Like your average roadracing motorcycle, a professional stunt bike is a specialized machine that’s highly modified from stock. Some are fitted with full, custom-built steel cages that provide protection against the many low-speed falls that happen when developing tricks, as well as added degrees of steering lock for making the tightest turns possible.
We looked closely at the Triumph Street Triples of Ernie Vigil and Nick Brocha, who’ve used parts from most of the common stunt-bike accessory companies, and who have experience in building their own frames. The most noticeable performance mod is the huge rear brake disc and the addition of two, sometimes three, four- piston calipers, usually mounted on carriers from Racing 905. This is due to the need for increased feel and control of rear braking values. It also allows for an additional brake lever, such as on the left handlebar, with a dedicated caliper. “With the stock rear calipers and foot pedal,” says Vigil, “within minutes we’ve burned through the brakes and are mashing them as hard as possible. Having a front lever meant needing a caliper that resists fading; otherwise, we’re crushing our fingers in the middle of a stunt, trying to hang on while having to apply the amount of braking needed.”
On the other side of the rear wheel is a huge sprocket that makes wheelies nearly unavoidable. Most XDL riders are on variations of middleweight machines, such as the 675 Street Triples, Yamaha YZF-R6s, Kawasaki ZX-6Rs and even a sponsored Hyosung GT650 V-Twin, so this extra oomph is necessary.
Most other modifications are for the rider’s comfort and ergonomics. HT Moto supplies a thick textile that was originally developed for watercraft and is now the only choice for modifying gas tanks to keep a rider in place during extreme vertical maneuvers. What’s more, the fuel tanks on stunt bikes are hammered into new shapes to give riders a secure seating position. HT Moto also makes custom stunt seats with or without a molded-in opening for a foot used for stand-up wheelies.
Because a rider never knows which limb might be doing the steering, or which limbs might be hanging over the front tire, the handlebars on stunt bikes are wide and flat. And speaking of hanging things over the front, that’s why stunt bikes have no gauges located there. But modern electronics usually don’t allow tossing those instruments away, so you’ll notice them strapped onto the bike somewhere. And no stunt bike is finished without heavy-duty crash bars and/or frame sliders.
Lastly, in drifting competitions, Vigil and Brocha ride dedicated Triumph 675 Street Triples, each outfitted with a lengthened swingarm. Why? For better control of the swinging rear, of course.