Prepping With Travis Pastrana For Evel Knievel Jumps

We got invited to Travis Pastrana's Evel Knievel practice session, and here's what we learned

Travis Pastrana with Indian FTR750

We spent the day watching Travis Pastrana practice riding a modified Indian Scout FTR750 for his upcoming recreation of three of Evel Knievel’s famous jumps.

Nitro Circus

Last month, you no doubt saw the announcement on how Travis Pastrana, of Nitro Circus fame, would attempt to recreate three of Evel Knievel’s most iconic jumps—all in one day. On an [Indian FTR750] (/travis-pastrana-to-attempt-evel-knievels-most-famous-stunts).

Well, that day is drawing near, and there was no way Pastrana wouldn’t need some serious practice time to get up to speed on the new bike. Sure enough, an invite came zipping into Hot Bike HQ a couple of weeks back, asking if we wanted to watch Pastrana prepping for the big show (when he'd recreate three of Knievel’s famous jumps for the “Evel Live” broadcast on July 8). As a reminder, Pastrana will be riding a modified Indian Scout FTR750, which is a far cry from his usual 450cc motocross machine. During the three-hour event, he’ll attempt to jump 52-plus crushed cars and then 16 Greyhound buses before finally gearing up for Knievel’s dramatic Caesars Palace jump.

Travis Pastrana testing facility ramps

Travis Pastrana’s top-secret testing facility included several custom-built ramps. Pay no attention to that Greyhound bus in the corner.

Nitro Circus

Of course we said “Hell yes!” and found ourselves rolling out to the testing address soon after. The setup was all business, with several custom-built landing ramps with slightly curved surfaces to ease in touchdowns (the longest runway he has on any of the ramps is about 210 feet) standing front and center. There will be changes though, as the Nitro crew has since discovered that a lot of construction has taken place since Evel's 1967 jump, which will impact approaches, direction, and landing distances. There was also a Greyhound bus, some cars, and lots of wide-open run-off areas. We can’t really say much else about the top-secret facility except that Roland Sands was there too, helping sort out the four FTR750s he and his crew had prepped for Pastrana. Sands is no stranger to modifying bikes for specific needs, and we dug up some info on the changes he’d made to the Indian flat-trackers.

Travis Pastrana with Indian FTR750 and 450cc motocrosser

He’ll be jumping an Indian FTR750 for the Knievel stunts, a whole different animal from the 450cc motocrosser he’s used to.

Nitro Circus

Sands claims he didn’t need to go nuts with the mods: “The stock bike is so good that we’ve mainly had to make mods to the suspension and ergos to get Travis comfortable and to keep the bike in one piece.”

Roland Sands Indian FTR750

Roland Sands prepped four Indian FTR750s to be used for the event. Sands says he didn’t have to make all that many mods to the bikes.

Nitro Circus

• To handle the big impacts and fit Pastrana better, the Scout's flat-track-oriented footpeg mounting points were lowered and larger MX-style pegs swapped in.

• The fuel-injected, DOHC, 750cc V-twin throws out plenty of grunt, but gearing will likely need to be tweaked and no doubt Pastrana will play around with sprocket combinations.

• Sands and crew also took out the stock triple clamps and stock handlebar and risers, swapping in taller adjustable units to bring the bars to a better spot for the lanky Pastrana.

Travis Pastrana Indian FTR750 handlebar adjustments

Pastrana’s a tall dude, so Sands had to swap in a modified (and adjustable) riser and handlebar to fit the lanky rider.

Nitro Circus

• The standard Öhlins fork has been revalved and resprung to ease Pastrana’s earthbound reentry, as has the rear shock.

• Normally, the Scout FTR750 doesn’t run a front brake, but this ain't flat track, so Sands fitted an S&S FTR750 TT front brake kit and components from Brembo.

• Word on the street is the bikes will sport fresh new paint jobs by Airtrix to really pop for the cameras.

Travis Pastrana full leathers and a cape

No motocross gear for you, buddy. Pastrana will be rocking full leathers, a full-face lid, and (maybe) a cape for the Evel jumps. They won’t look exactly like this though.

Nitro Circus

Indian FTR750 burnouts

The Indian FTR750 is great at burnouts but will probably need its gearing to be tweaked come jump day.

Nitro Circus

But what about that cape?! We had to know.

It seems that Pastrana wanted the whole show to keep the same flavor Knievel had for his spectacles, which meant adjusting to wearing race leathers, a full-face helmet, and, yep—a cape. We even heard that Pastrana found a tailor who would custom-make him a set of Knievel-like leather boots, but we're also told the gear in these photos is not what he will be using for the Vegas jump; that's a reveal for another day. July 8 is starting to sound more and more interesting.