Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal, Gear Guide 2017
If you’re looking for a technical review of the new BMW Scrambler, might I suggest you wait until the editors get their hands on one. For me, riding a motorcycle has never been about specs and such, it’s about that feeling of being on a bike and not having a care in the world.
In September, I had the fortunate opportunity to join Miguel Loredo of Concept Racer and photographer Stephen Smith on a ride through a rarely seen part of Mexico, aboard one of the few Scramblers in the Western Hemisphere at the time. This was no press boondoggle in a controlled environment, it was a true ride with places marked on a map that none of us had been to before.
I first threw my leg over the bike in the Roma Norte district of Mexico City, an especially busy section of the megalopolis and home to Concept Racer. The stance and seating position were instantly comfortable, even as I was weaving in and out of traffic. The engine was smooth and familiar, the same as my daily rider GS; the 1200 oil-cooled boxer has been a staple in BMW’s line for years.
Our first day we spent 13 hours on glorious, twisty tarmac, riding and photographing our way to the cloud forest northeast of the city. After leaving the main highway for secondary roads, we were able to settle into a comfortable pace. The asphalt was in perfect condition and brilliantly arched against the folds and valleys of the mountains, whipping us toward Xilitla.
Xilitla is located high in the jungle in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. The town is most famous for Las Pozas, a sculpture park built over a period of two decades by Sir Edward James, an eccentric British poet and artist. The architecture draws inspiration from M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali, with subtle (and not so subtle) references to Alice in Wonderland. Climbing over the moss-covered ruins, I felt like Indiana Jones, pushing vines out of my way to reach the waterfalls. Using our cinematic immunity, we had access to the area before it opened to the public, and found ourselves swimming amid surrealist sculptures framing the scene.
The humidity in the mountains was bearable, until we dropped elevation and it became another element in and of itself. While moving on the bike it wasn’t so bad, but when we stopped and waited for a small ferry to cross Río Aztla, it was oppressive and definitely a haven for Zika. Once on the other side of the river, we headed north through sugarcane country. Our destination was another swimming hole, or rather the mother of all swimming holes: Cascadas de Micos.
In spite of the somewhat overwhelming number of people there, the location was absolutely gorgeous, with aqua-blue water and towering mountains covered in dense jungle. The waterfalls are located at the mouth of a canyon, with sugarcane plains to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico just beyond—home to hurricanes this time of year. It was a band from one of those hurricanes that we couldn’t see from the canyon that was fast approaching as we left. The thunderhead churned high into the sky with a dark purple curtain of rain dragging across the plains straight for us. Not a word was said between us; we all knew that the only way out was through it.
Like most thunderstorms it started with small drops that increased in size and frequency, at first shooting up small mushroom clouds of dust on the road ahead of us, soon saturating the hard-packed dirt into a blanket of mud. Fortunately, hard tarmac was not far off, but the rain was coming down in sheets, and with every passing truck a wave of brown, muddy water would wash over us. By the time we came through the other side of the storm, we were drenched. Coming to a stop at an intersection we lined up side by side, put up our visors and laughed hysterically, as we had just ridden through the wettest conditions any of us had ever encountered. Although you may have wanted to read a more technical review, trust me when I say that the BMW Scrambler is amazing—a magic carpet for swimming holes and wonderlands. bmwmotorcycles.com, 800-831-1117