Evel Knievel's Harley-Davidson XR-750

More than a daredevil, Evel Knievel combined sportsmanship and show business to become one of the most famous performers in America. The perils of his sport—making a motorcycle "fly" over a row of vehicles—clearly were not for the average rider. Many of his jumps were successful; but in some spectacular crashes, Knievel fractured 35 to 40 bones. His visually stunning, suspenseful performances were perfectly suited to television and were especially exciting because of the chance that he might crash.
Knievel's shows were a celebration of America's love affair with motor vehicles. His pre-jump show featured motorcycle "wheelies" and off-beat vehicles, and he jumped almost exclusively over rows of automobiles, trucks, and buses. By performing at stadiums and coliseums, Knievel perpetuated the tradition of live thrill shows for local audiences. But national and international media coverage of his jumps placed him in a league with some of the world's best-known entertainers.
Knievel rode this motorcycle during some of his most spectacular jumps. By carefully coordinating his angle, thrust, and speed, which reached 90 to 100 miles per hour at takeoff, he remained in the air for as far as 165 feet. He chose (and customized) this motorcycle, a 1972 Harley-Davidson XR-750, because it was a light, dependable racing machine. Made of steel, aluminum, and fiberglass, it weighs approximately 300 pounds.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Knievel, Evel
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
fiberglass (overall material)
overall: 114 cm x 91 cm x 206 cm; 44 7/8 in x 35 13/16 in x 81 1/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Popular Entertainment
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

11/14/2012 10:54:51 AM
7/18/2013 2:45:03 PM
Great shot! I wish there were more angles and close ups of detail. And we motorheads out here would love some more tech details, such as mods etc.
5/28/2015 7:55:02 PM
Ron Wigglesworth
I hope you continue to add more to the display showing more of Evel's history. The Snake River Canyon jump is something no other daredevil has ever attempted. Evel Knievel was a true pioneer and legend. He was truly "America's Daredevil'.
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