Stunters refer to motorcyclists, typically on sport bikes, who perform a variety of stunts on their bikes. This only becomes problematic when such stunts are performed on public or private streets. There are recognized groups of stunters who perform professionally, but others who attempt tricks in public areas or on private streets may be risking their health and safety, and the health and safety of others.
For some motorcyclists, stunters who attempt tricks in public areas give the whole motorcycling community a bad name. There are many motorcyclists who drive with the utmost regard for rules of the road, courtesy to other drivers, and for personal safety. Since stunters may perform tricks at especially high speeds with little regard for their own safety or that of others, it can paint all motorcyclists with the same brush, leaving many feeling that laws unfairly discriminate against them, or simply average people do because of the behavior of some people. Another term applied to the stunter is “squid” which in motorcycle speak may mean a person who rides a motorcycle purposefully in an irresponsible way.
Others argue that learning to perform stunts is an extreme sport, which has been made somewhat easier by advances in building sport bikes. Some tricks are amazing to watch, and people must have practice in order to be able to perform them. Those stunters who attempt to gain commercial success through their sport usually have well-defined practice areas that are not on public roadways. There is also a variety of safety gear, which can help protect both drivers and bikes if a stunt fails, and as long as these stunts are not being practiced on public roads, there exists little risk to others.
There are a number of stunts stunters may try to perform. The most basic is the wheelie, where the rider brings the front of the motorcycle up, and drives only on the back wheel. Many variations of the wheelie are exhibited by stunters including the circle wheelie, where the rider travels with the front wheel up in a full circle. Other tricks or stunts include the stoppie, where the rear wheel is lifted off the ground, or hanging from the handlebars by either hands or feet. There are numerous variations and seemingly an endless series of invention of new tricks as this high risk sporting field evolves.
The practice of stunting is a controversial one because some of the tricks really do pose significant hazard to the cyclist. Nevertheless, you will see some forms of the same stunts performed in dirt bike competitions and exhibitions. What many cyclists would like to discourage is new cyclists attempting to become stunters, where inexperience is most likely to cause injury, and if the practice is to be recognized, many argue that it ought to be legitimized with defined areas for practice that do not pose risk to other drivers.