How the hell do you...Become a stunt rider?
The world’s leading professional nutcases, daredevils and racing heroes reveal their expert knowledge on the most ridiculous biking feats you can imagine in MCN’s 20-part, once a week special. Don’t try this at home!
Here's part 20
Answered by Kevin Carmichael - Kevin Carmichael is Triumph’s official stunt rider and has been a professional stunt rider for 20 years, winning the World, European and UK stunt riding titles.
I started my stunt riding career a long time ago and it was a different era. I grew up racing motocross bikes so could pull wheelies and do stoppies and when I got a road licence I continued to do this on my Bandit 1200. A few people said ‘you should enter a stunt competition’ so I looked at the stunt riders of the time, figured I could do what they did, and then found a disused road to practice on. I practiced every day, rain or shine, and even made up a little routine. I then entered the competition and won it, which launched me onto the stunt riding world scene.
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As the European Stunt Riding Champion, people approached me offering sponsorship and then after winning a few other competitions, I linked up with Triumph. That was thirteen years ago when the bikes were heavy but fast, nowadays the stunt riding scene is more like motorcycle gymnastics and it is all happening at a far slower speed. It’s extremely skillful, but I think lacks the danger factor of the old days. Modern stunt riders start off on scooters at slow speed and that’s why they all use hand operated rear brakes on motorcycles. After that they work up to bigger bikes and then enter competitions or get fame through social media or YouTube. If you are good you will get noticed, but you need to stand out and that’s the tricky part.
Being a stunt rider isn’t just about pulling wheelies, it is also how you market yourself. You need to ensure both yourself and your bike are well presented and that you are professional in your attitude. You are there to put on a show, so make it exciting and slick and remember, where on YouTube you can edit the video, in front of a live crowd you can’t! You need a big variation in tricks and consistency in your performance as well as innovation – it’s not just wheelies. But stunt riding is a hard job to earn money out of.
Amazingly, I read the other day there are 3000 stunt riders in America alone, which shows you how tough the competition is. And the pay isn’t brilliant. The problem with stunt riding is that a good stunt rider makes it look easy – but believe me it isn’t! You need skill, determination and a lot of practice to be a professional stunt rider.
For more visit: www.kevincarmichael.com