Guy Martin’s Wall of Death (Part 3)
Today is the day that Guy Martin will ride around the largest Wall of Death ever built, aiming for a top speed of 60mph and a Guinness Word Record, all live on TV. Here’s everything you need to know about the big event…
uy plans to use a Triumph on the wall, but has also been using this heavily modified Indian Scout
Indian motorcycles have been used on the Wall of Death since the 1920s. The world’s leading wall of death rider and Guy Martin’s WoD trainer, Ken Fox, still uses a 1926 Indian to perform his act today. So in keeping with tradition Ken teamed up with Indian Motorcycles and custom dealership Krazy Horse to build a contemporary development bike for Guy to train on and test the wall. Guy is planning on running his own bike to ride around the wall for the record, but it’s still under wraps. So here’s everything you need to know about building a Wall of Death machine.
The bike that Guy built
1972 Rob North T160 Trident triple
Guy wants to attempt the record on a bike he built himself, so he’s opted for an old Triumph triple engine in a Rob North replica racing frame. In Guy’s words:
“It’s more important for me to build this bike for the Wall of Death than for me to spend time preparing a bike for the Isle of Man TT or a TV show or anything like that, because I really believe nothing else I’ve done in life can compare with this attempt.”*
* From When You Dead, You Dead by Guy Martin/Virgin Books
The seating has been adjusted to create a sit up position which is much further forward than on the standard Scout. The saddle itself has been replaced by a 1920s Scout design. The pegs have been ditched in favour of mid-mount footplates.
Solid back end
Billet aluminium sections have been used in place of the standard shock absorbers to create a traditional rigid frame. Geometry remains the same, just rigid.
Instead of one down and five up, it’s now a race-pattern shift, so first is up and five are down. This makes it quicker and easier to change gear while riding the vertical wall.
Must be able to smoothly transition onto the wall. A standard profile has a bit of an edge to it, so Ken Fox shaped and smoothed off the edge of the tyres with a hand-file.
No front brake
The front brake has been removed so there’s no chance of accidently grabbing the lever. The back stays standard.
On the gas
All tip-over cut-out sensors have been removed so the bike doesn’t starve itself of fuel when on its side. The petrol tank has also been shortened and refabricated to get the rider closer to the bars, which are now Renthals.
Headlight and controls have been stripped away. The rear fender has been cut down and the front mudguard has been removed completely to save weight.
The fork is now a solid down tube with all of the suspension components removed to stop suspension bob caused by the G-forces on the wall.
Expert view - Ken Fox
World’s leading wall of death rider
‘It’s a slow process getting someone ready for extreme nausea’
I’ve been training Guy for his wall of death record attempt and he’s been excellent. He’s turned out to be the easiest person to teach. He does everything I suggest; he listens and is obviously extremely competent on a motorcycle. It would have taken much longer to train someone else. We started training last March, so we’ve had a year to get him ready for this.
But it’s a long, slow, gradual process getting someone ready for the extreme nausea. So to train him to deal with the dizziness, he rides around the floor in circles over and over until he’s dizzy. Then he stops, rests and does it again until he’s dizzy. Rest, and go again. We do that until he doesn’t get dizzy anymore. Then we move up onto the banking track and go through the same process. It’s very gradual, from floor to banking and from banking to wall. But that’s what it takes. We’ve got to train him to cope with the motion sickness, and he’ll also have to cope with the serious G-forces placed on his body.
To get the record Guy will have to hit 60mph, and just to get up on to the vertical part of the wall he’ll have to be doing 55mph. But I know he’s hoping for 80mph. At 80 he’ll be hitting 6G. Anyone touches 4.5G and they’ll definitely be feeling it. I’ve never met anyone who has done 40mph; on my wall you would have blacked out ages ago. The fastest I’ve been around is 35mph. While it is possible, it is pretty tough. Your heart struggles to pump blood to your brain which can cause blackouts. I’ve blacked out on the wall before. Everything starts to go grey, then you get tunnel vision and then that’s it, black. But you can bring yourself back from it before it happens as you’ll start to feel it, so you have to back off and tensing your stomach muscles helps to keep it at bay. But you can go from normal to blackout in seconds so he’ll have to be focused and quick to react.
Who is Ken?
Ken Fox is widely regarded as the world’s leading Wall of Death rider. The Fox family-run business has been going since 1928, and Ken has been riding the wall for 40 years. He’s training Guy to smash the record. To see Ken Fox’s Hell-Riders in action visit www.wall-of-death.co.uk
‘We still use 1920s machines’
We started off using Indian Scouts back in 1928 and we’re still using them today, says Ken Fox. My Wall of Death bike is a 1926 Scout. It sounds perfect, looks perfect and handles brilliantly. Plus the build is great. You can let go of the bars as you’re flying round the wall, they’re just perfect. Mine has no rear suspension and the front has been beefed up with an extra two leaf springs because of the G-force pressure, we don’t want it squeezing the springs. I’ve also added an extra oil pump to help force oil through the system.
Photos: Ryan Mcnamara/Channel 4