Spinning Tales

The show is over. The Pune air is filled with heat and humidity, and the spicy Indian food has lately taken its toll on Chris Pfeiffer. To make matters worse, the concrete at the Pancard Club open-air gymnasium, where the event was being held, was so smooth that finding traction has left the four-time world Freestyle stunt champion breathless. But ever the smiling gentleman, Pfeiffer happily posed with his ever growing legion of fans and then sat down for an informal chat with Saeed Akhtar. Some excerpts

Photography: Bhuvan Chowdhary, Red Bull, Urvashi Patole

Bike India: There’s a huge disparity in power between Indian bikes that we generally use for stunting and, say, your F800R. What are your impressions on our bikes as regards stunting?

Chris Pfeiffer: The Pulsar 200 is a pretty good bike for beginners. It’s very important to learn this sport step by step so there’s nothing better than starting on a small bike. I did the same. I was riding the small trials bike for long time. There’s no reason to ride a 600 or 800. You can also do this sport on a 125, 180, 200 or even on a scooter. I know many accomplished stunters who started out on scooters. Obviously, you can’t pull large wheelies on it but the lesser power gives you more control over the bike.  The advantage of a four-cylinder bike is that you have more balance than a small single-cylinder bike.

BI: You’re travelling to more cities than the last time you were here. How do you find the scene here in India? How enthusiastic are the people here when it comes to biking and stunting?
CP: It’s even bigger than the last time I was here. Such an amazing crowd. People go really crazy and I love it so much. The experience is great. Whether it is small town or large, it doesn’t matter.

BI: What are some of the special modifications that you’ve carried out on your F800R for stunting?
CP: Well, I have a handbrake – an additional handbrake, like every freestyle rider nowadays. Also a different handlebar, different seat, some different footpegs, crash protection around the engine, and bigger sprockets to harness the power better. And that’s it. The rest is standard. Engine, frame, suspension, wheels, are stock.

BI: In the video where you  invade the BMW tower in Munich, you finish it off with a somersault on the top of a 22-storey building. Don’t you have any fears?
CP: I have fears, of course (laughs). I’m scared of snakes and railways, but not scared of heights. I used to be a free-climber. I used to roam the mountains and never had a real problem with heights. So standing there, everybody was scared of me, and I was sure they would cut it out of the video clip, but they kept it!

BI: You spend a lot of time on the road with your F800R and your trials bike. Which other bikes do you own back home?
CP: I have three bikes in India at the moment, for this tour. Two are at home. I have a Husqvarna 450 enduro bike and two trials bikes. I have a BMW S1000RR, which is at the moment, the fastest production bike in the world. It is modded, with an open silencer and more than 200 horsepower. I went for a little spin on it on the autobahn recently. There, I had 299 on the speedometer, and it doesn’t go more than that – there’s a limiter. The speedometer goes only upto that, but the rev meter goes higher. So you know, its going faster than 300,yeahh! I also have several old bikes on which I have won some championships.

BI: Last time we talked, you told us that your son, Hannes, is already into stunting. Will you like him to continue in this profession?
CP: Hannes is already doing stunts on his small trials bike. I don’t push him at all, I just support him. The girls also ride bikes. They like it, and my son loves it — this is the difference. Like they love dancing, he loves riding, typical girls, typical son (laughs).

BI: What’s your favourite Indian cuisine so far?
CP: Ummm, just a second, (thinks), biryani is something that I really like, and the one with a red sauce with potato inside, very spicy, (crowd chants: aloo tikki? aloo paratha?), something with aloo. (Gives up) I like everything with aloo in it. And I am getting used to the spicy food more and more.

BI: One last question. If it were not for stunting, what would Chris Pfeiffer have been?
CP: I would have loved to be a freestyle skier or a musician. But most likely, I would have loved to be a teacher, because I love sports and biology.That’s the reality, I guess.

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