Most days, Tyler Shepard suits up and plies his relatively tame trade as a medical industry sales rep. But upwards of 20 weekends a year, the latest Team E3 Racing Tier 2 winner dons a much flashier getup than his workday jacket and tie, wowing crowds as the “Wheelie Wizzard.”
Shepard was just 14 when he first saw “Wheelie King” Doug Domokos perform at a flattrack race in Celina, Ohio in 1995. The young rider immediately began developing his own daredevil style and within a few years, made his own debut before a crowd. For 13 years now, he’s been performing a family-friendly motorcycle entertainment program showcasing his famous wheelies at major events nationwide.
Just about any rider with a little experience can rev the engine, pop the clutch and grab a wheelie. But riding on that back wheel for any real distance is tricky.
“You have to keep the rear brake on the entire time, then adjust the throttle for how high you want the front wheel to come up,” Shepard told reporters recently.
It’s an art that Shepard has perfected. In fact, in one particularly popular show feature, he rides a Honda XR 50 with no front wheel detached altogether – sometimes flying over the top of a Ford box-van. Not surprisingly, he holds the current world record for the highest wheelie on a 50cc motorcycle.
Shepard uses four different bikes in his shows. Two are stock Honda CRF 50s. One is a Honda CRF 50 with custom sprocks that allow for performances in small venues. With a modified gear ratio, he can ride a wheelie slower than the average person can walk.
Shepard’s talents have landed him gigs with top-name clients and events including Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, Sports Illustrated, Lucas Oil on the Edge and the Monster Energy Supercross Series. Throughout the 2013 season, he’ll be the featured attraction at the Monster Nation and the Toughest Monster Truck Tour! But his favorite part of performing actually happens between popping those wheelies.
“The people who come out with all of their kids,” he says when asked about the most enjoyable part of his work. “They have stories about when they used to ride, and the kids are telling me about how they have bikes. I just like hearing stories fans tell.”
We’re looking forward to hearing lots of stories of the Wheelie Wizzard’s continued success. From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, welcome to the team, Tyler!