Earlier this week, Thomas Tomczyk rode his electric motorbike into Honda, Colombia (about 150 miles northwest of Bogota), and broke the world record for the longest electric motorcycle ride to date. Tomczyk clocked 12,644 kilometers (7,856 miles) aboard his 2012 Zero S as he rode into the small central-Colombian town.
The previous record also surpassed 12,000 kilometers, but did so only with the help of a support van to provide refueling charges and mechanical assistance. Tomczyk is riding solo and often resorted to self-repairs and odd charging sites — plugging in at jails, schools, museums, homes, garages, and coffee shops.
His ultimate goal for the ride is to raise awareness of sustainable travel. "I wanted to prove that riding long distances on an electric motorcycle is not something for the future but is a viable option right now," says Tomczyk. "Two of my friends and I created a project called Electric Powered Odyssey, through which we hope to spread the news about this new way of adventure traveling."
Of course, it's also about being a world record holder. "I also wanted be the first person to travel on an electric motorcycle from the U.S. to the tip of South America." That's right, he's headed even further south, despite already breaking the record. His plan is to continue on and ride all the way to Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America. This means he still has more than 6,000 kilometers to go.
His Zero S has a range of 200 miles a day, and can only go about 90 miles in a single stretch. There are other unique challenges, such as remote highways and a lack of mechanical resources. "Riding the motorcycle on the deserted roads of northern Mexico in Tamaulipas was quite a challenge due to area's scarce infrastructure and insecurity," says Tomczyk. "Working with local mechanics during break downs and repairs on a vehicle they've never seen before has been also a challenge."
But Tomczyk is in it for the long haul. He has over 17 years of motorcycle road-tripping under his belt, and has gone from South Africa to Europe in a single journey. This drive, however, is a little more special than the others for him. "Today, riding a combustion engine motorcycle on a Pan-American highway is more of an exercise in endurance and patience than an adventure," he says.
Tomczyk and his team are making a documentary to help show what it's like to travel farther than any electric bike has before through a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to get funding for that project. Additionally he is tracking his endeavor through social media, posting via Twitter and a website as he continues to ride on towards Patagonia.