Paul Guillien, Touratech-USA‘s General Manager, and three-time Baja 500 winner, Jonah Street, mount a paddle tire onto our BMW F800GS before riding some sand dunes east of Seattle! Read Paul’s account of the adventure – video at the end of the story. (Text by Paul Guillien: Touratech-USA/CycoActive, Inc.)
I’ve been known to have crazy ideas from time to time, and every once in a while they’ve actually come to life. This particular idea strikes me while reading an email from a friend who is planning a dirt bike trip to the dunes. Half jokingly I say, “I’d like to come to the dunes with you guys, but only if I can ride a BMW F800GS with a paddle tire!”
One of the smart guys in our office quickly rains on my parade by telling me paddle tires aren’t available in a 17″ wheel size. Hoping to prove him wrong, I do a quick Google search which reveals not a single shred of hope for finding a 17″ paddle tire.
Not able to shake the vision from my mind, I read every forum thread I can find on paddle tires hoping for a miracle. In some dark and seedy corner of the internet, I see something about a company called Skat-Track who will make a custom paddle tire if you send them the donor tire. One phone call to Ramone at Skat-Trak and my crazy idea starts to become almost plausible.
As the team in the office begins to catch wind of what I am up to, one of the guys retorts “what could be better than an F800GS with a paddle tire?” I contemplate the question for a moment and say “I know what would be better than that, Jonah Street riding an F800GS with a paddle tire.
Two weeks later we are standing at the base of a sand dune admiring the 16-paddle tire on our F800GS and handing the keys Jonah Street, whose sand riding credentials include winning the Baja 500 three times and winning two stages of the Dakar Rally.
Immediately, Jonah dumps the clutch and buries our film crew in sand. Being the consummate nice guy that he is, he circles around quickly to say “sorry about that” and then tears off again across the dunes.
A few hours later, Jonah gets a funny look in his eye and points to a very steep hill and tells us he thinks he can get the 500 pound parallel twin to the top. I think to myself, “No possible way he’s getting that Beemer all the way up there.”
Hoping to grab a photo of the attempt, I ride my Husqvarna TE 450 up the hill as far as I can. With regular knobby tires and very average skills, I am only able to get one third of the way up the slope. I lean the Husky against a rock and wait with camera in hand. I hear the Bavarian twin roaring up from the valley below. The deep rumble echoes off the jagged black basalt cliffs that frame this sandy pitch. As Jonah comes into view, I see the F800 shoot up the massive sand slope using a diagonal line choice to side-hill up the steepest sand pitch. With the front tire coming up off the ground, he crests the dune and enters the upper portion of the hill which is steep sand littered with soccer-ball sized rocks and wiry sage brush.
Jonah continues to scratch and claw the 800cc GS all the way up until I can barely make out his silhouette against the pale blue sky. I can hear cheers from our team in the valley below who are as stunned as I am to see the big bike on top of this massive hill. As the cheering fades, a sinking feeling creeps into my gut. I wonder how the hell he plans to get that thing back down!