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LIKE HIS DAD, EVEL, 42-year-old “Kaptain” Robbie Knievel has a thing for hucking…well, just about anything. A veteran of more than 250 professional motorcycle jumps and twenty-something broken bones, he’s cleared the fountains at Caesars Palace, a 231-foot section of the Grand Canyon, and, for a 2003 Dawn dishwashing-soap commercial, a pyramid of 10,000 stacked dinner plates. You’d think that in an era of Fear Factor and backyard Tony Hawks we’d have seen the end of the professional daredevil as an American icon. But cable TV is betting that men in leather jumpsuits still have something to offer. On April 5, A&E debuts Knievel’s Wild Ride, a 13-part reality series that follows the spawn of Evel as he ramps it up across the country. JOSH DEAN recently caught the Kaptain with his kickstand down.
OUTSIDE: Motorcycles and performing—this stuff must be in your genes.
KNIEVEL: My first jump was in Buffalo, when I was nine. I jumped one car on a Harley that was three times the size of me—my feet couldn’t touch the ground. In terms of being this crazy adrenaline junkie, it was born into me.
You’ve broken all your dad’s records. Are you better than he was?
He had a bike twice as heavy as mine and was jumping 80 to 100 feet. But I’m jumping 180 to 200 feet, so I’m keeping up with technology.
Are you underappreciated by the extreme-sports world?
The Knievel name spans three generations. In terms of sports celebrities, Muhammad Ali is the only name bigger than my father’s. All these kids are out there [on dirt bikes] jumping 80 feet and doing backflips, but I’m jumping 200 feet over cars.
But backflips look a lot hairier, you know?
A lot of people can sing longer and louder than Elvis Presley, but who gives a fuck? My dad and I invented a sport; people come to see me for my charisma. These young guys are all balls, no brains. They have nothing to say.