family friendly activities go, this was definitely way out there.
While many parents and children bond at movies, picnics and ballgames,
Tim Knoll had his mother ride alongside him, shooting video of her son
riding his BMX bike under 11 consecutive, stationary semi-trailers at
a Wauwatosa industrial parking lot.
something to see," Knoll remembers. "Hereís my 60-year-old
mom rolling around, filming me going under these trailers."
That video clip
wound up on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in August of
2013 and added to Knollís already legendary status as a BMX stunt
and trick rider. A video of Knoll from May of that year (among the
dozens he has posted on You Tube) got 4 million hits in its first week
and made him an international sensation.
out standing completely erect, Iím steering the handlebars with my
feet," Knoll says. "Iím going down a basketball court, I
grab onto a basketball hoop, I do a back flip off the basketball hoop.
My bike is on the ground. I land back on my bike, without touching the
ground, pull the bike back up and ride away. I swing around a street
sign and then do a back flip with my bike (staying on the bike the
entire time) over the hood of my old Saturn."
When that video
went viral, Knoll was invited to perform on a variety TV show in South
Korea that aired all across Asia. The video caught the attention of
the producers of a Chinese Guiness Book of Records show, who hired
Knoll to ride under a 30-meter stretch of metal bars that were 97
centimeters (just over 3 feet) off the ground. His successful attempt
established a new world record.
were so low that I actually had to cut my hair so it wouldnít brush
against the poles," Knoll recalls.
also starred in an online commercial for Ford shot in San Francisco.
"A lot of companies are putting lots of money into You Tube and
online videos because thatís where theyíre targeting kids 8 to 15.
Ford is very interested in making an impression on kids," he
says. Knoll and "a couple of other bikers" made a 3.5-minute
video, which involved multiple tricks and "very subtle product
placement" getting in and out of vehicles.
While Knoll is a
rock star on You Tube, doing stunts on a bike is not his full-time
job. He also works as a personal trainer in Milwaukee. He says heís
earned between $10,000 and $17,000 per year on his bike but has a
major deal brewing with a big name company in Europe that could prove
who make a living doing BMX compete in the X Games," Knoll says.
"There is no contest format to support what I do. Iím really a
professional video biker licensing my video to TV shows or third
Knoll has always
been somewhat of a daredevil. He remembers doing "handstands on
the furniture" at an early age and enrolled in gymnastics when he
was 7. He qualified for the state diving championships at Wauwatosa
East High School but only wanted the sport to serve as an attractive
extracurricular on a college resume and quit as soon as he was
accepted to UW-Milwaukee "to focus solely on biking." Knoll,
who is 30 has been riding now for 15 years.
experience has helped him successfully tempt the laws on physics on
his bike. "Gymnastics undeniably sets me apart from a lot of
different BMX riders who donít have that background," Knoll
explains. "I almost use my bike as more of an apparatus as
opposed to a vehicle I charge up a ramp with."
extensively to be in the best shape to perform his bicycle wizardry.
"It takes a lot of strength. Iím pretty small (5í8"),
but I have a low center of gravity and a really good body
no amount of training can prevent the injuries that are inherent with
this avocation. "They are always prevalent," says Knoll, who
has blown out his shoulder, spent eight weeks on crutches after
hurting his ankle, still deals with knee pain, and consistently adds
to a collection of cuts and bruises.
His sponsors and
supporters take care of most of his equipment expenses, although Knoll
says he has "spent his share of money" on bike parts over
understands he is older than most of his fellow riders in this
discipline, but he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon and is
always thinking about his next performance. "I go on walks or
drive around town and see possibilities for my next video," he
"As long as
my body holds up, I can see myself doing this for a very long
time," Knoll says. "Itís never going to lose its appeal
because itís always so fun to do it."