by Neale Bayly
Over the light hum of conversation, the sounds of a revving engine and scraping metal heralds Jean Pierre Goy’s entrance. Blasting on to the performance area he skids to a halt, leaps off his bike and greets the crowd with a huge “Ahh–low” and a smile. The crowd breaks into a massive roar of laughter and applause: Jean Pierre is facing the wrong way! In an animated realization of his mistake, he turns and graciously receives the excited crowd, greeting them with his heavily accented English.
Jumping back on the blue BMW F650 CS, he blasts off down the tarmac with the bike completely out of control. His poor attempts to wheelie the bike only raise the front wheel about a foot from the floor. Repeated attempts leave him without room to stop at the end of the area, and the bike disappears in a cloud of smoke; tires screeching and metal scraping. Somehow, Jean Pierre keeps the bike on two wheels and turns for another run. The bike just refuses to loft the front wheel, and as Jean Pierre comes passed he is visually working the bike. During this time he is talking to his audience as they watch one of the worlds best stunt riders struggle to wheelie his bike.
The huge rear wheel slide, culminating in the footpegs dragging midway through the turn, signals that there is some serious show boating going on. Within minutes Jean Pierre has the bike on the back wheel, front wheel pointed straight toward the sky and a huge smile coming from his helmet as he waves on the way by. The crowd goes wild, and the applause hits a new level as one of the most incredible spectacles of motorcycle riding begins.
Born in France, Jean Pierre began riding motorcycles at the age of 16 on trials bikes and this extremely technical discipline has given Jean Pierre an almost “psychic” understanding of motorcycle balance. Riding for the Fantic Motor team for many years in indoor trials, Jean Pierre retired from competition to pursue a career in stunt riding and performing. Many world records followed, including the longest wheelie ever recorded at 128 miles, before Jean Pierre shot to international fame. Jumping a stock BMW R1200 C over a helicopter, while doubling as Pierce Brosnon in the James Bond classic, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” highlighted Jean Pierre’s incredible talents on the big screen and helped form his relationship with BMW motorcycles.
Now, while Jean Pierre is famous all over the world, he is not exactly a household name here in America. A lot of people have seen his incredible James Bond stunts, but few people this side of the pond knew who performed them. Well, thanks to Laurence Kuykendall, at BMW of North America, that is going to change. Starting with this year’s BMW Dealer conference, held in South Carolina, we are going to be seeing a lot more of Jean Pierre Goy in this country. Held between Greenville and the BMWPerformanceCenter in Spartanburg, all of America’s BMW Retailers came to ride the new luxury touring CL1200, and to attend various meetings. As a highlight of the meetings, Jean Pierre was scheduled to perform at the PerformanceCenter every day at noon: His first live shows here in the United States.
Using four standard BMW motorcycles every day for close to an hour, Jean Pierre thrilled everyone with his unique performances and left people talking about what they had seen long after the show. As a complete addict to the sport when I am not writing about and photographing motorcycles, I am making television shows and videos about them. I have worked with Laurence before, during BMW’s highly successful GS Adventure ride in Ocala, and when I received the invite to bring my cameraman and come down and film Jean Pierre, I didn’t need to be asked twice. This allowed me to watch his performances at very close quarters and I have to say I came away as amazed as everyone else.
Back out on the tarmac, Jean Pierre was getting down to business. A long series of incredible stand up wheelies, stoppies, sliding turns and gravity defying direction changes had everyone holding their breath. Up and down he rode, pulling one amazing stunt after the other before screaming towards the viewing tent, throwing the bike into a huge sideways slide, flipping the back end round through 90 degrees and dropping it on to the side stand. Springing off, Jean Pierre bowed to his audience, graciously accepting his ecstatic reception. Without a moments delay, the highly charged Jean Pierre surged into the Retailers pulling out an unsuspecting “victim” for his next trick. This time it is a young girl by the name of Lindsey. Looking as white as a sheet she was hustled into a riding jacket, gloves and helmet before Jean Pierre led her onto the tarmac. Like a cat playing with a mouse, he delays the terror long enough to have everyone roaring with the nervous laughter of relief. Relief that they were not the ones chosen. Setting Lindsey up for some obvious falls, Jean Pierre kept everyone roaring. Finally he gets her on board and takes off down the strip immediately hoisting the CS onto the back wheel. Disappearing down the strip over the revving engine the sound of screaming permeates the air. The next few minutes fly by as he repeats all the stunts we have already seen, this time with the addition of his plucky companion. With time probably not flying, young Lindsey is instructed to sit backwards and manages to turn even whiter. Luckily the cat is just playing and the young mouse is returned, “shaken not stirred,” (sorry, couldn’t resist). The applause hits a new crescendo, and without ado Jean Pierre is jumping on to a K1200LT.
Watching a BMW F650 CS perform outrageous tricks is not too far of a stretch for the average motorcycle mind. It is light; looks a bit like a dirt bike and, well, just looks like it could wheelie. But a K1200LT! When I first saw BMW’s top of the line luxury touring rig come barreling down the lens of my video camera I popped my head up to look again. Simply unbelievable to watch, it was obvious from Jean Pierre’s body language that I would not be attempting this on my next test ride. Up it went though and again the Retailers went wild. Next thing I know, I am watching 1000 lbs of man and machine hurtling towards my lens as though Jean Pierre had decided his next trick was to park inside my video camera. At the last minute, with smoke peeling from the rear tire and loud screeching noises ringing in my ears, he had swerved to miss me. This was a trick he repeated a few times, but boy there was nothing like the adrenaline rush the first time. A couple of bikes later, he did the same sort of thing but this time came to a skidding, slewing halt, the front tire a millimeter from my lens. All I saw through the viewfinder was blue sky then tire before looking up at the irrepressible face of Jean Pierre Goy grinning down at me from ear to ear.
Being a part of his tricks, I did not feel too bad for the people that got pulled out of the audience and wheelied, stoppied and endoed up and down for the delight of the Retailers until the next victim was selected. Not happy to torture them on the back of the bike, Jean Pierre lay the unfortunate gentleman down on the tarmac and proceeded to blast by, either on the back wheel or locked up sideways. You want to know how close? Well I am not sure in inches, but let’s just say it was close enough to blow the guys hair around.
After a few runs, and some unexpected quiet from all watching, Jean Pierre pulled a long sliding skid, coming to a halt by the victim’s head. This brought on the applause, and our unwilling helper began to make moves to vacate the area as fast as possible. “Oh noh noh noh noh noh” cried Jean Pierre, to the delight of the now laughing Retailers, ” you stay like theese.” Leaping from his motorcycle, the laughing Frenchman swung his helper by the legs and positioned him spread eagle towards the end of the strip. I got up and went over to hold the guy’s head so he could watch his fate and to record it on video for any survivors he left behind, as Jean Pierre revved up. Seconds later, he flew by with inches to spare not even attempting to stop: Bluff number one. Bluff number two came in the shape of a high-speed skid coming to rest a few feet short and to the right. There was no bluff number three. Leaving the end of the straight on full throttle, the single roared up through the gears bearing down on the bravely smiling contestants family jewels at an incredible rate. Seconds later, all I could see was tire smoke as the bike slewed violently from side to side eventually coming to rest with the front tire touching the material of his jeans. The noise from the Retailers said it all, Jean Pierre Goy had topped every thing he had already done and all present were having the time of their lives.
Hopping on a R1200C next, we were treated to more antics and gravity defying stunts before Jean Pierre called it a day. Climbing off the bike for the last time with sweat pouring from his forehead, he ran to the crowd, greeting his wife and daughter before shaking hands with all the people that came forward to embrace him. Out on the tarmac, my cameraman and I turned to each other, both exhaling together and letting huge grins spread across our face. We have worked together long enough to both immediately know we had some good stuff. As we were filming, we had literally been inches away from the action the whole time and it was thrilling. To watch Jean Pierres body language as he balances and controls the particular machine he is riding, and see how he entertains his audience for the duration of his show, filled me with respect and admiration. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Show over, he mounted up and headed off for a well-deserved rest while everyone pinched themselves to see if they had really seen what just happened. Mike, my cameraman, and I headed for the shade so we could check our cameras and batteries. We had a private session booked with Jean Pierre to work on getting some video that would have interrupted the show. It turned out to be spectacular from a whole different point of view, which I cannot tell you about. But, the good news is, you will be able to sit down and watch it in the comfort of your local BMW showroom in a few months. Just you, a few close friends and a room full of motorcycles. Make a date to watch one of the world’s top riders doing the unimaginable onboard four different BMW’s and keep your eyes posted for more Jean Pierre Goy performances here in the United States.