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The Genesis of a Wheelie: Sportbike Freestyle Riding Introduction & History

Burnouts, wheelies, stoppies, loud exhausts, a cheering crowd is always evident in some part of a city across the globe. That specific activity has always left the commoners’ jaws dropped and amused. Many people may always find them on their TV screens, magazine covers, in newspapers and more such places.

People term it as stunting, hooliganism, or maybe stunt riding too, but the actual term for the activity where a rider tries to perform dynamic or static acrobatic feats on a specifically modified motorcycle is Sportbike Freestyle Riding. One can understand the theme to be a bit congruent to gymnastics but with a bike, making it more dynamic. It is very much because of this that people also have seen Sportbike Freestyle Riding as poetry in motion. This is an international motorsport or can also be taken for as an extreme sport which hails from the western part of the world.

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If one tries to rotate the clock anti-clockwise, he/she will find that there aren’t defined roots for the sport. One may come across people terming the activity as Stunt Riding but if one tries to understand the gist of the sport, he/she will realize that the activity is a set of skillful tricks performed after years of practice, hence making the term ‘stunt’ irrelevant. Coming back to the roots, raising the front wheel of the bike roughly came up around 1980s where it can be seen in a set of movies. A reference dot also connects to the legend Evel Knievel who was the talk of the town back in 50s and 60s, for his incredible ramp run-ups and stunt performances. There must have been an influence of the same on the audience out of which a handful started to try out the same on public roads. The activity was still something alien to the eastern part of the globe.

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Throttling towards the millennium saw names such as Chris Pfeiffer and AC Farias rise in the horizon. These people are credited to form a good number of tricks, labeled them and gave it an ignition to shape the sport as we know it today. The domain sees today Rafal Pasierbek often referred to as ‘Stunter 13’, one of the most influential names throughout. Over this course of time, the athletes understood a lot about the concept of the sport itself. In some of the western countries, the activity got much intense and detailed (both technically and on the performance basis) but also started getting perks for the aces involved. Companies started seeing it as a huge marketing platform and which is why you would see 70% of global 2-wheeler manufacturers endorsing themselves in some way or the other through the sport. Conventionally no one has ever been able to trace the actual roots of the sport itself which has led this to be the first of its kind on the global scene. The history as such is as unclear as for the history of skateboarding.

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Sportbike Freestyle Riding is an extreme activity or a motorsport in itself. It has every element which tends it to be classified as such. Specific certified gear to perform, specific modifications necessary for the performance motorbike, defined area, a specific set of competition rules in tournaments and time frames are just some of those elements. What it is lacking today is only a proper motorsport authority backing it. This though is partially true as there are a few countries where the governments and the motorsport bodies have envisioned the benefits of the sport and its actual spirit. Even for those today who are knowledgeable petrol heads, this sport is pretty alien in its sheer form.


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Every year on the eve of Republic Day, the Indian army is seen performing magnificent static tricks on heavy Royal Enfield Bullet bikes. A ton of articles and interviews which can be easily Googled will give one an understanding as to how many days they have to practice with their already disciplined bodies (of course, army fitness is in a league of its own) for a few minutes of performance on the 26th January each year. When closely observed, the whole regime involves only one stunt (actually termed as a trick) or a specific position to be held off for a specific period of time. They also have specially designed props which are incorporated in the bikes. How can one deem that easy? Every year the whole Indian population over the telecast, the immediate footfall and most importantly, the government dignitaries such as the Prime Minister and the President himself applaud this brave, concentrated, seemingly effortless yet difficult, and visually spectacular activity, then why should there not really be at least a partial recognition of people such as Rohitesh Upadhyay (India Book of Record holder, August 2017)?


Sometimes there is no specific reason as to why one loves something in life. There are people who love crossing towns on their beloved bikes, experiencing the passing breeze in their hair. Similarly, there is a handful who love bikes in a different way.  It doesn’t mean that trying to be creative gives a license to endanger anyone else’s life. Hence some odd perils associated with the sport which the common man has to understand is that this is like every other motorsport and demands discipline, dedication, talent, skills, and patience. Anyone in the first place trying to learn the sport has to adhere to certain basics. Like any other sport, say for example in cricket, a batsman has to wear proper knee and elbow padding, helmet, gloves, and every other gear for the game, there are a range of mandatory safety gear that one needs to wear, avoid public roads, do proper bike modifications as per this motorsport and a lot more. Want to know about all of these in detail? Watch this column for more!

— Gaganbir Singh

Disclaimer: This article was prepared or accomplished by it's author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Motorbikes India or it's owners.

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