Fit for purpose: The Wall of Death Motorcycle

The average road bike does a bit of everything. But there are machines in the biking world designed to do one job only. Pure specialists if you will. These are the bikes...

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Ben Cope's picture
By Bertie Simmonds on Wed, 20 Oct 2010 - 10:10

MAN

Richard Palmer, Wall of Death Rider

"As bike kit goes mine's cheap! The T-shirt tells people what we do. The trousers have to be this snug, as when you're moving about on the bike, you really don't want anything hanging down or snagging a bar. As for the horse-riding boots, well, they're traditional Wall of Death items. When the original Wall of Death sideshows were springing up everywhere people were still riding horses so it was a natural progression. We don't wear gloves and we don't wear a helmet either. It's a Wall of Death, after all." Well, a Wall of Bumps, Bruises and Grazes at the very least...

BIKE:

1926 Indian Scout

"This machine is over 80 years old, but it's interesting to wonder what's actually original! When you first ride this bike it's awful. Rigid, uncomfortable and different to anything else you've ever ridden, but when you take it on the wall for the first time you wouldn't anything else up there. It's perfect. We've tried converted BSAs and stuff with mock springs on the front to make them look 'traditional' but they weren't up to the job like the Indian. One addition you can't miss is the tassled seat fringes - a must for any respecting Wall of Death bike! You've so much low-down bottom-end in the motor to keep going around and around the wall as well which is a bonus. I first saw The Wall done at the Dorset Steam Fair and thought 'I'd love to have a go!' I'd done some motocross before, but that was about it. Nothing comes close to the feeling of going around The Wall for the first time. It's a magical experience."

THROTTLE: "We've got a left-hand throttle because that's the way things were back then, as American cops on their Indians could still fire their guns with their right hands. Check out the throttle cable going into the bar tubes. This helps us when we throw ourselves around on the bike or sit on the handlebars, it means we've no cables to snag ourselves on. Tape over the bars gives a bit of grip. The bikes have had an overhaul, you can tell by the fact the tape is new."

FOOTBOARDS: "If you're riding no-handed on The Wall, you want to keep the bike steady and stable. Normal footpegs wouldn't do this, but these large footboards let us keep the bike steady while we're standing up. You've also got a foot clutch on these bikes."

TANK-PAD: "We've got this on the bike so we can comfortably pull ourselves along the tank onto the bars while riding."

LEAF SPRINGS: "Very handy as foot-holds when you're climbing around on the bike."

FORKS: "The fork layout and the big, wide bars means the bike always wants to steer true, which is just what you want when you're no-handed 20 or so feet up on The Wall."

BRAKES: "None at the front and a tiddler at the back. You don't use them on The Wall. If you did it's a long drop."

DETACHABLE KICK-START: Does just what it says on the tin.


BIKE:

1926 Indian Scout

"This machine is over 80 years old, but it's interesting to wonder what's actually original! When you first ride this bike it's awful. Rigid, uncomfortable and different to anything else you've ever ridden, but when you take it on the wall for the first time you wouldn't anything else up there. It's perfect. We've tried converted BSAs and stuff with mock springs on the front to make them look 'traditional' but they weren't up to the job like the Indian. One addition you can't miss is the tassled seat fringes - a must for any respecting Wall of Death bike! You've so much low-down bottom-end in the motor to keep going around and around the wall as well which is a bonus. I first saw The Wall done at the Dorset Steam Fair and thought 'I'd love to have a go!' I'd done some motocross before, but that was about it. Nothing comes close to the feeling of going around The Wall for the first time. It's a magical experience."

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