Two wheels, two families.
What started out as a round-the-world ride has led to participation in the International GS Trophy, off-road instructor training and International Tour Guide status. Malaysian rider Faizal Sukree explains how being part of the BMW Motorrad family has quite literally opened up a whole world of opportunity.
Family is very important to Faizal Sukree. The 40-year-old father of two grown-up children also works in the family automotive business alongside his brother, sister and father. As strong as these family ties are, they couldn't match his sense of wanderlust and desire to explore the globe on two wheels. “I love to travel overland and by motorcycle. It started back in 2012 when a group of friends and I shipped our bikes to Istanbul and rode across Europe. I loved the experience and discovered that the travel bug had hit me hard. Not long afterwards I hatched the idea of an around-the-world ride.”
On 15 June 2013, Faizal left his home city of Kuala Lumpur with five friends and rode from the Malaysian capital all the way to the UK. Then they shipped the bikes to Buenos Aires, flew down to Argentina and rode as far south as they could go – to Ushuaia – before working their way right up through The Americas all the way to Canada over 14 months. After this, the rest of the guys decided it was time to return to their normal lives but not Faizal – he was enjoying himself too much and wasn't ready to go home. “I just kept going and rode up to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and then across the USA. The travelling didn't stop there though, because I shipped the bike to New Zealand and spent a month there before crossing over to Australia for a few weeks, then heading north to explore Indonesia on my way back home to Malaysia. Once there, I realised I'd done it – I'd been around the world on my BMW – and it felt really good.”
Just can't get enough.
Just can't get enough.
When Faizal returned home he was asked by a group of BMW riders if he would guide them on a tour across Europe to Germany to visit BMW Motorrad Days 2015 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which he did. Afterwards, the group returned home but Faizal just kept on riding, taking in France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, The Balkans, Scandinavia and the UK, among other places. Finally, after four years, six continents, 72 countries and 171,080 kilometres, he dropped his F 800 GS off at a shipping company in Manchester and headed to the airport where, on the other side of the world, his father was waiting. “He was eager that I came back to the family business and wanted to be sure that I returned for good this time,” says Faizal with a twinkle in his eye. “When I originally came up with the plan for this ride I told him that because I was young and had the energy and money to travel then it was the best time to do it. I also told him that I would only be away for two years, but I had been on the road for four, so I guess it was time to return home.”
While Faizal's family welcomed him back with open arms, there's another family that he is proud to be a part of – the worldwide BMW Motorrad family – and although he has been away riding across the continents, he has made good use of his time. While travelling the world Faizal managed to qualify for and compete in the International GS Trophy 2016 for Team Southeast Asia, qualify as an approved off-road instructor and even attain his International Tour Guide status. Next on his agenda is building an official Enduro Park in Malaysia, setting-up an approved off-road academy and also establishing a touring centre with a fleet of BMW bikes for rental. “There are many exciting times ahead. The BMW GS scene is strong in Malaysia. I led ten BMW riders on a 50-day tour of South America in January and another group of us will be touring across Europe in September.”
A money-can’t-buy experience.
A money-can’t-buy experience.
Right across Asia, interest in BMW bikes is growing fast, helped in no small part by the first ever staging of the International GS Trophy in Thailand in 2016. Like many of his fellow countrymen, Faizal had followed the Trophy success story over the years with interest. Having owned a succession of GS bikes from 650s and 800s to 1200s, he had always harboured an interest in trying to qualify for a place – if ever an Asian team would participate. When the news broke of a GS Trophy finally on Asian soil and a 'local' team competing, Faizal knew he had to be a part of this. And he made it, all the way to the international 'finals' in Thailand's Golden Triangle, where he competed alongside 18 other teams from across the globe. It was a true money-can't-buy experience, and one that changed his life.
Until then, Faizal has plenty to do at home. Around 100 of his friends had ridden from Malaysia to Thailand to cheer him on during the final day of the GS Trophy, and many of them are now pleading with him to organise training sessions for them so they too are ready to participate in the upcoming qualifying rounds for the international competition, which will take place in Mongolia in 2018. That's the thing with the GS community. You might be riding solo across the globe but you're never alone – wherever your wheels are turning. It's the unique GS spirit and Faizal believes that the world is there to be discovered and the rewards of motorcycle travel are hard to beat. “I used to say that travelling has changed my life but now I say it's the GS that has changed my life – and the way I am planning my whole future.”
A super strong community.
South Asia might be a long, long way away from BMW Motorrad’s headquarters in Germany but the GS community is super strong in this part of the world, thanks to GS adventure riders like Faizal, Prasit Aphiphunya and Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Polnaja, who recently organised the first ever World Travellers’ meeting in Indonesia, in conjunction with Horizons Unlimited. Jeffrey racked up 420,000 kilometres on his BMW R 1150 GS Adventure, visiting 97 countries on his ‘Ride for Peace’ but he still isn’t done yet. The call of the road is as strong as ever and he is planning a journey that will criss-cross the equator and ‘stitch the world together’ right across the globe. Naturally, Jeffrey will use a BMW for this mammoth undertaking, which will happen in the near future.
“You would have thought that amassing nearly half a million kilometres around the world would be enough to satisfy most people but organising the inaugural HU World Travellers’ Indonesia event and spending time with all these adventure travellers gave me the appetite for even more overlanding,” says the 55-year-old who is showing no signs of slowing down. “As well as Faizal Sukree, we had many riders attend our meeting on Sumbawa island, including BMW Motorrad’s own Andy Dukes, who made a presentation about his round-the-world riding and running odyssey (www.themarathonride.com ) and Norman and Maggie Magowan, who are globetrotting on a pair of bright yellow 2002 BMW F 650 GS machines. Spending time in the good company of riders like these is contagious and you soon find yourself planning your next adventure — that’s what it’s all about.”