Hiking the Mojave Desert is one of the most peaceful excursions a Californian can take, with nothing but red rock, the alien trees of Joshua and the occasional burst of sage or mesquite to interrupt the relentlessly vast and arid landscape.
But this is about a different kind of desert sojourn: one that involves hopping over washes and spitting rocks along the dirt trails that lattice the National Park. We are talking, of course, about a proper dirt-bike expedition.
There are plenty of dirt bikes out there that’ll do the job, but our eyes are on the Alaskan, a new custom job from Venice-based Earle Motors.
alaskan (3 images)
Owner/designer Alex Earle, who daylights as a designer for Audi, started with a Ducati Desert Sled for his latest project, adding 21” tires with knobby tread, a Wren winch and a six-gallon fuel tank to give a longer range.
The fuel tanks, seat and fenders were specially set using an ergonomic prototype, then hand-shaped using Surform and modeled in Bondo, all of which helped sculpt the bike to the rider’s exact body type and needs. Earle then finished things off with a kevlar skid pad, rally navigation tower and bright lights.
From there, he put the bike to the test in Southern California and Alaska (hence the name) before declaring it ready for action.
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Earle specializes in bikes that are built for long hauls, and takes custom orders from riders who need a little more performance than they can find in a stock model. Once the base build is complete, he customizes all the finishing details, too, right down to the luggage racks, ensuring you’ll be able to stay the night in a location that few hikers could find, let alone walk to.
Before you scoff at the notion of a custom bike, consider that the Mojave Desert measures nearly 48,000 square miles.
If you think that’s a lot of terrain to cover, try doing it on an ill-fitted vehicle.