A Crank Brothers' Interview with Danny MacAskill
March 19th, 2018
March 19th, 2018
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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Sponsored by Crank Brothers' pedals, Danny MacAskill is well-known for his trials and bmx tricks, from picturesque Scottish locations to elaborated studio-created playgrounds. Danny is pretty much a household name now. We join Crank Brothers in looking back on his life:
Crankbrothers: Danny, let’s go back to the start. How did you get into riding bikes, and more specifically, trials?
Danny Macaskill: I’ve always been into my bikes. Our parents were quite hands off so we just got left to our own devices and bikes were a way of getting around.
In 1997 my friend’s older brother started getting into mountain biking. They started reading Mountain Biking UK and they also bought Chain Spotting, which was an MBUK video. That was the first time I saw Martyn Ashton, Martin Hawyes, and Hans Rey together in a video. From then I was just like wow, it totally opened up my imagination. I stated looking at the most expensive mountain bikes and really got into that sort of stuff.
I got my first mountain bike in 1998, a Kona Fire Mountain, which I put a DMR bashing on. That was the single moment where I turned my mountain bike into a trials bike. I remember thinking when I learned to do front hops, I felt like I’d learned trials. I was done!
"It's not like I’m anything special, I just make trials videos. I just happen to be in this niche."
CB: You grew up in Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye but moved to Edinburgh, how did that move come about?
DM: When I was a kid we’d go to Aviemore on holidays. There was a bike shop there called Bothy Bikes and I used to go in there all the time and buy my parts or drool over other parts, most of which were completely unobtainable as a 13-year-old kid! When I left school I went and worked in that shop for a few years.
After that, I fancied getting closer to the trials scene which I thought was in Edinburgh. Turns out it wasn’t. So I moved down there to work in a bike shop again. I did meet some other riders though and it completely opened up a whole new world. All my environments before were fairly limited in size but then Edinburgh was huge!
My riding really progressed there and I eventually moved into a flat with some friends who all rode bikes, one of whom was Dave Sowerby, who was an amazing BMXer and filmer. Dave offered to do a little bit of filming with me in Autumn of 2008 while he was injured and off his BMX.
Some of the stuff I was doing in Edinburgh at the time, I saw as a huge opportunity to really push myself and my riding further than I had before.
CB: Who were your biggest influences when you were growing up and developing as a trials rider?
DM: Definitely Martyn Ashton and Martin Hawyes, they were the staple of the British trials scene, they were in MBUK every month, on the front covers, they were the boys. They still are in my mind. Also Chris Akrigg, he’s been a huge inspiration to me and still is. He’s a big inspiration on the filming side too.
CB: Your first video, Inspired Bicycles, really put your name and riding on the map. We’ve got to talk about that spiked fence...
DM: That was something I picked and wasn’t sure if I could do or whether it was possible by anybody, not even my heroes. First day I went to try it, got my ass kicked on my lunch break. Second day, got my ass kicked again. For the first time I really started feeling defeat. I’d never experienced these feelings before, having a goal like that and not being able to do it.
"Instead, it just exploded. When that went off, talk shows in the States were calling, things from all over the world. Inspired Bicycles set up an email account and it was getting nearly 200 emails."
CB: There was a clip of you falling off?
DM: Yeah that was the first day, so I had a glimpse that it was possible but it was so hard. It was terrifying; you were waiting for disaster the entire time because you can’t feel the bike in contact with the fence. Eventually getting it was probably one of the biggest moments of my entire riding career. I’ve taken that formula, that work ethic, and I’ve transferred that into the rest of my riding. It’s almost been eight years now, going on nine.