What Alexandre Dumas and motorcycles have in common? We found the answer 100km away from Bucharest, in Plopeni, Prahova county, where a group of motorcyclists, under the famous words “all for one, one for all”, conquer year by year, little pieces of Europe. Until now they covered more than 50.000km through their tours around the Balkans, Russia, the baltic countries, Norway, Italy, Austria, Turkey and many more. They are Robert (Athos), Victor(Porthos), Daniel(Aramis) and Vlad(D’Artagnan) and together they are Motosketeers
Downunder you can find their story, how they become motorcyclists, how they started touring around Europe and all the adventures along the way from Plopeni to NordKap or Moscow or Tirana or Anatolia.
Here is a clip from their last year adventure in Turkey:
1.Although I’ve heard about Motosketeers around 2014-2015, when I met some of you at a friend’s repairs garage, I know you started your trips way before. So first of all, how did you become motorcyclists and how this team was born ? What’s the meaning behind the Motoskeeters name ?
Daniel: If we go way back, two people and one story from a motorcycling forum triggered all of this. In 2006, when I was doing the driver school, my boss from back then, encourage me to take also the exam for the motorcycle license. Two years later, a stranger with a big heart, lend us a motorcycle and everything changed. In 2009 I bought a Transalp, in 2010 we added a V-Strom and in 2011 we made the first trip:Serbia, Muntenegru, Croatia and Bosnia.
This was just the begining, the team was born one year later, and two year laters we got our name from a friend. We liked it and we took the alter egos of the famous musketeers: Robert is Athos, I am Aramis, Victor is Porthos and Vlad si D’Artagnan
Robert: We could say I became a biker by chance. In our small city, the biggest summer attraction was to catch place on couch by the sideroad, drink a cola, eat waffles, and look long after the cars and motorbikes that passed towards Slanic. When a group of bikers appeared, I was ecstatic, and I was saying I would like to do this too. In 2008-2009 I had the opportunity to meet Răzvan Dobre, an entrepreneur and a biker, who offered lend a Marauder 250 and a BMW GS 650. I did not have a license, so I went to school, I got the license, and in 2010 I had the first motorcycle, a Suzuki V-Strom.
Victor : I was “corrupted” by Robert and Daniel. I always enjoyed the motorcycles, but the stories heard on their return from their Balkan escapade convinced me that it would be the case to start the riding school.
Vlad : Everyone has their own story about the two-wheel beginnings. I was pushed into this by Victor, who, at a beer on a summer day, told me he was thinking about going to school, and he wondered if he I would be interested. I started slightly fearful, but after a few meetings in the training ground, I realized I liked it and that I probably would not get off the saddle anymore.
2.It’s a common thing, motorcycles and travel go hand in hand. I suspect that everyone, besides the passion for motorcycles, had the same passion for traveling. I know that in 2012 you made your first trip through Western Europe, and you also saw two of the most coveted roads for motorcyclists, Stelvio and Grossglockner. Why did you choose this route for your first trip? How was the first trip?
Daniel : It was not really the first one. I already had a trip around the Balkans and I wanted to do more, push a little further. As the next mountains in that direction are the Alps, we woke up in northern Italy. Before Stelvio we made a lightning stop in Venice and crossed Passo di Gavia, not as monumental, but at least as spectacular. This turn was hallucinatory, a sort of beautiful overdose. In addition, Victor appeared and there was an irremediable chemistry.
Robert : When you get on the motorcycle, you want the experience to never stop. You want to get down at the end of the world. In 2012 the end of the world for us was in the Alps. In the formula of 3, and not knowing exactly what to expect, we attacked the Stelvio and Furka passes and did not regret. I would put them on top of the passes that you have to do on the bike
Victor : It was sensational. We realized that we were lied in school when they told us that we had the most beautiful country in the world. 🙂
3. Then, in 2013 a tour in Eastern Europe followed. I read that there were some problems crossing the border and unfortunately you could not go through the whole route together. Besides, what other issues did you have on this trip? How was it to discover this part of Europe?
Daniel: This trip is a special story. Like all others 🙂
When the customs officer told me that I can not come to Ukraine the world fell on me. I kept in my mind the mirror image I had: my boys, in the middle of the road, looking as I left.Two days later I left after their trails. Our slightly dramatic story was on Facebook, people were excited and began to follow us. The reunion in St. Petersburg was probably the defining moment for the group. We had a name and a story.
Robert: Yes. Daniel has been told that he couldn’t enter Ukraine due to some paperworks issues.We were forced to go without it. But not for long. Two days later, we received the news, “I have a new vehicle certificate, I am with the luggage on the bike in Bucharest at the Police, I’am leaving now,see you in St. Petersburg”. Feeling confident and having some kilometers ahead,we decided to take a ride to Moscow, which, by the way, is of an unreal sumptuousness. To talk, however, about the adventures of this route, we should make an interview only about “Mother Russia”.
Vlad: When the Moldavian customs officer laughs and jokes that they have pits where all your bike can fit, you realize it will be a successful trip. And so it was. The East is full of surprises. From the men, that go half out of the window of the Lada to wave their hand at you, until the conversation through the sign language with the “tired” drivers in the Russian customs; from a biker-programmer-hacker willing to show us the surroundings, to the hotel receptionist where you booked on Booking which knew a single English phrase “Hotel only for Russians”; from our buddy with a half of vodka in his pocket, which invites us to wake up whole Novgorod at 7am in the morning, to a Moldavian away from home, who suggested in the sweet Romanian language to take the motorcycle numbers with us in the room. Since the separation from Aramis from the Moldavian Customs to the reunion in St. Petersburg, the journey was a mixture of bad roads, disinclined drivers, good food, communist sumptuousness and people full of life.
4. After that, in 2014, you went on a trip in the Balkans: Macedonia – Kosovo – Montenegro – Albania – Bulgaria.How many days did this trip take and how was it?
Daniel: The 2014 tour shows that you do not have to go to Africa or Siberia for a crazy adventure. We crossed the mountains on the wagon roads, we ventured unintentionally into a mine, made it to Kosovo, went to Montenegro, made survival drills in Tirana traffic and ended up on a beach in Halkidiki. It was the shortest but most intense trip.
Robert:Encouraged by the public’s reactions to the Russian trip, we decided to give more importance to online. We made a Facebook page, used a chocolate logo, told our story to some big-hearted people and left for our first sponsored trip. 12 days with special landscapes, friendly people, good and cheap food, roads like a palm. All the ingredients for a beautiful, but a bit boring journey after Russia. Unless we take into account the worried voice of an engineer in a Macedonian mine: “Gentleman’s you are deep in a mine, you are not allowed here, we are working with explosives. You have to go over the mountain, not through it.” And a kind of advice: rather than going to Padina, you better run up to Kotor. Montenegro deserves all the attention.
Vlad: On this trip I discovered one of the most beautiful countries of all time. Montenegro. And we went inside a mine. On motorcycles. And I run out of gasoline for the first time. In Kosovo. And I did off-road. With a Honda Hornet. And I became acquainted with the most extreme traffic in existence. In Tirana. And I run out of gasoline for the second time,in Greece.
5. After that followed Nordkap in 2015, Millau in 2016 and the latest trip in 2017, Turkey. In total, how many kilometers did you travel on these trips and what motorcycles did you use? Also related to motorcycles, what changes or special preparations have you made for these motorcycles?
Daniel: There are over 50,000 km covered only on these trips. Plus some more kilometers on the roads home. There were, in various combinations, a Transalp 600, three V-Strom, a Hornet, a Fazer, a Versys, a KLE and a KLR. We are also curious to know the motorcycle batch for this year. 🙂
Changes were minimal to nonexistent. We were invariably the most unprepared or less equipped motorcyclists on the road. But we were there,on the road.
Vlad: Besides the exchange of consumables, heated grips and a top case, I just put gas. And that was pretty rare, as you already saw.
6.How do you plan your travels? Do you usually make a well-defined plan before or improvise along the way?
Robert: I am the one that deals with the so-called budget, objectives, route. We set the destination, propose 2-3 alternatives, which help us know the approximate number of km, the cities / objectives we want to reach. Let’s say we have an established route, but it undergoes changes during the journey, depending on the roads, the attractions, the madness of making left or right through the unknown.
Victor: We usually know the final point of the trip and the place of the first accommodation, and that allows us to improvise here and there.
7. From what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen through your videos, you’ve still had various technical problems on all these trips. Which were the most unpleasant and the most funny?
Vlad: Athos had the most unpleasant one. A broken bearing. Otherwise, I just run out of gas :))
Robert:I think I’m the one who had the most serious problems. A metal noise gave me some headaches when I left Romania. On a short check, I discovered that my braking pads played in the caliper. And I associated the metallic noise with this problem. I changed the pads, I made 1,000km and the handlebars started to move. He came into a gentle woble, the wheel had a fairly big lost motion, and the sound came back. We rolled down into a supermarket parking lot and found that the bearings were broken. I ran to find a spare parts shop, a service owner helped us to put down the tire of the wheel and put it back on the wheel, and we improvised the rest.
Victor: I have had luck of the most reliable motocycle. That’s why I’m always ready with a snack bag, kill the time while the boys are trying to solve their problems.
8. For some readers, some destinations may seem dangerous. Usually when you say Kosovo or Albania, and especially Turkey in the last period, they have a certain retention. Have you ever felt in danger on all of these trips or have you had more tense incidents?
Daniel: From our experience so far, when the destination sounds more dangerous, the people are more friendly and curious to know you.
Victor:Not! Everywhere we met special people, ready to help us at any time, to give us a tea or to show us the way, to take a picture with us or ask us where we come from and where we go.
Vlad:I personally,no matter where we go,have a little fear hidden in the depths of the brain. There are many things that can go wrong. But, in reality, it’s just in my mind. I have not had a problem before.
9. If you were to make a top 5 of the most beautiful moments on these trips, what would it be?
Robert: Top 5? 🙂 Hard to say, there are so many beautiful moments that I find it difficult to classify them. However, moments of madness, in which we decided to break our course, brought us the most beautiful and intense memories.
1. Reuniting the pack in St. Petersburg.
2. The moment we realized we were a few hundred feet below ground in Macedonia.
3. A superb sunset in Anatolia
4. Reaching NordKapp
5. Mini-parade organized by motorcyclists in Millau in our honor.
Victor: If I’m with my motoskeeters, it’s good. There is no place for charts and ratings. That’s good.
10. And still speaking about charts, which would be the most beautiful 5 roads you rode on and you would recommend to other motorcyclists to go through them at least once in your life?
Daniel: The road to North Cape is a major experience. Then Montenegro, all the passes in the Alps, the Tarn Gorge, …everywhere :))
Victor: 1. Montenegro, all.
2. Norwegian Fjords
3. The flat roads of Anatolia
4. Crossing the Alps
5. Tarn Gorge
6. (Bonus) I did not make it on the bike yet, but it’s coming. Amalfitana Coast.
11. In addition to roads, besides landscapes and historical monuments, one of the aspects most appreciated by the other motorcyclists I interviewed, was the meeting of different people from different cultures, locals or other travelers. Do you have any interesting meetings or happenings on your trips that remained in your minds?
Daniel: I remember a polish guy who helped me one night to find a hotel in Kaunas, Lithuania. He came from Siberia and had much to say. Besides the feelings offered by the motorcycles and the beauty of the places, people are the next ingredient of a successful trip.
Robert: I think every trip is marked by such happenings, encounters with other motorcyclists, exchanges of opinions. The trip from Turkey was the most interesting from this point of view. The most hospitable people are the Turks.
Vlad:When you ride on a motorcycle, you automatically spark admiration and people will interact with you. So, there were many meetings. I remember a merciful customs officer, who, seeing us cold, hungry and sleeping, at 2 am, shy by the motorcycles, endeavored to let us enter Russia. We met him the second day at the motel where we were staying. I learned he was a biker (FJR 1300 !!) and gave us advice on how to approach Russia.
12. We all dream of long journeys, we dream of riding on the best roads, but for most people, dreams suddenly stop either because of the lack of time or the fact that they are unable to leave work or the family longer, and one of the most common reasons, or rather the apology, that Romanian motorcyclists use to NOT go on such trips is the cost of such a trip. Have you ever made an estimation of what were the costs of such a trip? For example, let’s say what budget would be needed for a trip to the Balkans, which is probably the most accessible for Romanian motorcyclists?
Daniel: Robert makes some budgets that I can never reach. I always had about 75% of his estimated need and every time I came back home.
It’s not hard: gasoline is relatively easy to calculate, and the rest is a continuous negotiation between what you eat, how you drink and where you sleep. Over the years, our budgets were between EUR 800 and EUR 1200, without counting Nordkapp.
Robert: We make budgets every year, we always know before we leave some of the money we need. Most of the expense is gasoline. After so many years of travel and budgets, I can say that a trip to the Balkans is 800-900 euros. Attention, we don’t use the tent at all. If you cover the gasoline costs and there is still for some food and beers, you can go calmly.
Victor: Always the cost issue. I personally never left with enough money, because I did not have it. But I prefer to eat canned soup and sleep in the tent on the shore of the North Sea than to sit at home to complain. Turning to your question, a trip to the Balkans costs about the same as a “modest” New Year’s Eve in Poiana Brasov 🙂
13. If you were to try to convince someone to go on such a journey, what would you say?
Robert: I would not try to convince anyone to go on such a trip. But if we had a beer, and during this time I tell you the adventures and the beauty of things and people, you will most likely want to leave, if your mother, wife, girlfriend, baby let you go 🙂
Vlad: I would not try to convince anyone to do anything. There is a word in our city Plopeni saying that “everybody wants what they do”. I would invite them, on our facebook page, to see what they are missing.
14. Being a site that promotes the idea of moto tourism, especially in Romania, I have to ask you what are your favorite roads in Romania? And obviously classic question, Transfagarasan or Transalpina and why? 🙂
Daniel: We don’t ride as much as we should in Romania, though there are many cool roads around us. We have often spoken of a tour of Romania on the paths, so, more unblemished, but probably not quite adventurous for our taste for now.
Vlad: Ah, the roads in Romania. Complicated. 🙂 I and Victor made a tour of the Apuseni at one point and it was very cool. I do not remeber exactly the route, though. And also somewhere around Bicaz. Now I realize that we, as Motosketeers, have come to the end of the continent together, but in Romania we have not even made a trip. </ Em>
Transalpina. It’s less crowded and the tarmac is better.
15. What are your plans for 2018? What to expect from the motoskeeters in the future?
Robert : We are in a great dilemma in 2018, Victor is leaving the country and will return at the end of October or the beginning of November. We need a warm destination. We are thinking about a trip in the “boot”, from Rome down under, but we have not yet established anything. We may come up with some individual surprises.
Vlad : This year we want to eat the margherita and drink prosecco!
Victor : You can expect to see us on motorcycles, on mountain, coastal, and plain roads. On roads of all kinds.
Daniel:2018 is still young. We let him get old for a while and we’ll sip him, romantically, in the autumn.,
To convince yourself how a Motosketeers’ trip looks like, we invite you to visit their facebook page, instagram account or the youtube channel: