Seeing the world on a scooter
As a mechanical engineer, he has worked on fast cars and bikes that can easily reach speeds over 300kmh.
In the last decade, Mr Luca Cappochiano has tweaked the electronics and interpreted the telemetry for race team Sterilgarda Ducati in World Superbikes (WSBK).
He has also been an external consultant for Ferrari since January 2013.
So when he decided to embark on a world tour on a motorcycle, you would have expected him to ride a nifty, two-wheel missile.
Instead, Mr Cappochiano, 36, chose a 40-year-old Vespa scooter, the TS 125.
Said Mr Cappochiano: “I love fast and powerful bikes. I just needed a cheap scooter, to see everything at my own pace.”
Go east, return west
The TS 125, which costs 2,000 euros ($2,900), has so far brought him halfway through a 64,300km journey when he left his hometown of Genoa in Italy in October 2014.
He arrived in Singapore on April 22.
His plan, as simple as it sounds, was to leave Italy by the East and return by the West after spanning five continents.
Mr Cappochiano at Prachuap Khiri Khan Province in Thailand.
The idea for this adventure was hatched 10 years ago when he tried a shorter journey from Italy to Spain on a 50cc Vespa. Before long, he reached the end of Spain and was staring at the Atlantic Ocean.
Said Mr Cappochiano: “I promised myself that I will travel all around the world on a Vespa. And no ocean will stop me...The hardest step is the first one; the decision to leave. Every thing that comes later is easy.”
Surprisingly, his girlfriend of 10 years had given her blessing for his quest.
Mr Cappochiano jokes that she must have been so sick of listening to him expressing his desire to ride around the world that she finally gave in.
Friendly and warm people
The journey on his scooter, customised with four small bags, may be slow at 80kmh, and on some roads, cold.
But clocking each kilometre gets easier even in the harsh conditions.
All he feels is the warmth from the people in countries like Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, India, Myanmar and Thailand, to name a few.
Said Mr Cappochiano: “Sometimes the Western media paint the people of Iran as terrorists and fanatics. But that’s so far away from reality.”
The people he has met have always been friendly and helpful, offering him food and personally showing him the way to his hotels, even when they don’t speak English.
While in Yazd, 1,000km South of Tehran, Iran, Mr Cappochiano’s headlight bulb blew and he couldn’t see the road ahead at night, and resorted to riding at 20kmh.
He knew he was in trouble as the hotel was still roughly 20km away.
Out of nowhere, a car initially drove directly behind Mr Cappochiano, and later, moved to the side, so as not to blind Mr Cappochiano.
Added Mr Cappochiano: “ I understand he (the driver) wanted to help me. He was at my side for 20km. If the same happened to me in Italy, nobody would have helped me this way.”
After finding his exit, Mr Cappochiano left the highway.
Sadly, he never had a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the nameless driver.
Plan on the move
While his two-stroke Vespa has lasted this far, it has broken down at least three times on the road.
After some travel, dust penetrated his scooter’s air filter and gear oil entered his rear brake system due to a busted O-ring.
Worse still, in Iran he suddenly realised that the country did not have two-stroke motorcycles, making it impossible to get the two-stroke oil that his scooter badly needs for lubrication.
He survived Iran by using four-stroke oil. He had to occasionally dismantle his scooter’s cylinder head and clean the piston.
He admitted that he should have been more prepared. Planning a route was always impromptu.
When he reaches a new country, he buys a road map and only then, will he plan where to ride next.
He said: “I’m not organised at all. I left Italy in a pair of stylish Clarks shoes. After 50km, it was raining and I couldn’t kick start my bike... My big mistake was the (lack of) preparation for my Vespa. Given a chance, I would set up the scooter properly before leaving on a long-distance journey.”
Perhaps “winging it” is how Mr Cappochiano likes to roll.
Sure, he doesn’t dress like a biker who’s ready to take on the world.
But his determination and his iron bum surely demand respect.
Mr Cappochiano in Singapore. TNP PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
“I love it. I have the road map and the whole country is in front of me,” said Mr Cappochiano.
“I can choose where I want to go. And this is why I love travelling alone.”
Mr Cappochiano will leave Singapore once his scooter is serviced and the documentation for the next phase of his travels to Australia are completed.
Follow his adventures on Facebook here.