History of the Backflip in Freestyle Moto X

Backflips were already common in BMX after being invented by Jose Yanez back in 1985 and Yanez even did a backflip on an 80 cc motorcycle in 1991, but backflipping a full sized motorcycle was considered impossible during the 90s. jose-yanez-circus

Freestyle Moto X was developing during the 90s with many BMX tricks being adapted and adopted by Moto X. The 1998 movie, Children of a Metal God teased the possibility of a backflip with riders doing it into the water.

At the 2000 edition of the Gravity Games Carey Hart attempted the first ever backflip on a full sized motorcycle. He successfully rotated and landed but crashed and did not roll away. This is still considered by many to be the first successful backflip despite the landing.

carey hart 2000 gravity games.gif

Carey Hart went on to attempt it at the 2001 X Games but crashed breaking several bones.

carey hart x games 2001 crash.gif

Caleb Wyatt went on to land the trick in 2002 but it still had not been performed in a competition.

caleb wyatt 2002.jpg

2002 finally saw the backflip in the Summer X Games with Carey Hart (and others) landing it in the FMX Best Trick.

carey hart 2002 x games.gif

and Mike Metzger doing the first back to back backflip, which was incorrectly referred to as a ‘double backflip’ at the time due to a real double backflip being considered impossible.

mike metzger 2002 back to back.gif

Backflips then became ‘required’ tricks for a FMXer to have in his arsenal and variations such as no hander and superman backflips were the norm. The distance over which backflips were done also increased and the ‘360’ or off axis backflip was also becoming popular. In 2006 Travis Pastrana executed the first ever double backflip at the Summer X Games for the Best Trick competition.

pastrana double 2006.gif

Pastrana swore afterwards that he would never do the double backflip after his first success and the trick seemed as if a repeat would be impossible. In 2007 however, footage of Scott Murray landing the double backflip on a homemade setup emerged and he attempted the trick at the 2007 X Games but was unsuccessful. Murray eventually landed the double at a competition in Italy.

scott murray 2007.gif

At the 2008 X Games, Jim De Champ attempted a front flip and was unsuccessful but three months later landed the first front flip on a full sized motorcycle for a Nitro Circus TV special.

jim de champ front 2008

In 2009 at the Red Bull X Fighters Cam Sinclair was the first to do a double backflip during a Freestyle Moto X run. Before this the double was only done as a best trick and was never attempted during a run with other tricks.


In 2010 Jolene Van Vugt became the first female to do a backflip on a full sized motorcycle at a Nitro Circus event.

jolene van vugt.gif

In 2015, Josh Sheenan also of the Nitro Circus was the first person to land a Triple Backflip on custom setup at ‘Pastranaland’ in Maryland.

josh sheehan 2015 triple 1.gif

Sheenan wore a helmet camera to perform the trick and a first person view of the first ever triple rotation on a full sized motorcycle is something to behold.

josh sheehan triple 1st person.gif


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