Trials Guru takes this opportunity to congratulate Dougie Lampkin MBE (12 times World Champion) on completing his ‘one wheel’ ride of the entire TT course on the Isle of Man on Sunday 25th September 2016.
Twelve times FIM World Trials Champion, Dougie Lampkin added another achievement to his long list of attainments, when he successfully ‘wheelied’ his modified Vertigo around the 37 ¾ mile Isle of Man TT Mountain Course on Sunday 25th September. This is the first time it has been done continuously without the front wheel touching down until he crossed the finish line.
Previous attempts were made as early as 1976 by stunt rider, the late Dave Taylor on a Yamaha XS650. Taylor made various attempts over the years during TT week, however it was never documented and therefore assumed that he failed to complete a full circuit with the front wheel off the ground.
Known as The Wheelie King, his last attempt was in 1993. His daughter, Katie Taylor spoke to Trials Guru:
“Dad did his last wheelie attempt in 1993, but he did it with a broken wrist. He touched down because the rear brake link broke on his machine. By then he was suffering with terminal cancer quite severely. He had stomach cancer but by then it had spread to his throat. He also did this attempt all in the name of charity, riders for health, he was never paid for it”.
Taylor died in 1996 aged 53, he had been for many years a leading road safety campaigner in an effort to make motorcycle riding safer.
The Lampkin/Vertigo/RedBull attempt was watched live by many thousands of people on Red Bull TV, Lampkin’s main sponsor.
Many months of training and machine preparation went into the attempt. The Vertigo Combat machine was modified slightly to enable a serious attempt at the feat. The bulk of the modification work was undertaken by Hope Technology of Barnoldswick, Yorkshire with considerable input by life-long friend, Blackie Holden, himself a former trials rider.
Valuable input was received from the Vertigo Technical Manager, Francesc Romani.
The modifications included a special footrest set up with hydraulic brake mechanisms mounted on the rear wheel spindle to allow Lampkin to stand bolt upright and to lower the centre of gravity when the front wheel was pawing the air.
A 36 volt electric motor was attached to the front wheel hub, with a special twin rear brake caliper set up designed to cope with the excess heat generated during the extensive downhill parts of the Isle of Man TT course. The two-separate brake systems were operated by Dougie by both a foot pedal and a hand lever, which was mounted on the handlebars where the front brake lever would normally be fitted.
The front wheel was effectively kept spinning throughout the attempt by the electric motor, thus maintaining the ‘gyroscopic effect’ which assists in stabilising the plot when being ridden on the rear wheel.
The special handmade, large capacity carbon fibre auxiliary fuel tank was mounted on the rear mudguard area to extend the range of the 300cc, fuel-injected two stroke Vertigo trials machine. It also allowed Lampkin to steer the machine with his knees by gripping the fuel cell when the machine was in motion.
Gale force winds on the Isle of Man on the Saturday, 24th September forced a re-think and the attempt was postponed 24 hours to allow for more favourable weather conditions.
Prior to the attempt, critics poured scorn on the effort, likening the modified Vertigo to a ‘Segway’ (the two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric leisure vehicle invented by Dean Kamen), on social media . However, this was somewhat misguided as the machine was very much a trials machine with some suitable modifications and adaptations described above and bore no resemblence to the leisure vehicle.
It was noticeable that Lampkin had complete input to maintaining the front wheel clear of the ground and had to use all his trials skills learned over thirty years of intense competition. It was not only a feat of balance but also endurance, he was visibly exhausted when he crossed the official finish line in the early evening.
Doug Lampkin showed his usual gritty determination to succeed, a well-known trait of the Silsden based family who have literally dominated off-road motorcycle sport for over fifty years. There is no doubt that his late father, Martin who passed away after a battle with cancer in March this year, would have been proud of the attempt and Dougie’s ultimate success and achievement. This endeavour follows on from a tenth victory at the annual Scottish Six Days Trial in May, an event that the Lampkin family have featured in the winning of many times in half a century.
Current international motorcycle stunt performer and former Scottish Motocross champion, Kevin Carmichael told Trials Guru: “I think what Dougie Lampkin has done was absolutely awesome. It required huge concentration and lots of preparation! – Anyone who thinks it was easy should try it!”
Doug Lampkin’s wheelie of the entire 37.73 mile circuit is a feat in itself, but still a bit far short of the World’s Longest motorcycle wheelie which, at the time of this article, stands at a staggering 205.7 miles, set in 1991 by Yasuyuki Kudo at the Japan Auto Research Institute!
Lampkin family tribute section: HERE
Thanks to both Verigo Motors and Dougie Lampkin’s Press Office for material pertinent to this feature on Trials Guru.
Thanks also to Katie Taylor, daughter of the late Dave Taylor and Kevin Carmichael for their contribution.
John Hulme/Trial Magazine UK
Dougie Lampkin Press Office
Kim Ferguson/Kimages, Fort William