I’ve often wondered what goes into the making of a stunt bike. So I got Ernie Vigil, rider with the Icon Empire team, to spill the beans. Vigil’s passion is XDL Sportbike Freestyle, which is the national stunt riding competition in the US. XDL stands for “Extreme Drifting League” and the bikes are modified to increase maneuverability and control. In 2010, Ernie got himself a new mount—nicknamed ‘Carbon Lifeform’—and it seemed better than his previous rides. “It had bigger gearing, fatter chain pitch, and nice paint with tons of clear. All the goodies, but it was too good to be true.” Ernie now refers to that bike as ‘Fatty’, and built himself a new bike for the current season—the machine we’re looking at here. It’s a 2004 Kawasaki ZX636—otherwise known as the Ninja ZX-6R—meaning it’s a 636 cc inline four pumping out 117hp at 13,000rpm.
The new bike is lighter and better thought out, although it carries over some key components. “It still has the same Galespeed wheels, the unbelievably light aluminum pegs that our teammate Shin makes in Japan, and a Freestyle Ingenuity [engine protection] cage.” There’s also a Leo Vince full exhaust, a new front end from a 2009 ZX-6R, custom bars and a shorter, lighter tail unit. “It all makes a difference,” he says. “After just two weeks of riding, every day gets better and better. Fatty has been replaced with Slim.” The carbon bike weighed 400lbs and this new bike is around 370-380. It was painted by Outlawz Customs, who brought to life the color scheme designed by sponsor Icon. Ernie’s enjoying XDL again on this machine, saying it “relights the flames of when riding was at its best. I’m actually having fun again.” To see Ernie’s definition of ‘having fun’, check out his antics on a Ducati Hypermotard on YouTube. [Head over to Icon's excellent Limiter site for a recap on the latest round of the XDL Championship.]