The Bikes

The machines that make the man

Photo of Evel Knievel and his bike Grungy helmet illustration

Steel & Rubber

In the beginning, Knievel used a Honda 250cc motorcycle, using it to jump a crate of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions: his first known jump. Knievel then used a Norton Motorcycle Company 750cc. He used the Norton for only one year during 1966. Between 1967 and 1968, Knievel jumped using the Triumph Bonneville T120. Later, he used the Triumph at the Caesars Palace crash on New Year's Eve 1967. After the crash, he used Triumph for the remainder of 1968.

Between December 1969 and April 1970, Knievel used the Laverda American Eagle 750cc motorcycle. On December 12, 1970, Knievel would switch to the Harley-Davidson XR-750, the motorcycle with which he is best known for jumping. Knievel would use the XR-750 in association with Harley-Davidson until 1977. However, after his conviction for the assault of Shelly Saltman in 1977, the motorcycle company withdrew their sponsorship of Knievel.

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"I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair."

Grungy Full Motorcycle Illustration
Suspension Spring Illustration

Attempting his stunts on motorcycles without modern suspension was a primary factor in Knievel's many disastrous landings.

Tire Illustration

This Harley-Davidson XR-750 was known to be one of Knievel's favorite bikes.

Speedometer Illustration

Knievel's XR-750 maxed out in speed at 115 mph.

Wheelies & Arm wrestling

Before his daredevil antics, Knievel tried his hand at motorcycle racing and found it to lead to limited success after a crash. Then he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted racing. During the early 1960s, it was difficult to promote Japanese imports. People still considered them inferior to American built motorcycles, and there was lingering resentment from World War II, which had ended less than 20 years earlier. Always the promoter, Knievel offered a $100 discount to anybody who could beat him at arm wrestling.

After the closure of the Moses Lake Honda dealership, Evel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington. It is here where Jim Pomeroy, a well-known motorcycle racer, taught Knievel how to do a "wheelie" and ride while standing on the seat of the bike.

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"Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it."

Photo of Evel Knievel with helmet Grungy Harley Davidson 1