Bigger, better and more international than ever - a review by Jonathan Bentman.

Bigger, Better and More International Than Ever

The Touratech Travel Event is quite possibly overdue a name change – the International Touratech Travel Event would seem more apt given the increasing fascination and attendance from international visitors. Now in its 12th year, the event grew again in 2015 with a fantastic 15,000 visitors visiting over what was a very warm weekend in June.

The event’s attractions are many. Obviously there’s the chance to inspect Touratech’s headquarters and witness the company’s new cutting edge manufacturing plant in action – and you don’t need to be a techie to be impressed by this. Then there are the countless trade stalls offering all manner of products and services of an adventure bias. The test rides offered by the likes BMW, Ducati and KTM go on all weekend – and what a great way to experience potentially your next new bike, riding the swooping roads of the beautiful Black Forest?

The essence of the Travel Event is not ‘product’ though, it’s personal. It’s about the people. Guest of honour Ted Simon was ambivalent before the event, for the scale of Touratech’s enterprise is daunting on first sight. But by the end of the weekend the veteran round the world traveller and author was entirely won over.

“I find (the event) remarkably young, full of enjoyment and enthusiasm and enjoyment – we should make it last all year long!”

Fellow Brit, Graham Hoskings of Adventure Bike TV came to make a film of the event, not knowing what he’d find. He was staggered by the sheer numbers and vast scope.

"Overwhelming. With regard to motorcycle trip events there is nothing comparable!”

It is then the people that make the event. This year the likes of Ted Simon, Sjaak Lucassen, Dirk Schäfer and Joe Pichler were presenting films and talks, while always being on site to share time with everyone. But of course without the wider cast of 15,000 the event wouldn’t be anything at all, something that Sjaak picked up on.

“We are all kindred spirits, that’s why it feels so good to be among these people, we all share this love for adventure with motorcycles.”

This was also a year for sensitivity in the presentations. Joe Pichler had set the mood with a beautifully balanced and presented film and slide presentation of a tour he’d made through Madagascar, where he’d certainly slowed the pace right down to find the wildlife and to take the time to connect with the people – something Ted Simon would certainly approve of.

Herbert and Ramona Schwarz’s latest travel film, #whereeverwego followed in a similar vein, ostensibly a film about a family motorcycle adventure across New Zealand, it also reflected on a lifetime of travels made by this couple – and their two sons. Relationships, travel, life – and adventure. Perhaps we’re still wrong with the event name, maybe it should be called the International Touratech Travel Emotion!

Touratech - the First 25 Years

A concurrent theme in this year’s Travel Event was the celebration of Touratech’s 25th anniversary. While Herbert Schwarz and Jochen Schanz were, as ever, to be found at all hours walking around the event, they were also forced centre stage to explain themselves and describe how Touratech grew from two friends sat around a kitchen table creating some of the first digital rally computers to the huge international company it is today.

As is typical of their style, it was the lighter side of their partnership, and life at Touratech, that they shared most enthusiastically, and given a 15-minute film of ‘embarrassments’ from their 25 years (made by Touratech’s film-making partners) the pair were as anti-corporate as they’ve always been. But while they’re proud – and amused – by their past, it’s clearly the future that excites them. The next 25 years...

Text: Jonthan Bentman

Category: Event