Freestyle BMX is a form of bicycle sport wherein motocross style stunt riding is executed on BMX bikes. It is considered an extreme sport that traces its origins to BMX racing and it consists of five disciplines or variations: vert (short for vertical), trails, street, park, and flatland. Brazilian photographer Marcelo Maragni showcases this much-loved sport and pastime in a unique way.
His collection is called The Black Light Bikes project, and Maragni captures BMX freestylers going at it in the evening with a twist. To highlight the bicycles and their movement, he used fluorescent paint, LED lights and flashes of customized black light. The one-of-a-kind series was created by Maragni for Red Bull Photography, showing the both the grit and grace required by this relatively new sport.
Freestyle BMX riding roots can be traced back to 1975 when boys began using their bikes in the most unlikely of places, concrete Escondido reservoir channels found in San Diego, California. Likewise almost at the same time, bike riders were spotted in 1976 riding at Carlsbad Skatepark in Carlsbad, California.
To further bolster this new idea for a sport, Skateboarder Magazine published pictures of daredevil kids on bikes riding in empty swimming pools in 1975. This would be around the time the likes of pioneer skateboarder/legend Tony Alva was all the rage with aspiring skateboarders.
The BMX movement was a parallel phenomenon happening almost simultaneously, as pioneers Bob Haro and John Swanguen ingeniously rode BMX bikes at Skateboard Heaven, a concrete skatepark in San Diego, California in the latter part of 1976, eventually spawning and creating the new sport. Today it is a well-established activity with legions of followers.
Maragni was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and his mother always wanted him to be an architect. He had other ideas, however and preferred to take possession of his father’s camera whenever he could. Maragni has niched his photography in action sports; however he also dabbles in dance, travel, fashion, and nature, always eager to experience new themes and techniques.
See The Black Light Bikes project here.