew when you did this interview !
Editor’s Note . . .
Side story here! So there we were, just about to host our second KTM Adventure Training Series just outside of Bowral, NSW. We all went for dinner at the local Thai place – Chris, Grabbo, Nick Selleck and Will Dangar who kindly lent us the property for the training, and as we all arrive, it seems that Chris and Will have picked up a stray. “Hey everyone, this is Dan,” Chris cheerfully introduces him. “He’s been riding around the world on a KTM, so we made friends with him!” At first, I didn’t believe Chris and thought they were having a go. But alas I was wrong – and in the wonderful way adventurers from around the world migrate together, Dan was added to our group! As Dan was a fan of Chris’ Facebook page, he saw that Birchy was doing a training course south of Sydney on that particular day and it just so happened that he was nearby. So what did he do? Messaged Birchy and asked if he could meet up with us! And that is how we came to know Dan J
– Cappadocia in Turkey was incredible. The landscape, the scenery, out of this world.
– The people. My faith in humanity has been restored. Such amazing people the whole way. And in places I expected hostility we were show nothing but kindness.
Hardest 3 moments so far?
– Eastern Turkey, for reasons known to most this region is quite hostile, the border between Turkey and Iran was actually under attack from the PKK when we got there. And we quickly fled back over the 4 hour ride we had came from and then spent the rest of the day trying to enter Iran. That day was one of the most stressful, and a total of 21 hours on the bike that day to get us into Tabriz.
– Iran was also hard for us. Money was constantly on our mind as you couldn’t get any out whilst there due to the US having an embargo on Iran so MasterCard and Visa can’t do business with them. Also, the fact that you couldn’t find anything out about the ferry we had to take from Bandar Abbas to Dubai. The most illusive ferry time schedule and costing I have ever come across. This made the time in Iran hugely stressful, knowing I only had so much money on me and the ferry could an unknown amount and then not knowing how to deal with it!
It was also extremely hot and very very different to anything we had encountered before. The people there were so friendly, but when you wanted a 5 minute break under a tree to have some water and you then quickly got a crowd gathered and cars turning around to come ask the same questions that the previous 5000 had, it got a little annoying! Ha but we made it out. Me with only 50 cents to my name. Which meant no food or water on the 12 hour ferry crossing to Dubai, and a wooden bench to try and sleep on through the night with loud Arabic music being played from numerous mobile phones whilst people were chatting and smoking and then trying to take selfies with the only bearded white guy on the boat at 3am.
– India’s roads. The roads in the north east of India have been by far the most challenging and hard, those days were 12, 13, 14 hour days riding the worst roads and the most bizarre road users! Extremely hard to get places when the roads have been washed away in the mountains and your riding a 300kg loaded bike in deep mud and deep slop, not knowing whether the hole your about to ride into is 1cm deep or 2 metres deep! Some of the best sleeps happened after these days.. Not even showered.. But looking back.. It was amazing!
– If I may add a fourth . . It was crashing on the Gibb River Road and not knowing if I would survive the day out. Me lying on the side of one of the most remote areas in the world, run out of water and surrounded by the pieces of my bike scattered all over. But I managed, with some help of friend to get the bike up, to strap it together and ride it to a cattle ranch 20 clicks down the road, with a badly broken shoulder and bruised ribs and concussion, it was challenging. I was air lifted to Broome after some great treatment at the cattle station and my bike was brought down by a guy who worked at the station to Perth. What an awesome guy to do that, a week after I crashed I then learned that my grandmother had passed away in the UK so I had to fly home whilst I was in pretty bad shape physically for the funeral. Some homesickness had set in and it was quite a dark few weeks for me. But when I returned, I started on rebuilding the KTM and as soon as I had it up running and breathing fire again I had a new lease of life. And East I headed!
What made you do this trip?
I just got to a point where I wanted to do something incredible. Something legendary, and I wanted to see he world a little bit more and ride what it had to offer. I guess I had just had enough of the rat race that was my life in the UK and just wanted to feel freedom. And I succeeded in doing that – I can say that now I’m almost at the end! Part of me wants to turn around and do it all over again..
Why pick a KTM 1190 Adventure R as your partner-in-crime?
I have been an off road rider pretty much all my life, racing to a good standard in the UK up until work and life got in the way, so the KTM 1190 Adventure R tickled my offroad fancy. Plus I have always been a KTM fan! Many of my race bikes were KTM, and so I read a bit about the 1190 Adventure R and bought it. What it can do offroad is incredible for a bike its size. But on road it’s no push over either, it’s an amazing machine!
What are your plans now?
My plans are to get to NZ and recoup, maybe earn some money and head to South America in a few years, then head to Alaska on Dutchess. Yes I named my KTM Dutchess.
Thank you Dan – and Dutchess! It sounds like you’ve definitely had an incredible life experience. We look forward to running into you again and hearing more about your adventures!
Check out Dan’s epic journey through the below photo galleries . . . be sure to read the captions on the bottom of every photo! As there is a story in each one . . .
IRAN // DUBAI
THAILAND // KL