Four years ago, Tim and Sue Angus were on the final leg of their round-the-world motorbike adventure when they crashed their bike in Kazakhstan, breaking bones and ribs, but not their love of motorcycling. The couple, who live in Hampshire, recently returned to Azerbaijan with their faithful Suzuki 650 V-Strom to finish the 43,000-mile journey.
Tim, who was brought home from hospital as a newborn in his father’s sidecar, has been into motorcycles from a very young age. He spent 25 years in the motorcycle trade, 18 of those running a BMW motorcycle dealership. We talked to him about his adventures, his accident and his trusty Roadskin motorcycle jeans.
It sounds like an epic journey. Which route did you take?
Sue and I set off in 2018 in New York, rode right across Canada and then down through the States to California. Red tape made it a nightmare to take our bike to Japan, so we put it on a boat to New Zealand, and went all over Japan on the bullet trains.
We got back to our bike in New Zealand and toured there, then went to Australia, into the outback. We crossed the Northern Territory - this red desert sand of nothingness - for hours and hours. Temperatures were blistering hot, well into the 40s, and it was 200 miles between fuel stops in some places. From Perth we flew the bike and ourselves to Kuala Lumpur. And we drove up through Malaysia, and it was humid. We ended up going through Myanmar, then across northern India, which was extremely hot. Then we flew to Kazakhstan, crossed Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and returned to Kazakhstan.
And it was there you had the accident…
We were one day away from leaving Kazakhstan when we crashed. It was getting late and dark and we'd been riding all day - about 14 hours. We’d been held up at the border for about two and a half hours while everyone went to lunch. We were around six miles from our hotel, bouncing along at about 50mph. And then we had to ride a bit on the sand, because the road was being paved. They're building lots of new roads in Kazakhstan and we tried to join one of them, because the road we were on was so appalling, but it wasn’t finished.
We hit something and went airborne. My bike was flying through the air, and I was trying to hold on to it. The bike bounced and threw me off and threw Sue off. I landed hard on my back and slid along the road. I had a good pair of boots and my Roadskin motorcycle jeans on.
I was also wearing an expensive, well-respected brand of vented jacket. But it wasn't protective. I later learned that it had level one armour, not level two. Maybe I might have been less injured if I had had level two armour.
What were your injuries?
I had a broken collarbone, six broken ribs and a punctured lung. However, from the waist down, I was unharmed. My jeans literally had slight scuffs on them, even though I travelled down the road on them. Sue broke her wrist. An ambulance took us to the nearest hospital and it took three days to get back to the UK so I could get treatment here. I was on morphine for four days then had an operation to put a plate in my shoulder.
How did your bike fare?
The engine bars and aluminium panniers took most of the impact, so the bike was rideable. A young policeman drove it back to the police station in Beynue. And there it stayed. For six months. It took the help of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and not an inconsiderable amount of money to get my bike back.
How do you pack for a round-the-world trip?
Clearly, you can't take masses of stuff when there's two of you and one bike. I had a small pannier and my wife had a big bag in the back! I already owned Roadskin’s Paranoid bike jeans, which are brilliant, but for this trip, I bought the single-skin ones [the AA-safety rated Easyriders], because I knew it would get really, really hot.
I took this one pair of motorcycle jeans with me plus a pair of lightweight overtrousers. Every time I was on a bike, which was a lot, I was wearing my Roadskin jeans.
The weather extremes were tough. My wife became quite ill with the heat. The temperature gauge on our bike goes up to 50 degrees and at one point, in India, it just said ‘high’. The jeans coped fine and didn’t feel too hot. In New Zealand, it was springtime, so we had howling rain and cold winds. One day it was stormy, and too dangerous to ride. The coolest temperature was about 15 degrees and that feels cold. My Easyrider jeans coped with that, too.
In other places, like Malaysia, it was humid. I took a pair of lightweight leather gloves and it was so humid that the leather turned to mush; they fell apart. I had to buy another pair. But my jeans held up through the humidity.
I have tried other motorcycle jeans brands, but they're not as good as Roadskin. They get too hot and the material bobbles very slightly.
What’s up next?
Sue and I are doing the NC500 in Scotland. We’ll be taking it nice and easy!
Follow Tim on Instagram: Tim Angus (@timangus3)