La Poderosa Motorcycle Tours of Cuba

Earlier this week the BBC wrote an article about Ernesto Guevara, the son of Cuban guerrilla leader, Che Guevara, and the motorcycle tour company he now runs.

It’s now been fifty years since the revolutionary was executed in Bolivia and although Ernesto was only two at the time, he shares a lot of similarities with his father, particularly when it comes to motorcycles.

Che famously crossed South America with his friend Alberto Granado, both on the back of a 1939 Norton 500cc, which Che went on to write about in his memoir ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’.

Nowadays, Ernesto runs a motorcycle tour company, La Poderosa Tours, named after his father’s bike.

Trip of a lifetime

Jon Morrell, part of The Bike Insurer team, first heard about the tour from a friend in Costa Rica and they decided to do it together, meeting up in Havanna in January this year.

“The opportunity to do the tour now before Cuba changes too much (now that the trade barriers are starting to relax) seemed to good an opportunity to miss,” Jon said. “The fact that the tour was run by Che Guevara’s son was also a big draw.”

The tour visits a lot of revolutionary sites including the Plaza de la Revolución, the Cabaña Fortress and the Che Guevara Mausoleum, something which Jon describes as inevitable when visiting Cuba.

“You can’t really visit Cuba and not talk about Castro and Guevara – their images, legend and history are still everywhere.

“Just being out on a bike for a serious amount of time was great but the trip itself was all about the place, the people the history, the culture and atmosphere of Cuba.”

Seeing Cuba from the saddle

La Poderosa Tours are aimed mainly at tourists who need to travel overseas, so all bikes are provided by the company on a first come, first served basis (you choose the bike when you make the booking).

When Jon visited, all of the bikes were Harley Davidsons, roughly one or two years old.

“I had a Dyna Wide Glide but there was a reasonably wide selection; V-Rod, Sportster, Electra Glide, Street Glide, Dyna Switchback and more, something for pretty much everyone’s taste.

“It’s very unusual to see new Harleys in Cuba so we generally drew a crowd wherever we went, not least from other Cuban bikers who ride a variety of lovingly and creatively restored vintage bikes.”

Touring a foreign country on the back of a bike may not be the most common method of transportation but anyone who’s ridden a bike abroad knows what great fun it is.

“Beautiful sunny days, quiet roads (although not always in a good condition) and great comradery from a group of like-minded travellers.

“The fact that we were touring with local guides who knew all of the best places and routes was great and the locals were all so friendly and welcoming.”

And his favourite part of the trip?

“It was actually the day after the tour had finished. I was one of the last of our group to leave Havanna and before I did, one of our guides, Luis, returned to the hotel, picked me up on his bike and took me to his friend’s house.

“In his garage-come-workshop they had a collection of frames, wheels, spare parts and around a dozen vintage bikes in varying degrees of renovation.

“They just wanted to share their love of bikes.”