Meeting Mr Touratech.
After riding through 78 countries around the world Lisa and I have been met with unparalleled kindness, hospitality, and generosity and been supported by individuals and a few long term friends like the German Adventure specialist Touratech.
Touratech’s founders and CEO’s Herbert Schwarz and Jochen Schanz, have become legends in the adventure motorcycle community. With a hands-on approach, these two friends have taken the once small firm in Niedereschach Germany and transformed it into the world’s leading specialist manufacturer and supplier of motorcycle accessories, who now operate in 46 countries worldwide.
Way back in 2004 we had the opportunity to spend a little time with Herbert in South Africa and we chatted easily over dinner about bikes, adventure, and Africa. Until yesterday we’d never had the opportunity to meet Jochen and personally thank you him and Touratech for the incredible support they’ve provided us over the years. From simple part upgrades to the massive rebuild that Touratech funded after my horrible bike wreck on Borneo, through to our most recent strip and rebuild of our new R1200GSA and F800GS, Touratech have bent over backwards to support Lisa and me, and, incredibly have simply asked us to continue sharing our journey as a means of thanks.
At the Touratech Rally West this last weekend in Plain Washington, Jochen paid us a surprise visit and we had our first opportunity to meet him and his wife Heike, shake their hands and thank them personally.
It was gone 10pm and dark, when in a grassy field full of laughter, live music, and two roaring bonfires, two dimly lit figures walked through the main vendors area without notice or fanfare and toward the live music stage. Paul Guillien (GM Touratech-USA) quietly approached Lisa and I and whispered “hey, we have a surprise visitor I think you should both meet”, a few minutes later and we had the best surprise of the weekend as we shook hands for the first time with Jochen and his lovely wife Heike. A plan was quickly hatched for breakfast and an introduction to our new bikes the next morning.
The following morning and like new parents, we excitedly waited for Jochen and Heike, eager to show off the new bikes. The culmination of LXV Outdoors incredible support and purchase of the two new BMW motorcycles, Touratech’s long-term generosity and 10 weeks of hard work by the team over at BMW Motorcycles of Riverside (bike builder extraordinaire)
Easy conversation over coffee was followed by laughter as we each shared a few insights and chatted about Touratech’s meteoric growth, and how the adventure market has changed and grown beyond anyone’s expectations.
The bikes sat happily 30 feet away. It was time to see if they were worthy of receiving the Touratech seal of approval.
With Jochen and Heike the conversation continued as we highlighted what had been upgraded from standard OEM BMW Motorrad parts and why we’d altered, removed or changed certain parts of both bikes.
An hour later and with Jochen sitting aboard my R1200GSA his face lit up and he stretched his arms to reach the new handlebars before kicking up the side stand and taking the weight of the bike as his own. Second later his face lit up in a huge grin as I started the bike.
And there it was. The approval I’d so been hoping for.
The real highlight of the day was standing toe to toe with Mr. Touratech and the opportunity he’d given us, for Lisa and I to express in person, our unwavering gratitude for all they’ve done to support over the years
Without Touratech’s support, we would not be on the road today. This is a debt we can never really repay. Sometimes the word ‘Thank you” falls so short of what we want to express. Until a better word materializes Lisa and I want to take this opportunity to thank you Jochen, Herbert, Martin, Alex and the whole Touratech family.
Ride far, ride safe, explore and share.
See you down the road.