Almost 35 years after Evel Knievel’s failed attempt to clear 13 London buses on a Harley Davidson ended his career, son Robbie Knievel has announced that he will try to go one better; or three to be exact.
The US daredevil will attempt to jump 16 double-decker buses next summer. Father Evel Knievel broke his pelvis attempting his jump over the single-decker buses at Wembley in 1975. Next year, his son will attempt to better his father on the same classic model of bike.
“I sometimes get butterflies before a jump, sometimes I get cockroaches; it depends on the stunt,” said Robbie Knievel. “I think on this one I might just get a few cockroaches. My Dad said I was a better rider than he was when I was 12, so I want to try to do this,” he added.
Knievel admitted that the venue had not yet been confirmed but that his team were considering performing the stunt at the Battersea Power Station site in south London. The jump is provisionally planned for 22 May 2010. However, he said that he would be willing to change the date if it meant he could perform the stunt at Wembley Stadium.
Despite his daredevil reputation, Knievel denied being an “adrenaline junkie”. He said: “Fear does not energise me and I was never an adrenaline junkie. But I grew up with it; my father never liked watching himself crash and I can’t say I enjoy it when I do, but it doesn’t bother me.
“Obviously I would never try to crash and believe me, when I am jumping, I am concentrating hard on staying on the bike. But I am not afraid of it; I have crashed a few times this year. Once, I was pulling wheelies and fell onto concrete, ripping my arm up but I got my breath back, got back in the saddle and carried on: It’s my job.”
He added that his approach to jumping owes little to mathematics and more to intuition. “After years of performing stunts, I go out and do what I feel. During practices, I try to judge my speed on the approach and afterwards, I ask my team ‘was I doing around 80 mph when I hit the ramp?’ and they can’t believe how close I usually am,” he said.
Robbie, who normally performs stunts on bikes around seven stone lighter than the Harley-Davidson XR-750 he will use in London, admitted that he will be hoping for good weather as he starts his run-up, saying that the elements can have a massive effect on his jump.
He added: “I will hit the ground hard because the suspension is not as good and the bike is heavier, my back has taken a lot of punishment in the past.
“Although my dad's jump ended with broken bones and a lot of pain, I'm confident he'll be smiling down on this one. Daredevils are a dying breed. I'm proud to have been raised by one and to be one myself.”
Knievel dedicated the attempt to friend Eddie Kidd who was badly injured attempting a jump in 1996. “I have not seen him since 1994, but I spoke to him last night,” he said on Tuesday. “I speak to him on the phone and he knows what is going on and always tries to make a joke,” he added.
The daredevil also vowed to complete the other feat that had eluded his father during his career: an audacious jump over the Snake River Canyon in the United States. Stunt promoters said negotiations were under way to secure property rights and begin construction of the rocket that Robbie would use to soar over the 1600ft gap in a separate jump across the canyon.