Motonomad II, Riders of the Steppe

Rennie Scaysbrook | March 13, 2017

Motonomad II makes you want to ride far, far away

Adam Reimann has found his calling. A rider of extreme skill and a crafty eye for two wheeled entertainment, you’ve most likely seen his films plastered all over Cycle News or his YouTube page as he blasts a KTM 1190 Adventure R across Australia’s open plains or a 500EXC-F across the deserts of the Middle East.

A stalwart of the Australian off road scene for over two decades and now inexorably linked to KTM and Husqvarna, the past couple of years have seen Riemann create a series of films under the Motonomad brand—the first installment being a two-man epic from the KTM factory in Mattighofen in Austria to the Pyramids of Egypt, with the most recent adventure a trip across Central Asia from Kazakhstan, through Russia and finally, Mongolia.

Riemann does all the filming and editing himself, making this one man show all the more remarkable considering the quality of the work he produces.

Reimann Motonomad
Drinking red wine out of an animal tusk? Why not?! Reimann’s adventures in Motonomad II make for some pretty compelling viewing.

CN: What originally drew you to make the second installment of Motonomad in Central Asia?

AR: I actually wanted to revisit the Himalayas and try to cross them through India and into the Tibetan plateau. The Chinese laws surrounding such an idea were too difficult to navigate, so I shifted my whole thinking north on the map and Mongolia started to intrigue me. The more I looked into it, the more I realized there was an epic story waiting.

Asia Motonomad
Central Asia is built for riding, especially on bikes like the KTM EXC-F500s.

Was this a bigger challenge than the original Austria to Egypt epic in terms of logistics and red tape?

It was, actually. I thought I’d be all over it after everything I learned in the first film, but really, we had it easy the first time—we simply flew into Austria and the KTM factory had two bikes prepared for us along with the necessary carnets (basically a passport for your bike) needed to get through to Egypt. For Motonomad II, we had the logistical nightmare of freighting bikes to Kazakhstan—don’t even ask! It was a mission but somehow it all fell into place thanks to KTM Australia airfreighting them in to avoid any hold-ups. The biggest issue on the ground was the language barrier. I can laugh about it all now, but it was a headache!

When we got there, no one at the freight company spoke any English and we could sense they were upset about something. It turns out they wanted us to take our crates and go, but we’d literally hit the ground running with our gear bags and I was adamant in building the bikes at their depot and riding them out of there. We did exactly that and they just accepted it in the end.

Almaty City Motonomad
Dealing with the shipping company in Almaty City, Kazakhstan, was a bit of a headache.

What preparation did you do to the KTM 500s? Were they heavily modified to make the journey?

Not really. I mean, I fabricated front rally screens and put 19 liter tanks on the bikes, but otherwise they were dead stock. The suspension springs were beefed up a bit to handle the extra gear we were carrying, but I did nothing to the engines. In fact, I left one of the internal baffles in the exhaust just to keep the over-rev down. Those 500EXC-F’s have so much torque and they sucked up the 9000km (5592 miles) easily.

Fiberglassing Motonomad
Fiberglassing up a rally screen is a must for big mile ADV riding.

Motonomad II features three riders rather than two, how did the group dynamic change?

Yeah, it totally changed the dynamic. In the first film Mark Portbury and I got on really well considering how much pressure we were under with the distances, extreme climate and political situation of the Middle East. It was full-on in that regard and we just stuck together and really bonded. In the second film there were two new riders, Scott Britnell and Hein Schwarz, who brought a lot to the team individually, but collectively it seemed to break down easier because two people can side against one if they feel the need to. I found myself managing emotions a lot more on the second trip—riding 9000km through three countries in 30 days is a big task, and trying to film it as well is an even bigger task.

Trio Motonomad
Adam (M1), Scott (M2) and Hein wait, and wait, and wait at the Mongolian border.

That scene where you guys blast into Mongolia, for me, is the defining moment of the movie. What was it like riding there?

Mongolia was like arriving on another planet. The landscape literally transformed into this pastured moonscape the minute we crossed over from the Russian border. It’s a motorcycling wonderland—you can just look in any direction and start riding up and over massive mountains and ravines. You can basically ride wherever your ability will allow and for me Mongolia will always remain one of favorite places on earth.

Mongolia Motonomad
Letting the KTM have its head across the open plains of Mongolia. Magic!

What were the people like that you encountered? The part of the film where you’re working with school kids in Russia looked fun.

It’s always the way—the city folk in any country don’t really care too much about foreigners on bikes—unless you’re paying top dollar for everything. In the remote parts of the countries and small villages, the people are so friendly, helpful and really want to know your story. They’ll take you in for the night and feed you without wanting any money—they’re just stoked to see you enjoy their cooking and cultural ways.

Baby Motonomad
You meet some amazing people on the road.

What was your favorite place you guys visited?

It’d have to be the Altai mountains in Mongolia. We rode through places that were like a science fiction movie set and I just wandered how there hasn’t been a cinematic Hollywood blockbuster shot in that region. The lay of the land is like nowhere on earth, rolling snowcapped mountains separated wide smooth valleys that stretch to the horizon, and not a bitumen road for thousands of miles!

Horse Mongolia Motonomad
Mongolian horsepower!

What camera gear did you bring with you and how did you store it all?

We basically spread the camera gear between the three riders: four GoPros, a drone, Canon 5D, Sony FS700 and two tripods, not to mention a heap of chargers, hard drives and a small Mac.

Camera Motonomad
The guys had to move fast and didn’t have a lot of time to set up the shots. Considering the result, it was a remarkable effort.

If someone were thinking of undertaking a cross-country/international trip like this, what’s some of the advice you’d give them?

A rally screen is a must, and increase the stiffness of your suspension to compensate your luggage—it’ll make your bike much safer to ride!

Frost Motonomad
If you’re going to travel on a bike, make sure you have a warm sleeping bag!

What are five things that are essential to bring on a trip like this (aside from the obvious passport, underwear, etc).

1: Decent Adventure gear.

2: Neck sock for wind/sun protection

3: Insulated gloves (spare)

4: U.S. Dollars

5:  -25˚F rated sleeping bag

KTM Motonomad
Somewhere in there is a KTM nearly getting washed away into oblivion.

What were a couple of moments that happened on this trip you’ll remember for the rest of your life?

There were so many but that feeling of nearly losing my bike down the river will stay with me forever. I’m lucky I didn’t lose it and the experience will prove valuable if ever I’m confronted with trying to ride a bike across that kind of raging torrent again!

Motonomad film
If you want inspiration for your next adventure, check this film out.

Is the Motonomad series finished, or have you got another area in mind for a new film?

MN3 planning is underway and I’ll begin production in the second half of this year, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to see this amazing movie in full, you can purchase a copy by heading to this link:'

Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Our newest member of staff is our Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A.