While concocting my What’s A Motorcycle Daredevil? editorial, it became apparent that not only do daredevils share a taste for jumping motorcycles, but also for the things they jump their motorcycles over. Taking a second look at these obstacles, from the mundane to the extraordinary, popular to obscure, I composed a list of the best and the most esoteric (worst?) objects daredevils choose to jump.
Things have certainly changed since the heyday of daredevils like Evel Knievel and his ilk: If you’re not backflipping over whatever it is your jumping, we’re no longer impressed. Preparation and safety have certainly increased, which is very good for the daredevils, but leaves us spectators viewing reruns of Knievel’s more spectacular non-landings.
The good thing is, as long as there’s a few guys and gals willing to risk the dangers, there’s gonna be a hundred times as many people willing to watch them do it.
Every daredevil begins his or her career with a chasm jump – basically, jumping an empty gap between a takeoff point and a landing point. The gap can be small, such as the one you might have jumped yourself, as a child aboard your first bicycle or motorcycle. Or, it can be incredibly wide, such as Trigger Gumm’s one-time record of 277.2 feet in 2005. Robbie Maddison has since lengthened the distance, but more on him later.
When it comes to earning your official daredevil patch, jumping some lined-up cars seems to be the stick by which a stunt jumper is measured. The guy in the video below, however, took jumping cars to a whole new level by completing the stunt while riding backwards.
Going from jumping over cars to jumping over trucks seems a natural progression. Historically, it has been, but back in the day the trucks were stationary, lined-up in the same tight sequence of the cars. That’s not near enough nowadays. In an exciting new twist, FMX rider, Alexey Lokesnikov, backflipped his motorcycle over the top of Vladimir Chagin’s Dakar-winning KAMAZ Master Team truck – which was jumping simultaneously.
They’re big, long, some are yellow, others red, and a few of them are double-decker. If jumping cars on a motorcycle gets you into the club, jumping buses earns a daredevil his or her first merit badge. We could have included a variety of video clips of a motorcycle jumping over buses, but in a funny, ironic twist of fun, here’s a bus jumping over motorcycles.
To my knowledge, and a quick internet search, Evel Knievel is the only motorcycle daredevil to ever attempt jumping a shark tank. He crashed during a practice run and the actual event never materialized. In the video of the practice attempt there doesn’t appear to be any sharks in the tank. So, maybe this shouldn’t be at number six, or even included in the list at all. Maybe it’s the fantasy of someone new taking up the baton and attempting an original slant on the shark jumping theme as a pay-per-view special. A 400-foot, triple backflip over a chum-filled tank of starving Great Whites?
Snakes seem to be a thread throughout Knievel’s career. His first jump, in 1965 at his motorcycle dealership in Moses Lake, MI, included a crate of rattlesnakes (and possibly a mountain lion). According to lore, upon landing, the rear wheel of Knievel’s bike hit the crate, busting it open and sending snakes into the gathered crowd. He again soared over snakes in 1972, jumping 100 of them and two vans. Knievel attempted the biggest snake of all, in 1975 jumping the ¾-mile wide Snake River Canyon. He failed, but his offspring, Robbie Knievel, completed (sort of) jumping over the Grand Canyon, which was Evel’s first intention. Also, see chasms.
Caesar’s Palace fountain. Knievel tried jumping it first in 1967 and failed … epicly. The video of his attempt is probably inspiration for the term “ragdolled.” Thirty years later and Mike “The Godfather” Metzger successfully backflips the same fountain, setting a Guinness World Record in the process.
Crashing hurts, especially when you’re trying to clear large, metal objects or incredibly vast distances. Throw a few helicopters, blades spinning, into the mix, and you’ve a recipe for moto-sushi. Indecision or miscalculation isn’t an option when it comes to getting literally cut in half as a result. Of course, stunters from Travis Pastrana to Ryan Capes make jumping over helicopters look like child’s play.
Robbie Maddison, world’s longest motorcycle jump record holder, performed one of the coolest stunts in 2008 when he set another world record for Highest Motorcycle Jump by jumping to the top of the Arc de Triomphe replica in Las Vegas. He then turned his bike around and jumped off the Arc – which in my book, seems twice as ballsy.
In the infamous words of Beavis, “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!” What’s the first thing cavemen did after discovering fire? They jumped their cave-cycles over it. Motorcycles and fire are the moto-equivalent of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup – two great things that go great together. Admittedly, I think it’s better when the daredevil foregoes jumping over the fire, and instead, jumps right f*&%ing through it!