BMW and Metzeler ridden 6 km above sea level in Chile

For many decades, Khardung-La Pass in India has held the distinction of being the “Highest motorable road in the world” with an elevation of about 5,500 (5.5 km) above sea level (ASL). Riding there is no easy task, as one would need to acclimatize first for a few days to avoid getting an altitude sickness, not to mention the extreme road conditions that lead to Khardung-La pass.

Just recently, adventure riders that represent BMW and German tire brand, Metzeler, have surpassed 6,000 meters ASL in Chile, riding new R 1300 GS adventure bikes. What’s more astonishing is that the team did it in just 19 hours and 22 minutes, starting from sea level.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

This very difficult ascent for riders, motorbikes, and tires, culminated on the notorious North face of Nevado Ojos del Salado, where the expedition reached 6,006 meters in just 19 hours and 22 minutes, ultimately reaching a maximum altitude of 6,027 meters.

The expedition involved an acclimatization route ascending the Circuito de los Seis Miles, on the slopes of Nevado Ojos del Salado, located exactly on the border between Argentina and Chile.  At 6,891 meters, it is the highest active volcano in the world, and its twin, the Nevado de Incahuasi is 6,610 meters high.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

The BMW R 1300 GS adventure bikes were equipped with Metzeler Karoo 4 tires and then descended to sea level on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, in Bahia Inglesa. They departed at 3:00 PM local time on December 6, crossing the Atacama Desert to reach Nevado Ojos Del Salado, successfully surpassing 6,000 meters ASL in less than 24 hours. The goal was achieved at 10:22 AM on the next day, December 7, 2023.

The riders who were onboard an entirely stock BMW R 1300 GS adventure bikes with Metzeler tires were Salvatore Pennisi, Metzeler Testing and Technical Relation Director, Christof Lischka, Head of BMW Motorrad Development, Michele Pradelli, Italian extreme enduro champion and tester for the Italian magazine InMoto plus Karsten Schwers, tester, and journalist for the German magazine Motorrad.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

The new BMW R 1300 GS, in the sizes 120/70 R19 front and 170/60 R17 rear, uses Metzeler Tourance Next 2 as the stock tires on all versions, while the Metzeler Karoo 4 is offered as an optional fitment for off-road use. With the Metzeler Karoo 4 tires, the BMW R 1300 GS expresses perfect riding characteristics in off-road use and the search for adventure.

According to Metzeler, these tires are created to be multi-purpose and can offer exemplary off-road traction, from sand or desert tracks to the deepest mud, while at the same time guaranteeing excellent resistance to abrasion, cuts, and tears so frequent in off-road use. All this together with excellent handling on asphalt, and very incisive wet performance thanks to the ability to interact in perfect synergy with the highly advanced riding assistance systems of the BMW R 1300 GS.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

A peculiarity of the expedition was the decision to tackle it with standard bikes and tires, counting on the certainty of benchmark combined performance. It should be underlined, among other things, that this result was accomplished with 19-inch front and 17-inch rear sizes, which opens a new era in the adventure-riding world.

An extreme challenge from both a technological and human point of view. The Nevado Ojos del Salado has subjected motorbikes, tires and riders to a very tough test in extreme conditions. From over five thousand meters ASL, to the cold and reduced atmospheric pressure, which required perfect electronic management of fuel-air mixture as well as the reliability of each vehicle component. Metzeler tires, on the other hand, had to cross terrains of all types, from stoney ground to dirt roads, to the endless expanses of sand, and with the unknown of discovering snow and ice on the route.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

The participants in the expedition were required to make considerable physical and mental effort. Not only because of the climb which started from Bahia Inglesa, a town located near the port of Caldera on the Pacific Ocean, in the Atacama region, but the challenge was completed in less than 24 hours which also required careful and tiring acclimatization in the various base camps at different altitudes in the days preceding the undertaking before descending back to sea level for the departure.

Anything above 5,000 meters ASL is considered an inhospitable environment for humans. The temperatures can reach -10° C even during the day and -20° C at night. Oxygen is also thin at these altitudes.

Look: ADV riders took the new BMW R 1300 GS to 6,000m ASL image

The preparation of the expedition participants was treated with the utmost attention: all the riders underwent targeted medical tests and checks at the Kore University of Enna, in collaboration with the Provincial Health Authority of Enna. A simulation of the undertaking was also carried out in Sicily having as its backdrop Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, in a symbolic twinning of this high-altitude simulation.