BMW Is Making Northern California Adventure Riding More Accessible

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

If ever there was a place designed and intended for motorcycles to be ridden, California would be a top contender. But it’s not just the behemoth, lane-splittable highways, or banked canyon roads that make the Golden State riding paradise. In fact, venturing off the beaten path is just as good of a way to go.

Partnering with the king of motorcycling mapping, Backroad Discovery Routes, BMW wants to make the loose surface experience less intimidating for budding adventure riders, specifically in Northern California. That’s why the Motorrad wing of BMW has officially charted out a Backroad Discovery Route from Mammoth Lake all the way up to Oregon.

Spanning 940 miles of forests, meadows, and slopes, riders who embark on this adventure will experience everything from the Great Sierra Nevada to the high desert of Madoc Plateau and even the Oregon-bordering town of Alturas. Typically a five and half hour straight highway shot, BMW and the BDR folks want to make this worthy of a week.

“This route, born of countless scouting trips over the last five years, captures the essence of a remote and beautiful Northern California, one that may be difficult for the casual tourist to comprehend. But we found it!

“Just as countless adventurers before you from California’s earliest days seeking gold or a new beginning, so can you find your adventure by simply downloading and following the tracks laid before you. Eureka!” said Ron West, Northern California BDR route architect and BDR board member.

a man on a motorcycle in a desert


Packing properly will be more important than the bike you choose on this otherworldly looking ride.

To be clear (and respectful of those who came before us), this is likely not the first time these trails have been ridden. However, the great benefit of the BDR topographical practice is that riders now have free GPS tracks, travel resources, and a proper BDR motorcycle map at their disposal. Riding out into the woods is fun; accidentally spending the night less so.

Accompanying every BDR launch is the requisite film, intending to stoke winter-bound riders into the saddle and out onto the road. However, in the case of the NorCal BDR launch, BMW has a special interest in the reveal, as Richard Few (instructor at the BMW U.S. Rider Academy in Greer, South Carolina) joined the exploratory team.

BMW Motorrad has no shortage of history revolving around true adventure riding, and its heritage around the GS moniker is a testament to that. Launching the 2024 BMW R 1300 GS late last year, Few took on the NorCal passes with a late model R 1250 GS, which was seemingly adequate for hundreds of loose surface miles.

“We strongly believe in and support BDR’s mission of making our great country more accessible to the adventure riding community,” said Luciana Francisco, head of brand and marketing, BMW Motorrad USA.

“BDR routes not only bring riders to memorable locations, but they also bring economic support to the communities that exist in these regions. This is a cause that BMW Motorrad USA will always champion.”

Interested riders should clear their calendars and check the map, as the BDR group is touring its full-length NorCal BDR film around in the coming weeks and months. Starting in Sacramento on February 17th, additional film screening dates include March 16th at Los Angeles’ Bike Shed Moto and February 24th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Have you ever used a BDR route? What was your experience like? Please share your thoughts below.

Headshot of Emmet White

A New York transplant hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Emmet White has a passion for anything that goes: cars, bicycles, planes, and motorcycles. After learning to ride at 17, Emmet worked in the motorcycle industry before joining Autoweek in 2022. The woes of alternate side parking have kept his fleet moderate, with a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI and a 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750 street parked in his South Brooklyn community.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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