Motorcycle World Wheelie Championships 2016

On one wheel at over 200 mph

Egbert Van Popta 2016 Wheelie World Champion
Egbert Van Popta won the 2106 Wheelie World Champion with a run at 213.309mph.Photo by Phil Evans

On August 21, 2016, Egbert Van Popta, from the Netherlands, stunned the crowd with a run at 214.669mph, becoming the 2016 Motorcycle Wheelie World Champion, but just dropped the front wheel down between the timing beams for a fail; surpassing 210 mph was a distinct possibility. Sure enough Egbert didn't disappoint with 213.309mph to set a new motorcycle wheelie world record. A huge cheer went up from the crowd and Egbert was congratulated on his return to the pits by 2015 winner Gary Rothwell from Liverpool. Gary was indeed second quickest on 206.049mph, just shy of his 200.8mph record. Third in the competition, from Minneapolis USA, was Cecil "Bubba" Myers on his third visit to the event. He astonished everyone with a stunning new personal best of 197mph, beating his previous year's 134.4mph. There were 15 competitors successfully completing a kilometer wheelie.

Egbert van Popta 2016 World Wheelie Champion
Egbert van Popta, the 2016 World Wheelie Champion, in the pits during the competition.Photo by Worldreach

Up to 30 top competitors from the USA, UK, France, Holland and Ireland competed for the world title, in the 11th annual event. Success depends exclusively on the rider’s high-level skill, which is necessary to control the speed and balance of the motorcycle, as no electronic or mechanical aids are allowed. This is no mean feat as some of these retro fitted machines are the most powerful in the world, some rated at 450 horsepower. The winner and world record holder is chosen by determining the fastest rider to complete a kilometer in the wheelie position.

Egbert van Popta 2016 World Wheelie Champion
Egbert van Popta making his 2016 winning run, on one wheel at over 200 mph.Photo by Phil Evans

Other competitors worth noting are Tom Swales, of North Yorkshire, on a borrowed ex-Egbert GSXR1100 turbo, who achieved a new personal best at 169.206mph. Englishman Dave Corrance had a new personal best at 166.8mph, having been quickest on Saturday on 156.6mph. Dazz Rose from West London achieved his first ever kilometer wheelie with a 165.069mph run. One of the most incredible statistics was Richard Roche Limerick, from Ireland, whose best time this year was exactly the same as last year to the 1/1000th at 154.122mph.

Gary Roth and Egbert van Popta Wheelie World Champions
Gary Rothwell (left), the 2015 champion, congratulated Egbert van Popta (right) on his 2016 winning run.Photo by Worldreach

Egbert brought along three other riders for the first time this year: Kees Vogel, Vincent Hoogerwart, and Kimberly Davy Schyven. Vogel was straight on the case posting three successful attempts on Saturday and then improving to 129.811mph on his Triumph Daytona 955. Hoogerwart, late on Sunday managed a kilo wheelie at 143.650mph . One of the few females competing, Kimberly Davy Schyven, from the Netherlands, gave her best with the front wheel up through the timing beams at 141.518mph. Unfortunately Kimberly dropped the front wheel down at half track for a fail.

Cecil "Bubba" Myers at the 2016 Wheelie World Championship
Cecil "Bubba" Myers, representing the US, came in third place at 197 mph.Photo by Worldreach

The World Wheelie Championship, originally conceived by Dave 'Dodge' Rogers, is organized by Straightliners and takes place at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire, England. Straightliners is affiliated to the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) and the International Organisation of Professional Drivers (IOPD). Rider participation including record ratification and timing is administered by the UK Timing Association (UKTA). Both Straightliners and UKTA were set up by renowned motorcycle racer Trevor Duckworth.

Richard Roche at Wheelie World Championship 2016
Richard Roche had one of the most remarkable runs, exactly matching his 2015 number to the 1/1000th at 154.122 mph.Photo by Worldreach