Sidecar ice adventure. Through Mongolia and Siberia on an 75 years old motorcycle

Eric Dumas has just arrived form a 23.000 km adventure from France to Mongolia and backwards. Nothing too unusual, you would say. But what about doing it on a 1939 BMW R 12 in the winter? With tent accommodation.

Eric Dumas left France on 25th of January with his sidecar BMW. Next to him was his friend, Francois Thomas. The passed through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and them went to Ukraine and, finally Russia. The first destination was Baikal lake, in south-eastern Siberia. They had made till then 9.500 km in 46 days.


Despite the freezing cold of the winter, Eric Dumas and Francois Thomas slept in the tent and looked for shelter in all kind of places, from abandoned garages and barns to bus stations. Anywhere, but not in the hotel. „I was wearing wool as a first layer, then a good winter parka and finally a windproof and waterproof motorcycle jacket that I’ve had for more than 15 years. Eric wasn’t wearing any special riding equipment, but he is tough!“, tells Francois in an interview for the official BMW Motorrad website. For him, this part of Siberia was the last point of the expedition. There was a plane taking him back to France. In his place came Sabine, Eric’s daughter.


After some ice riding on the frozen Baikal Lake, Eric and his daughter went to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. After that, the destination was Gobi desert, the West Siberian Plain and Novosibirsk, the most populous city in Asian Russia, with a population of 1,523,801, known as „the Capital of Siberia“. After that Eric travelled alone, in the last stage of the journey.

This was a few months ago. When we’re writing this text, Eric Dumas is home, in Thiers in Auverge, France. He’s probably relaxing in an armchair, or working at his old BMW and tells his story.

Why didn’t you go to Siberia and Mongolia when it was warmer?, asks BMW Motorrad reporter.

I had actually been to Siberia in the summer in 2003 on the trusty R 12, travelling from Novosibirsk to Moscow on my way back from Kazakhstan. Aside from the fact that there are no mosquitoes in the winter, I was curious to see how I would cope with those extremely low temperatures. Also, try riding your bike on the Baikal Lake in the summer…

He says that his favorite country through which he had passed was Mongolia, „but only because it always been a dream of mine to be there. Mongolia is the place to go – not only because of its amazing culture, but also because of the huge deserted territories where human life doesn’t exist. There are very few actual roads, just some trails that are often unusable, without a single sign to indicate directions. The GPS doesn’t work there so we were only able to find our way by compass and using the position of the sun as guide. Now that’s what I call adventure“, says Eric Dumas.


His 1939 BMW R 12 was, when he bought it (in 1977), only a rusty frame and some junk parts thrown away in a box. There were two years necessary for the bike to be completely restored and since then, it travelled Eric all over the world from India to South America and North Africa.

“This bike is my oldest mistress, and has played a significant role in all the important moments of my life. We’ve shared unforgettable experiences together and I am always amazed that she continues to bring me to beautiful places and allows me to meet with fantastic people,” he says in the same interview.

Eric Dumas also remembers that the most kind people he met was the Russians and Ukrainians. As for the sensation of riding on the ice of Baikal, „ It simply felt like a dream, after all those months and even years of planning, there was a lot of emotion that almost brought tears to our tanned cheeks. Landing those wheels on that immense extent of ice was totally unreal and matched exactly what we had imagined in our dreams!“

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