Two years ago today, on April 28, 2015, FMX legend Josh Sheehan landed the World First triple backflip on a motorcycle at Pastranaland in Maryland, cementing his place in action sports history alongside backflipping pioneers like Travis Pastrana. Travis, as you likely know, was the first to land the double backflip, at the X Games in 2006. Those two amazing accomplishments have led some fans to wonder what was so exciting last week when Harry Bink landed a double backflip at a Nitro show in Australia. “But that’s been done,” they said, questioning why the Nitro Crew appeared to get so excited when he rode away. Here’s the video:
It’s a fair question: Why, more than a decade after the first double backflip and two years after the first triple, are people getting pumped to see a young rider stick a double? We caught up with Sheeny between tour stops in Australia to get his take. The only man to ever land a triple backflip didn’t mince words: “It’s huge for him.” That’s because, he says, only seven riders have ever landed it: Travis, Cam Sinclair, Scott Murray, Sheeny, Jacko Strong, Tom Pages, and now Harry. We’ve said it before: More people have walked on the moon than have landed a double backflip on a motorcycle. And Sheeny is the only rider landing it consistently in shows and competitions, so he speaks from direct experience. Harry joined a very, very exclusive club last week, and with that moment FMX progression ticked a notch higher overall.
Sheeny coached Harry a bit on the double, but he gives all the credit to Harry. “I helped him with timing and to fine-tune his technique when he was trying them into the foam pit. He worked a lot of it out himself,” he says. There’s a reason so few people have landed it and only one rider attempts it consistently a decade later. “On the ramps that we use (American super kicker) it is so difficult to get the rotation,” Sheeny says. “Plus you go higher, and our landings aren’t usually very steep, so you land quite hard. If you crash from that height on a hard landing you can be badly hurt.” He mentions Cam Sinclair’s huge crash in 2009 as an example of the dangers involved. Cam was the only rider performing consistent double backs at that time, but he had a crash on one attempt that put him in a coma for eight days and would have ended his career if he wasn’t as tough as he is driven. But that’s what can happen to a rider who had landed it more than a dozen times, meaning that the trick doesn’t get any less dangerous no matter how many times you’ve done it. “It’s never easy and always scares the crap out of me,” Sheeny says.
As for whether this is a one and done situation for Harry, that remains to be seen. Sheeny says that if Harry decides to make the double a permanent part of his arsenal, it could lead to big things. “He is a very driven guy, and to have one of the tougher tricks it will make him very competitive in the big competitions.”
UPDATE: We talked to Harry, who’s also in Australia right now, and he told us he’s definitely planning to try more double backflips. His confidence is high, and rightly so. He sounds grounded and in a solid place with his achievements at such a young age. “A big thing Josh Sheehan taught me is anything is possible with the right amount of training,” he says. “So long as you never skip training sessions, the possibilities are endless.” He doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t want to try a double backflip. “I had always wanted to do this trick! I never 100 percent knew if I could stick it or not, but I 100 percent knew I always wanted to try it,” he says. The first one didn’t quite go as planned. In the video, it’s clear the landing is a little off, but Harry explains, he thought it was going to be much, much worse. “Well, soon as I left the up ramp, I thought I was dead,” he says. “My foot slipped out of my foot hook, and my feet were no longer attached to the bike. It was just my arms hanging on, hoping I’d stay with the bike! So it scared the crap out of me.” And then, intentionally or not, he leaves us with a mantra for success in almost anything in life: “I just hung on and hoped for the best!”