Weekend Warm-Up: Danny MacAskill Retrospective

In 2009, Danny MacAskill posted a video on YouTube that changed his life. Filmed by his flatmate, Inspired Bicycles has been watched more than 200,000 times. He’s since featured in more than 20 videos, forging a career as one of the most recognized street trials cyclists in the world. Next, he plans to move into filmmaking.

Danny MacAskill’s 2009 breakthrough video platformed his career. Photo: Mountain Bike Rider


Street trials (non-competitive freestyle bike tricks) is a sport of patience. It took MacAskill 12 years of relentless practice to master the skills in Inspired Bicycles. In the five-minute video, he flies backward with his bike down concrete steps, bounces over narrow ledges, and even somersaults up a tree.

From mechanic to trick rider

By using an ordinary piece of sports gear in a typical urban setting, he found a broad audience. After the video’s success, he quit his mechanic job to focus exclusively on trials riding.

MacAskill was just 23 years old when that breakthrough video jumpstarted a professional bike career. For the last 13 years, he’s brought trials riding into the mainstream and inspired many young riders, including Fabio Wibmer.

At first, MacAskill created videos similar to his first success. Bouncing, twirling, and leaping with his BMX to a backdrop of popular music, he chose locations that practically anyone can find themselves in. Then in 2013, things ready heated up for the Scotsman.

His video Imaginate took two years to create. In it, MacAskill traded his usual urban setting to create a miniature world. Riding alongside giant card decks, blocks, and a Rubik’s Cube, he invited viewers to witness his technical ability within a make-believe scene. More than 92 million people have viewed this fresh perspective to BMX riding.

MacAskill has ridden his way around the Playboy mansion, balanced on rotten trees and disused seesaws in an abandoned Italian village.

In a new era of long-form film, he starred in The Ridge and The Slabs. Both involved the dual challenge of mountaineering and technical riding.

Onto comedy skits

More recently, MacAskill tried his hand at skit-style videos. Using a comedy flavor, he casts New Zealander Rose Matafeo in Danny MacAskill’s Gymnasium (2020). His dumb-bell and vault routines are probably bicycle firsts.

Danny Daycare is another MacAskill comedy. He’s featured flying through a forest carting a toddler behind his bike. It comes with the caution, “Please don’t try this at home [obviously].”

He’s won National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year Award, and in 2012, he carried the Olympic Torch through Glasgow. He graced Hollywood as a stuntman. Twice he’s been nominated for Action Sportsperson of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

Not one to sit on his laurels, MacAskill revealed his latest plans earlier this year.

Since the pandemic shelved international projects, he plans to lay down permanent roots in his native land. He’s currently looking to purchase farmland with dramatic scenery to create ground-breaking new films from home. Moving away from simply being a YouTube sensation, MacAskill hopes to run a filmmaking business.

“You can easily get swept up in how things are and how you have to travel all over the place and are constantly on the go to the next thing. It makes you question the lifestyle you were leading before, getting onto planes going all over the place,” says MacAskill.

“The last year has really made me want to try to get a place of my own in the country and make more stuff on my own doorstep. It’s nice to travel a lot, but I feel I can be more productive at home. It’s about extending my career, but it’s also about having space to enjoy what I’m doing.”