[Words: Paul d’Orléans. Originally published in Cycle World]

While in the south of France for the Wheels&Waves festival last week, BMW revealed its concept surf-moto, the ‘Path22’ – a reference to the forest service road Vincent Prat takes to his favorite surf spot north of Biarritz. With paint by Ornamental Conifer and a custom surfboard by Mason Dyer, Path22 is a lovely homage to an event which has become the premier alt.moto festival in the world in just 4 years.  Here’s the article I wrote for CycleWorld.com. 

Nicolai Sclater, otherwise known as ‘Ornamental Conifer’, painted the Path22 by hand in his signature avant style

The Southsiders MC, organizers of the Wheels&Waves festival in Biarritz, have been tearing up the Basque Pyrenees every June since 2009.  There were 10 of us that year, and six years later the gang has grown to 10,000.  The first official edition of Wheels&Waves appeared in 2012, and was modest by comparison, but smelled of gunpowder. The artists, writers, builders, and publishers who participated knew something was up, and it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world felt the blast.

Robert Klanten of Gestalten (my publisher for ‘The Ride’ and ‘The Chopper’), and Chris Hunter of BikeExif get the tour of the Path22’s features from BMW head motorcycle designer Ola Stenegard

BMW was the first brand to sign on with Wheels & Waves the following year, as  ‘Sonic’ Seb Lorentz (of Lucky Cat Garage) cajoled his bosses at BMW France to literally take a stand.  It was a shrewd move, and their presence has grown yearly, first bringing historic machines to display (a pair of Ernst Henne’s supercharged world speed record missiles), then revealing special collaborations, like the Blitz R9T custom, with the world’s first 3d-printed fuel tank.

Details of the fun paint job – not the typical BMW effort! But it’s all about fun…a new direction for BMW

This year BMW’s big reveal was the Path 22, an in-house collaboration with artist Nicolai Sclater (Ornamental Conifer), who hand-painted an appropriately fun Wheels & Waves scheme on a Scramblerized R NineT. Mason Dyer was commissioned to shape a board to haul alongside, on a special factory-made—but sadly not catalog-offered—surfboard carrier. When pressed about the missing wetsuit pannier, BMW Motorrad’s chief designer, Ola Stenegard, rolled his eyes and laughed. “I know. But then we’d have another one-off piece to explain we’re not going to produce,” he remarked. Too bad—the carrier was beautifully crafted, and surfers would benefit from a proper accessory instead of some cobbled up contraption with duct tape.

In its native element: the Concept Path-22 on the beach in BIarritz (CycleWorld.com)

Obviously, the Scrambler theme has already been trod by Ducati. While BMW has long owned the street/dirt combo with its GS legacy, there’s a whisper on the wind that the factory will offer its own Scrambler. Looking at the abbreviated lines of the Path 22, the way is clear. Riders will line up for this machine, just as they do for the standard R NineT, which has become BMW’s top seller. Getting Nico to hand-paint a groovy geometric scheme is another matter, and might require a mix of patience and lucre. But what’s important with Path 22 is that BMW has gotten the message—what people need from motorcycles right now is maximum fun.