After Chuck Carothers pulled the Carolla in 2004 to win X Games Moto X Best Trick, the world of body varials went quiet for a couple of years on FMX's premier stage (though it was replaced by double-backflip fever just two years later).
Then Kyle Loza came out in 2007 with the Volt and energized the revolution once again. Loza would be dominant for three years, winning gold twice with the Electric Doom. Since 2009, Loza has been on a quest for another breakthrough trick, which led him on the path to the fabled bikeflip (bike goes around, rider stays vertical). The quest has so far not produced another Holy Grail of freestyle.
But now that Best Trick has been cut from X Games, Loza's new quest is to reinvent himself as a serious freestyle competitor. Here's what Loza had to say before he took a step in that direction Sunday at the Dew Tour FMX Triple Threat event in San Francisco, where he finished 10th.
XGames.com: Let's go back to X Games L.A. in 2012. Your first run resulted in a crash, so you were about to take your second run in Best Trick and the Staples Center was packed. You were sitting at the top of the start ramp, off the bike, and it looked like you were weeping.
Loza: That moment was actually really foggy for me. I don't think I was actually crying. I might have been; I really can't tell you. I didn't even really realize until afterwards, when I was getting checked out by the medical people, that I had a concussion on top of tearing the ligaments and breaking my ankle and stuff. I was kind of just wanting somebody to tell me, you know, "You shouldn't ride right now because you can't even start your bike by yourself and you look like you're high." [Laughs.]
That's how I felt. I felt like a train wreck, like I had nothing left in me to do that night. And I really wanted to. The most emotional thing that I have ever felt in motocross was when I was standing up there and everybody was like, "Let's get Kyle pumped up because he's dealing with a lot of pain," and then everyone started chanting my name and stuff. I just wanted to go so bad, but I knew that if I was going that I was just going to crash again because I couldn't even start my bike.
What was the reaction from people after that event? Was there any flak or negative energy?
Not really. Everyone in the industry and all the riders understood that you can't crash -- ever, really -- on a motorcycle and be OK. [Laughs.] So there was stuff from fans, obviously, because they don't really understand.
I actually got a lot of positive reactions from a lot of people like Tony Hawk and, like, a lot of really cool people that I had never even talked to before. "I was really glad that you didn't go out for that second jump ... glad that you didn't go for it, because it didn't look like you were feeling too hot." I was like, "Thanks, I really appreciate that."
It is often claimed that because you only ride best-trick contests that you are a bit of a "one-trick pony." Do you think that miscredits your abilities?
I think a little bit. I did ride a handful of contests in the past. I have a bunch more stuff and a lot of other tricks than just the bikeflips and Electric Dooms and Volts. I felt like I found a niche and I never want to be the guy who is just following the pack the whole time.
I was already doing backflips and it was feeling kind of, not boring, but really kind of redundant. I just jumped on my own path and, I don't know, I'm happy. I feel like it worked out well and I had a hell of a good few years.
So now that Best Trick is gone, how do you reinvent yourself?
Since the day that I heard that they were even thinking about canceling Best Trick, I started back getting into all of my other tricks and combos and backflips and doing all that stuff.
So I have been backflipping for a few months now. It came back pretty easy. It has been fun, you know, doing all that stuff, and it has made riding fun again, but I almost had to start over as a rookie.
[I thought] "OK, you have an automatic invite for Best Trick because you always do something crazy at Best Trick," but there's so many people fighting to get into Freestyle that I would have to kick myself back down to a privateer level and prove myself again through video or contests or whatever.
Did you make a bid for X Games?
Yeah, I sent a video in and did the whole deal. Did a run and did all my tricks and showed them backflips and everything, but what they said is that it was too late -- I got the video in to them too late.
So Tom Pages is winning high-level competitions without a flip and with tricks that you pioneered. Is that an encouraging thing for the future?
I saw that and it's cool, you know. It's cool to be doing that stuff and I really felt like I could go out and do the same exact thing. I don't really know why I didn't get invited to X Games this year, other than the fact that you can't just kick people out that have been doing it. More of a political thing, I think, for me.
I think the fact that he was already in the Freestyle scene, not just Best Trick, allowed him to get into that and show people that this could be done. But, yeah, I think that's awesome. That's been my dream forever. Since backflips started, I'm like, "I want to go win a contest without doing backflips!"
Are there things in this sport that you still look for and want to achieve?
Yeah, every time I ride I'm still practicing bikeflips. I can do pretty decent Electric Doom combos -- like I have done Electric Doom double grabs, seat grabs, Indian airs, whole bunch of that kind of stuff, plus Volt combos. My immediate goal right now is to just dial in -- because I have that stuff and I have been doing that stuff for five, six years now -- all those Volts and stuff, so I have that basically on lockdown.
I really want to take the backflip and backflip combos and hit that super hard right now. I feel like if I do that, it's like, where else can you go from there? That's why I'm excited to start doing flips and stuff, because it can be fun.
So how do you get yourself seen to let people know that you have that freestyle bag of tricks?
My plan: I didn't really want to go into a contest and do it. I kind of wanted to just go -- and I know it sounds really cliché -- I really just wanted to do it for myself and my sponsors and fans and everybody. I really wanted to just put a straight 90-second video, doing a run at the course that we have at the church, just without any stops in it -- no cuts or whatever, and it would be a ridiculous run that would win X Games.
So that's what I'm shooting for before I'm even trying to get into X Games again. I just want to throw out a ridiculous, video-style freestyle run.
Has this given you time to think about your career and things you might do off the bike?
I have been tattooing for about 10 years and drawing and painting and I still do that a lot.
When I started doing bikeflips a lot I was breaking my ankles like literally every other month and tearing ligaments and having to get ligaments re-attached and stuff. I still have fully unattached ligaments in my ankle right now.
Since then I really stopped skateboarding a lot, and skateboarding basically drove my motorcycle creativity; I don't know how, it just did. It made me really creative and want to attack more. I have been skateboarding a lot more lately and it's literally like my magic pill for motocross. [Laughs.] So if I just skateboard and ride motorcycles, I ride a thousand percent better than if I don't.
Do you make other non-athletic business plans?
Yeah. I have been doing a lot of graphic design for a few of my friends that are in UFC. I'm starting to do some design work for Avenged Sevenfold for all their merchandise and T-shirts and all that stuff. I'm getting back into working for Soletech and Emerica designing shoes. We still have a full-blown recording studio in our house and me and my wife go down and play music every night when the kids go to bed. We have a pretty fun deal. None of it's making a ton of money right now, but it's fun. [Laughs.]