Six time X-Games gold medallist Jackson Strong came to Udaipur to show us some flips, tricks and also sat down with us to answer some questions.
Jackson Strong came to India for the first time to light up the streets of Udaipur, as part of an ad shoot for Monster Energy, He was to jump a 75-feet distance and perform what he’s best known for, mid-air magic.
He was riding a Yamaha YZ 250 although not one he’s very comfortable with as his own bike was stuck in customs.
Jackson is a six time X-Games gold medallist from Australia. He has won the coveted best trick award multiple times, He’s well known in the motocross and X-Games space for innovating and trying out of the world tricks at the biggest freestyle stage in the world. He made his X-Games debut at age 18 and he was the first one to ever land a front flip at the X-Games, when he was just 19. He has also taken his freestyle riding to the snow, riding snow bikes– crossing his freestyle riding roots with snow sports.
Before his stunt we asked him a few questions,
FBI: When did you start riding?
Jackson: I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 8 years old and riding professionally since I was 14.
FBI: What bike are you riding now?
Jackson: Yamaha YZ 250 since the last 10 years.
FBI: Were you always riding offroad?
Jackson: Always, I’ve had the privilege of some road riding and try some road motocross and supercross but my passion has always been doing jumps and tricks in the air.
FBI: How’d you get into freestyling?
Jackson: Where I grew up there was nobody to race with so there was no competitiveness, I kind of had to do a solo sport and freestyle suited me.
FBI: How ludicrous do you have to be to do the tricks you do?
Jackson: I think from the outside it looks quite scary but for me it’s what I’ve done my whole life. For me, jumping a dirt bike through the air is easier than walking across the road, especially in India.
FBI: What’s your favorite trick?
Jackson: I like backflips, it’s comfortable for me, not too hard or scary. Doing double backflips is quite scary though you can’t make a mistake.
FBI: How did you get good at freestyle?
Jackson: I was fortunate enough to have some mentors when I was riding in my early days and they coached me a little bit. At the end of the day it's a craft that you really have to put effort into to get good at it like anything. I’m sure if anyone else put the same hours as I have on a motorcycle would be just as good I’ve put a lot of work into it over the years and I think every aspect in life no matter what you’re doing as long as you put time, effort and work into it something good will happen.
FBI: How do you modify your bike for stunting?
Jackson: You have to make the suspension a little stiffer to handle jumps. Heavier springs, heavier oil, heavier valving in there to make it harder. Go through things to give it a little more power and to make it lighter and stronger is best. My bike at home in Australia has a custom engine, it makes a lot more power, it runs a higher compression, I take a lot of the gears out of it to save weight, titanium bolt kit to save weight. I save around 2kg just from titanium parts.
FBI: What message would you give to prospective stunt riders in India?
Jackson: Stunt riders all around the world, I think it doesn’t matter what you’re doing whether you’re riding a motorcycle, driving a car, kicking a football or even playing cricket, as long as you’re having fun doing it that’s all that matters.
With everything ready, Jackson first started out with a few practice runs, keeping it simple he started out with leaving his hands while in the air and gradually moved on to doing a ‘Superman seat grab’ as well as, ‘ThE Cliffhanger’. He was very particular about the distance between the ramps, as well as the angle, and kept increasing it little by little as he got confident after every jump. Once he was ready, he went for his actual runs and did some jaw dropping tricks for us, we’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Words by Karan Singh