Christian Pfeiffer: Bike world rocked by shock death of stunt star

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Motorcycling lost one of its greatest ever stunt riders this week with the tragic news that Christian Pfeiffer took his own life at the age of just 51, following a reported long bout of depression.

Hailing from southern Germany and following a successful off-road career, Pfeiffer sprang to world prominence in the early 2000s with his immensely skilled, acrobatic freestyle stunt riding, which is regarded to have revolutionised the sport.

Multiple competition, championship and Guinness world record success led to support from BMW and his use of F800Rs, in turn leading to the Bavarian marque producing a special Christian Pfeiffer limited edition version of the bike.

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In 2009 his F800R stunt show accompanied the world superbike championship and he was also a regular performer at BMW’s Motorrad Days event in Garmisch.

His unique style was developed off-road. Riding from the age of five he won his first event at 10 and became German junior motocross champ at just 15. Between 1996 and 2004, Pfeiffer won the Erzberg Red Bull Rodeo, renowned as the world’s toughest enduro, four times.

Thereafter he turned to stunts, quickly becoming one of the most successful and popular riders in the sport. He won four stunt riding world championships and posted numerous Guinness world records, among them the biggest angle of wheelie (115 degrees) and the most people jumped without the use of a ramp (33).

Chris Pfeiffer in action wowing crowds with a no-handed wheelie

After having performed around the globe and gained a legion of fans, not just for his skills but for his warmth and friendliness, Pfeiffer retired from stunt competition in 2015 to spend more time with his family.

He said at the time: “After 20 years as a professional rider I’ve decided that it’s time to stop riding shows. I’m 45 years old and in the past months it’s become increasingly hard to ride at a top level.

“But this has always been my ambition and I’ve always said that if I cannot get any better then it’ll be time for me to quit and to leave the field to younger riders.

“In the past 20 years I’ve ridden thousands of shows all around the world — in 94 countries! It’s been an unforgettable experience with countless adventures and experiences.

“I rode my last stunt riding contest in 2010 and not too long ago I performed at what was probably my last show. But one thing’s for sure, I will not quit riding – because riding is my life. That will never change.”

According to his wife, however, he had been struggling with depression for a long time and had a serious relapse in recent months. He leaves his wife, Renate, and children Pia, Amelie and Hannes.