When American daredevil Evel Knievel attempted possibly his most famous jump, a 141ft leap over the fountains of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1967, he was watched by a few hundred curious tourists, a handful of Caesars Palace staff, and a very nervous lawyer. That jump put him on the ground, and the world of stunt riding on the map; although the resulting crash put him in a 29-day coma, a legion of new fans watched his stunt repeated on TV around the world.
Today, hurtling into the air on motorbikes is big business, and when it comes to innovation, excitement and sheer spectacle, the Red Bull X Fighters are a long way ahead of the pack. The team are heading to Dubai next week to demonstrate their skills in a purpose-built arena at JBR, which holds about 15,000 people. Spectators can expect to see 12 of the world’s finest riders, including Nate Adams (the first rider to do a backflip with no hands), Levi Sherwood and Robbie Madison (who, incidentally, has smashed Evel’s 141ft record attempt with a perfectly executed 350.98ft jump).
As the first leg of the global tour, this will set the bar for all riders, so expect new tricks, new records and enough bravery to bottle and sell at the bank. To whet your appetite, here are some of the images from last year.