Fred Brunn was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon) and learned to ride a motorcycle in the woods of Oregon. He moved to southern California after college to escape the long dreary winters in western Oregon and soon discovered the desert. He continued riding (and racing) in the desert southwest and did a fair amount of off-road touring in Baja, Mexico. The mountains and deserts throughout the American west soon became his playground. After an engineering career, Fred started California Motorcycle Tours in 1999 as a way of sharing his love for the open road with riders from around the world. Fred designed most of the tours based on his years of exploring the back-roads and small towns of the American west. He hates freeways and looks for twisty secondary and tertiary roads. He remains in search of the perfect road: Good road surface, twists and turns, scenic, light traffic and light patrol.

Fred Brunn, with partner Corinne, at Waterton Lake, Glacier National Park, Northwest Adventure Tour
Fred Brunn, with partner Corinne, at Waterton Lake, Glacier National Park, Northwest Adventure Tour

How do the experiences you offer at California Motorcycle Tours give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of your region?

I don’t know that we offer a unique “perspective” per se, but I’ve been a long-time history buff and enjoy telling stories and imparting historical information everywhere we go. History of the old west and information about early day travelers and settlers is always interesting, particularly to the many clients we get from Europe.

How have the experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?

I started California Motorcycle Tours some 16 years ago as a way of sharing my love for the “road less traveled” with like-minded riders. As is often said, it’s the journey, not the destination but in our case, I think it’s a bit of both. As such, I’ve learned a lot from our clients over the years and this has motivated me to continually refine our tour offerings. Not only have we added new tours, but we’ve continued to tweak our older offerings to make them continually better.

What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?

I think it’s just that, the DETAILS. I want each day of every tour to seem totally effortless but without it seeming to be scripted. We’re going to discover things together, whether that means a fantastic, fun section of road that we have all to ourselves or the magic of our National Parks. I like to see how many “wows” I can elicit from riders every day.

What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in the experiences you offer?

I wish they knew in advance how much fun they were going to have and what a stress-free vacation they would have. Knowing this after their first tour with us is one of the reasons we have so many repeat clients. We’ve had many clients say this was the best vacation they’ve ever had.

What is one travel trend that really excites you?

I’m excited to see more people interested in adventure/experiential travel as opposed to just going to some resort to lay on the beach for a week.

Hackberry General Store on Rt. 66
Hackberry General Store on Rt. 66

What sets California Motorcycle Tours apart from other, similar, organizations?

Most of our competitors have guides that are hired to just get clients from point A to point B; at the end of each day, clients are often left on their own for dinner, etc. With CMT, I lead almost every tour and I truly enjoy doing so. We invariably have interesting people from around the world that have at least one common interest: motorcycle travel. Most of our clients are interested in the history and culture of the places we visit. We ride together, eat together and drink together. After a couple of days, it often seems like we’re a group of old friends.

What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?

I recommend that clients don’t do too much analysis of the tour beforehand – just let it unfold day by day. Don’t look ahead and try to anticipate everything in advance. If nothing else, they set themselves up to be disappointed. For example, I had a couple who knew from our tour itinerary that we would be staying at a particular National Park Lodge. Not only did they research the lodge, they knew the restaurant menu in advance. By doing this, they denied themselves any possible surprise – good or bad.

What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?

Contrary to most businesses, growth has never been a key objective. There are no doubt many things we could possibly do to make the business grow, particularly with all the modern social media opportunities, but we’ve not really pursued this. Most of our growth has come by continuing to add new tours. In fact, some new tours have come by popular demand from our clients who might say, “have you ever thought about doing a tour in …….?”. I guess we must be doing something right because about half our business is from repeat clients; we have a few clients who have done every one of our tours at least once!

What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?

One habit or trait that I value in myself and others is reliability and follow through. Say what you’re going to do, then do it. Meet commitments.

Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.

Just this last spring, we had two riders from Sweden who were both “blown away” (their term) with both the riding and scenery on our !0-day Desert & Parks tour. They did the right thing in that they didn’t come with a lot of pre-conceived ideas. Sure, they knew what to expect at the Grand Canyon – everyone has seen photos, but they had no idea about Zion or Bryce, for example. The whole experience turned out to be very fun for them (and for me) and to exceed their expectations in almost every way. This is what creates repeat customers.

Fred’s email:
Fred’s phone: 858-677-9892
California Motorcycle Tours is based in San Diego, CA with tours starting and ending in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle

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