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ADV RidesRide DifficultyMost Difficult RideA Nostalgic Journey Thru Paris-Dakar Routes on Vintage Customs

A Nostalgic Journey Thru Paris-Dakar Routes on Vintage Customs

Scram Africa, only vintage and custom bikes need apply.

Published on 10.28.2019

The brainchild of Fuel’s founder Karles Vives, Scram Africa was born in 2012 as a two-wheeled pilgrimage across the Moroccan desert to test the brand’s first customized bike, a BMW R1000 Scrambler. The Fuel team wanted to see if their bike could handle extreme terrains and survive against nature’s hostile elements.

From there, it grew from a five-man mission to the 30-plus-rider landmark event through extreme roads, trails, and dunes. The central idea now is to return to the beginning of the motorcycle: before the wide availability of specialized bikes for different terrain. Scram Africa encourages its participants to ditch the “appropriate” bikes made for desert riding, because where’s the challenge in that? Instead, only vintage scramblers and customized bikes are welcome because the most important thing is the desire to travel and have an awesome adventure, not the motorcycle you have.

Scram Africa custom dual sport
Scram Africa custom Harley

A typical Scram Africa lasts 10 days and covers around 2,500km of Moroccan land. Riders starts in Marrakesh, the country’s capital, and then go south until hitting the doors of the desert in Zagora to follow the Paris-Dakar tracks north until Erg-Chebbi. They then traverse sand-covered landscapes to reach an oasis in Merzouga, before crossing the Atlas Mountains to the north and the famous Dadès Gorges. All Scram Africa riders who complete the route finish back in the chaotic city of Marrakesh.

Scram Africa custom adventure ride
Riding the Scram Africa


This year’s ride saw 35 riders from all over the world on Triumphs, BMWs, and even a custom Harley doing battle with the dunes, sand, rocks, river crossings and extreme heat. One of the custom bikes tested through the Moroccan desert, was a Dakar-inspired Himalayan build recently featured on ADV Pulse. The Himalayan Royal Rally 400 made the run, and shots of it posted on Fuel’s website look like they could have been taken 30 years ago.

The trail tests both the physical and psychological limits of its riders, not to mention the resilience of the old school motorcycles they’re riding. There are always a few breaks, falls, and ruptures along the way, but no broken spirits. The Scram Africa is about more than just completing the trail; it is a nostalgic journey that evokes the spirit of the early Paris-Dakar Rally years. A time when following a different path and embracing adventure was more important than simply winning races.

Stuck in sand Scram Africa
Fixing bike Scram Africa

On several occasions, due to mechanical problems and huge mileage, participants have completed stages at night. During one particular year, low visibility caused by a sandstorm made it almost impossible to see beyond a couple of meters. These difficult moments are compounded by hours clocked up on the motorcycle, driving in darkness, and sand getting into the riders’ goggles.  

Water crossing Scram Africa

There’s no avoiding a broken motorcycle here and there with each edition too. Recently a rider’s bike took a hit and broke in half. Luckily the rider found a workshop to get it fixed up and was able to ride on the next day. Another time, one of the riders’ motorcycles wouldn’t start when the team was in the remote Atlas Mountains. A boy aged around 12 years old appeared and took them to his “workshop.” There, in the middle of a chaos of parts, he repaired the motorcycle and the trip continued. 

Another time, a couple of riders had stopped near a small group of houses in the middle of the desert for a quick lunch break when someone approached them and invited them into their home. The locals were celebrating an anniversary of one of the family members, and the riders stayed for hours to enjoy the party. There are always stories to tell at the end of each Scram Africa. 

To find out more about Scram Africa go to  

Photos by Riki “Rocket” Rojas and Gotz Goppert

Author: ADV Pulse Staff

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