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ADV EventsOverland Expo – A Travel Junkie’s Favorite Destination Rally

Overland Expo – A Travel Junkie’s Favorite Destination Rally

An exposition of worldly proportions awaits those that make the yearly trip.

Published on 05.27.2016

Over land, sea or through the sky, both professional and amateur travelers and wanderers from around the world united last weekend in Mormon Lake, Arizona (just south of beautiful Flagstaff) for the 2016 Overland Expo West. Designed to showcase new products and vehicles for travel by land, to any destination from any destination, the Overland Expo brings together the best of the best in both motorcycling as well as four wheeling. And with the weather Gods securely paid in advance, each day’s sunshine was met with a night’s sky ripe with stars and a blazing blue full moon. No sign of last year’s snow, whew!

While much of the event revolves around the products on display, it’s the people that really make the Overland Expo West shine. Spending four days at camp with friends and family from possibly every country on earth, the bonds that are made at each display and the evening’s happy hour, are the ones that you’ll take around the globe (or the next state over) on your own journey.

Located at the Mormon Lake Lodge, the event spread across dozens of acres, utilizing its RV park, dry camp and rodeo grounds to the fullest extent. The more than 250 vendors spread across the valley floor like an outdoor swap meet for the world’s toughest men and women, and divided between the 2 and 4-wheel sections.

overland expo west motorcycle villiage
Adventure Riders head down Vendor Row in Motorcycle Village on their way out to get a taste of the local trails.


The motorcycle village, lined with product manufacturers and builders offered hands-on, one-on-one dialog with soft luggage makers like Giant Loop, Wolfman and Mosko, and ride clothing representatives from Alpinestars (for the first time!), REV’IT! (returning with a beautiful new boot lineup) and Aether Apparel (with their fashionable AND protective gear) plus KLIM with their own bombproof kits. Black Dog Cycleworks, Rugged Rider and Atlas Throttle Locks were there with motorcycle hard parts. Cyclops and Clearwater lights could be found in the moto village, while Rigid parked their rig on the truck side of the show.

electric-expedition-ktm 950 overland expo west
One of Expedition Electric’s e-powered KTMs was on display at the Cyclops booth. They will be riding three electrified KTM 950 Adventures through South America later this year.

Jessie Luggage Systems was your choice for hard luggage on vendor row and if you wanted to ride connected to your friends, and your music on your rides, representatives from SENA and Cardo Systems were also in attendance. And Moto-Skiveez was there to provide you with head-to-toe base layers no matter what ride suit you wear.

overland expo west moto skiveez
Shawn Lupcho owner of Moto-Skiveez, ready to provide you with head-to-toe base layers, including aloe fiber compression socks, quick-dry full-sleeve tops, folding hats and ride type-specific padded under shorts.

Just behind the moto village sat the property’s rodeo grounds, and it’s conversion to the motorcycle skills course for the weekend. RawHyde Adventures offered both 1-hour training courses in sand riding and lofting the front wheel three times a day, as well as a few dual-sport out-rides around the surrounding countryside for more advanced riders.

RawHyde Training at Overland Expo
A student practices proper lifting techniques in the sand with RawHyde instructors there to assist.

Going off the grid with the old guard, the OG’s of the adventure set, is just part of the entertainment you’ll find in between the presentations, lectures, demonstrations and movie screenings. Hob-nobbing with travel celebrities like Lisa and Simon Thomas (14 years on the road, presenting their new cookbook for adventure travelers), Ted Simon (legendary wanderer and author of Jupiter’s Travels), Tiffany Coates (one of the world’s most adventurous woman riders and travel advisers)… and more. The list of incredible stories goes on and on!

Adventure Travel Celebrities at the Overland Expo West
Traveling the world — often multiple times around it — for one single moment in time… that’s how important the Overland Expo is to travelers like these. Left to right: Rachel Lasham, Bea & Helmut, Simon Thomas, Ted Simon, Lisa Thomas, Ed March.

If you’ve ever wondered how these people manage to live off their motorcycles for years –if not decades– this is the place to find out. With many of the presenting riders and travelers currently ‘passing thru’, you get to point at their machines and ask the three W’s… why, where and what the heck?! If instead you prefer to travel light, master of minimalism Andrew Pain presented his techniques on getting there with less.

overland expo west ed march
Ed March of C90 Adventures has been all over the world on a 90cc scooter. At Overland Expo, he made sure to remind everyone that Adventure Riding isn’t about what you ride or looking cool.

The Ride Of My Life presented its latest touring feature film in the Lodge’s theater, exploring the countryside, culture and history of Cambodia, while also taking donations and support for their earthquake relief efforts put together in association with RawHyde Adventures. Sterling Noren also screened the latest (and 6th) border-to-border Backcountry Discovery Route (NMBDR) film about riding 1,200+ dual-sport miles across New Mexico from the bottom to the top. One of the best! And the controversial travel film “A Story Worth Living” was also on display.

Get Trained, Get Inspired, Get There

What’s an overland expo with out the actual travel over land? BF Goodrich, Land Rover, KTM (with a full line of dual sport and street models to ride), CSC and Ural motorcycles were all on site with demo vehicle to try out before you buy.

overland expo west ktm truck
KTM brought a fleet of 1290 Super Adventures, 1190 Adventures and 390 Dukes for potential customers to demo ride.

Mixing both Adventure Bikes and 4×4’s into one combined tour, the Expedition 65 crew tested their 4×4 support van and trailer on the Land Rover driving course before setting out to explore South America later this fall. Their journey will be documented by the award-winning BDR-famous Noren Films for a future DVD release; watch and learn how easy it can be to make the very same bucket list journey!

Expedition 65 testing on the track at Overland Expo West
The Adventure Riders of Expedition 65 test out the support vehicle they’ll be using during their trip from Colombia to the southern tip of Argentina.

Bring the kids too! The Expo has classes for them too, on such things as learning to treasure hunt with metal detectors or whatever the heck dendrochronology might be (process for determining the age of a tree). Earn a knot-tying patch to origami skills, there’s fun for every age at the Overland Expo.

There And Back Again

We of course took this opportunity to test a few motorcycles (the BMW R1200GSA and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure) to and from our SoCal headquarters, and on the surrounding trails near Mormon Lake. Both are known for being comfortable cruisers on the superslab but can these big bikes handle rugged off-road terrain as well? Look for that comparison test soon!

Overland Expo the ride there
Great motorcycle routes lead to Flagstaff, Arizona no matter what direction you come from. On our way to and from the Expo, we took the opportunity to test the R1200GS Adventure and KTM 1290 Super Adventure for our upcoming comparison.

I say it every year and I’ll say it again, Overland Expo West should (and could) be a week-long thing, although I know many of the organizers and volunteers personally and had seen their blisters, many arriving days before the actual event’s start. I know its hard work to put on a show like this, now twice a year, and hosting upwards of 10,000 people over the three-day event.

Adventure Travelers from all over the world come to the Overland Expo.
Travelers from all over the world come to the Overland Expo every year. If you don’t come to see the new products on market, come for the people!

I want to say thank you for all the great work and all the great people you’ve brought together. If you haven’t yet, the Overland Expo is well worth checking out for yourself, either in the Fall (Ashville, North Carolina October 7-9, 2016) or next Spring in Mormon Lake, Arizona.

Photos by Alfonse Palaima

Author: Alfonse Palaima

When not in Los Angeles hiding from society, Alfonse is far, far away from home, collecting passport stamps and slicing through traffic on two wheels with a smile on his face. Slowly rounding the world one country at at time, riding countless miles, on countless motorcycles, covering 6 of the 7 continents so far. While he is a rider like you and I, he has also been a moto journalist in the field since 2003.

Author: Alfonse Palaima

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Mark P.
Mark P.
May 27, 2016 10:24 am

Looks like good times!! Also looking forward to the comparo. Hope it’s got lots of dirt in it 😉

Alfonse Palaima
Alfonse Palaima
May 27, 2016 10:34 am
Reply to  Mark P.

There’s still some rocks stuck in the bodywork… Think that might be enough? 🙂

Mark P.
Mark P.
May 27, 2016 10:44 am

haha that’s a good sign!!

May 27, 2016 12:40 pm

Fun! Is the East one in october this big too?

Alfonse Palaima
Alfonse Palaima
May 27, 2016 10:46 pm
Reply to  advrider

I haven’t been to the East version yet, so I couldn’t saw for sure. Sorry. 🙂

May 27, 2016 4:19 pm

well done!

Alfonse Palaima
Alfonse Palaima
May 27, 2016 10:46 pm
Reply to  Eric

Thanx E 🙂

Flagships in Battle: KTM 1290 Super Adventure vs BMW R1200GSA - ADV Pulse
September 7, 2017 8:51 am

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