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The price of riding an ocean surfbreak on a motorbike
A dislocated shoulder, a broken ankle and a few concussions are just part of the price Australian-born stuntman Robbie Maddison paid to surf-bike down a famous Tahitian surfbreak.
The 34-year-old former professional motorcross rider has spent the last two years achieving his goal of riding an ocean surf break on a motorbike.
The results are captured in the film Pipe Dream, where Maddison is seen riding his water bike on the legendary Teahupo'o reefbreak in Tahiti.
Maddison's early attempts to ride the ocean waves on a motorbike involved a Honda CR500R, fitted with two skis, one beneath the front wheel and a larger one extending from beneath the frame back to the rear wheel. The rear wheel was fitted with a paddle tyre normally used for dune riding.
He and his team experimented with a range of opptions, including dozens of different skis and tyre options, and even a KTM 450 SX-F four-stroke bike.
Unexpectedly they found it was the shape and angle of the skis and the number of paddles on the rear tyre that made more difference than the power of the motorbike.
Maddison's mechanic Buddy Morgan said sinking the bike was a real part of the learning curve for the team.
"I'd say that through the entire project, we sank the bike 30 to 40 times," he said.
It took the team five hours to tear down and rebuild the engine each time the bike ended up under water.
This process was simplified when the team switched to a two-stroke KTM 250 SX bike.
Maddison had to learn about the power of the wave, and rode a jet ski on the surf break to better understand its motion and movement.
"I also learned about the power of the wave when I was held down underwater a few times," he said.
"It was at that point that I decided to wear a flotation vest beneath my gear."
At one point he was riding the jet ski when he launched off a wave and landed with such force that he dislocated his shoulder.
Maddison said he had dislocated his shoulder, borken an ankle and had a few concussions during the project.
"You wouldn't think that you could get hurt riding on the water, but I've been thrown off the thing and onto the shore more than once while testing."
Late in the project Maddison's landing was complicated by a swell and he crashed face and chest first into the corner of a boat.
But the stuntman says the personal pain was worth it, and "you've got to push your limits to learn where they actually are."