to the West

After being Part of TEAMS Shanghai for almost five years, two of our Industrial Designers, Matthias and Chris decided that it is time to leave China and return to the homeland. But instead of taking a traditional 12 hour flight back to Germany, they opted for a more adventurous route: half-way around the world traveling on the old silk road with two Chinese motorbikes. Four months and 20,000 kilometers later, they finally found their way back to Europe.

The Guys

Matthias and Chris grew up in small towns in Bavaria and South Tyrol. Their careers took them to Shanghai – and brought them back to Germany again. Before embarking on the journey, they had both pondered the vast distance between China and Germany and all that remained undiscovered. They wanted to experience the different countries, people and cultures that dotted the path from China to Germany. Already victim to hearing horror stories from the Middle East, the two designers had other questions on their minds: what about the relatively unexplored countries such as Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia?

Knowing that they wanted to travel across land, the planning took some interesting turns. Beginning with the idea of driving an old military truck – the idea gradually evolved into “Let’s buy Chinese motorbikes and ride them back to Europe!” Not only was the long-distance trip a new experience, so was the idea of driving motorbikes. Matthias had to do his motorbike license from scratch. Despite some uncertainty, both decided to move forward with a positive outlook and smart planning.

You can find an Interview with Matthias and Chris done by TEAMS researcher and graphic designer Yingting Chen on her blog.


  • 4 Months
  • 127 Days
  • 20,000 Kilometers
  • 14 Countries

Traveling by motorbike is a quite unique way of moving as it gives you the opportunity to get in touch with locals very easily. One of the best part of such a journey is that you don’t know where you going to end up at sunset. It's an adventure and the only things that matter are food, fuel and a safe place to sleep at night. It’s a very simple and basic way to explore the world and its nature. On top of that it’s a precious experience to get out of everyday society for a while and live an “outlaw” life. Matthias Reisenberger, manager strategic design TEAMS Esslingen

The Route

After they hit the road in July 2014, they headed west past the 3 Gorges dam, entered the Tibetan Plateau and the vast highlands of Sichuan.  From there they continued up to the mighty Tianshan Mountains, crossed the Taklamakan Desert through the end of the Great Wall and left China at the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang into Kazakhstan. The second leg of their trip led them into Central Asia trough the beautiful pastures of Kyrgyzstan, the endless steppe of Kazakhstan along the old Silk Road cities Samarkand and Bukhara and into Russia. In Uzbekistan they bumped into a Korean Rider on his way to Spain. They decided to join forces for a few days but ended up riding together all the way to Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Italy until they finally reached Chris’ hometown in South Tyrol in November of 2014.