5 Questions: Italian BMX Rider Alessandro Barbero

A hard-charger at contests, Barbero was the first Italian rider to make big moves on the BMX scene.

Alessandro Barbero completing a jump sequence in a Spanish BMX dirt park
© Riccardo Monti/Red Bull Content Pool

There are few pro BMX riders to come out of Italy to make a name for themselves in the USA, but Alessandro Barbero did just that. Growing up inspired by his father’s passion for motocross, he set out to simply enjoy his love for BMX and follow the path wherever it led him. It’s taken him to amazing places, from competing and performing in demos all over the globe to living and training at Woodward East in Pennsylvania and everywhere in between.

Wherever he goes he shares his passion for BMX and holds it down for Italy. Hopefully his outlook on riding is contagious, as he would love to be responsible for helping to build the sport of BMX in his native country.

1. What was it like growing up as a BMX rider in Italy and how did you eventually make your way to the United States as a pro?

It was not easy; back in the day I started riding without really seeing any other BMX riders. I was just watching X Games with riders like Dave Mirra and I got to see some Props videos but it was very rare. The Internet was just starting to become a source for BMX.

BMX rider Alessandro Barbero from Italy
Alessandro Barbero © Jeremy Pavia/Red Bull

It was the end of 2000 when Oakley showed up in Italy with an action sports program and then Red Bull soon after. I won a few comps in Italy and finally in 2004 I went to Woodward and I could not believe how cool it was to be learning new tricks and riding real ramps! I remember that I learned backflips and backflip x-ups the first day on the resi and from then I just never stopped!

It’s funny to look back on when I picked up a rental car at Red Bull headquarters in Santa Monica; I had a case of Red Bull and a map in the car, without really knowing any words in English… I made it work, though.

2. What was the hardest part about making a name for yourself in a different country?

To be an unknown Italian dude with a sketchy accent did not help, but I never gave up. It was hard for me to make the finals at the main European contests but I wanted to prove myself at every big event. Finally in 2006 I won the BMX Masters; from there I kept on it until I made finals at the Dew Tour in the United States.

3. Between Italy and the USA, who has better...

Food: Italy.
Night Life: USA in a few places like NYC, Miami and Vegas.
Riding spots: USA but Europe is good also.
Scenery: USA.

4. What are your top three favorite riding destinations around the world?

1. South Africa
2. Mexico
3. California

5. What advice do you have for young riders looking to live the pro BMX lifestyle?

It’s getting hard to make a full living off of BMX, especially when there are not a lot of sponsors to go around and most are so cheap. My advice is to just go out and ride your bike like it’s the first day you learned how. I know that might be hard, but at least try. It also helps to move to a place where the BMX scene is strong.

Follow Alessandro and Red Bull Bike on Twitter for more.