From left to right: Starboy...
From left to right: Starboy Kevin Marino, Ben Swyre, Warren "Wozza" Poole of England's Two Wheels Only magazine, instructor "Big Dave" Sonsky and Mike "Mono Man" Seate.
The Starboyz have been called a lot of different names over the years (most not fit for print), but "professor" hasn't been one of them. Until now, that is.
Akron, Ohio's, resident thrill merchants recently added an interesting entry to their collective resume when they launched their new "Make Wheelies" school, held at Dragway 42 outside of Ashland, Ohio. Designed to teach even the most mediocre, balance-challenged motorcyclists the tricks and techniques necessary for effortless wheelies, the Boyz will offer three levels of instruction and boast that the program will allow even the greenest Starboyz wannabe to make the first step toward Stunt God (or at least aspiring stunt rider) a reality.
Level I ($350, intended for beginners) concentrates on the basic building blocks of wheelie theory, focusing on the finer points of throttle control and learning to pop it up under power without using the clutch. Clutch wheelies, the team says, are too confusing for first-timers to master. Level II ($400, for intermediate stunt riders) is dedicated to more advanced techniques such as shifting gears on one wheel and softening landings, while Level III ($450) is geared toward experienced stunt riders seeking instruction on experts-only exercises like 12 O'Clocks and tank wheelies. In all levels, students can use either their own motorcycles or one of the stunt-ready machines provided by the team. Classes will be limited to less than 12 students in Levels I and II, and just six riders in Level III, to insure a high level of individual attention from instructors.
We decided to take the Starboyz up on their challenge and sent our most mediocre, balance-challenged contributor (that would be me) to see if they could make me a wheelie king (or at least a prince) in a day. The Boyz started me out nice and easy, with a few rounds of basic wheelie drills aboard a Honda XR400 quad equipped with a sturdy iron wheelie bar to prevent overeager students from the dreaded wheelie-flip. The wheelie bars are also fitted to the 600cc sportbikes that students graduate to later in the day, as these simple bars make it easier to learn the art of the wheelie than other more sophisticated antiflip devices, professor "Big Dave" Sonsky says.
Sonsky, a sometime Starboy who spent the last few years as a road tester/stunt monkey at U.K.-based Superbike magazine, has attended nearly every British stunt school. Most of the Brit schools use electronic sensors to cut the ignition when the bike starts to go over, but these can be problematic, Sonsky says. "[Electronic sensors] shut the throttle too abruptly and cause the bike to slam down, upsetting the rider," Sonsky says. "With our wheelie bars, you can ride against the bar without the bike slamming down, so you can learn to get comfortable with riding on one wheel more quickly," he says.
The bar works. During my session, as I struggled with raising the front wheel on the furred-out Honda CBR600 streetfighter the school provided, I found the steel wheelie bar a true comfort--almost like stunt training wheels--once I finally got the bike airborne.
The physically demanding classes last up to eight full hours, which can make for a long day during a hot Ohio summer. But it has to be this way--the Starboyz insist that being able to ride comfortably and confidently with the front wheel aimed skyward only comes through steady practice and near-constant repetition. And the class works; I wasn't cutting circles at the end of the day, but I could at least get the front wheel off the ground with some consistency, which is way more than I could say at the start of the day. I'm not sure that I'm ready to risk life and limb (to say nothing of big insurance claims) on my own bikes yet, but it's nice to know that I can.
Want to take the first steps toward your own degree in wheelieology? Contact the Starboyz directly at (330) 310-9336 or log on to www.starboyz.com for a schedule and more details. Directions to Dragway 42 are available at www.dragway42.com. The Starboyz also hold their wheelie school at Thompson Drag Raceway, www.thompsondragraceway.com. Class dismissed.
Black Beauty EMA's naked 919
After going the full-blown superbike route with their last project (the radical R14HWY1 previously featured in Super Streetbike), the Colyer brothers of California's European Motor Accessories decided to tap the naked-bike vein and selected a Honda 919, pictured here, for the next go 'round.
The heart of the project involved swapping the 919's budget suspension bits for pieces of higher quality--namely an inverted cartridge unit off of a Honda RC51 (with upgraded Oehlins super-sport internals) and an Oehlins rear shock. The cockpit is now home to a Kevin Windham-bend Protaper bar in a Scotts Supercross bracket. PVM brake components slow down both ends. The aluminum "Y" spoke wheels are also from PVM.
Once the chassis was sorted, attention turned to the cosmetics. A vented carbon-fiber front fender from Harris was bolted up, alongside billet trimmings from Rizoma. S&P adjustable rearsets were added next, plus Gregg's Customs turn signals. To finish things off, all stock silver bits were either powdercoated or black-anodized, and Remus titanium slip-ons (courtesy of MaxMoto) were added to the back.
Want to build your own? Nearly all of the parts shown here are available from EMA at www.ema-usa.com.
Brit stunter Craig Jones busts his moves on a factory-sponsored Buell
While the Starboyz, 1096 and the rest of the riders in the upper ranks of American street freestyle get nothing but the stinkeye from big motorcycle OEMs and thus toil away aboard shagged CBR900RRs and GSX-R750s, British stunt rider Craig Jones travels the world in style, entertaining huge crowds on any number of brand-new, factory-supplied Buell motorcycles. A full-on factory sponsorship of a pro stunt rider, from a conservative company like Harley-Davidson nonetheless? What's up with that?
Jones, a native of Birmingham, England, has been aligned with the American motorcycle conglomerate since early 2000. He's been stunt riding professionally since '96, and comes credentialed--Jones was crowned the European Stunt champion in June '02, best known for his amazingly long stoppies (he can consistently nail 700-plus-foot stoppies).
Buell has always been an unconventional and innovative motorcycle company, so it's not that surprising that they're the first major OEM to dip a toe into the street-freestyle world. Apparently the investment is paying off, with Jones providing top-notch entertainment (and a convincing product endorsement) for prospective Buell customers worldwide. Given his success, can a similar sponsorship situation with another major manufacturer, perhaps this time with an American rider in the saddle, be far behind?
"The stock Aprilia Tuono is already a beast--I wanted mine to be just plain evil," native New Zealander-turned-Aprilia USA Demo Manager Aaron Clark says, describing his personal ride pictured here. Starting with a donor Tuono that had a bad interaction with gravity, courtesy of a careless rider at an Aprilia demo event, Clarkie went to work building the sickest Aprilia streetfighter imaginable.
Like any good motorcycle racer (Clarkie is a former Aprilia Cup champion), he started with the engine, grafting on a bunch of Mille-spec performance parts from Blackman's Racing, Evoluzione, STM and Dynojet. As the bike started to come together, Clarkie's many industry friends began to kick in goodies. European Motorcycle Accessories contributed an Oehlins rear shock, PVM wheels and brakes, and a box of Harris goodies, including adjustable rearsets and a slip-on exhaust. Scuderia West ponied up custom Oehlins internals for the forks, and Blair Graphix painted the carbon bodywork black.
Mission Evil Tuono accomplished. Just don't expect this bike to ever see demo service again--it's already suffered enough civilian abuse!
Motomorphic sets to work on the ultimate streetfighter
San Francisco Bay-area bike builders Motomorphic have a well-earned reputation as a first-rate custom shop, known especially for turning out immaculate sportbike and streetfighter specials such as the two Suzuki SVs featured in the first issue of Super Streetbike. "Radical concepts that look super-integrated, like they came that way from the factory--that's our MO," Motomorphic boss Jim Davis says. As nice as past bikes have been, though, the crew at Motomorphic is anxious to take their operation to the next level and begin constructing one-off, from-the-ground-up customs, the first one based on the artist's conception pictured here.
"This bike is as much about style as it is performance," Davis says. "Anyone with even a modest checkbook can get a bike with outrageous performance--just sign on the dotted line and take home the latest GSXR/ZX/CBR/whatever. We set out to build something much cooler, something that isn't off the shelf, something utterly unique."
Davis has big plans: Power will come from a fuel-injected, one-liter V-twin of European origin, surrounded by four-inch tubular frame spars that will hold the gasoline. The swingarm will be a three-inch, tubular, braced piece, surrounding an 8.5-inch rear wheel with a massive, 250-series tire. The front tire will be an equally fat 190 (on a 6.0-inch rim), with perimeter brakes. Davis expects a 52.0-inch wheelbase and 20 degrees of rake to help those big wheels turn in. Davis and crew are gathering parts right now, and expecting to commence construction later this summer--culminating in a limited-production run of complete bikes for sale to customers. Log on to Motomorphic's Web site (www.motomorphic.com) to track progress as the bike begins to take shape.
In celebration of its 200th victory in the World Superbike Championship, Ducati will mint an additional 200 units of the intensely trick 139-horsepower bit of unobtanium better known as the 999R--this batch bedecked in the official livery of Team Ducati Fila 2003, 40 of which will make it Stateside. This is good news for anyone who missed out on the initial run of 999Rs--800 were made in total, with few reaching American soil--and equally good news for well-heeled Neil Hodgson fans as the 999R Fila is a spitting image of the WSB mount that he recently employed to chalk up the magical 200th win for Bologna. For the rest of us, the good news is that it sure is nice to look at and constitutes yet another entry into the list of "bikes I'd buy if I had $30,000 toss around."
Super Streetbike checks in with stunt superstar Todd Colbert
Florida-based stunt rider Todd Colbert is one of the original innovators in the American street-freestyle scene, among the first to pick up moves pioneered by Gary Rothwell and other Euro stunters and introduce them to American audiences. A former pro-level motocrosser who has been stunting professionally since 1995, Colbert has been enjoying an especially satisfying year--he just released Judgment Day 2, the long-awaited follow-up to his best-selling Judgment Day, to rave reviews, and his own Team X-Treem is breaking out with a host of high profile appearances, including a gig with the big-time Vans Warped Tour and the first-ever street-freestyle show on the continent of Africa, this coming August in the nation of Guyana. With all this excitement brewing, we thought it a good time to check in with Colbert and have him bring us up to speed.
Super Streetbike: What's the status of Team X-Treem--you recently added some new members, didn't you?
Todd Colbert: I've got two teammates this year: Chris Nichols and Adam Chumita. We've been together officially for about a year. We really compliment each other--Nichols drags the tail and does the circle wheelies, Chumita's the acrobatic guy, and I'm the high-speed, energetic act. We just picked up Red Bull as a sponsor, too, in addition to Suomy helmets, Teknic leathers, Avon tires, Powers Industries, Sha Sha shoes, EPI bodywork, Planet Superbike and many more.
SSB: Do you guys have any big events coming up?
TC: We've just signed a deal to do an 11-casino tour around the country in conjunction with a series of biker events called the Renegade Rallys. We're going all over for that, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, everywhere. We're also doing a show in Guyana, Africa, in late August that I'm really stoked about. A guy from Orlando set it up, and it'll be the first time an American stunt team has performed in Africa. Yes, we're bringing cameras! And we're already planning the next Stuntwars event in January. That's going to be huge--we're going to split the track with one half dedicated to all-day practice. That way the crowd won't get bored, they can always check out open practice if there's a lull in the competition.
SSB: Judgment Day 2 just dropped--any other videos coming up from you?
TC: We're working on a Team X-Treem video right now that should be out in November, at the same time as an all-crash video I'm working on right now, also. Plus, we just made arrangements to participate in a film called Two Wheels, Too Fast: Winner Take All. That one is a full-on Hollywood feature film, with a plot similar to Cannonball Run. If everything with that continues according to plan, that should be in theaters next year.
SSB: What bike are you riding this year?
TC: I'm riding a GSX-R1000 and a Buell Lightning, also. The Buell is actually my brother's bike--I borrowed it once and never gave it back. The GSX-R can take a lot more abuse, but some things on the Buell come so much easier--12 O'Clocks, slower stuff. It's so torquey, and you don't need a lot of rpms to get the power where you need it. I just recently got my first ride on a Buell XB9S--even better than the old Lightning that I'm riding.
SSB: You've been involved in the street-freestyle scene for at least eight years now. Are you surprised by how big the sport has become?
TC: I think it's on the right track. People are finally starting to pay attention--SpeedChannel is starting to film events, which is good television exposure. And your magazine coming out, a dedicated national magazine, will really open some eyes, especially for sponsors--now we can get them in print. The only thing that worries me is that you've still got all these kids trying to keep it "gangster," which kind of hinders things when we're trying to take it to the next level. Promoters want a professional image, not a thug look, and not a bunch of crap like tearing up hotels and stuff. That's not the game. As more professional teams get ahead, I'm hoping it will straighten the others out and make them think twice about some of this stuff.
Dan Jackson launches online stunter school
Top XSBA stunt competitor Dan Jackson takes us all to school on page 58 of this issue, where he breaks down his insane wheelies. For aspiring stunt riders who are hungry for even more how-to information, Professor Jackson has just launched his own online "Stunter School," located at www.stunterschool.com. Using a combination of photos, written instructions and how-to videos, Jackson will use this online forum to explain in intricate detail the basic techniques involved in pulling off every stunt in his expansive repertoire, from simple standup wheelies to advanced maneuvers such as switchback burnouts and Captain Americas. Jackson is patterning his online school on a similar (and successful) online motocross school run by his friend Brian Smith at www.motoxschool.com. The concept is straightforward: For a reasonable price ($50), Jackson will issue a password good for one year to subscribing students. This password will allow pupils to log on to the site and access complete information on every trick (including slow-motion videos). Access is unlimited, and Jackson himself is offering e-mail support to answer student's questions.
"More than 1000 members from all around the world are enrolled in the online motocross school," Jackson says. "I'd like to see at least double that. Even if they aren't interested in learning stunts, I think that people might buy in just for access to all the crazy videos." Either way, it beats spending your days in some dark, stuffy lecture hall. And rolling 200-yard stoppies is loads more fun than fondling some paper degree. Sound good? Log on to www.stunterschool.com for complete details.
Two top female stunters play 20 questions with SSB
•Lives in: Las Vegas, Nevada
•Rides with: Las Vegas Extremes
•Years riding: Dirt since I was a kid, street since I joined the Las Vegas Extremes team five years ago. I've been stunting for three years.
•First bike: 1996 Suzuki GSX-R750.
•Current bike: 2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
•Fave stunt: Leap of faith.
•Fave stunter: My mentor and coach, Pauly Sherer.
•Fave off-bike activity: Hot oil wrestling with the girls!
•Fave place: The LVX tour bus--there's always something cool going on in there.
•Fave piece of motorcycle gear/equipment: My throttle! What can I say, I'm an adrenalin junky.
•Heroes: My father is my hero--he showed me what livin' life is all about.
•Tunes that play in your head while stunting: I'm an engine freak--I'll take the humming of my Hindle exhaust over music any day.
•Where can we catch you in action: In the reality-based extreme freestyle videos Las
•Vegas Extremes: LVX Girls, Las Vegas Extremes: Collectors Edition, Las Vegas
Extremes II: Leap of Faith and Las •Vegas Extremes: Vegas Knights.
•Life after stunting: Stunting has introduced me to the entertainment industry, and I like it here--the Las Vegas Extremes have much more to offer me, we are just getting started!
•Anything else we should know: Sherer's training program has not been easy, however, it has helped me to achieve all of my goals in the extreme-freestyle world. I hope that my riding inspires more women to ride motorcycles, and proves that it's not "just for the boys" anymore.
•Words to live by: Practice enough and eventually your weak points become your strong points.
•Web site: www.lasvegasextremes.com
•Lives in: Cleveland, Ohio
•Rides with: Todd Colbert/Team X-Treem and my own team, 2-Xtreem, with my partners Ryan Coldwell, Gina Coldwell and Sean Perkins, who are all from Pennsylvania.
•Years riding: Stunting six years, riding my own bike for three years.
•First bike: A Harley-Davidson Fat Boy! Don't tell anyone. I was the spokesmodel for Russell Performance Products, and that was the bike I modeled on. In reality a 2000 Honda CBR600F4 was my first bike.
•Current bike: 2001 Suzuki GSX-E750. What's with the "E?" It's not a Gixxer, it's a Gixxie!
•Fave Stunt: My stunt partner, Ryan, and I do a two-person tank wheelie. We both sit on the tank, with my legs over the windscreen and his dangling over the tank, then we pull up a wheelie and both our legs go up and out. It is such a crowd pleaser!
•Stunt you'd most like to learn/master: I can wheelie now, but I want to learn 12 O'clocks, by the end of next year possibly.
•Fave stunter: Brandon from Pure Bred Riders--he is off the hook, and always bringing something new to the stunt world.
•Fave off-bike activity: I am a spokesmodel for Micron Exhaust and HyperPro Steering Dampers. I love it because it keeps me in the motorcycle scene year round and I get to work closely with big names in the industry.
•Fave place: I love Florida because of all the riders that live there and, unlike Ohio, it's nice any time of year.
•Fave piece of motorcycle gear/equipment: I absolutely love my Suomy helmet. It is really cool looking, and it fits perfectly. And of course my Micron exhaust, which is custom pink-anodized to match my bike.
•Heroes: Todd Colbert, one of the guys who started all this. Go to the Guinness Book of World Records if you want proof.
•Tunes that play in your head while stunting: I love All American Rejects and Simple Plan.
•Where can we catch you in action: Try August 24 In Terre Haute, Indiana, for a huge import and truck show. Info at www.terrehaters.com.
•Life after stunting: I'm currently a sales rep for Trader Publishing (yep, www.cycletrader.com). I'm also a degreed paralegal.
•Words to live by: Girl Riderz Rule!
•Web site: www.gixxie.com