My first motorcycle was electric. And then I rode one, completely solo, round the world.

e.round the world - route map

"This traffic is insane, I need to do something different… I need to get a motorcycle!” I thought as I was again sitting stuck for hours in a taxi in Jakarta, a city famous for its traffic congestion. City where I moved to work and live one year before these thoughts, in 2017.

I never had a motorcycle before, all my life I was living in places with good public transport (London, Singapore) or excellent road infrastructure for a nice big car (Dubai). In Jakarta, a car would be useless for me as it gets you stuck for hours in traffic jams. Therefore people often use motorbikes as a much faster and practical way to move around. Also for this reason, combined with a tropical climate and affordability, Indonesia has 9x more motorcycles than cars.

I got my first motorcyle, it was electric

I have always been an early adopter and curiosity is my guiding principle for life. I have heard about, and tried, electric cars and was curious if there are already any commercially available electric motorcycles. In 2018 you would not see a single one in Indonesia, but I came across a website of a company that makes electric motorcycles in the US called ZERO and was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that their nearest dealer was in Thailand and there was no way to get the their motorcycle into Indonesia.

One evening over a dinner with my girlfriend I showed her an image of electric Zero FX motorbike on that US website, telling her that it is an awesome electric motorcycle, but unfortunately not available in Indonesia. Shortly after looking at the picture, she says, “I think we have motorbikes like this in my company’s garage.” I started laughing because that sounded impossible, thinking that yeah, they might be some motorbikes in the same black color, but that’s it. But she was serious and called a colleague from her company to confirm. And she was right indeed! She worked for an event organizing company and that Zero company has had brought a few motorbikes to Indonesia for an event and it was more efficient to sell them locally with a discount than ship back to the US. So being extremely lucky, I got a hold of my first motorcycle, a completely new and world-class Zero FX model 2015 in Jakarta.

There were no electric riders in 2018 in Jakarta, so I hang out with Harley guys

And what a life changer it was! Frustration from being stuck in traffic has been replaced by joy and excitement, zipping between cars and lines in the traffic, enjoying the agility of electric powertrain and off roading capabilities on potholes ridden roads in Indonesia. Since this was my first motorcycle, I had to get a driving license for the motorcycle. And naturally, by using the combustion engine motorbike for the rides and exam. And that was when I really realized how superior electric motorcycles are compared to the traditional motorcycles. All that noise, constant gear changes and vibrations are probably what old bikers are conditioned to enjoy, but to me they were just a reminder of how evolution often faces the status quo, despite the superiority of the new.


As I had continued to ride my first electric motorcycle for 2 more years, I also realized that people have many outdated perceptions about how easy they are to use, maintain and charge. For example people still referred to lack of charging stations, whereas electric motorcycle does not need any special charging point and can be charged from a normal power socket at home, office or restaurant. I have always believed in taking action rather than just talking and I started to think about how to practically bust those myths about charging complexity and technology’s maturity.

I have decided to ride electric motorbike round-the-world

I was around 2019 when I came up with an idea to ride an electric motorcycle round the world. I had enough confidence from my own experience that it would be possible. It was exactly that type of practical example, that would prove the point of maturity of electric motorcycles. In my benchmark there was only one similar round the world project, but that was with a prototype motorcycle and with a team traveling together providing ongoing support. It became clear that I will need to ride completely solo to show how easy to use and reliable electric motorcycles are.


As a consultant in my professional life, I took a very structured approach to the purpose, strategy and planning of the project, built around a framework of 3 key pillars - rider, motorbike and route. I have bounced the project material off some friends in other tech companies and decided on fundamental attributes:

  1. No sponsorship or content monetization - I will need to be completely authentic, I saw that projects which produced entertainment content fell into a trap of scripted dramatization and failed to portray the reality of electric motorcycles maturity (e.g., The Long Way up series)
  2. Completely solo - to convey the trust and confidence in the maturity of electric motorcycles, I needed to show that I have the trust myself and do not need any support even in remote areas of our planet
  3. Round-the-world route - there needed to be a compelling achievement and circumnavigation of the world is the ultimate achievement for any traveler or vehicle


As I was getting ready and organizing also my personal and professional life, the year 2020 came and with it the covid pandemic closing the borders, effectively shutting down any scenario of the route circumnavigating the world. While waiting for the borders to open I used the time to run a Proof of Concept - I rode my existing electric Zero FX motorcycle from Jakarta to Bali, 1,600 km on a motorbike with 100km range. After I successfully completed that ride, I knew that with a range of 300 km which was the higher model specification, I can do the round-the-world route.


Proof of Concept - across Indonesia with a max 100km range electric motorbike

Finally in the spring of 2023 the last country on my route has opened borders (China) and I could start setting up. The only upside of the 2-year delay was that in the interim there was a new model of motorcycle with better specifications than the one I planned to use originally. It was a bit of a risk to take just newly launched model for such an extreme mission, but after getting the bike to Indonesia and seeing it, I was immediately happy that I will challenge this bike and not the older models. 

For me as a Slovak national living in Indonesia the processes of preparation were not simple. Just to get a carnet was a journey itself. In Indonesia, a country of 280 mil people, who got the first carnet for electric motorcycle? Yes, some guy from Slovakia. Or can you even imagine the expression on the face of the lady at the Chinese embassy in Indonesia holding my Slovak passport, when she asked me for a flight ticket to China for the visa and my response was that I do not fly there, I ride there on an electric motorcycle.

I started from Jakarta in July 2023

I took an unpaid leave from my work and departed from Jakarta on July 10th, 2023. I was ready technically, mentally and physically and months of planning started to quickly pay off. I was covering 300-350 km daily on congested roads of Java and Sumatra islands, sitting on my bike for 10-12h daily in mostly heavy traffic with omnipresent slow and insanely dangerously driving trucks.  But already after the first 5 days I knew that I can do this. I was able to meet my daily quotas, the bike had good range (I didn't even have time to properly test it, the import and registration to Indonesia took ages and I could do only about 500 km on it before the departure). I had my overall estimated timeline and with such a strong start, I became more confident in actually making the round-the-world ride happen.


After I had crossed Malaysia and continued to Thailand, the rainy season started to hit its peak and for the next 4 weeks I was riding daily in rain, across the entire Thailand, Laos and south and central China. My initial anxiety over the water risk was quickly replaced by confidence that even a daily rain exposure and muddy roads (shout out to Laos) are no problem for my electric motorbike. In China I saw my vision materialized in practice. Combustion engine motorcycles have been banned in cities and all motorcycles were electric. What a great impact it had on the livability of cities, the traffic was quiet, and people enjoyed walking outside. I wish that such a future will happen in Indonesia, where I live, soon.

China mersmerized with their history while being the most advanced e-mobility country on my journey

After China I entered Kazakhstan famous for long distances across deserts and steppes without any civilization. But again, with proper planning I was able to hop 200 km+ stretches of rough roads without phone signal, civilization and naturally no power sources. This country was and ultimate challenge for electric motorcycle. And despite harsh nature conditions and bureaucratic challenges at the border, I encountered the unexpected warmth of its people. The hospitality of Kazakh locals stood out. They not only welcomed me into their homes to charge my bike but also offered a taste of their culture and food, revealing the genuine kindness of the people. After Kazakhstan I did a marine transfer over the Caspian Sea and surged towards Europe.


The vast steppes of Kazakhstan were like this for days...

Crossing Europe was super easy, there is an excellent charging infrastructure and I could charge faster from charging stations and cover even 500km per day. I took a few days off in my home country Slovakia, it felt surreal - I visited from Indonesia there always on a plane, but this time I rode all that distance on an electric motorbike! After some good media exposure, I left up to London from where I flew my bike to New York. This process took 3 weeks instead of 5 days as I planned for. The administration included emissions compliance exceptions for the US, even though my bike is electric and has no emission at all. With a sparse charging infrastructure and mobile apps of charging operators giving away legacy vibes, the US was on the side of less e-mobility mature countries on my journey.

 The capital of Slovakia Bratislava and awesome team from TV Markiza

Delayed by all customs and administrations, I started to hit winter in the US and eventually ended up riding in snow and freezing weather, which was another testimony of the motorbike's capabilities. And frankly also mine, after riding in tropical climates I was not ready for winter riding, ended up with hands covered in deep skin cracks. Also, I learned that once my body stiffens up from the cold, it is better to continue as long as possible and not to stop, because once I stopped the blood started circulating again and when getting back on my bike, the pain of freezing up happens again. And to cover my daily quota for the USA I had to ride at least 6-7 hours each day, no matter the weather conditions.

Winter caught me in the US and for the first time I rode in snow

After I crossed the US to Los Angeles, I coincidentally but luckily synced with two girls who crossed the US on electric motorcycles and arrived in LA at the same time. We met at their arrival celebration and had an instant connection as we just went through the same experience of crossing the US on an electric motorcycle.


While waiting for the customs clearing in Los Angeles to get my bike to Sydney, Australia I had a few days free and visited office of my motorcycle manufacturer Zero in California. We do not have any formal or informal arrangement, but I just liked their products and had the privilege to see how the bikes are made and also meet the team designing and building them. Awesome bunch of people in a still startup like environment.


Australia was a welcomed change from the cold US weather, and I gained back about 5% of the range when riding in hot Australian summer, as temperature affects the range. The EV community in Australia was the best and my project had national TV news coverage which served exactly the purpose of my project. I designed my route to challenge the bike and crossed the Australian outback with stretches of 250 km+ without anything. I was however prepared from Kazakhstan and made it even to Uluru red rock in the center of the Australian Outback, where no other electric motorcycle has managed to get before me.

 The first time ever electric motorcycle reaches Uluru in Australian Outback

After Australia I put the bike on a container ship to Timor Leste, which is on the same island as Indonesia, and I could cross the land border there. The bike spent 3 weeks in that ship container and was completely fine after I took it out and ready to ride. 


The joy of crossing from Timor Leste to Indonesia was overwhelming, I left Indonesia from the west and went round the world, returning to Indonesia from the east. I also felt like being back home, as Indonesia is my home country now. I still have a few hops across Indonesian islands to get back to Jakarta to technically close the circle. Arriving in Indonesia is already the achievement of the first ever round-the-world solo ride of an electric motorcycle. Many people on my way told me that I am a lucky guy, which I am indeed. But also the clarity of purpose, strategy together with discipline and integrity on the way enabled the project to be a success. All without any sponsors or support. 

Back in beautiful Indonesia after solo circumnavigating the world on electric motorcycle

To go round-the-world my electric motorcyle has been through over 66,000km journey which obviously not all was in riding as I had to cross oceans and seas - approximately 24,000 km of the route were in transport, the bike spending weeks in crates waiting for flights or flying, closed in humid and hot container for weeks on the sea or just strapped on a boat or ferry. And also all of that was completely fine, without any problem. The bike could handle all the transportation absolutely without any issues, this is what my bike went through in transport:

  • Crated and flying for 2 weeks from San Francisco to Jakarta (I essentially bought it and got it imported to Indonesia so could start from there)
  • Rope tied on a wooden boat with bananas crossing from Sumatra to Malaysia
  • Strapped on a ferry on the outside deck for 2 days across Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan
  • Crated for 2 weeks flying London - New York (and had to get the SOC to only 10% by airline requirement, which is far from optimal for a longer storage)
  • Crated for 3 weeks waiting and flying Los Angeles - Sydney
  • Closed in container for 3 weeks on a ship crossing from Darwin to Timor Leste (had to go via Singapore as that was the only route)

The reliability of electric motorcycles in transport is not something often talked about, but my experience is that at least my motorcycle Zero DSR/X does a great job there as well.

Variety of marine and air motorbike transportations over the sea/oceans on my journey

I framed the entire project as my job and work, I had a well defined routine of morning preparation and day plan finalization, including points for the midday boost charges and target destination scenarios and confirmation. As I have already known, finding a charging spots was not difficult, each hotel eventually had some power socket somewhere and in 95% cases there was not any issue. I never booked the hotel in advance so if there was an issue, I could easily go somewhere else. But that happened only 5-7 times on the entire journey. The mid-day charges were always possible too, there was always a kind household, shop, restaurant, or even a remote train service station in Kazakhstan where I could charge. Throughout my entire journey I have never ended in a situation where I run about of battery or could not charge and continue my journey.


I made also sure that during the project I kept myself in shape, I hopped to gym wherever it was possible, even in small cities or villages. There is a variety of fitness awareness across the world and some countries had more gyms than others, for example in Kazakhstan there were some great hardcore gyms, while in China I struggled to find any. To manage the risk of sickness I also took natural supplements like red ginger and some vitamins. Over the 8 months of journey, I never got sick, only in Timor Leste it was the first time something knocked me down for a week with a fever. Luckily, I was not in a rush anymore as I negotiated a delayed return to work and got some time to finally enjoy riding across Indonesia back to Jakarta.

The conclusions

Overall, the component of the electric mobility was surprisingly smooth, the challenges were mostly in processes and administrations of border crossings for my motorcycle registered in Indonesia

The good and easy

  • Charging has never been a problem, there was always a power socket somewhere and I had never run out of battery thanks to a proper route research and planning
  • The motorbike I did not have any problem through the entire journey, only had to change tires, belt and brake pads after 25,000km
  • My body did not let me down and I did not have any medical or health problems through the journey. All of this despite my gluten intolerance and limitations it posed on what I was eating, sometimes for weeks I was only on potato chips and chocolate bars

The main challenges

  • Customs procedures have always been complex and country specific. I had to spend a lot of time, effort and money to get through Thailand, China and the US in particular. 
  • The weather was a real challenge, there was almost always rain, strong winds or even snow, maybe only 10% of days I had nice weather. This was also because of delayed departure, hitting rainy seasons, winter and peak heats of various geographies
  • Online presence was a new challenge to me, to increase awareness I had to use social media intensively and some people have been trying to use my online presence for their own flawed agendas by spamming my project’s media presence

Thanks to my 5 years of experience riding electric motorcycles in Indonesia I already had a strong foundation for the success of the project, however these attributes were guiding me towards it eventual successful completion:

  1. Purpose - Clarity on why I am doing the project, to prove the point of maturity of electric motorcycles for people to start using them more and by that improve the livability of cities in Southeast Asia
  2. Strategy - Well-designed strategic pillars of rider, route and motorbike supported by guiding principles of no sponsorship and support to project authenticity and relatability to the public
  3. Discipline - country level and daily level rigorous planning to meet daily quotas and confirm feasibility, explicit rules minimizing risks such as no alcohol during the journey, no girls and strict gym and exercise routines
  4. Integrity - complete honesty and transparency in all communication, no fake dramas were possible thanks to my complete independence from brands or attention of audiIence

Extraordinary achieved by the good old approach of strategy, planning and delivery

What next?

The achievement of the first solo ride of an electric motorcycle round the world has naturally a continuation. I am going to leverage the outcomes to

  • Set up an e-mobility incubator and accelerator focusing mostly on the Southeast Asia markets
  • Write a book which reflects on major observations from the project intersected with my professional experience
  • Engage global audience to futher accelerate e-mobility innovation and adoption

and of course, continue riding awesome electric motorcycles!

Roman Nedielka

e.round the world

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