Ronnie Renner has been a dominant rider in the freestyle motocross world for years, winning gold medals, breaking barriers, and literally raising the bar for his sport. A freerider with notable film and media appearances to his name, in recent years he’s become the king of air.
Renner started riding motocross as a four-year-old growing up in Florida. By age eight, he was experimenting with freestyle.
When he was in his early 20s, Ronnie started to attract attention. Soon he was landing on the podium at X Games, Red Bull X-Fighters and he had a full schedule of outstanding performances. He claimed the WFA World Championship and won IFMA Entertainer of the Year in his rookie year. Already recognised as a man with laser focus when it came time to throw down a top performance but who also loved to have fun, it’s no surprise Ronnie found his way through freestyle.
A pre-eminent FMX maven, Ronnie highlights most of his rides with his trademark huge whips, rather than risk-taking. His motto has always been, “I’d rather be in ’em all than win ’em all.”
The Discovery Channel’s Stunt Junkies television show came knocking in 2007, wanting to film Ronnie’s attempt to break the step-up world record. The previous record, 10.67m, had stood for years, but Ronnie gave it his all and cleared 10.84m. He’d go onto beat his own record many times after that.
An X Games competitor since 2001, he won his first of many X Games gold medals in Moto X Step Up in 2007, achieving fame and adding yet another layer of cred to his record. “It was something that was really special to me because there were no judges,” he says. “There were no doubts that I’d won.”
It’s always that “one last time” when something big happens. For Ronnie, trying it one last time landed him a world record. In 2008, Ronnie launched off a giant quarterpipe and soared more than six storeys (18.04m to be exact) above the Santa Monica Pier in front of almost 20,000 people as part of the Red Bull Experiment.
The following year, he broke the quarterpipe record again at a jump in Chicago that launched him 19.25m into the air.
“My whole career has been shaping up to do something unique like this,” Ronnie said. “I feel like the sport needs it. I don’t want to just be a trick guy. This is where my heart is at.”
In 2012, he made history again by breaking the Step Up world record, soaring 14.33m at X Games Los Angeles and literally setting the bar for what people thought possible. Of course, he earned a gold medal along the way, too.
“You never shoot for a record – you just do what it takes to win,” Ronnie says. “That night, I had a good competition and it all ended up working out.”
In recent years, Ronnie has been focusing on freeriding – filming and riding for himself, away from judged contests. He’s done stuntwork for Hollywood films like Fantastic Four and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and filmed plenty of his own edits.
But there’s one competition that keeps drawing him back: X Games. He’s since become the most dominant athlete in X Games Step Up history, winning more gold medals than any other athlete in the discipline. He won Step Up gold in 2007, 2009, 2012, twice in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
“Step Up isn’t judged and it feels more calculated,” Ronnie says. “It’s more in my wheelhouse of what I want to be doing on the bike. It’s where I feel the most confident and comfortable.”
Being the one to beat, he says, gives him the motivation he needs. “I go in with a lot of confidence,” he says. “I have that target on my back but I like the pressure. It’s always more fun when you’re the one to beat.”
In 2015, X Games debuted the Real Moto contest, a film competition that challenged riders to create 90-second video edits that would be judged by fans and a panel of judges. Ronnie sent it in front of the cameras, shooting an action-packed clip with huge airs in four locations across the southwest.
“I wanted to make it look like I was really charging across the southwest,” he says. “I put in all types of riding to showcase my riding and I tried to cover my bases with what freeriding is all about – locations, big jumps, and hopefully some good style.”
Not surprisingly, Ronnie ended up with the gold medal in Real Moto, winning the inaugural contest.
When he’s not riding his motorcycle, Ronnie is at home with his four kids in Murrieta, California. “My biggest motivation and inspiration are my children,” he says.Read more