When it comes to the world of dirt bikes beyond the track, Axell Hodges has become one of the biggest household names of the up and coming generation in the sport. At 22, he’s made huge gains in contests, such as X Games, and across social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Whether it be a step up or whip contest or some other wild stunt, Hodges has shown he’s capable of it all. This year, his Real Moto video in particular earned him X Games gold, and for good reason (check it out here). We got caught up with Hodges recently to see what’s new and what’s to come.
With all of the different things you do on the bike, where do you come up with the ideas for some of the different tricks or jumps?
I really just come up with it in the moment, that’s when I think up stuff. When I try to come up with something, it usually doesn’t go to plan, so instead, I just try to have fun and do new stuff, and that’s when we get the best results.
It used to be that freestyle motocross was pretty specific, but now it seems like the definition has broadened. Would you consider yourself a freestyle motocross rider or something else?
I’d probably call myself a free rider. I don’t do all of the crazy double backflips and gnarly stuff that those guys do. When people ask me what I do, I just say I ride dirt bikes [laughs]. I’m just more of a free rider.
Is freestyle something you have any desire to do?
Being a kid growing up, I always wanted to be a racer and that’s all I knew. I got burnt out on it, but I kept riding and having fun and I turned into a free rider. I never really planned on it and I never had a desire to do it, but it just happened.
At what point did things turn and you decided you were going to start doing this instead of racing?
It was probably the last year that I raced the Monster Energy Cup. I also did the Best Whip contest and got second place in the contest. That led to me getting an invite to X Games and that’s when it took over. I realized I could make a living off of going to X Games and competing in that. I’d say that was two or three years ago.
You’ve made some really good connections with other guys who are into similar things. How did you build those relationships?
Just doing what I do and going to X Games. I rode with Twitch when I was a younger guy growing up. Now he’s my good buddy and yeah, he’s kind of a dickhead sometimes [laughs], but he’s cool. It’s cool, we’ll go to X Games and hang out with the skateboarders and BMX riders and the guys I look up to, and they know who I am and that’s kind of cool. We’ll hang out and go to the skate park. That’s pretty cool to me to have connections like that.
You and Twitch also play some pretty good pranks on each other too, what would you say is the best prank you’ve gotten in on each other?
Honestly, it’s usually all fake because Twitch is old and just trying to keep his Instagram alive, but I don’t know, I don’t usually get to prank him that bad. He peed in my helmet and he claims that was all fake, but I don’t really trust him that good [laughs]. I don’t think I’ve pranked him that bad, but I did pour some water on him in a video [laughs].
To wrap things up, you had a pretty gnarly year between the wheelie-front flip combo and some of the jumps you’ve done. Where do you see things going next for you in terms of your progression?
I definitely want to start flipping some stuff. I did a mini flip, but that was pretty average. I want to start flipping some bigger jumps, not to be the best freestyle rider in the world, but for the purpose of doing something new and for the videos. Everyone gives me shit for not flipping, so I have to get out there and start working on it.
Is there anything creatively you’ve thought about working into a flip?
Yeah, there is, but I’ll probably keep that a secret so that somebody out there doesn’t use it for Real Moto next year or something. There’s some stuff I’ve thought up that I’d like to bring to life for sure.