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BMW Motorrad and Metzeler climb the world's highest active volcano Featured

Posted On Tuesday, 02 January 2024 23:34 Written by
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A fleet of fully equipped BMW R 1300 GS models managed to reach an altitude of more than 6,000 metres in less than 24 hours. A fleet of fully equipped BMW R 1300 GS models managed to reach an altitude of more than 6,000 metres in less than 24 hours. Photo courtesy of BMW


January 2, 2024 — Barely two and a half months after its world premiere, the new BMW R 1300 GS proves its outstanding off-road expertise and unique robustness in South America. From December 6-7, 2023, starting from sea level on the Nevado Ojos del Salado — at 6,893 metres the highest active volcano in the world — a fleet of fully equipped BMW R 1300 GS models managed to reach an altitude of more than 6,000 metres in less than 24 hours. The climb, which is very difficult for riders, bikes and tyres, culminates in the notorious “Rock Channel” on the northern flank of the Nevado Ojos del Salado, where the expedition climbed to 6,006 metres in just 19 hours and 22 minutes to reach a maximum altitude of 6,027 metres.

The backdrop for the expedition is the Circuito de los Seis Miles in the Atacama Desert in Chile, the highest active volcano chain in the world, to which the Nevado Ojos del Salado belongs. The four standard BMW R 1300 GS models set off on December 6 at 3 p.m. local time from Bahia Inglesa, a town near the port of Caldera on the Pacific Ocean in the Atacama region, to climb the Nevado Ojos Del Salado.

International team of drivers

The destination was finally reached on December 7 at 10:22 a.m. local time. Equipped with Metzeler Karoo 4 tyres, the BMW R 1300 GS models started from sea level on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, followed by the ascent through the Atacama Desert to the Circuito de los Seis Miles and finally to the slopes of Nevado Ojos del Salado on the border between Argentina and Chile. Riding the BMW R 1300 GS were Christof Lischka, BMW Motorrad Development Manager, Salvatore Pennisi, Metzeler Test and Technical Director, Michele Pradelli, Italian Extreme Enduro Champion and tester for Italian magazine InMoto, and Karsten Schwers, tester and journalist for German magazine MOTORRAD.

A further unique feature of this expedition was the decision to undertake it with standard motorcycles and standard tyres. It should also be noted that this result was achieved with 19" front and 17" rear tyres, showing a new dimension in the world of adventure riding. 

Christof Lischka: “With this extreme ride up to more than 6,000 metres, the new BMW R 1300 GS has shown what it can do and what it is made for. It masters off-road and adventure riding as well as a sporty pace on tarmac and long tours. Even in standard trim with off-road tyres. It was important for us to emphasise these core competencies of the new GS once again with this expedition.”

Standard BMW R 1300 GS with off-road tyres

The new BMW R 1300 GS is fitted with Metzeler Tourance Next 2 tyres as original equipment ex works. For dedicated off-road use, Metzeler Karoo 4 tyres are available as an option, and were used on this expedition. With the Metzeler Karoo 4 tyres, the BMW R 1300 GS offers even better riding characteristics both off-road and on adventure tours. The multi-purpose tyres offer exemplary off-road traction and can be used on everything from sandy or desert tracks to the deepest mud. They also work perfectly on- and off-road with the advanced rider assistance systems of the new BMW R 1300 GS.

A challenge for man and machine

The climb to Nevado Ojos del Salado is an extreme challenge for both man and machine. Considerable physical and mental effort is required of the expedition participants. After all, the climb is be completed in less than 24 hours. In addition, the participants reach an environment above 5,000 metres that is very inhospitable to humans. The temperatures are very low - around -10 °C during the day and -20 °C at night - and the oxygen content is low. 

Long-term preparation and prior acclimatisation to the region are therefore essential. In the days leading up to the expedition, several base camps were set up at different altitudes and a simulation was carried out on Mount Etna in Sicily, the highest active volcano in Europe. Specific medical tests and checks at the University of Enna, in cooperation with the health authorities of the province of Enna, were also part of the preparation of the expedition participants.

At over 5,000 metres above sea level, the cold and low air pressure place particularly high demands on the electronic control of the air-fuel mixture of the Boxer engine, but also on all other vehicle components of the new BMW R 1300 GS. The chassis and tyres are also put to the test by the varied terrain with stony tracks, unpaved roads, endless sandy areas and sometimes even ice and snow.

“I am delighted that we were able to take on this challenge with the new R 1300 GS and mastered it with flying colours. On such adventurous rides, the new GS has already demonstrated its great off-road expertise in standard trim and shown what it can do in extreme situations,” concludes Christof Lischka.

— Press release courtesy of BMW


Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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