‘Any bike can be an adventure bike if you’re brave enough.’ The queen of modern classic adventure riding, Hanna Johansson tells us about her life on two-wheels and what fuels her pursuit for endless adventure.
‘Any bike can be an adventure bike if you’re brave enough.’
My mother is the one who got me into riding. She’s been a biker herself since her early 20’s and bought me my first bike to practice on when I was 17. Pictures of her on a motorcycle in Bali from the late 80’s were stuck in my head as a kid, and I’m sure they have something to do with why I ride today and my adventurous streak. My dad and younger brother didn’t get their licenses until years after me and my mom; even if they don’t really confess it – I’m sure we inspired them.
As a seasoned international rider and adventurer, we were keen to ask Hanna about her preparation rituals ahead of big adventure tours, and here’s what she said:
The prepping is almost as exciting as the actual trip. The anticipation is all encompassing and my mind just goes into overdrive! The first thing I always do is ask around. I’ve found over the years that you can’t beat a recommendation. Travel Instagram accounts, blogs and magazines are also super handy for finding those once in a lifetime moments. I then pin everything on Google Maps, from sights to roads, places to eat, drink and get a good nights sleep. From there, I’ll try to find routes between all the pins on the map, and routes that really push both me and the bike. Whilst route planning is important, I am definitely an advocate of planning for spontaneity. Some of my best experiences on the road have been impromptu. Riding is all about being at one with the road and your bike, being fully immersed in the ride and what lies around each corner.
My top tips for preparing for a big trip:
1. It’s YOUR adventure. Listen to others, but most importantly – listen to yourself.
2. Bring gear for different kind of weather, it’s never fun riding with wet feet or cold hands.
3. It’s often more convenient to look at the estimated riding time on the road instead of the actual distance. When riding on small roads through cities and towns, it might take you longer than on the highway.
4. Plan for rest, sometimes I book 2-3 nights in one place to give my body and mind some time to re-energize.
5. The first step to adventure is the hardest. Just do it, it’s SO worth it!
I’m always asked what is at the top of my adventure bucket list and it is one of the hardest questions to answer! I have so many dreams. For my next trip I’m heading over to Switzerland and after that I’m going to ride in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. These have been on my wishlist for a long, long time so it feels great to be finally making this dream a reality. Then I really want to go to South America. And ride in Asia. Cover Southern USA. How much time do we have to talk about this?
As the female motorcycling community continues to grow across the globe, we asked Hanna how she is supporting young women in following their dreams and taking the plunge into the world of two wheels.
My hope is that girls and women out there see that riding a motorcycle is not only about fuel and dirt, but it’s something deep and spiritual too. Riding my bike gives me total control and being alone in my helmet is the best place I know. No one can reach me there; it’s my world and I love it. That inspirational and powerful feeling is something I take with me when I’m off the bike too. I think that riding has helped me to understand myself better and that has turned me into a more independent and happier person. Riding is freedom and it’s for everyone.
If you are looking at getting into motorcycling, my best piece of advice is to go to a good motorcycle school where you feel comfortable with the teachers. Learn how to ride safely in your way, on the kind of bike that speaks to you – and take your time. Everyone’s different and the instructors will have lots of experience. This builds the foundations of your riding style and ultimately gives you the confidence to get the most out of your ride. If you’re unsure whether riding a bike is for you, book one lesson and try. If you don’t like it, it was an hour of your time and now you know. If you like it, welcome to a completely new life!
The question I get asked most frequently on social media and by riders all over the world is: “What is your favourite bike?” That's almost as hard to answer as "What's your favourite country?", but if I had to choose, it's either the Speed Twin or Scrambler 1200 XC. I swear to you, there hasn't been one single ride without a big smile on my face on those two bikes, I feel so confident and free on them. And my bike-owner-motto in life is that if I'm not turning around at least 5 times just to see how hot my bike looks when I've parked and walking away, it's not the right bike for me.