In our May/June 2011 issue we featured the Moore brothers (Caleb and Colten) who during their second year competing in the Winter X Games made history by doing the unexpected and pulling off the world’s first tandem backflip on a sled. Little did we know then that while all of that was going down in Aspen sparks were already flying back at a shop in Texas where work had already began on Caleb’s next endeavor. Caleb had approached All Terrain Research, a performance off-road parts manufacturer, with the plan to backflip a Polaris RZR.
Building The Dream
Caleb had dreamed up a crazy idea on how he could pull off the RZR flip. A never-before-seen freestyle ramp would need to be constructed with one wicked RZR chassis setup. Caleb’s idea was to build a ramp that would have special rails that would extend to create a steeper angle. The steeper angle would allow only the front wheels of the RZR to launch off of it. This would be achieved by building a very wide front end and narrow rear end. The wide front end and steep rails would give the vehicle enough of a pop to perform a backflip. By allowing the rear end to travel across the standard ramp angle this would keep the machine from going straight in the air and landing on its roof.
This was a new way of attempting to successfully land the first true ramp-to-dirt vehicle backflip. “When Caleb first pitched his idea of the RZR backflip we jumped right on board. Caleb’s design idea was great, and we could build everything he needed,” ATR owner Jeremy Bratcher said. Work began immediately at the ATR shop in Tyler, Texas. Caleb’s ramp design went from an idea, to a CAD design, to a steel structure over the next couple of months. When the ramp was completed, ATR began to work on the radical chassis design.
All Terrain Research began with a new stock frame and began strengthening it to handle the stunt. The guys at ATR installed their chassis-strengthening products and made a complete gusset kit for the frame. When the frame was done the fabrication team moved on to building the extended front arms that would be crucial for landing the flip.
ATR built a +14-inch front end that would start the rotation by allowing the wheels to travel along the steeper rails on the launch ramp. They went in and reinforced the stock rear arms, then outfitted the arms with custom Fox Racing shocks to absorb the impact of the landing. The rig was also modded with their new RZR Predator rollcage, the front and rear bumper tied directly into the cage and the frame reinforced. The RZR was then equipped with a remote engine kill switch so it could be shut down when entering the foam pit to minimize the chances of starting a fire in the pit. The cockpit was equipped with three fire extinguisher hose locations that would cover Caleb in the event of a fire to allow time to get him out of the pit. Along with these safety features the machine also has racing harnesses and suspension seats.
After all the fabrication work was done it was time to place the project back in the hands of Caleb Moore. The ATR team loaded up the ramp, RZR and headed to Denton, Texas, to make the first flip attempt into the foam pit at the Moore FMX facility.
With uncertainty in the air about what the outcome would be from the first attempt everyone was on edge. As usual Caleb was calm and collected, focused on completing his goal. Caleb set the flip rails at the angle he thought would be needed to make a flip, lined up the RZR and went for the backflip. To everyone’s amazement the RZR rotated perfectly on the first attempt! “I could not believe I was able to flip perfectly the first try. It was such a good feeling when I spotted the foam in my rotation and I knew I had pulled off the flip. I was so excited to know that this was going to work. My second attempt at the flip didn’t go so well, though, and we figured out pretty quick that it wasn’t going to be easy to flip this thing to dirt,” Caleb explained. During the second attempt Caleb didn’t align the machine with the flip rails correctly causing the rear tires to catch the edge of the rails and sending the RZR out of control into a barrel roll. This brought the seriousness of this stunt back into the picture.
Marks where added to the ramp with white spray paint to give a better line of sight at the ramp, and Caleb went on to complete multiple flips into the pit. Now to bring it to all to dirt.
Viva Las Vegas!
The plan for Vegas was to perform two shows in one week. The first was for the Lucas Oil Off-Road Xperience held during SEMA week, one of the largest vehicle conventions in the U.S. Caleb and Colten Moore along with Marco Picado performed a freestyle show that saw them flipping their ATVs across the Vegas skyline and exciting the crowd for what was to come.
Finally, it was time for the true test. This time there would be no a foam pit to cushion any mistakes. Caleb had to rely purely on his instinct to make sure he was aligned correctly with the ramp and to make sure he was going the correct speed. (Did we mention Caleb’s RZR has no speedometer? He jumps the ramp by sensing the correct speed.) One false calculation would result in disaster. Which unfortunately happened with the first backflip attempt in Vegas. Caleb came in a little slow and under-rotated the flip. He came crashing down on his front bumper, and that then sent the machine into a front flip down the landing.
Caleb remounted the extremely tough ATR RZR and lined up again at the ramp. With more speed, he launched off the ramp for his second attempt. The RZR made a good rotation but started to come in slightly sideways. The slightly corked rotation caused the RZR to come down to the right of the landing. Caleb held on tight as he tried to steer the machine safely down the side of the landing. He had done it! He had successfully landed the first UTV backflip to dirt!
With following Caleb Moore’s progression in the sport of freestyle FMX and seeing what All Terrain Research can create we find ourselves again asking the question, what’s next?
For more information, pictures and video on the ATR Caleb Moore Polaris RZR Backflip Project, visit www.allterrainresearch.net, or for show booking information call 714/270-6946. ATVR