308,000 kilometres on one bike.

It must be true love.

Željan Rakela, a 36-year-old Croatian, enjoys every day and above all every single mile of his life. And he loves motorcycles. Especially his BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. He even has the numbers to prove his love: He bought his bike in 2006. And it's been non-stop passion ever since: the Croatian has racked up a total of 308,000 kilometres in the past 8 years. Impressive numbers. But they're even more impressive when you consider that Željan spends only two months on his bike a year, his entire annual holiday.

One man, one bike, one goal.

One man, one bike, one goal.

The average motorcyclist would trade in his or her bike after only a fraction of the miles that Željan has ridden. But he's anything but average. “My ambition,” says Željan, “is to ride all the different continents on one bike. “My dream began in 2006, the first time I spent my two months of holiday riding to different countries. Now my wife comes with me sometimes. We've already explored the US, Canada, Mexico, Syria, Jordan and Israel together.”

+ Read more

An Australian adventure.

An Australian adventure.

He actually rode solo on his biggest trip to date in 2013. He considered riding the deserts and outback of Australia as too big of a challenge for two people: “It's a big, sparsely populated country. A small problem could very quickly turn into a big problem.” His fear would actually come true.

During his 20,000 kilometre trip around northern Australia, Željan took a spill. “I dislocated my left ankle and had to set it back in place myself. I was lying there in the middle of nowhere when a huge black bird landed next to me. And then another and another. I didn't have any mobile phone reception. I didn't have a satellite phone or CB radio. Things didn't look good. I knew I had to fix my ankle quickly before I started feeling the pain after the initial adrenaline rush.”

+ Read more

And on and on.

And on and on.

Željan rode the remaining 8,000 kilometres by changing gears with his heel. Believe it or not, the dangers of riding far away from civilisation have never really worried Željan. He describes himself as an ‘adventurer with a motorcycle’ and thrives on the challenges and pleasures that come with riding. He's not at all worried by the 100,000 kilometres on his odometer. As Željan puts it: "As every BMW rider knows, that's not very much at all."

+ Read more
"
Over 100,000 kilometres isn't very much at all.
"

Željan Rakela

Nothing can stop him.

“I wanted to be the first Croatian to cross Russia. Not long after I started out, I had a serious accident in Siberia, Outer Mongolia. I was hit by a drunk driver. My leg was broken and the nearest hospital was 600 kilometres away. So I took a taxi. Four days later I was back in Croatia, where I had surgery.”
His beloved GS suffered severe damage too. But being a dependable, solid piece of equipment, its 'surgery' was less problematic. Apart from occasional run-ins with sheep and drunk drivers, the R 1200 GS Adventure has stood up very well to eight years and 308,000 kilometres of hard use. The only trouble he had was a problem with the Cardan shaft at 45,000 kilometres. It was replaced under the standard warranty.
Preventative care has always been Željan’s top priority. The fuel pump was replaced at 100,000 km and again at 200,000 kilometres. A necessary trade-off for variations in fuel quality. The clutch was replaced at 75,000 km and again (preventative) at 250,000 kilometres. Finally, the ignition switch had to be replaced because things like rain and dirt and frequent turning of the key will eventually cause problems.
+ Read more

Next destination: the Pan-American Highway.

Not long after he reached 23,000 km, the standard exhaust was replaced with an Akrapovič exhaust system. After 75,000 km, engineers at Akrapovič asked Željan whether they could inspect the system for a long-term quality control study. They cut the exhaust wide open. Željan received a brand-new system in return. The exhaust has now been doing its job for the past 210,000 kilometres without maintenance.
Akrapovič has provided him with a new exhaust system for his upcoming trips. He has many more destinations: “I hope to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, this year. Next year I want to do the Pan-American Highway. And who knows what will follow after that…"
+ Read more
More stories you might be interested in.
Suitable motorcycles.