Las Vegas, Nevada - Evel Knievel, the first great motorcycle jumper, is better known for his spectacular failures than his hundreds of successful jumps. It was an inevitable consequence of being a pioneer that every one of his stunts was quite literally a leap into the unknown.
Other than the abortive Snake River Canyon jump - which doesn’t count because the Idaho state authorities classed the Skycycle X2 as an aircraft rather than a vehicle - Knievel’s most notorious fail was his attempt to jump the fountains in front of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Knievel came down short (he said his Triumph 650 suddenly lost power on the take-off) hit the edge of the landing ramp and tumbled into the Dunes carpark, breaking his pelvis, femur, hip, wrist, and both ankles.
The Caesars fountain jump has been done since - notably by Knievel’s son Robbie in 1989 - but all the successful attempts have been with lightweight motocross bikes, rather than the big, heavy Triumph and later, Harley-Davidson XR750 flat-trackers Knievel rode because they were what he could get for free.
Which brings us to one of today’s top stunters, Travis Pastrana, who set himself the goal of successfully jumping the fountains on an equivalent bike to those ridden by Knievel - in this case an Indian Scout FTR750, which weighs about 154kg, 17kg more than Knievel’s customised XR750.