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A Fascinating History of the Backflip in Freestyle Motocross AP Photo/Alastair Grant
AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Motocross is one of the most exciting action sports around. Stars like Caleb Wyatt, Carey Hart, Mike Metzger, and the great Travis Pastrana have taken motocross and supercross to new heights. Freestyle motocross features countless amazing feats, but none are as impactful as the backflip. The backflip is similar to the slam dunk in basketball. It has been around for a long time, but is continuously being reinvented.

The first person to ever perform a backflip on a bike was Jose Yanez in 1985. No one had ever conceived of backflipping a full-sized motorcycle until the ’90s. At this time, freestyle motocross was in its infancy and thriving. Carey Hart made motocross history in the Gravity Games by attempting to backflip a 250 cc motorcycle. Hart didn’t quite stick the landing, but that didn’t stop him from making Motocross history.

Check out Hart’s first-ever backflip in the video below.

History of the Motorcycle Backflip

Hart attempted the backflip again in 2001’s X Games and suffered some serious injuries, resulting in bone damage. Hart has sacrificed his body for the progression of the sport on more than one occasion. Caleb Wyatt carried the backflip torch even further in 2002 by landing the trick, proving to the world that a backflip on a full -ized motorcycle is possible. Casey Hart finally conquered the backflip in the FMX Best Trick during the Summer X Games of 2002. This was the same year that Mike Metzger performed two backflips in a row on a motocross bike.

These events would set a trend in motion and change the sport forever. Backflips soon became routine for riders. In 2006, Travis Pastrana changed the game by performing the double backflip. It was on in the motocross world after that. In 2008, Jim De Champ joined in on the fun by performing a front flip for Nitro Circus Live. In 2009, Cam Sinclar completed a double backflip during Redbull X-Fighters.

In 2015, Josh Sheehan perfected the backflip to trump all backflips. Sheehan nailed the first triple backflip on a motorbike at Pastranaland in Maryland. Jose Yanez could have never predicted what his trick would do to the world of BMX and motocross years later. Doing a backflip on a full-sized motorcycle was thought to be impossible once. In motorsports, impossible is just another “world’s first” waiting to happen. We’ve come a long way from the wheelie. If you have a dirt bike of your own, we suggest you leave the flips to the pros.

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