Pulling the tablecloth out from under the place-settings with a performance motorcycle

This is a very clever way to promote your performance motorcycle: BMW chains a very, very long tablecloth with a very, very elaborate cluster of place-settings to a S 1000 RR "superbike" and has a driver roar off, taking the cloth away and leaving the dinner setup intact. Impressive acceleration!

Video: BMW S 1000 RR pulls off the old tablecloth trick (Thanks, Alan!)


  1. Sorry boys, but I’m calling fake on this, since I know how to do the original trick. You have to pull DOWN across the edge to make this work, otherwise you take everything with you. No rig to snap the cloth downwards across the table = no way in hell this is working. Add to that the fact that I doubt any machine of that weight could accelerate as fast as I can accelerate my arm over a 1 meter distance.


  2. Beautiful idea. Too bad the whole physics part screams fake. The key to the tablecloth trick is to pull with your wrists downward, so this cannot be anything other than a cute trick of film manipulation. Still cute, though. Nice ad for BMW.

  3. real or not, that is a heluva bike and it alone deserves to be featured on bb. Never considered myself a BMW guy, but I am a bike guy, and that is a heluva bike.

  4. Motorcycle plus place settings. Hmmm. I wonder what demographic they’re targeting.

  5. This is not faked. The trick is to have some slack in the rope and this is clearly visible. Then the bike has enough time to accelerate up to a good speed and snap the cloth. The table setting will stay there by inertia. Physics can fully explain this. Though I bet they used some particularly smooth cloth.

  6. It looks like there’s evidence to support the clear plastic sheet theory at 0:37 and again at 0:47.

  7. I just wonder when the DMV/police will stop forcing motorcyclists to wear those awful jackets… wait we don’t? What the…

    1. those awful jackets save emergency response teams the trouble of scraping an awful lot of skin off the asphalt every year.

    2. Personally I wear one of those ‘ridiculous jackets’ for the combination of wind and waterproofing, armour, abrasion resistance and reflectivity. Practical just outweighs style when it’s your skin at stake :)

  8. @Anon#8:
    The problem is the elasticity of the cloth – it is a VERY long table. So you can ‘snap’ the cloth for the first few feet without a problem .. but there is no way that the end of the table will have the same sudden pull that the start does.

    Simply a clear plastic sheet would be a handy way to do it. Obviously you’d use the sheet for the ‘pull’ shot and remove it for the close ups – there is no pretence that it is a single continuous shot, after all.

    (Although it might be tempting just to CGI the entire thing!)

    Why would anyone assume that this is real?


  9. No problem believing it: I expect that BMW wouldn’t want to be caught cheating.

    They will use a Teflon coated tablecloth, polish the underside of everything, use only the heaviest silverware, pottery, full bottles… It is likely that the really excessive congratulations at the end were scripted in to sell that it was a difficult trick better, when it wasn’t.

  10. If it’s real it’s unlikely to be the first attempt, though maybe it was the first successful attempt. I wanna see the outtakes.

  11. If you check out Cory’s second “Tablecloth Trick” post (which I assume is not faked) you will see it is quite possible to perform the trick whilst pulling straight on the cloth. No downward pull is required, as some comments have suggested.

  12. I also think it unlikely to be faked. As far as the “you have to pull down” aspect, that is false, you just have to pull from at or below the level of the table. Granted, it does appear that where the line is pulled from the cycle is above the table top, however at 0:37 you can see that the weight of the line lowers the location of the pulling to below the plane of the table.

    I agree with #14 and others that the trick was setup to succeed, with the table full of stuff that is heavy, decreasing the friction between the stuff and the tablecloth and all the stuff had nice, rounded edges on the bottom. Magnets? Maybe, but probably not needed. No problem here, that’s what magicians do isn’t it?

  13. Very simple. All the stuff on the table is wired together (watch how the candle sticks wobble as the sheet is pulled). Then the whole lot is attached to the table at the far end (which I guess is firmly anchored to the ground).

    So what you’re doing is pulling the sheet out from between two layers.

    Then once that’s done, cut to another shot with the table laid out properly (maybe with the odd fork out of place) and everyone celebrating.

    1. #20, I think you are spot on. At :51 you can see wires or something going between the plates.

  14. The table is way too long for this being real. To get this trick to work , you have to snap the cloth so that it slide in only a fraction of a second.
    If you look at items on this end of the table, the cloth is sliding for more than 1 second. No way a plate will be staying in place on a sliding surface for a whole second.

  15. They got an expensive factory crotch rocket onto Boing Boing.

    Now THAT’S what I call an effective viral video…

  16. I doubt magnets were involved at all.

    You’d need a pretty strong magnet to get anything to stay still, which would also pinch the tablecloth to the table. Every time you add a magnet, more force has to be applied, until you’ve added enough that the bike will do nothing but tow the entire table around.

    I guess they could have used weaker magnets just to help things sort of stay put, but there’s still the problem of all that drag adding up.

    Probably simpler to get super smooth dishes and polish the hell out of the table.

  17. Being in the business, I call CG… mostly because there is no slippage on the tabled goods, just a wiggle. That the pieces all wiggle and wind up exactly where they started is typical of CG animation technique. Even though the dynamic friction is low enough for this trick to work (on smaller scales) there is always some horizontal displacement of the objects but none here. There is also a certain consistency to the the lighting and shadowing during the move that says “unreal.” The plastic tarp idea is good though, but I say: This is shopped!

  18. Here’s why it’s fake: Watch the hand-pulled example. While things stay on the table, they all move slightly from the friction.

    Now watch the bike version. Not a single thing on the table moves even slightly.

    No way that happens for real. I work in advertising and I guarantee you it’s fake.

  19. At 0:47 you can look at the corner of the table and clearly see a rather thick plastic covering.

  20. Here’s how I know it’s a fake. Take a look at 0:00 through 1:08; you’ll see a viral video advertising a product on the internet. That’s the tip-off.

  21. It may be faked, but like the Mythbusters (which isn’t always science but is nearly always entertaining) I like to ponder how it *could* maybe be done. Without illusory cheating, that is, just clever engineering of the environment.
    So I say a combo of highly polished table, tableware that’s waxed, and the tablecloth made of a satin weave of very fine silk, and it probably still wouldn’t work.. :P
    But what of adding a couple vibratory motors to the bottom side of the table, only in a horizontal plane, to keep everything shifting just enough to eliminate static friction, and keep it at bay?
    I dunno, but I’d like to see it tried. Perhaps by the afore-mentioned Mythbusters?

  22. Please. Its *terribly* obvious that it has to be a fake.
    Let’s move on. There are cat/piano videos to be discussed.

  23. there is downward pull. look at the bike driving away. the rod that holds the cloth width wise will add the needed downward pull everyone speaks of to make this possible.

  24. Mythbusters confirmed that this trick is indeed done with a plastic sheet between the table and the tablecloth.

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