The laws of physics just don’t seem to apply to the famous Australian born Robbie Maddison. The things he has been able to do on a motorcycle are absolutely mind blowing and he continues to push the envelope with every new stunt he performs. One of our personal favorites would have to be Pipe Dream where Maddison defied the law of physics by riding a motorcycle on the massive waves of Tahiti. Combining two of the most iconic action sports on the planet, surfing and motorcross, was not an easy thing to pull off and apparently took over two years to become a reality.
Riding a motorcycle on water is not necessarily a new thing. You can technically “hydroplane” across water if you are going fast enough, but only for a short distance, and that is if you know what you’re doing. But even with the best riders in the world on the throttle, as soon as that front wheel breaks the plane of the water and sinks, the bike is going to come to an abrupt stop and the rider usually goes flying over the handlebars.
Maddison and his team had to figure out a way to keep his four stroke KTM 450 up on top of the water so he could ride for much longer periods of time. What they came up with is basically a wide ski type contraption that sits a few inches from the bottom of the front wheel which allows the bike to be ridden on the ground going up to the water. In order to help propel the bike forward they used a variation of a sand paddle tire which ultimately would act just like the paddle wheels on an old riverboat, only significantly faster and much more fun to watch. Once Maddison came up with his best prototype, he took it out to San Diego’s Mission Bay where he reportedly rode it for 8 miles on the water. It was at that point that he went to Jeff Taylor, head of DC Shoes, with the idea of a motorcycle surfing on water.
The modifications worked so well that Maddison was able to control the bike on water, as well as ride for a much longer period of time, but the KTM would still inevitably sink from time to time. If you’ve ever sank a motorcycle, ATV, or really anything with a motor, you’ll know that getting it started again is not an easy task. After the massive repairs it required each time the bike sank, they switched to a two-stroke engine due to it being much easier to repair in the event of it being submerged. The modern day four-stokes are extremely powerful but also utilize more electronic technology than the more mechanical two strokes.
The area that Pipe Dream was filmed in is called Teahupo’o and it’s known for being one of the gnarliest surf spots in the entire world. It’s not uncommon for waves to reach as high as 25-30 feet tall in certain spots and on top of that, the wave is extremely thick which only adds to the gnarly-ness. Maddison got a first hand experience at how terrifying things can get if things go wrong. On one attempt to get that perfect shot, Maddison set off right after a large storm and the waves seemed extra ferocious. As he was at full speed there was something called a “west bomb” wave that came up and next thing he knew the massive 30 foot wave came crashing down on him sending him on the most violent ride of his life. Apparently the bike had hit him in the back knocking all the wind out of his lungs and as he got tossed around on the shallow reed where he had very brief opportunitiues to get a short breath of air. This went on for four-to-five minutes and even though there was full camera crews, medical teams, jet skis, and helicopters all searching for him, he was nowhere to be found. Then according to Maddison, just as he was about to give up he caught a glimpse of light and happened to see the jet ski. Maddison and the entire team was pretty shook up from the experience, which most likely provided an even bigger sense of accomplishment for everyone involved once it was completed.
Video thanks to the DC Shoes YouTube Channel.