~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Stunting." A Rant.

One of the hottest areas in motorcycling right now seems to be stunt riding and "stunta" videos. The stunt videos that abound on the 'net are all pretty much the same but for a couple (see below). Grab your GSXR, FZR, Ninja or whatever sport bike, your video camera, videotape your buddies doing wild wheelies, standing on the seat (Indian Larry syndrome), racing through traffic at 150 mph, then set it all to bad rock & roll music and you've got it. By the way, while I'm grouching here, there hasn't been any good rock & roll music since 1969 and even then the Rolling Stones, a.k.a, the World's Greatest Garage Band, sucked.

Generally, stunting on sport bikes seems to consist of what are in fact amazing feats of balance and coordination on sport bikes. Sadly, it's not real riding. No it's not. Sorry. Riding well, riding skillfully, consists of operating the motorcycle as a motorcycle, sometimes to it's intended limits, and not as mechanical phallic symbol in order to impress empty headed, tank-topped, 20-something girls. Riding in baggy pants or shorts with your butt hanging out, no helmet, shirtless, doing stoppies on in traffic or doing wheelies at 150 mph on a crowded highway are not riding motorcycles, it's merely showing off and helping to clean out the shallow end of the gene pool.

It does indeed take a great deal of skill at any speed to perform wheelies, do a stoppie and whatnot but then it takes skill to flip a playing card into an up turned hat. Because you can flip a playing card time after time into a hat does not mean you are a great poker player. Doing a stoppie takes skill, it doesn't mean you're a good motorcycle rider. Yes, those fellows can probably ride the winding roads well too but that doesn't excuse abusing equipment and scaring John Q. Public into calling his congressman and demanding it all be stopped.

When you get right down to it, I guess my contempt for stunting is less about the foolishness than it is scaring the public, annoying the police, and simply abusing rather than riding good motorcycles. All three are inexcusable.

For decades motorcycling has suffered from a bad image courtesy of "The Hollister Massacre" article in Life Magazine, the movie "The Wild One," and assorted dumb biker flicks in the '60s. Riders have worked for decades to overcome those images and gain some degree of respect and acceptance on the public roads. I never bought into the "Nicest people on a Honda" thing, motorcycling is about daring to be different but there's a difference between being different, being out of the mainstream, and just being an idiot on a motorcycle.

With a lot of work and the passage of time the general public has come to realize that the guy on the Honda (or an Aprilia) is on a Honda and the guy on a Harley is probably not going to beat him up and run off with his daughter. It's a tenuous acceptance and if you think it's not, look up Sen. John Danforth's foray into regulating sport bikes back in the 1980s. It could happen again and with more disasterous results the next time around.

The biker stunt boys, by virtue of being idiots on motorcycles, are undoing about four decades of positive image building. When the damage is done to the sport they'll find something else to amuse their video game addled minds and tattoo or road rash scarred bodies. Motorcycling will be left behind, worse for the wear and tear, just like the empty headed babe in the tank top.

I've noticed in watching some of the videos that the stunt guys seem as caught up in their official uniform as the R.U.B. Harley riders are. The Harley guys have to be swathed in a Brando style black jacket, black t-shirt, pre-tied official Harley bandana, Harley underwear and overpriced boots that without the motorcycle label sell for $50 at Wal-Mart. Oh yeah, don't forget your chain drive wallet.

The stunt boys' uniform consists of much less but it just as predictable. Close cropped hair or shaved head, assorted piercings, baggy pants or baggy shorts, no gloves, no helmet, no shirt, a variety of tattoos, and some sort of lace up over the ankle boot. Hey, everyone has their favorite ride gear but come on guys, you're not rebelling against anyone, you've just traded one kind of conformity for another. That goes for the R.U.B.s also.

Happily, someone with a better sense of humor than I have decided to poke some fun at the stunt guys via a home video in the same style as every blessed one of the stunt videos I've seen. The difference? They didn't use a GSXR, they used the decidely dowdy and uncool Kawasaki KLR 650. You've got to hand it to the guys over at WWW.KLR.NET, they have a keen eye for humour. If you've seen some of the "real" videos you'll appreciate the exquisite satire of "KLR 650 Fun." I actually laughed out loud at some parts.

You'll find the videos here:

KLR 650 Fun 1
KLR 650 Fun 2

And spare me the hate mail about how stunting IS real riding and I'm just a fat old grouch or worse. I know I'm a fat old grouch and stunting is not real motorcycle riding. At the least, take it off the public roads. You're harming the motorcycle sport I've loved for 40 years. Don't believe me? Click here or here .

If you're doing this stuff on public roads, you're not being cool, just stupid.


NOPCKL said...

Yep. If I agreed any more I'd be blatantly kissing ass. Excellent blog.

gregLewis said...

Everyone seems to know a guy who knew a guy who got___________ (fill in your own disaster). Why doen't anyone know a guy who knew a guy who...rode around the world on a motorcycle, or commuted daily and had a ball, or who enjoyed the cross-country trip he promised himself after retirement?

Ben said...

I know that you said "spare the hate mail" however this isn't really hate mail. I agree that an ability to stunt does not make you a good motorcycle rider. My contestment is not there. However someone who does a wheelie in traffic is not a "stunter" either. I have a friend who has raced motorcycles (successfully, proffesionally)as well as stunted (successfully, professionally - not big name but small shows that he was paid for) who has more skill on a motorcycle than most people who have riden a lifetime. I don't condone riders doing wheelies(being the most common) or other stunts in traffic however I do not feel that being on an empty street at 3 am and doing a wheelie in anyway harms the reputation or safety of anyone. I have ridden for a year now and do an occasionally wheelie or two in a parking lot, or an empty industrial street however I am far from a stunter or 'good' rider. My point is that "stunting" is not the problem. Idiots doing stunts in traffic is seperate from the growing sport of stunt riding. Please recognize the distinction between idiots with video cameras and a new and upcoming sport.

Doug Klassen said...


Thanks for your belated comments. To some degree I would agree with you. Remember though that my post was written in late 2004 and that's near five years ago now. The stunting scene has evolved to a more professional and slightly saner level now. The guys wheelieing down the freeway or doing stoppies at traffic lights I would just call squids or worse.

Still, even with the professional stunting scene with paid teams, performances, etc. it still bothers me to see good sport bikes used and abused in ways for which they were not designed. Happily, this is America and we are all semi-free to express ourselves and generally screw around as we wish even if it seems odd to others.

Ride safe,


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