Hiroya Morizaki aka Hiro, is a japanese flatland-ninja, well known for his whip tricks and technical riding style. After 18 years of riding he still competes and wins. His hunger for flatland and progression didn’t stop. Flatland became a part of him. Read what he has to say about style, the european flatland scene and contests.
The interview was planed for a long time, but I was very busy the last few month, so it took me some time to finish it. This is the second interview in a series of ARESBYKES riders interview. I’ll try to finish the next one quicker. Enjoy!
Hit the link for the french version: coming soon!
Translation: Aaron Gratton
Hiro website: www.hiroyamorizaki.com
1. Give us some basic background information about yourself (age, years of riding, hometown)
Born 01/04/1978 (Age 34)
Riding 18 years
Born in Tokushima, currently residing in Tokyo.
2. How did you get involved into flatland? What gave you the motivation to start riding flatland?
I first saw BMX in a commercial on TV, which is what got me interested.
3. What does flatland riding mean to you? How often do you ride and what inspires and motivates you to keep on riding?
To me, BMX is a lifestyle. I like to practice about two hours a day when I have the time.
It’s such a part of me that I wouldn’t dream of quitting, but a lot of my motivation comes from new ideas I get from going to contests and other events.
4. How does a normal day in your life look like? What is your job at Aresbykes?
A normal day for me includes practice, doing shows at events, school, contests, and TV and magazine appearances. At ARES, I do company promotions and design testing for frames and other parts.
5. How do you see the development of flatland over the last few years, and how do you see its future?
I think nowadays, there are a lot more riders focused on style. I see a lot of development going on in air tricks. It’s moving closer to being perfected as a style.
I believe it’s going to be a lot harder to develop new types of riding. I think we’re going to see a lot more riders take existing tricks and fit them into their own individual styles. But, personally, I’d really like to see a rider come out with a totally new type of riding, someone who can influence other riders.
Aside from tricks, there are a lot of cool things going on in the flatland scene, which I think has a huge effect on how the culture and fashion is viewed.
6. Are you following what is happening in the European flatland scene? If so, what do you think about it? Any favorite riders in Europe?
Europe puts out a lot of great riders, but it seems to me that only the top pros ever make it out of Europe to compete. We need to challenge more expert-level riders to travel and compete in places outside of Europe. An increased level of awareness in each rider would be a pretty big factor in the evolution of the flatland scene and its culture.
7. How do you see the influence of the internet on flatland?
I think that instant access to information has really hastened the evolution of BMX. Now, since you can buy goods online and watch contests live on USTREAM pretty easily, it means fewer people are supporting the scene by turning up at events. Back in the day, people would come to support the riders they saw in videos, and I think they had a lot of respect for the top riders.
I think the bonds between riders have become a lot more virtual than they used to be. With the convenience of the internet, finding good places to ride, yourself and your bike, and the people you ride with seems to be the reality of the scene.
8. If you ask a flatland rider in Europe about the country he would like to visit, 90% will answer “Japan”. Any favorite country you would like to visit in Europe?
I’d like to go to any country I haven’t been to yet. I’d really like to visit Spain, Switzerland, England, or Italy.
9. A bit more than a year ago, Japan was hit by a terrible disaster. In how far has your life changed since then? How is the situation now? There’s not much news here any more about it.
There were a lot fewer events in the wake of the disaster. People are a lot more conscious about conserving energy now.
10. You are 34 years old now. Is it harder to learn new tricks when you get older, or do you even learn faster because of your riding experience?
I’m always trying new things, so I’m not sure if my age is having an effect on the time it takes me to learn. But I am feeling it in my body. I have chronic pain in my elbow and other injuries that won’t heal, and it takes me longer to recover from runs.
11. What is the story behind your elbow injury?
I started doing whip tricks in 1999, and at the time I was doing stuff like hitchhikers back to whips, and half whips into McCircles during a 180 (a trick Matthias does now). After about three years of that, I started to feel something off in my elbow. I went to an orthopedic clinic, but it didn’t get better. I ended up getting a CT scan at a sports physician’s office and was diagnosed with Little League/tennis elbow. There’ve been a lot of side effects from the operation that have been hard to recover from, so I have no choice but to work with that.
12. How important is progression and style to you? What do you think about trends?
Progress is a necessity, but it needs to be progress in terms of style. Trends and such are important, but it gets boring when people just start doing the same thing. Leave it to the judges and you’ll see that the yawns come out when the riders all follow the same trend. There needs to be a demand in riding beyond just what’s trendy.
13. How important are contests to you? What about international contests? Any plans to come to Europe this year?
Right now contests are very important to me. I want to do everything I can do while I still ride, which is why I have to do what I can. Continually appearing in contests does take a toll though, and since I don’t take vacations I can really only make progress during the off-season. This year, I plan on going to the final match of the World Circuit in Berlin.
14. Your signature frame model “Garuda” disappeared from the market this year. Aresbykes launched a new model called “Aplus” frame with straight tubes. Who was involved in the development? What is the idea behind this short frame?
The Aplus frame was made to spread the word about the completion of the Aplus line. I oversaw the design of the Aplus frame, so the Garuda is coming off the market this year.
15. The name “Aplus” appears now more and more in your product names. Is it just a new name/line for marketing or is there a story behind it?
ARES + A = new and improved ARES products
You take the A from ARES and add a plus and you get Aplus.
16. Why did Aresbykes stop the Superb** project?
So that everybody at ARESBYKES could come together. We wanted to consolidate our product like with forks, handlebars, etc. of a similar design so we wouldn’t be taking our chances with multiple products.
17. Tell us more about the Aresbykes flatland school. From the footage on the internet, it seems that this project is growing. How much time do you invest in the flatland school (classes, organisation)? What is the average number of students in the flatland school? How many classes in how many different cities does Aresbykes provide?
The ARESBYKES BMX School has some ideas I’ve planned personally. We’re looking at appearances from riders like Yoshihiro Shinde and York Uno, as well as various offers from shops. Most classes are divided into three parts, mostly by which tricks you want to learn. On average, we have about 30 students in each class and we offer classes in Kyoto, Osaka, Aichi, Chiba, and Ishikawa.
Of course, we want riders to improve their riding skills. We also want to encourage everybody from children to adults, and especially new riders, to have fun on common ground.
18. Is the “Hiroo BMX school” another project?
I run the Hiroo BMX School myself. I took the name from Hiroo, where I live. It looks like my own name when you type it out in the Roman alphabet.
19. Any recommendations for beginners?
Have more fun than anybody else, travel, and go for the girls.
20. Where do you see yourself in the world of flatland in the future? Any specific plans for the future?
The flatland scene could get better, stay the same, or just disappear. It all depends on how aware people are of flatland riding. The scene getting better would mean that riders would have to keep trying to do what they can do. When it comes to riding, playing, contests, school, events, art, the internet, and media, it seems like there’s a bigger plan, or at least a lot more we can do like this.
21. Last words, any thanx?
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