• Video: Evel Knievel’s Best Motorcycle Jumps

  • Evel Knievel Took up motorcycle stunt riding to put food on his family's table. Became an American Icon
  • Better Known For Crashing For every successful jump, there were the incredible crashes, often caught by the TV cameras. They only made him more famous
  • Over 400 fractured bones In those days, even though he wore leather suits, there was no protective padding. How did he survive?
  • The Toys The Evel Knievel toys in the 1970s were massively successful. Every boy wanted the Stunt Cycle
  • The Man, The Legend Whether he made the jump or crashed, he's still a complete legend.

He Crashed A Lot! But he also landed a whole bunch too

Evel Knievel is a legendary figure in motorcycling, famous for his motorcycle jumps but possibly more famous for his crashes and failed attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. However tame the jumps might look now in the face of recent records set, they remain deeply impressive for a number of reasons.

Evel Knievel’s Best Motorcycle Jumps (And Crashes!)

Who hasn’t heard of Evel Knievel? In the sixties and seventies, he was the biggest draw in motorcycle stunt riding and his name became synonymous with jumping over cars or buses all around the world. Even today, his name is still revered.

Video: Evel Knievel's Best Motorcycle Jumps
- image 1024217
Evel Knievel
Took up motorcycle stunt riding to put food on his family’s table. Became an American Icon

However, for all his successful jumps, what really brought him to public attention were the crashes, often during live-on-TV jumps. He claimed to have broken 40 bones and suffered 433 fractures during his career.

Looking at the jumps today, they seem rather small and unimpressive, especially given some of the jumps performed by modern riders on custom-built machinery. But that’s not the point.

Video: Evel Knievel's Best Motorcycle Jumps
- image 1024221
Better Known For Crashing
For every successful jump, there were the incredible crashes, often caught by the TV cameras. They only made him more famous

Firstly, let’s consider the bikes he was using. For a long time he was using Triumph motorcycles, which were lighter and had better performance than anything else. However, when Triumph refused his demands, he turned to the Harley Davidson XR750. Now, as good a bike as that was for flat tracking, it was still heavy and the suspension of the day was not a patch on what is available today. In fact, many of his jumps failed on landing - after he had cleared the jump - because the suspension bottomed out so quickly and when it bounced back, it threw him off.

Video: Evel Knievel's Best Motorcycle Jumps
- image 1024219
Over 400 fractured bones
In those days, even though he wore leather suits, there was no protective padding. How did he survive?

(When I was in Las Vegas at the end of the 1990s, I spied a guy sitting in one of the bars in a casino wearing a checkered leather jacket. I was sure I recognised him and went over to see if my suspicions were correct. They were: it was Evel Knievel himself, in town to promote an Evel Knievel Harley Davidson. When I asked him why he changed from Triumph to Harley, he simply said, ’Because Harley’s are American, son.’)

Secondly, even though he always wore leather race suits and helmets, there was no protection against impact whatsoever. Some of the slow-mo footage of the crashes is horrific and you wonder how he broke ’only’ 40 bones!

Video: Evel Knievel's Best Motorcycle Jumps
- image 1024218
The Man, The Legend
Whether he made the jump or crashed, he’s still a complete legend.

So, sit back and enjoy this compilation of footage from his jumps and wonder at just how he managed to survive. He is a true American Legend.

Video: Evel Knievel's Best Motorcycle Jumps
- image 1024220
The Toys
The Evel Knievel toys in the 1970s were massively successful. Every boy wanted the Stunt Cycle
Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: