He might be taking time out from Freestyle Motocross to recover from injury but, as we prepare for the Red Bull X-Fighters opener in Dubai, Robbie Maddison runs the rule over who might contend for this year’s overall World Tour title, and also reveals how rocket power might just propel him to legendary status before the year is out!
We’re just about to head into the first round of Red Bull X-Fighters but you’re not there. What’s keeping you out of competition?
Well, I’m feeling good, but I had back surgery a while ago so that’s the reason I’m not competing. I’d been having back problems for quite a while, so I had to get that sorted out. Now it’s finally fixed, but I’ve had to take a bit of downtime. It’s a three to six-month healing process.
Obviously, that’s going to keep you out of a lot of rounds this year. What have you got planned for when you come back?
Yeah, it’s quite a long recovery period but you know, in a way, that’s good. It will give me the time to focus on some other plans I have, to finally bring to fruition some things I’ve wanted to do for a while now.
We have some quite elaborate plans to film some of the crazier stuff I like to do. I’m looking to do a special jump at Skull Canyon in Las Vegas with Red Bull and I’m also doing a project with my sponsor DC. We’ve also had some preliminary meetings about another New Year’s Eve project, so hopefully something will happen there too.
'I’ve made an invention for my bike that will do something that’s never been done before.'
I don’t want to spill the beans on anything just yet, as I’d hate for someone to beat me to the punch, but I’ve got some great ideas, I think. I’ve made this invention for my bike that I think will allow me to do something that’s never been done before. We’re in the process of getting patents for it now, but I think when people see it they’ll freak out.
I had this idea, which a lot of people thought was crazy, but I spoke to a rocket scientist and he said, ‘I can tell you right now, the physics side of it will work it’s just a matter of getting the design right.’
Rockets! It must be about distance jumping, right?
It’s to do with motorcycles all right, but it’s got nothing to do with distance jumps. It’s quite a subtle change to the bike. It’s 95 per cent of a conventional motorcycle but with a little bit of change to allow me to do some very cool stuff.
There’s also the film we’re trying to do. I’ve done a good few one-off things before but I really want to do a lot of them, all in a row. The goal is to do some really impressive jumps, go from one jump to another and film everything along the way.
I still want to do these big jumps, you know. It’s the kind of stuff like I did in 2009, when I jumped off the building [the Arc de Triomphe at Paris, Las Vegas]. I really want to revisit that.
People thought I was crazy to do 10 storeys but there’s a whole lot more I think I can do. I reckon I can go twice as big. If we can make that one happen it will be really entertaining.
So will your involvement in Red Bull X-Fighters be restricted this year?
I really want to be part of it, as Red Bull X-Fighters is such a big element of what I do, but the recovery period with this injury is going to keep me away for a while unfortunately. There’s no way I can make this first competition in Dubai but we’ll see how quickly I can get back to it after that. As soon as I’m ready, I’ll be back.
So will the first time we get to see you be at the US round in Glen Helen?
I’ll be there 100 per cent as it’s close to home but we’ll have to see about riding. If I can ride, I will. The great Ronnie Renner once said something to me the first time he saw me ride: ‘Maddo, it’s not always the best rider who has the best career, it’s the smartest rider.’ It’s taken me about five years to understand that, but I do try to put that into practice now. This sport is so crazy now that if you’re not at 100 per cent you will have problems.
So given that you’re not likely to make these opening rounds of the 2012 World Tour, who are the guys that you think have a good shot at the title this year?
Without a doubt, Josh Sheehan. He’s a great kid, he’s very focused and he’s lucky enough to have been brought up in an environment where he’s been able to do what he wants to do, to learn all the skills he needs, and that’s been great for him. He’s riding phenomenally well and I definitely think he can do it.
There are plenty of other riders who have what it takes. Look at Dany Torres, he’s amazing. He’s a guy who is constantly pushing the limits of what you can do in Freestyle and again, he has all the skills you need to really make a difference in Red Bull X-Fighters.
But you can't forget the Rubber Kid, Levi Sherwood. He’s going to bounce back for sure this year. The amazing thing about Levi is that he’s so young but has so much experience. He's been doing this since he was just a baby. I think Levi’s been doing Freestyle since before I was, He's this whole time to gestate and get better and better at what he does.
I guess, when it comes down to it I think those two guys, Josh and Levi will be the key players this year. Dany, too, if he’s fit. I can’t really see too many other guys having the whole package like those guys have.
Levi, as we all know, has these crazy extensions and that’s his strength, this incredible style. Josh, on the other hand, simply has balls. He’ll go and do a Double Backflip when he needs to, and he’ll make it stick. He doesn’t look as big and as fluid as Levi, but he just has this courage that’s incredible. It’s going to be a hard decision for the judges to separate those two guys. It should be great to watch though.