Meet the First Round-the-World Motorcyclist. the 1912 “Long Way Round”

Meet the First Round-the-World Motorcyclist. The 1912

“The longest, most difficult, and most perilous motorcycle journey ever attempted.”

It’s been more than 100 years since Carl Stearns Clancy circled the world on a Henderson motorcycle. No GPS, no Gas stations, no telephone for an emergency situation. 

Today’s adventure riding scene is packed with high-tech equipment, GPS maps, fantastic motorcycles, guides and a lot of forums and resources. Though, it’s still a big deal to circle the world. Now imagine an RTW trip to another planet with no technical resources. It might offer you a glimpse about the original "Long Way Round."


The journey took Clancy from West to East across Europe, Africa, Asia and the U.S.A. He didn't manage to write a book but published some articles in “The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review” – a weekly magazine. 


The Motorcycle: a 934 cc, 4-cylinder, 7 horsepower Henderson. It had one foot-operated brake which stopped the rear wheel and a fully-enclosed chain drive. 


David V. Helihy, a historian who writes about bicycles and motorcycles, published a fascinating story in the August 2014 issue of Rider magazine along with some photos provided by Clancy’s family. Here are some facts about Clancy’s adventure:

  •  Clancy made a deal with Henderson. He could set-up dealerships wherever he wanted, and he could gain $5 per motorcycle. It was a kind of new business director. 
  •  He convinced a friend – Walter R. Storey to join him. Storey abandoned the trip in Paris.
  • The Henderson broke down in Spain. Clancy repaired it using some parts borrowed from a bicycle shop.
  • A gang of six Arabs shot at him in Algeria. He managed to get away.  
  • One night he found his tent surrounded by jackals and mountain cats. He was camping in the Isle of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). 
  • The worst roads encountered were not in Africa, but in the USA – near Portland, Oregon. 
  • He returned to the U.S.A. after 11 months. He traveled 18,000 miles on three continents.


Fixing a tire puncture in the Pyrennes. 


July Canion, Idaho.


In the French countryside, 1913.


Dr. Gregory W. Frazier (“America’s #1 motorcycle adventurer") who traveled five times around the world launched a book in 2010 about Clancy’s Adventure. Frazier got his hands on Clancy's articles published in 1913 and put them together with some context. So, although bearing another author's signature, you can relieve Clancy's adventure due to its first person stories. 


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