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Bike

9 times city centres got transformed into MTB and BMX paradises

From thrilling downhill MTB runs to BMX madness, here are the best events that transformed major metropolises across the world.
Written by Joe Ellison and Savannah Howard
8 min readPublished on
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Gee Atherton

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Kriss Kyle

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Emil Johansson

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If there’s one thing you can count on from a new Red Bull event, it’s that you’re unlikely to have seen it anywhere else.
They’re unique, ground-breaking, and, occasionally they even bring the biggest action directly to city centres, turning mundane high streets into a concrete playground for a raft of top sporting talent – from motorsports to adventure sports, and everything in between.
The latest being Red Bull Roof Ride, a fresh MTB event coming to Katowice, Poland on August 20-22; and to mark the occasion we’ve compiled a list of the most adrenaline-soaked two-wheeled showpieces to happen in the middle of major cities, both past and present.
01

1. Red Bull Roof Ride

Where: Katowice, Poland
Bike · 1 min
Red Bull Roof Ride course animation
Mountain bike slopestyle is a big attraction at events like the Crankworx mountain bike festivals. It's hard not to be impressed by the huge tricks pulled off on massive dirt and man-made jumps. Taking that spectacle to the city would be hard to replicate you'd think? Red Bull Roof Ride, which takes place this coming weekend on August 21, shows nothing is impossible when it comes to building a slopestyle course in a city.
Roof Ride will see some of the world's top slopestyle riders compete on a specially built track that starts from the roof of the International Congress Center in Katowice and features a 16 metre drop from that very roof. In terms of what to expect from Red Bull Roof Ride, watch the animation of what the slopestyle course is expected to look like in the video above.
02

2. Red Bull Copenride

Bike · 3 min
What is Copenride?
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
The concept for Red Bull Copenride was to bring the mountains to the people, and boy did they a one of a kind mountain bike slopestyle course. A huge 'urban mountain' was built within a week at a stunning location overlooking the impressive waterways and harbours of Copenhagen. The course was a big showstopper with most of it built on high scaffolding and then featured eight dizzying jumps that tested the riders once the athletes dropped in.
Twenty of the world's best mountain bike slopestyle took to the course in August 2021. But weather conditions meant finals didn't take place and qualifying runs the previous day were taken as the result. Emil Johansson scored the best in qualifying, and so took the win. Szymon Godziek had the second best score with Nicholi Rogatkin the third best. The inaugural event drew was able to draw in huge crowds and the expectation is that the event will return to the slopestyle calendar in 2022, and hopefully we'll see a full event schedule.
03

3. Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo

Motorbike Road Racing · 3 min
Winning Run Red Bull Valparaiso Cerro Abajo 2019
Where: Valparaíso, Chile
An annual extreme urban MTB downhill race in the heart of Chile’s port city Valparaíso, riders must navigate tight streets and cobblestones, whizz past front doors and rattle over rooftops on their way to the finish line. Cheered on by thousands of spectators cramming themselves into the narrowest alleyways for a glimpse of the action, it covers over 2km of downhill track and finishes up at the fountain of Neptune at Plaza Aníbal Pinto.
In 2019, at the 17th edition of the race, those roars were a little louder than usual as local rider Pedro Ferreira became the first Chilean to take the title in seven years, fending off some tough competition from Czech star Tomáš Slavík who’d won the previous two races there. You can watch a POV of Ferreira's insane run in the video above. And if mind-bending DH courses are your thing, you may also want to check out Red Bull Monserrate Cerro Abajo in Colombia: featuring 1,605 steps across 2.4km of slopes, it’s officially the world’s longest downhill race.
04

4. Red Bull District Ride

Bike · 2 min
Best of Red Bull District Ride
Where: Nuremberg, Germany
The only thing you’ll see dropping faster than jaws at Red Bull District Ride are the mountain bike riders whose spectacular mid-air tricks punctuate this urban obstacle course in the centre of Nuremberg. After a three-year hiatus, in September 2017 it returned to the city’s main Hauptmarkt square – only this time with a new course designed by American pro Aaron Chase, the first Red Bull District Ride champion way back in 2005.
This urban freeride paradise saw an 80,000 strong crowd come out to watch the slopestyle elite. Broken up into five districts – Castle Drop, Box, Jeep The Rhythm, Tech and Big Air – each with their own distinct features and obstacles, and backdropped by gothic architecture including Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady), attendees are always left praying for more.
05

5. Red Bull Holy Ride

Bike · 1 min
Red Bull Holy Ride 2016 - Onomichi, Japan
Where: Various cities across Japan
Take hundreds of steep stone steps, tight corners and narrow backstreets in an adrenaline-fuelled battle, and you've got the Takeshi's Castle of downhill mountain biking. Now add the four-cross (4X) format into the mix, where competitors not only have to watch out for the twists and turns, but each other, and it's crash carnage. In a bid to challenge tradition, one of the most exciting downhill mountain biking events of all time was created.
Red Bull Holy Ride, an annual event which ran from 2010-2017, featured breathtaking locations across Japan such as the Katsuo-Ji Temple in Minoo City (2013), the Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto (2014), and the Senko-Ji Temple in Onomichi (2015-2017). Watch the highlights from the 2016 event in the player above, as 150 competitors compete for the top step of the podium, and join the thousands of spectators as they cheer helmet-clad mountain bikers over a 1,000m course across some of Japan's most sacred and ancient city sites in a game of 'how close to crashing can you get?'
06

6. Red Bull Desafio no Morro

Bike · 2 min
Red Bull Desafio do Morro highlights
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Red Bull Desafio was an annual event that ran in Rio de Janeiro from 2009-2017 and featured some of the biggest names in mountain biking, including legendary British brothers Dan and Gee Atherton, and Slovakia's Filip Polc (2009 winner) as they competed against the clock through one of the steepest favelas in the city. Competitors' skills were put to the test as they flew down stairways, off rooftops, over jumps up to 8m high and down stomach-churning descents at speeds over 50kph amids the maze of stacked houses that tumbled to the city below.
And, as if the course wasn't challenging enough, they had additional unexpected obstacles of the winged and four-legged kind to contend with. If you think you can handle it, check out Gee Atherton's helmet cam footage as he takes you through the colourful streets and snaking alleyways lined with thousands of fans.
07

7. Red Bull R.Evolution

BMX · 3 min
Highlights from Red Bull R.Evolution
Where: Berlin, Germany
During its two-year run from 2012-2013, Red Bull R.Evolution made a huge impact on the BMX world. It was spectacular, progressive and pioneering because it suspended the typically rigid rules of BMX racing by combining peddling fury with freestyle elements.
BMX Supercross isn't for the faint-hearted. In groups of up to eight, some of the world's top international riders battled it out at speeds of up to 60kph, racing down from the starting ramp and over jumps and banks on a track with features that had never been seen before, all while executing some of their most technically demanding moves.
The event hasn't run for almost a decade, but since its construction in 2012, the track remains as the perfect venue for pros and amateurs alike to train, play, and continue to pursue their biking passions.
08

8. Red Bull Empire of Dirt

BMX · 2 min
The top 5 biggest jumps and crashes of Empire of Dirt, 2012
Where: London, UK
Empire of Dirt – developed by BMX legend Kye Forte – was a BMX slopestyle contest that ran in 2008 and 2012, aiming to find the most well-rounded rider across the various BMX disciplines.
In 2012, 20,000 spectators descended upon London's Alexandra Palace to watch 32 top international riders including Ryan Nyquist, Mike Clark, and a young Kriss Kyle take on the most demanding course of the event to date.
It took roughly 25,200 tonnes of dirt and a total of 23,192 combined man-hours to create the 435m long course with motocross-style jumps and oversized features, resulting in a fast and challenging track that pushed the progression of BMX freestyle to the next level.
The 2012 champion was British rider Ben Wallace who threw a clean and a 360 double downside whip to take the gold ahead of Ryan Nyquist in second-place and Drew Bezanson in third. Watch the highlights above to see some of the biggest names pull off front-flips, backflips and 720s against London's iconic skyline in the grounds of the 19th-century palace.
09

9. Crankworx, with Red Bull Joyride

Bike · 1 min
The return of Red Bull Joyride
Where: Rotorua, New Zealand. Innsbruck, Austria. Whistler, Canada.
Onto the final stop of our worldwide bike tour and it's a good one. It's the Superbowl of the mountain biking world, and while only two (Rotorua and Innsbruck) of the host locations are cities, with Whistler being a kind of large resort town, Crankworx is too epic to be ignored.
The events differ depending on the location, with typical competitions including downhill, enduro, pump track and fan-favourite whip off. But the most highly anticipated event of the series is Red Bull Joyride, affectionately (or perhaps accurately) known as "The Bone Yard". It's the biggest and toughest slopestyle course in the world and the ultimate test of speed, style and endurance.
As one of the original Crankworx events, Joyride was first held in 2004 and has been won by riders including Emil Johansson (2019) and five-time champion Brandon Semenuk. And while the track might be complicated, the event itself is simple. Fourteen riders and a crowd of more than 30,000 come together each year for a gravity-defying showdown.
Part of this story

Gee Atherton

A multiple world champion and World Cup winner …

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Kriss Kyle

Scottish BMX ripper Kriss Kyle is undoubtedly one …

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Drew Bezanson

A multiple-time Simple Session champion and X …

CanadaCanada

Emil Johansson

Emil Johansson, Sweden's slopestyle star, is an …

SwedenSweden

Brandon Semenuk

One of the best freeride mountain bikers in …

CanadaCanada