Robbie Maddison has pulled off some pretty stunts on his motorbike: He’s jumped from ten story buildings, cleared entire canals, and now he’s taken it surfing. Before he was a motorbike stunt rider, the 34-year-old Australian was a surfer, and he has long talked about marrying his two passions. That finally came to fruition recently in Tahiti, where Maddison rode Teahupo’o on a KTM 250 SX outfitted with skis.
Though Maddison makes it look easy, first zipping atop the waterways of the French-Polynesian forests and then into the ocean, the feat took years of hard engineering. He built custom skis with skegs on the bottom to act as rudders, attached a paddle tire to the rear for propelling forward, and opted for a two-stroke motor, a less-complicated engine to deal with water intake.
Maddison first tested the bike on an eight mile bike ride in San Diego’s Mission Bay. But making the transition from those relatively placid waters to the most intimidating waves on the planet wasn’t easy. At one point, Maddison hit a “West bomb” wave — a swell with an extra elbow — and nearly died. Maddison told Rolling Stone, “There I was on a motorcycle, with the worst thing that could possibly happen… My friends and crew were completely rattled, having thought that I had drowned in the wave. It’s the gnarliest thing I have ever been through.”