• Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels

  • The Start, Arette, France Called The Impossible Climb and it's easy to see why
  • Not Exactly Stock It's a free-for-all and the bikes are becoming increasingly specialised
  • Ingenuity There's some impressive engineering...or is that desperation?
  • Traction Yes, those are six-inch bolts in a square-section tyre. Didn't help, though!
  • .. It's not if you fall, it's when..
  • ..
  • ...And Poise

This event shows you why!

Have two wheels: will race. It doesn’t matter what the surface - tar, sand, mud - people have raced across it. Add in something that’s near vertical that you might struggle to walk up it and it attracts a different breed of madman.

Hillclimb Madness

It doesn’t matter the terrain, if motorcycles can reach it, their owners will race on it: hard mountain enduro, desert rally raids, ice, water - if they could race on the moon, they would.

Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels
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The Start, Arette, France
Called The Impossible Climb and it’s easy to see why

Motorcycle hillclimbing has long been a popular sport in any country with even the smallest or most remote hill. In Bruce Brown’s iconic 1971 movie On Any Sunday, part of the action took place at the Widowmaker Hillclimb in Utah, with all sorts of lunatics trying to make it up a 45° hill. As the commentary says, ’..some of the hillclimbers themselves are characters..’ In seven years, no-one had made the top, although one guy did when Brown was filming there.

Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels
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Ingenuity
There’s some impressive engineering...or is that desperation?

In that film, specialisation has yet to fully take hold - as had, it must be said, any form of safety apparel for the riders! - but fast forward a few decades and things have completely changed, as in so many branches of motorcycle sport. Nowadays, hill climb bikes could have been built by Dr. Frankenstein himself.

Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels
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Not Exactly Stock
It’s a free-for-all and the bikes are becoming increasingly specialised

The French in particular love their hillclimbing and for one round of the French Hillclimb Championship in 2019, competitors travelled to Arette for an event called The Impossible Climb. It is well-named! The target is to cover a 230m hill which has a soft right curve and jumpy sections.

Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels
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...And Poise

Some of the bikes are incredible, with massively elongated wheelbases, nitrous injection, single, twin and four-cylinder engines, huge paddles or six-inch bolts through the tyres: it seems that anything goes.

Video: Motorcycle Hillclimbing is madness on two wheels
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..
It’s not if you fall, it’s when..

Just because no-one makes it to the top, doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining. In fact, it might be because no-one gets to the top that it’s so entertaining.

In 2019, no-one made it to the top but this video shows just how hard they try.....and fail!

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
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