Bluffers Guide...Stunt Riding

Become an instant expert in to the extreme area of motorcycling; stunt riding


Stunt riding arguably began in 1927 when the Royal Signals – the Army’s dispatch riders – formed the White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team and gave vertically stacked demonstrations of their precision riding. Then there was Evel Knievel in the late sixties throwing Harleys into fountains and buses.

Modern stunt riding – the sportsbike stuff that we know and love – was made famous by Gary Rothwell, a Welshman who launched the stunt scene worldwide and took burnouts, stoppies and wheelies mainstream. Although Rothwell cites Dutch bike loon, Archie Nyquist, as his inspiration – after seeing him on the ‘Just Amazing’ programme as a kid – it was Rothwell’s efforts that kindled the sport here. Hundreds of copy-cat riders sprung up and ultimately led to the Starboyz in the USA, who made the sport global. Along the way was AC Farias, the first man to perform the no-hands wheelie in 1997...

Where do I go to try it?

Downloadable PDF workshop sheets are available at, covering wheelies, stoppies and donuts, but we’d recommend getting one-on-one tuition. Try Paul Gower’s (07877 722 863) at £175, or for £200 (01507 462190). Both discount for group bookings.

What’s it all about?

Physics, as you know, is being defied. How many insane ways can you imagine a wheelie, stoppie and donut being performed? Times it by 50, as stunt riders continue to bust preconceptions and create a trick or combo that defies logic.

Legendary Events

Unlike racing, stunting championships are remarkable not by close-matched neck-and-neck competition but by the innovation and inventiveness of the riders. Each year another legendary rider pulls a new trick out of the bag, like no-front-wheel wheelies, cranked-over circular wheelies, or dragging the head of a small Chinese counterpart on the ground while performing a giant stoppie, a la Craig Jones. Jones makes things interesting by not only using a team-mate on his bike as a prop, but by riding Buells and Harleys. Unusual choices of machines seem to be the way to go, Chris Pfeiffer wins his championships on a BMW F800.


  • Kevin Carmichael – Scottish

One of the best late ‘90s stunters

  • Craig Jones – English

Runs a hugely successful stunt show, sponsored by Harley and Buell.

  • Christian Pfeiffer – German

Current world champ and BMW-sponsored rider.

  • Gary Rothwell – British

The Godfather of modern stunting.

  • AC Farias – Brazilian

Charismatic former champion regularly pipped to the win by Pfeiffer.

  • The Starboyz – America

Daring duo who moved things on

Where do I go to see it?

You’ve just missed this year’s European Stunt Riding Championship in Austria, but current champion, Chris Pfeiffer will be at Donington performing during the new Superleague Formula event (a bizarre fusion of football and single-seater racing) on August 30/31.

See or for more info.

Jargon buster

  • Stoppie – Like an endo on a BMX but while rolling along on the front wheel
  • Donut – spectator snacks and the art of spinning the rear wheel with the front brake eased on to slow the forward motion
  • Dragging – when a wheelie reaches its limit and the rider drags the tail of the bike
  • Kahunas – big ol' balls: as essential as painkillers and gaffer tape for the stunt fiend