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ADV NewsNew World Record Set Crossing Africa on a KTM 1190 Adventure

New World Record Set Crossing Africa on a KTM 1190 Adventure

 South African rider travels from Cairo to Cape Town in record time on his KTM.

Published on 03.06.2018

For most, a motorcycle ride from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa would be a chance to take in the sites, countless ancient monuments and unique cultural experiences over several weeks. Or if you are wired like Andrew Thabo Russell, you do the same 6,835-mile journey solo in just over 7 days while breaking a record.

To put that distance in perspective, it would be like riding from Los Angeles to New York, turning around and doing it all over again and then riding back to Colorado. Now imagine doing that in Africa without the conveniences of modern interstate systems and framework. But Russell didn’t just pick up one day and decide to attempt this remarkable record-breaking journey. In fact when he did commit himself to the challenge, it took three tries and untold resolve to overcome mental and physical hardships.

Rider breaks world record for speed on KTM 1190 Adventure R Motorcycle


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Russell’s first attempt in 2015 was cut short when his passport was stolen at the border between Ethiopia and Kenya. On his second effort in 2017, a broken chain caused catastrophic gearbox damage prematurely ending his attempt again. That failure resulted in five days of hitchhiking with his lifeless bike. “It was very draining but full of rich human experiences; the truck drivers fed me every night, refusing any form of compensation – this happened in countless ways throughout the trip,” said Russell to IOL news.

Even his successful attempt this year was not without challenges that tested his will. Russell collided with a Kudu in northern Kenya, nearly hit a truck in Zambia and had a front tire blow out that ate up precious time. Not to mention the mounting fatigue that he fought every day as miles dragged on and hours started to add up. Despite all the challenges he faced, Russell made good time and rolled into Cape Town on January 9th with a record breaking time on a motorcycle of 7 days 18 hours 52 minutes — 5 days faster than the previous record set in 2016.

Rider breaks world record for speed on KTM 1190 Adventure R Motorcycle

Russell credited his successful record-breaking run to luck and ever-improving road conditions in Africa. With roughly 150 unpaved miles left on the renowned Great North Road, it has opened the door for larger displacement machines capable of higher speeds. Also, the new land border between Egypt and Sudan negates a time-consuming ferry ride up Lake Nasser.

During Russell’s most-recent effort, he even had times when he could forget about the record and just enjoy the ride. He was in awe of the landscape in the border regions of Ethiopia but was particularly amazed by the incredible beauty and magnetic isolation of The Rift Valley in central Tanzania.

Rider breaks world record for speed on KTM 1190 Adventure R Motorcycle

As for the longevity of his record, Russell has his doubts but still believes that future attempts will rely heavily on luck. As he told IOL news, “There are so many factors to consider and things that can go wrong when covering 11,000 kilometers through Africa that fast, especially at night.” Regardless of how long it stands Russell’s record still represents a great accomplishment and firmly places him in the upper echelons of endurance riding.

Photos Courtesy of Andrew Thabo Russell

Author: Spencer Hill

“The Gear Dude” has been fueling his motorcycle addiction with adventure since first swinging his leg over a bike in 2010. Whether he’s exploring his own backyard in the Pacific Northwest or crisscrossing the United States, Spencer is always in search of scenic off-road routes, epic camping locations and the best gear possible. He began writing shortly after taking up two-wheel travel to share his experiences and offer insight with his extensive backpacking, camping and overland background.

Author: Spencer Hill
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5 thoughts on “New World Record Set Crossing Africa on a KTM 1190 Adventure

  1. Crazy difficult accomplishment – you should be very proud young man! I used to do lots of riding but then “life happens” with kids and responsibilities. I’m retiring soon and look forward to getting more riding in soon. Well done…!