#282 – Take a Flying Leap

Who knew that Evel Knievel has his own line of motorcycles, and that for a measly 55-grand you too can own a limited-edition Snake River Canyon?

While it would be convenient to claim total knowing of the motorcycle biz, including its players and products, seriously, who knew that the legacy of Robert “Evel” Knievel endures in a line of motorcycles produced in Greenville, Pennsylvania? Well, perhaps you did, but I did not. That is, not until I received an email, Apr. 19, from Avon Motorcycle Tyres North America just to give me advance notice they are now the exclusive tire supplier for Knievel Motorcycle Manufacturing Inc. Huh?
Yes indeed. The life and times of the Godfather of Extreme Sport is now celebrated with a line of bikes carrying names such as the Springer Bobber, Commemorative Bobber, Pro Street, Patriot Series Chopper, and Snake River Canyon (a limited series model).
“We consider it an honour that Knievel Cycles has selected our tire products for its legendary motorcycles,” said Sukoshi Fahey, marketing manager for Avon Tyres. “We are looking forward to a long and successful relationship with the Knievel Cycles team.”
Presumably helmed by Evel’s son Robbie—who inherited the stunt show gene from his late daddy—the Greenville plant apparently can produce up to 1,200 motorcycles a year, all of which meet Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation requirements. I’m told that the company is one of only three US motorcycle manufacturers that has achieved European Union approval for distribution of its motorcycles (excluding the Snake River Canyon) to all 27 countries in the European Union.
Cheap they are not, ranging in price from $20,449 for the Commemorative Chopper to a whopping $55,000 for the Snake River bike. But that’s not all.
Not surprisingly, there’s also a line of doodads and whatnots including the leather Evel One vest, chaps, and gloves, and Evel One saddle bags.
Whether the company with its various bikes and support gear exists to pay homage to one of America’s great showmen or is simply a good way for son Robbie to market a product by using a thoroughly marketable name is entirely beside the point. Evel Knievel was himself a master huckster. There’s no doubt he would have used every means at his command to make an enterprise pay. But would he really be all that into the bikes produced by the factory celebrating his name? Probably not. Like the Evel One-branded chaps, the bikes are completely predictable.
Big front ends, gaudy graphics, bling galore and a collection of components and running gear from the aftermarket.
In other words, not in keeping with Evel’s motocross background and his penchant for smaller, tighter hopped-up XRs. Certainly there’s nothing notable about offerings from Knievel Motorcycle Manufacturing that has not already been done and redone on countless models from untold numbers of so-called custom production houses that sprang up during the boom years of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Some of those companies are still in operation, but most withered on the recession vine.
But, heck, if anyone can revive a high-end industry segment with a recent history of lackluster performance, my money is on the Knievels. Go get ‘em.

THE RARE AND THE UNIQUE ARE almost always the sole privilege of the very wealthy. That doesn’t stop the rest of us from dreaming. And if you’re any sort of vintage enthusiast then a Bonhams auction event in San Francisco Aug. 16-17 will be where you can publically weep in despair. There, an unheard of three Crocker road models will go under the gavel. None will be going home with timid bidders.
“Having three documented Crockers in one sale is very momentous,” says Malcolm Barber, CEO of Bonhams Group. “Very seldom does a Crocker ever come up for sale, so this is an extremely unique opportunity …”

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