That so often gets washed away in all the hype and hysteria surrounding freestyle riding is just how long ago the concept can be traced. I'm not suggesting that the first caveman who invented the wheel was struggling days later to create the first stoppie, but since the launch of SSB, I've been schooled by many old-timers who can attest to stunting being a time-honored tradition.
Dig on this brief history of stunting to see just how extreme motorcycling history, like a good, third-gear burnout, is all about repetition and revolution. Roll on.
1918 - "Many of these young men have returned from the fields of the Great War, accustomed to brash, unsettling thrills and life lived on the razor's edge. Many have chosen to bestow their discharge pay on fast, noisy motorbikes on which they take to public roads in dangerous, antisocial displays meant to impress females while upsetting livestock and the general populace. It stirs the imagination and fosters pity why so many of this great nation's youth would risk life and limb for the simple, childish thrill of acceleration and the rare accolades it brings."
-Attributed to British publication The Motor Cycle, 1918
1943 - U.S. Army motorized cavalry troops are pictured in Life magazine vaulting trenches and beach obstacles in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Their mount of choice? Motorcycles. The technique? High-speed wheelies, naturally.
1947 - British motorcycle racing film Once a Jolly Swagman depicts the first extreme biking smackdown when actor Dirk Bogarde pulls a 500-foot, sideways rolling burnout on a 25-horsepower BSA and adds cool points by managing to look bored while doing so.
1954 - Marlon Brando accidentally skitches behind his motorcycle after being conked on the head by a flying tire iron in the classic biker flick The Wild One.
1975 - Riding a Harley-Davidson XR750, Evel Knievel attempts to jump a record 13 double-decker buses at London's Wembley Stadium, breaking no records except that for the number of bones in a single accident. His vow to "never jump again" lasts fewer days than Jay-Z's retirement.
1986 - Dutch stunt maniac Arto Nyquist, dressed in what looks like Michael Jackson's pseudo-military costume, wows the crowds at a World Superbike race by performing a series of taillight draggers on a 670-pound 1979 Kawasaki Z1300.
1994 - Welshman Gary Rothwell decides to add to the excitement of an Isle of Man TT event by riding around the course on one wheel. Local police are not amused and promptly arrest Rothwell.
1997 - A group of bored, Akron, Ohio, kids begin spicing up their weekends by riding wheelies along lengths of local highway. Later, the group dons Vanson's stylish star jackets and the world's first freestyle stunt team, the Starboyz, is born. Many traffic citations follow.
1997 - Local Las Vegas riders Pauly Sherer and Derek "D-Mann" Daigle launch the second American stunt crew, Las Vegas Extremes. Sherer later claims to have invented the sport.
1998 - Rapper DMX hires Brooklyn's resident underground stunt legend Wink 1100 to bust a few moves in his video for Rough Ryders Anthem. Heavy MTV rotation reveals the coming trend to shock middle-American audiences.
1998 - Harley-mounted stunt rider Bubba Blackwell breaks Knievel's 20-car jump record with all bones intact. He follows up by clearing 14 semi-trailers during an appearance on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
2000 - Street freestyle craze catches on full-swing with media giant Clear Channel Entertainment launching the well-intentioned (but short-lived) XSBA stunt series.
2000 - Extreme Motorsports powerhouse Impact Video launches its Extremy Awards to recognize all the blood, sweat and gears of stunt riding.
2007 - Someone, somewhere, riding a 160-horsepower superbike, will perform a backflip...it's only a matter of time.