Sport / Extreme
Freestyle Motocross – a sport that defies gravity
Freestyle Motocross is better known as FMX, or even Moto-X, and it has its roots in the motocross sport. Freestyle Motocross developed as one of the most enhancing high-adrenaline sports of the new millennium! It is also one of the most viewed sports when it comes to extreme sports events and competitions.
Freestyle Motocross doesn’t focus so much on high speeds as traditional motocross does, but instead it invests a great deal of value on the skills of daredevil pro-riders who perform exciting and gravity-defying stunts way up in the air, almost reaching the sky, as there’s no such thing as too far for them. Maybe their bikes have wings or something, maintaining them in the air light that, while performing all sorts of tricks. No, no, I know. Well, to an untrained eye, it might seem like that. Like the performers have a pair of wings, or their bikes do. These entrancing, amazing jumps are basically made above an extend up to 150 ft, and they’re guaranteeing an amalgam of suspense, risk, danger, excitement and unpredictability, all of which ultimately create an extreme and thrilling source of entertainment for a wide variety of events, and shows.
These professional riders are some extreme acrobatics, willing to risk their life for a worthy dream of theirs, which actually enchants everyone. For them there’s only all or nothing. They jump, spin, twist, flip and fly their bikes high in the air, above the crowd, executing incredible tricks that appear to be out of this world, not real, and defying laws of physics.
Some of these daredevil rides want to be in the center of attention, and they surely know how to achieve it! They mostly do what it requires to make the crowd go crazy screaming, cheering, crying or roaring. They just go for it, and they do what cannot be done or has never been dared before!
Freestyle Motocross history might be one of the most interesting ones that exist, among sport histories, that is. Although it just started with dirt races, it “jumped” all the way to tricks in big air and didn’t cease to amaze people to date.
The first freestyle motocross event is linked to the Scrambles, a British off-road event held in 1924, which took place at Camberley in Surrey. So, the beginning of freestyle motocross history consisted only in a bare dirt race track, but in order to animate things up, the tracks were reduced in length and they were supplemented with laps and a variety of obstacles, especially jumps throughout the course.
The most innovative thing to occur in freestyle motocross was, though, the shift from the four-stroke 500cc motorcycles, which were formerly used, to the new and improved 125cc and 250cc engines. These two improvements introduced lightness and maneuverability into bikes and, thus, made the job easier for riders, to perform more amazing jumps than they ever did before! The big air jumps began occurring when riders remained far behind and didn’t stand a chance of winning, so they tried doing tricks in order to catch up. Since then, these sorts of tricks became popular and freestyle motocross history was caught on television during the 1999 X games, when this sport was experienced as an event.
There are some very impressive moments that were captured throughout the freestyle motocross history and if you were there, and saw them happening right in front of your eyes, you should consider yourself lucky! No other stunt has marked the evolution of this sport like the backflip has done! Initially, it was considered impossible to make a heavy bike revolve backward 360° while flying off a jump. However, the year 2002 change everything, when Mike Metzger and Travis Pastrana prevailed by successfully landing backflips within the X Games. Nowadays, versions of the backflip have become an essential part of nearly every freestyle motocross course, with stunts such as the heel clicker, superman or one-hander being performed while the daredevil is hanging upside-down. In 2006, Travis Pastrana once again elevated the pedestal for freestyle motocross by landing the 1st double blackflip in freestyle motocross competition history.
Tricks represent the bread and butter of pro-riders. Basic tricks of freestyle motocross consists in can cans, nac nacs, no footed, heelclickers, whilst maneuvers at a higher level progress from hart attacks to kiss of deaths and backflips.
• Clifhanger Flip - this is one the craziest tricks because it actually combines two, backflip with cliffhanger.
• Backflip - this is when the rider successfully completes a full backward rotation on his vertical axis while executing a backflip.
• Cliffhanger - this is when the rider distances himself from his bike by adopting a straight posture in the air and grabbing the handlebars from underneath with his toes. However, today, many riders perform a fresh version of this stunt. Now, they also grab the bike’s handlebars with inner foot in order to handle it better. Also, the hands are lifted above their head and the performer stretches is body as much as he can away from the motorcycle.
• Can Can - the rider brings one foot over the seat in front of the other and moves it back when landing.
• Heelclicker Flip - this is amongst the first backflip combinations. While doing a blackflip, the rider adds to it a heel-clicker, which consists in lifting his feet above the forks.
• Cordova Flip - while holding the grips, the riders puts his feet underneath the handlebars, binds his knees to his chest and afterwards twists his back by looking upside-down. All of this happens during a backflip!
• Tsunami - this is when the rider performs a handstand in front of the bars while maintaining the motorcycle in a horizontal and level position.
• Dead body - the riders removes his feet from the pegs and stretches them above the bars in a handstand up, keeping his body in a horizontal position with the bike.
• Coffin & Lazy Boy - the coffin occurs when the rider stretches his legs out in front of the bike and underneath the bars while lying back on the seat, the further the better. The lazy boy is basically similar to the coffin apart from when the rider releases the bars and stretches his arms back over his head.
• Lazy Flip - the rider does a backflip and leans back straight on the seat with his arms stretched out during a rotation. When he’s in an upside-down position, his whole body is horizontal with the bike.
• Kiss of Death - the rider places the bike as much as he can in a vertical position while he’s raising his legs up above his head.
• Kiss of Death Flip - this is a backflip and a kiss of death combo. The rider, while being upside-down and in a handstand position, he lowers his head as if he is to kiss the front fender.
• Rock Solid - the rider performs a super double grab in which he lets go of the bars and stretches his arms sideways. Just for a few instances, he’s completely disconnected from the bike, but he returns soon in his initial position by grabbing the saddle.
• Superman Seat Grab - the rider stretches his legs backwards while keeping his hands on the bars. Afterwards, he lets go of a handlebar and catches the seat with one hand in order to enhance distance of stretching.
• Underflip - this happens when the rider places his bike up to 90 degrees when he’s in an upside-down position during the motion of backflip.
• Nac Nac - while jumping off the ramp, the rider turns the bike a bit sideways by swinging his leg backwards to his other side.
• No Footer - this happens when the rider releases both of his feet from pegs while landing.
• Indian Air - the rider stretches and crosses his legs in a scissor-like movement.
• Hart Attack - this trick honors the name of Carey Hart who was the first person to ever perform it. This trick mainly consists of extending your legs up in mid-air, while a hand is placed as if you’re executing a handstand on the saddle and the other one is still clung to the handlebar.
• Superman - when you remove both feet from the pegs and straighten them behind the bike.
• Backflip Superman or Superflip - this happens when the rider performs a backflip during which he removes his feet from the bike and pushes them straight back.
• Ruler - this is similar to kiss of death, but it’s an extreme version of this trick. The rider mainly jumps off the ramp while releasing his feet straight up and also pushes the bike’s rear end down. This trick has got this name of “ruler” because the rider changes from a 12 o’clock straight posture to that of a 6 o’clock, and the same applies to the bike.
• Double Backflip - when doing this trick, the rider performs two full rotations along his vertical-axis.
Freestyle Motocross is a very difficult sport! Besides the unmistakable danger one’s facing by riding a 250lb bike off 40-ft ramps and launching up to 80 feet in the mid-air, while clinging precariously off the motorcycle, the tricks and stunts require a great deal of time to master and it involves a high level of skill.
Today, pro-riders don’t stop at all from straining themselves to push the boundaries of their bike and physical ability, pursuing a greater and more upper place with every event. For achieving this, they surprise the crowd and judges with amazing fresh tricks that were never tried before.
The following list consists of the most notable riders who have blazed a path for others with their sparkling stunts.
This rider became known for being the first one to execute a backflip while riding a 250cc bike, an achievement he made at the 2000 Gravity Games. Furthermore, Carry Hart initiated another trick that goes by the name of “Hart Attack”.
Travis Pastrana has come up with lots of innovative tricks and is the first performer who landed successfully a double blackflip during his own movie called Nitro Circus 3, as well at the 2006 X Games 12, in Los Angeles, winning the Moto X Best Trick Gold Metal.
Moreover, Pastrana gained some championships and also gold medals at the X Games. Also, there’s worth mentioning that he’s the youngest pro-rider to get a gold medal at X Games, at the age of just 15.
He won the Freestyle and Big Air events during the 2002 X-Games. After this achievement, he astonished the spectators at Caesar’s Palace found in Las Vegas along with the watchers of ESPN because he perfectly landed a backflip over the fountains and, as a result, he broke the distance record when he landed 125 feet far from the ramp.
Deegan is known for being the first rider to execute successfully a 360 trick, which is an off-axis backflip, in a competition, copying actually the stunt called “Mulish Twist”. During his career as a professional rider, he has won 10 medals and he’s the sole performer up to now that has raced in every event of X Games.
When he was still a kid he won many motocross races. Afterwards, he started being fascinated by the freestyle motocross sport and it didn’t took him long to prevail at the World Freestyle Motocross Championship as a professional rider in 2002. He has also won gold medals at the 2003 Gravity Games and 2004 X Games. Furthermore, Adams has come up with some innovative tricks in freestyle motocross, for instance such as the no-handed landing after executing a backflip.
The two principal categories of freestyle events constitute:
- Big Air (that goes by the name of Best Trick as well), in which every pro-rider has the possibility to make two jumps, which most of the times range over 75 feet, as in 22.8 meters, from a ramp covered with dirt. A committee of judges rates the style, trick difficulty, and originality, based on a 100-point scale, and provides a score. The rider who wins is the one who has attained the highest single-jump score.
- Freestyle Motocross, the most old event, in which riders executes two routines that takes from 90 seconds to 14 minutes, on a track made up of many jumps, each one of them differing in lengths and angles that usually cover 1 to 2 acres, as in 0.4 to 0.8 hectares. Same as Big Air, a committee of judges gives to every competitor a score on a 100-point scale, evaluating complicated tricks and modifications throughout jumps.
Famous Freestyle motocross events consists in Red Bull X-fighters, the X-Games, Big-X, NIGHT of the JUMPs, Gravity Games, Moto-X Freestyle National Championship as well as Dew Action Sports Tour Freeriding, which is the initial freestyle motocross. It doesn’t have a pattern and it traditionally takes place in a public area. Riders search natural jumps and drop-offs to perform their tricks on. Several freeriders like to jump on sand dunes. In a way or another, freeriding definitely asks for better skill and mental ability. Famous freeriding spots consist in Texas, Californa, Beaumont in Utah, and Glamis Dunes, Ocotillo and Wells in California.
• Travis Pastrana has had more wounds and injuries than most of the riders have had hot meals. One of his severe injuries occurred when he was only 14 and had to stay in a wheelchair for roughly 3 moths. His spine broke apart from his pelvis when he failed landing in a FMX competition. His entire recovery process was considered outstanding and, therefore, it was filmed into a documentary.
• Freestyle Motocross is a sport that requires acrobats to have some proper control over their bikes in the air while executing different tricks because they risk their lives with every event and competition. The first professional freestyle motocross rider who died is considered to be Jeremy Lusk, who passed away in 2009 due to several injuries that he acquired when attempting to perform a backflip.
• To improve their motorcycles for more difficult stunts they want to perform, most pro-riders modify their bikes to a great extent before a competition is about to happen. Many times, the foam saddle is reduced in size to be easier to catch and supply more room for movement, and the handlebars can be diminished as well, so that the rider could wrap his legs better on them for some tricks.
Published by Claudia Barbu