Carl Stearns Clancy – The father of “around the world motorcycle journeys”.

Imagine riding your motorcycle around the world! At the outset, it seems like a fairytale of an idea, experiencing varied cultures, riding on all sorts of terrains, visiting world famous monuments, the idea is there deep down in the heart of every serious motorcycle tourer! But it is easier said than done as the challenges faced are aplenty. Immigration problems, Language barrier, uncertain condition of roads, financing the ride are just some of them. Now imagine someone riding around the world in the year 1912! Yes, you read that right. The first road trip around the world on an automobile was done more than a hundred years ago in 1912 by 21 year old Carl Stearns Clancy when he started from Philadelphia and travelled across 18000 miles on land and 15000 miles on sea to finish in New York. Let us take a look at some kickass facts from the father of all “around the world motorcycle journeys”



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  • Started by two people – The ride was initially started by Carl Clancy and his friend Walter Storey. However, Walter Storey did not know how to ride a motorcycle and he crashed seriously on the first day of riding, although it was apparently not his fault. This forced Clancy to carry Storey on his motorcycle for around 400-500 miles. Storey eventually came back to America from Paris and Clancy carried on.


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  • First automobile ride around the world – The first automobile to circle around the world was not a comfy four-wheeler; it was Carl Clancy’s Henderson Motorcycle. The first around the world trip in a car was done 24 long years later in 1936. So much so to be proud of being bikers!


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  • The Bikes – Carl Clancy and Walter Storey did their ride on a Four Cylinder V Twin Henderson Motorcycles which had a 934cc engine,  produced 7 bhp, had one gear, no front brakes and were supposed to be the largest and the fastest motorcycles in their times! In 1912, Henderson Motorcycle Company had manufactured just 5 motorcycles and 2 of them were used for this ride.


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  •  The Gear – Carl Clancy did majority of his riding in a three-piece suit with a shirt and a tie. He managed to buy the helmet of a fighter plane pilot only after he reached Japan, before which he rode wearing a cap. In Algeria, Clancy achieved his top speed of 65 miles per hour but was forced to slow down as his eyes started to get terribly watery.

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  • Statistics – Clancy had initially planned to cover 15000 miles on sea and 14000 miles on land which included 5500 miles in Europe, 400 Miles in Africa, 5000 miles in Asia and 3500 miles in the United States in a span of one year but he eventually ended up riding 18000 miles in 10 months.


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Immigration problem – Clancy faced severe problems while crossing international borders and was forced to pay hefty amounts to take himself and his Henderson from one country to another.


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  • No roads in some countries – Carl Clancy was forced to change his route several times as he found out that many countries did not have any roads to cross through. These countries include Singapore, Hong Kong and even China!


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The INDIA connection – Carl Clancy had a plan to ride through India but he was forced to abort his plan due to unavailability of petrol in the country during the time!


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Worst roads in the US – Reportedly, Carl Clancy faced the worst roads in the United States. He was forced to ride in difficult terrains like over flowing rivers and train tracks.




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  • The travelogue – Carl Clancy documented his adventures in the book titled “THE GASOLINE TRAMP or AROUND THE WORLD ON A MOTORCYCLE” The book is available for purchase at


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  • In popular culture – Famous motorcycle tourer Dr. Gregory Frazier chronicled Carl Clancy’s journey in his biography of Clancy titled “Motorcycle Adventurer” for which he researched more than 16 years. In 2013, 101 years after Clancy’s journey, another motorcycle adventurist Geoff Hill retraced Carl Clancy’s route and even carried Clancy’s real boots along the journey and then published a book about his experiences titled “In Clancy’s Boots”


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  • Filmmaking – After successfully completing his journey Carl Clancy turned to become a film maker. He produced and directed several feature films and documentaries in the 1920s.


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The 1912 edition of The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review magazine termed Clancy’s ride as “The longest, most difficult, and most perilous motorcycle journey ever attempted.” We can’t agree more.


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Carl Stearns Clancy (August 8th 1890 – January 1971)


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