Maker Faire is an event created by Maker Magazine that’s part science fair, and part county fair, intended to be a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. It also was the site of one of the first event marketing stunts we put on during my stint with Betabrand.
To raise awareness of Betabrand’s collection of office/bicycle friendly workwear, the team created the character of Eco Knievel – the world’s first eco-friendly stuntman. While wearing Betabrand Bike to Work Pants, our fearless stuntman would launch an ebike into the air over a Humvee in front of a crowd ammassed at the event.
The challenge? In 2011, eMountain Bikes didn’t exist as they do now. It wouldn’t have mattered though as our partner for the stunt that providing the ebike for the event, only sells a utility-style ebike designed for delivering cargo. While said ebike was a hoot to ride around San Francisco and could do a mean burn out, (provided you locked the front brake while unweighting the rear of the bike) it handled about as well as a wheel barrow in the air.
Another way to describe it could be to say that this electric utility bike possessed a similar capacity for flight as a red brick.
Which, assuming you were astride said red brick as it launches into the air, you would likely be screaming at the top of your lungs as the unfriendly ground rushes up to meet you.
As the resident “extreme mountain biker” in the office, at one point, I was asked if I was interested in assuming the task of executing the jump. Although performing a stunt of this caliber was technically within my existing skillset (I once moonlighted as a mountain biking stunt man for an HBO production) on my personal bike, having ridden said electric bike around town, I was all-too-familiar with the handling of the utility bike, as well as its non-existent capacity for flight.
My response was a politely uttered “Oh hell no“. (This story plays a lot better if you read this line as performed by Chris Tucker in the cult classic film”Friday“.)
My task assigned for undertaking was to recruit a stuntman and a crew to construct the ramps for the event, then produce the photography and documentary video. With a measly budget of maybe a couple of hundred bucks. Ok, it was maybe 2-3 times that… but not very much.
To assist in pulling off this event I recruited a pro BMX rider friend to help with assembling a crew to construct the ramps, transport them across the bay area, and perform the stunt.
On the day of the event, when the crowd ammassed on site and it was time to jump the bike he was genuinely scared. It was a bit ironic considering he could have backflipped his personal bikes over the ramps all day without breaking a sweat.
Needless to say the crowd was entertained and he walked away unscathed. Somehow we pulled it off, and our stuntman lived though the fact the bike flew like said brick. After the jump, he rode his bike through a wall of tofu, but that was nowhere near as daring as the main event.