Motorcycles are a cheat code to cool. Sure, cars can be cool, but the ride that has fewer wheels, no doors, and no airbags is cooler by a longshot. Someone riding a motorcycle doesn’t accessorize with a fluffy steering wheel cover, a fun bumper sticker, or a pine-scented tree hanging from the rearview mirror; they get to wear a leather jacket, chaps, and something that looks like a space helmet to keep them alive. Even someone who owns a Bugatti Chiron runs the risk of having to tuck a couple canvas grocery bags between the driver’s seat and the console. Even the world’s biggest squid is going to be a couple notches above the supercar driver. The bottom line is, more danger equals more cool.
Hardcore bikers know they’ve got to level up at some point, though. The allure of straddling an engine has become more and more apparent over the years. The threshold for owning a motorcycle and all the accouterments that accompany them can go from lifestyle to badge of honor. When you’re the real deal and you run up alongside your chiropractor or your accountant at stoplights on the weekends, it’s apparent that it’s time to set yourself apart from the hobbyists.
There are two ways to do this: suit up in some leathers that you trust more than a significant other whom you’ve told where the gold is buried, or show the world that you’re a maniac on two wheels.
Here are 15 pictures of bikers riding on the edge.
15 Hand Drag
The hand drag is actually a pretty advanced stunt, but it’s probably one of the main stunts used to advertise motorcycle stunt courses.
Oh, what’s that? You dropped some change? Your name tag fell off and you’ve got to scoop it up? I got you.
The hand drag is a good stunt to feature if you’re in the business of getting people to pay you money to do cool stuff on a motorcycle. A wheelie is so pedestrian, right?
Let’s put this one into perspective: this is a stunt you do on a snowboard, but you, you’re doing it with 400 pounds of speed.
The Switchback is like the Moonwalk of motorcycle stunts. Sure, you’ve seen someone go through the motions and technically do one, but every now and again, you see someone pull it off, and it drops your jaw to the asphalt.
It’s also elegant in how fundamental the trick is. Like a toddler, you have to tell over and over not to run backward with scissors—you don’t want to see it go bad. But when they pull it off, you’re actually impressed.
The Switchback serves as the foundation for a lot of other insane stunts, so if you see someone out on the street landing one, keep your eyes peeled for what comes next.
13 Stand-Up Again, Please
Getting the bike up higher becomes a challenge because, well, gravity has something to say about you getting vertical on hundreds of pounds of metal and rubber.
This rider has a lighter bike than the ones we’ve seen Rainer Schwarz pop up on, but that’s actually more challenging in a lot of ways. If you ride the blowback of the torque too hard or pull too much on the handlebars, you can find yourself with a nice asphalt pat on the back.
But if you can get the balance just right, you can turn your bike into a two-wheeled pogo stick.
12 Start Them Young
I don’t know if Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours of practice/preparation to achieve greatness holds any water, but this kid is definitely going to be better at stuntin’ on his motorcycle than I am at anything.
Just look at that—the kid is getting more air than most of us get in a month. Even you, Randall, we all know you play pick-up basketball every Sunday at the park, but I don’t know if anyone’s told you that your vertical leap is hot garbage.
Anyway, this kid is putting in the work. Fearlessness is merely tricking your lizard brain into ignoring its deepest desires to run away. This kid isn’t running away from the saber-tooth tiger; he’s running towards it.
11 Kick It Up A Notch
There’s a lot to unpack here. Why is her foot sticking out to the left? Did she just land a Can Can? Did she just kick someone in the shin for making fun of her shoes? Did she get that bike rolling with her foot, scooter-style?
Why is she so far behind her friends? Are they like, “Hey! If you’re going to be doing all those sweet tricks, stay in the back!” Are they playing the most dangerous game of soccer ever, and did she just kick the ball back into play?
Nah. She’s just riding.
10 Endo The World
The Endo, AKA the Front-Wheel Wheelie, AKA the Stoppie, AKA, the Wheelie’s wicked doppelganger is pretty dangerous, because, well, if it goes wrong, the pavement is going to let your face know about it first.
If you can do it, it’s a pretty sweet stunt to pull because it’s the most fun you can have without getting out of your seat. But seeing as how you’ve got to get up to at least 30 mph to make it work, it’s a pretty high bar to achieve. If you don’t get it right, both you and your bike could end up in the body shop.
9 Tank Wheelie
So, you can pull up your front end while you’re sitting down, and you can get vertical while standing up. Maybe, you can even toss those legs around while doing so. Can you get up on that tank and toss your feet over the handlebars, though?
This Tank Wheelie isn't for the faint of heart. You’ve really got to have a handle on what’s going on with that back wheel—keep the front end from going sideways all while sitting on the gas tank.
Be sure you have your ducks in a row on this stunt because I don’t think plastic surgeons do back transplants.
8 Sidecar Swerve
What’s more extreme than lobbing your legs over the handlebars? How about having your buddy sit next to you while you’re racing a few other folks doing the same—oh, and he’s also responsible for you not smashing into the wall.
Unstoppable force, meet please-be-movable object. Sidecar racing definitely belongs on this list. While modern iterations of the sport use more elegantly designed bikes, this photo really gets to the bare-bones of how insane the sport is. Exceeding speeds of 115 mph, you’ve got to be a pretty adept rider, and since your sidecar buddy is responsible for getting you around corners, you better hope he’s cracked a physics book lately.
7 Double Hart Attack
We’re taking a pretty huge leap in terms of going from on-the-ground stunts to “Uhh, is that guy still alive?” stunts, but that’s kind of the point, right? You’ve got to keep everyone on his or her toes.
Anyone able (willing?) to pull off a Double Hart Attack deserves our respect (fear?). Our young friend gets more air than most folks. This guy does the same times 1,000 and then, holds on to the rear fender.
I’m almost convinced that the guy in this photo is the same as the fellow in #18 because if you’re doing this day in and day out, riding your bike leaned back in flip-flops is the only way you can relax.
6 Superman One-Hand Seat Grab
This dude has grabbed clouds before, probably. His house is up near the top of the atmosphere. It has to be. He's seen the future, and it's flying pedestrians.
We need to stop leaning so hard on theoretical physicists to explain how the universe works because I don’t know if they know.
These people, the ones who've had something altered in their brain to want to leave the earth on a machine, know. If you launch yourself 30 or 40 feet in the air and pose like Superman, you’re not a daredevil; you’re a modern-day wizard. You’re a millennium alchemist.
5 Indian Air
This stunt shouldn’t be called “Indian Air;” it should be called “Sky Yoga.”
I don’t know for sure if dragons exist (convince me otherwise?), but I do know when that first fire creature rises from his slumber to hoard more gold, I know exactly whom to recruit to defeat him.
When the sky finally splits in two and all the monsters we always feared existed but convinced ourselves weren’t real, swoop down and steal all our puppies and ducks, who do you think is going to have the wherewithal (and the core strength) to save us? This dude right here, doing this sweet Indian Air jump.
4 Handlebar Handstand
I don’t know what you want from him. You can’t really be a cowboy anymore. I suppose you can ride rodeo, but even guys stunting on bikes know that’s crazy. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he’s way up in the sky doing a handstand on his bike. He was born with a cowboy soul and/or maybe he saw some aliens that one time in Joshua Tree.
Or maybe he saw the first five minutes of “Cliffhanger” starring Sly Stallone. You know—the scene where he says over and over not to look down, and she looks down and falls. He saw that scene and was like “Yeah, right buddy.” And that’s his life now. He’s the guy who looks down on death and says, “Yeah, right buddy.”
3 Fire Jump
We’ve got four more sweet stunts to go, and the last three almost had the riders in space suits, as they were getting so much air. How do you up the ante by bringing the bike back to the ground? Fire.
Pulling off wheelies, jumps, and sidecar shenanigans already involves you questioning what's sane, real, and safe. Why not add some flames to the equation?
I’m not sure where the threshold lies of “Doing it for me” and “Doing it for the show,” but the person willing to plow through a Viking’s funeral of flames deserves to make it to Showman Valhalla.
2 Tamil Nadu Police
We're mere mortals. We haven’t even begun to contemplate what's possible in the motorcycle stunt realm. Wheelies? Psshaw. Jumps? Get. Out. Of. Here. Two people on one bike? Hold my Darjeeling tea.
We’ve spent the majority of this list exploring the possibilities of singular-bike-stunt enlightenment. We sideswiped the answer with the sidecar racers, but they barely scratched the surface.
Of course! More bikes, more riders, more trust = better stunt. The only way they can move, I imagine, is like a school of fish. They’re a mob organism that must keep the peace, lest they want to know the pain of the asphalt. Plus, their tracksuits are en pointe. I can only hope for that kind of camaraderie.
1 Family Style
Are they going to a nice restaurant for dinner? Gonna share some breadsticks? Fill up on that olive oil that barely stays on the appetizer plate?
Throw out everything you know about bike stunts. Everything—even all that philosophical bloviating I got into the last couple entries. Wipe it from your memory.
These parents are the rulers of bike stunts. They’re both onboard and apparently happy with their decision to double down on raising a kid who'll clearly become the preeminent stunt rider in the world.
Much like how, unfortunately, some pit bulls are conditioned to bite and never let go. Fortunately for this kid, she’s going to be conditioned for stuntin’.