Short film: Crossing the Alps with the Great Malle Mountain Rally

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Our friends at The Malle is nothing if not an adventure. When Robert Nightingale and Jonny Cazzola aren't designing stylish motorcycle luggage out of their London HQ, they're on the road testing that gear during the dozens of events they organize every year. Events such as the Great Malle Mountain Rally.

The Great Malle Mountain Rally is based on 2,000 kilometers [1,243-mile] regular rally, with about 100 riders of custom, vintage, and modern motorcycles. Lasting for six days, the event starts in Austria and ends in Monaco. But what makes it stand out is that it crosses the entire mountain range of the Alps—from east to west, and from north to south.

Filmmaker Charlie Bristow joined the Malle team on the latest run of the Mountain Rally, to capture the scenery, camaraderie, and madness associated with traversing the Alps with 99 other like-minded loons. His short film is 12 and a half minutes long [above]shown last night in London, the incredible ride is currently sitting at the top of our to-do list.

Charlie recorded the event on three wheels, strapped to Malle's large-spec Morgan Super 3 rally. That means he can get up close and personal with the riders, soaking in the Rally as it traverses the Alps.

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
This edition of the Great Malle Mountain Rally was packed with everything from a custom Harley-Davidson Pan America, to some new and old Harleys, Royal Enfield 650s, Nortons, vintage Paris/Dakar BMW boxers, and a handful of Triumph Scramblers and BMW R nineTs. Passengers travel a distance of 300 to 350 km [186 to 217 miles] each day while crossing five checkpoints and being timed by Malle's team of marshals.

That kind of daily mileage doesn't sound too crazy, but when you throw in the steepest roads in the highest mountains in Europe, and the unpredictable weather, and it soon becomes an endurance ride. Riders compete in teams (some of which are grouped together at the starting line), where the focus is not only on completing each stage but also on taking care of each other—all while enjoying riding the best motorcycles in the world.

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
As a general convention, the goal is not speed, but rather consistency. Speed ​​limits must be followed, so the trick is to finish each stage as close to the given time as possible. A minute early or a few seconds late, and your team loses points.

“On paper, it sounds like a weird idea—to strap 20 liters of fuel to your legs, and slowly light it on fire as you ride the biggest hide and seek across the Alps,” says Robert. . “But when you find yourself 2,500-plus feet up a mountainside, at some remote observation post, gazing up at snow-capped peaks, downing strong Italian coffee and swapping stories from the stage ahead, with a load of loaded motorcycles. friends from all over the world… friendship is like nothing!”

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
“We're all in it together, working toward one goal—to get every man, woman, and motorcycle across that line with as much fun and adventure as possible. In that one week, we get to escape the world, just ride and ride. With a long ride like the Mountain Rally, it becomes a mediation—the body and the machine become one and your mind goes into this state of flow, taking 57 hairpins back.”

“It takes pure concentration, but you get the right amount of time in your crash helmet to think. Then seeing the Alps through the eyes of new riders each year is amazing. When passengers from the city of Los Angeles or Tokyo see some of these small villages, it can be very exciting.”

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
The Great Malle Mountain Rally takes in all the most famous mountains, such as Stelvio, Furkha, Splugen, Gotthard, San Bernardino, Col d'Iseran, and Passo Rollo, but also connects many roads unknown and Alpine pass. “The famous passes like the Stelvio are great,” says Charlie, “but a lot of people just do the famous hairpin bend on the south side and come back down the same way. If you go further to the 'dark side' of the Stelvio it becomes really wild, with huge evergreen forests.”

“When we went down the road to Maloja, we caught the sunset from above. Almost all the teams had returned to the camp by then, but as a film crew, we were usually the last ones, along with the marshals and support staff. We were going down to Maloja, and suddenly, as we turned a bend, there was this big flat cloud, maybe 500 meters thick, in the valley.”

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
“As we entered the dense cloud layer below us, the temperature and visibility dropped significantly, and we blindly followed the distinctive sound of the custom Malle Rally Royal Enfields to navigate the route. As we reached the lake in the valley, the cloud let up a bit and I got these amazing photos of the last group entering camp. Riding on the clouds is a wonderful thing.”

Several aspiring motorcycle builders have also joined the Malle Rally team, including Alec Padron from Revival Cycles and Calum Pryce-Tidd from deBolex Engineering. “I feel very privileged to be part of the Malle Rally team,” said Calum, who has been the lead engineer at Rally for seven years now. “It's one of the best weeks of the year, when I finally get out of the workshop and actually ride the bikes.”

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“There are always mechanical challenges and very little sleep, but the highlight for me was the 2022 Mountain Rally where we had our custom bikes on tour—a dB25 Ducati and our Kawasaki ZRX1200R. Getting behind one of our designs and watching it dance around each curve was a truly special moment.”

Malle Rallies also attract their fair share of vintage motorcycles. Alex Coco has completed three Malle Rallies in various vintage machines, opting for a 1980 BMW R80/7 this time. He says: “I wasn't on the oldest bike this year, but it's my two favorite things: motorcycles and mountains.

The Great Malle Mountain Rally
“There is a peace in the mountains that you cannot find anywhere else. Mountains make you think. A person's ride improves with every bend or switch. Nothing sounds better than the silence of the mountains against the sound of a vintage motorcycle.”

We sure are—that's why we're marking our calendars for the Great Malle Arctic Rally in 2025.

Malle London | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Shane Benson | A short film made by Bristow Films

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