Is this the natural habitat for BMW's R nineT Scrambler? Maybe. The original scramblers of the 1960s were derived from streetbikes modified to improve their off-road performance. In those days, if you raised the exhaust, added a bigger seat, and chunky tires, you had a scrambler. Regardless of the brand, your motorcycle had greater potential to go more places. Today's scramblers are designed in much the same vein. You may need a streetbike, but your heart demands something with that mischievous "run-what-you-brung" spirit—your soul wants a scrambler.

Roughly three hours from the Southern California sprawl is a little-known spot I like to frequent. Its hard-packed obsidian sand dunes make for fun riding and a dramatic photographic backdrop. With visions of Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen in his mind and mischief in his heart, my son, Evan, grabbed the handlebar, switched traction control and ABS to the off position, and whacked the throttle. In this black desert paradise, Evan settled into the seat and our epic day of “dust and daguerreotype” began. Like the days of yore, with this modern scrambler, the fun begins when the pavement ends.

This Southern California secret spot is in plain sight of a major interstate highway but few people know its actual whereabouts.Jeff Allen

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Metzeler Karoo 3 tires work well on the black cinder surface.Jeff Allen
Navigating the “dark places.”Jeff Allen
It’s sort of like walking on the moon.Jeff Allen
Our BMW R nineT Scrambler is fitted with SW-Motech engine guards from Twisted Throttle.Jeff Allen
The SW-Motech aluminum skid plate—also sold through Twisted Throttle—proves its worth.Jeff Allen
Scrambler shenanigans.Jeff Allen
Riding gear: Bell Moto-3 helmet, Ride 100 percent Barstow Classic Snake River goggles, Roland Sands Design Ramone jacket, Lee Parks Designs DeerTours Gold gloves, Alpinestars Oscar Rayburn boots.Jeff Allen
Our Scrambler has moderate suspension upgrades. Those mods include stiffer fork and shock springs from Race Tech, with heavier fork oil.Jeff Allen
This location has a mix of hardpack and soft sand. Stay on the hardpack and all is good; get into the soft stuff and things get interesting fast.Jeff Allen
No mere desert-sled poser, the R nineT Scrambler walks the walk.Jeff Allen