Seth Enslow (not to be pronounced Onslow because our name sake Seth has been to Onslow Norway and says it sucks!) is one of those down to earth legends you are ever going to meet, always keen to sign an autograph or have his photo taken. Seth, with the help of Harley Davidson Australia and Gavin Walker have been able to put Harley Davidson Australia on the world stage with his Harley World Record Jump and for this I proclaim we claim Seth as our own and a somewhat adopted son!
A relative late starter Seth brought his first bike at age 16 years and started racing amateur in New York and Florida and once he graduated from high school in Pennsylvania decided to head across to California on the other side of America. It was there that he got to meet Dana Nicholson who with Jon and Cami Freeman ran Fleshwound Films who were at the time working on a project called The Crusty Demons of Dirt which originally was a look into the underground MotoX riders from the deserts and badlands of California. It was in this film that gave Seth his legendary status and implanted him into motorcycling folk law and one of the longest jumps filmed and though it didn’t come off as well as it might have with Seth crash landing. The jump was never measured and was estimated to have been from 200-250 feet long. Such was the popularity of the first instalment that Fleshwound Films commenced work on the second instalment where true to form Seth came up short again this time on a ramp jump and ended up landing on SuperX Jeremy McGrath’s practice bike and as luck would have it from his fast growing notoriety from the Crusty Videos Seth was able to gain sponsorship and there for the first bike rider to in history to have received sponsorship without a racing career. It was now he was making a living out of riding that Seth decided to attempt the World Record set by Doug Danger of 251 feet. Seth would attend different events and practice his jumps and in 1999 broke Robbie Knievel’s (son of Evil Knievel) record of most jumps of 226 feet but unfortunately once again the landing was fought with danger, on landing the triple clamps broke separating the frontend from the bikes frame sending Seth head first into the ground and to the relief of onlookers a rattled but never say die Seth was back on his feet signing autographs.
Seth’s first attempt at the overall record was made at MotoX rider Mike Cinqmars’ property on a customised Honda CR250 with a 500cc two stroke motor fitted. The first day the jump ramp made its way from 120 feet to a distance of 240 apart with the crew calling it a day due to the side winds. The next day the wind had turned and made for tailwind and making for a safer jump the jumping continued and the first jump was predicted to be around the 220-230 foot but the tailwind at the jump was far stronger than anticipated and pushed 245 feet and far passed his landing ramp and landing flat on the ground. The flat landing caused Seth to hit his head on the handlebars and crushing his skull above his right eye, he was then rushed to hospital where doctors made an incision from ear to ear, peeled his skin off his forehead down and inserted two titanium plates. Seth was then told by doctors he was to have a six month break from riding but the ever stubborn Seth was to ignore Doctors recommendations and four short weeks later broke the overall indoor record of 170 feet at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The second record attempt took place at a dirt bikers haunt called Manny’s Yard. The location was far from ideal with its complicated run up and as the ramp was set further and further apart Seth was finding it hard to get up to speed to bridge the gap which ended badly with Seth ending up coming up short, breaking his leg and getting concussion.
In 2007 Seth was featured on Discovery channel’s Stunt Junkies where he jumped a Convair 880 passenger jet and around 200 feet and after making the jump went back and did it again saying ‘’when would I get another chance to jump an aeroplane that big?”
In 2008 Seth was able to break his personal best at 301 feet but the gold post had been moved with Aussie Robbie Maddison and Ryan Capes both breaking the record. Walking away a champ Seth said ‘’I’m stoked. I may not have broken the World Record but I’m really happy with my jump!’’ Seth has no current plans with attempting the record again with the quote ‘’Stakes being too high’’ in trying to beat the current record held by Robbie Madddison of 346 feet 4 inches.
I was fortunate to be witness of Seth’s history making Harley Davidson record jump back in 2010, where Seth jumped the purpose built Quick Fix Harley Davidson 183.7 feet (55.99 meters) at Barangaroo Park on the Sydney Harbour foreshore to smash the former record held by Bubba Blackwell’s previous record of 157 feet (47.85 metres).
I caught up with Seth at one of his Aussie promotional duties at the Sydney Sexpo and got to have a few beers and the low down on what goes through his head at the time and how the jump went looking back. Seth ‘’the jump went well, it had been windy for a few days leading up. On the morning of the live internet feed we got there early and ended up breaking the record before the live feed was ready. It all went smooth, no problems and I broke the record by a fair way, 175 feet and beat the record by 25-30 feet and I was happy. Then they wanted me to do it again for the live (internet) feed and I was told it was probably in my best interest to do it again for the live feed. All the time I was having second thoughts and I ended up doing it again and smashed my balls on the fuel tank, so bad they still occasionally swell up and maybe more people heard about it due to the live feed but I didn’t get any more than smashed nuts, didn’t make any more money, didn’t get any more gigs. Harley didn’t come on board and say we love this idea here’s a bike for ya’ we are sponsoring ya’ nothing happened. I did it for pennies and tried to build something, I should have stopped when I had the record and see what we could do for the next jump. I did make Harley Davidson Australia proud and for all the work and what they put in to make it happen in Australia. It is what it is, I will wear a cup next time!’’
The jump went down like this ‘’going back to the run up to the jump, I remember thinking what am I doing this for and just hoping for the best, then once on the take off ramp all you worry about is have I got enough speed to clear the gap, concentrate on speed and keeping it straight and just do your thing. But this time before I turned around to make that run it was like what a dumb fuck I am, what am I doing this for? Just broke the record and I had a feeling it wasn’t going to go as well as the last jump. For one, I’m going to go further than the last, because why would I go not as far and going further might not end up as good!’’
On the ramp Seth gave the throttle that extra little crack and got an extra 13 feet which made the landing all which meant the landing was much harder and the impact with the bike and the transition from the ramp to the road also all the more harder and the injury was the result. Seth believes the web style ramp similar to that used by Evil Knievel was partly to blame and the need to keep working on it until they get it where they can jump a little safer and lower the risk factor, but Seth is quick to admit there are times where it is beyond your control and has found that he has received his biggest injuries when the bike has failed. He relives the one occasion when the spokes blew out into the forks and rear sprocket and pitched him over the handlebars and the time the triple clamp broke and he smashed his head on the handlebars both not being due to human error and when you push things to their limit these things happen. Seth admits there is still a lot more research and development needed as the Harley Davidson is primarily and foremost a road bike.
The fact Robby Knievel hasn’t lived up to his father Evil Knievel’s legacy and the fact Seth has been a Harley man since his early twenties. All the inspiration he needed and he would step up and is eternally thankful for the opportunity Harley Davidson Australia and Adrian Donohue for making things happen for Gavin Walker and himself and they are really the ones to be thanked for the jump going down. Now Seth’s goal is to get a jump Harley built in his own garage back in the USA so as he can take his jump shows to some of America’s largest runs such as Daytona Bike Week. The Laughlin Run and Sturgis, confident that he has the contacts to make it happen he is looking for sponsors and singles out energy drink Monster to maybe get behind the project and help build it and as long as Harley tack their name to it will help the brand and rejuvenate the hype and prestige of the Harley Davidson brand. Another reason for the travelling show is to use Seth’s words ‘’get some big jumps out for the people who want it and appreciate them’’ Seth quotes the numbers around 100-200,000 bikes attend shows like Daytona and the numbers double for the two weeks in early August for the Sturgis rally. Seth has had the opportunity to perform in Sturgis and be part of the Metal Motion Jump Show and ridden there numerous times one year Harley Davidson flew him up and shipped his chopper up just to hang out. Seth can see the potential of the shows and says ‘’it has the potential of being good, I just need to get the ducks in a row, get a good bike built, get more hands on and have more input. He also wants to recruit people in the know like Race Tech to help out with design and suspension, Fox Shocks to build the shocks and has already attained the services of Pro Circuit champ Mitch Paten to help where ever he can.
The idea is to fit off road pre runner Trophy Truck Style suspension specifically made for the Harley, which once fitted the bike will sit lower but then there will be plenty of dropout that means once the bike leaves the ramp the wheels will drop down and therefore giving more suspension travel. Seth got the idea whilst building his Ford Ranger. Seth replaced the original leaf spring suspension on a rear four link swing arm and 21’’ Fox shocks and whilst the car sits low gets the full 21 inches of travel out of the shock, there is also hydraulic bump stops adding cushioning for when or if the shock does bottom out. Seth believes the Trophy truck set up is ideal because of the weight they are dealing as where the dirt bike shocks are made for a bike is 1/3rd the weight of the Harley. Seth doesn’t take all the credit for the idea giving Mitch Paten the majority of the idea and in finishing up says ‘’we have to find the right tools for the job and to fly this Harley successfully!’’
These days besides making special appearances Seth makes his living tattooing at his own studio headquarters Tattoo Parlour where he also sells his DVD’s and signature series of shoes and other products. Whilst in Sydney yours truly set him up for a day tattooing at Picton Tattoo Studio. The studio advertised on their Facebook profile and people in their hundreds inquired about tattoo’s but only a lucky few were lucky enough to get in on the day and take it from Seth was both thankful and overwhelmed with the turnout.