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Electric dreams: Belstaff supports the Turner twins on their sustainable journey to the heart of the Iberian Peninsula
On their ongoing mission to reach all of the world’s poles of inaccessibility, the adventurous brothers put high-tech, eco-friendly Zero Motorcycles to the ultimate test.
Modern-day adventurers often look to the past for inspiration. While walking in the footsteps – sometimes quite literally – of Shackleton and Hillary et al is commendable, it’s also worth remembering what these heroes were trying to achieve in the first place. They were pioneers, often stepping into the unknown in search of new experiences and discoveries.
For ‘world first’ adventurers Hugo and Ross Turner, continuing this pioneering legacy is at the core of their expeditions. Their latest and ongoing mission is to reach all the ‘poles of inaccessibility’ – geographical landmarks located at the most inland point of a continent or land mass. These points are, admittedly, largely unremarkable. There’s no signage or grand finish line. But once the twins realised that no one had travelled to all of these points or documented them, all the pieces fell into place.
So far the Turner Twins have cycled and paramotored their way to central North and South America and Australia. Their next stop was the Iberian pole of inaccessibility in central Spain, this time using high-tech electric Zero Motorcycles.
‘We’re one of the first people to do a long-distance electric bike trip, certainly across Europe,’ commented Hugo Turner. ‘This trip was about finding out the capabilities of electric vehicles outside of the city limits over a long distance. With all of these trips, what we’re trying to do is give something back and discover something new, rather than just doing it for the glory.’
Setting off from the London Transport Museum, the twins were clad in Endurance boots, Tourmaster Pro trousers and waxed nylon cotton McGee motorcycle jackets, all made by Belstaff. They made their way to northern France, traversing the entire country, across the Pyrenees and into Spain. The journey totalled 2,335km and took seven days.
'From a dry 35 degrees to a wet, soggy 10 degrees in the Pyrenees, the Belstaff kit was amazing.’ Commented Hugo. ‘It didn’t leak or get wet once; it didn’t sweat or overheat. The best kit you have and use you don’t notice. If you're suddenly thinking about your clothing, there’s something amiss. You don’t want to think about it and we didn’t have to think about it at all.'
The first thing to strike the twins about the Zero bikes, however, was the complete lack of sound – something which certainly raised a few eyebrows from passers-by and fellow riders. For many motorbike lovers, half of the thrill of riding is in the noise and throttle of the petrol engine. But the twins found the lack of commotion created a surprisingly ‘intimate riding experience’, allowing them to ‘connect with the road and environment’.
Electric and hybrid cars have steadily grown in popularity in recent years, but motorcycles have remained largely sidelined. California-born Zero Motorcycles is on a mission to change that with impressive eco-friendly technology and credentials, and motorcycles that both look the part and perform exceptionally well.
‘The performance of the bikes was unbelievable, I cannot emphasise that enough,’ says Hugo. ‘The speed, the response, the handling… You can go from 50km per hour to 130 in seconds; they’re absolutely rapid. They’re also very customisable as you can link your bike up to the Zero app and change the settings. It was a pretty cool experience.’
Although on powerful machines, covering long distances, the twins found having to calculate mileage, charging times and stations proved at times frustrating. Over the seven-day trip, they charged their bikes a total of 27 times, equating to around 59 hours.
Yet Hugo is cautiously optimistic that electric technology is the way forward, adding that the entire trip in terms of travel costs amounted to around £20 each.
‘Long-distance travel on electric bikes is definitely feasible and there’s a huge amount of money being invested in it. Once the infrastructure is fully in place, it’s a slow domino effect.’
After making their way across the awe-inspiring Pyrenees mountains (which the bikes handled with aplomb) and enjoying some impromptu cross-country riding in Spain, the brothers eventually reached the Iberian pole, located in an innocuous patch of land southwest of Madrid. The twins celebrated with their usual whisky tipple and, of course, by capturing the whole experience through film and photography.
‘A huge part of modern exploration is documenting it,’ Hugo says. ‘If you don’t document it there’s no story to tell.’