Interview – Danny MacAskill on Imaginate, injuries and coming back to SA

Some months back freestyle trials rider Danny MacAskill dropped the clip Imaginate, the result of a long-term project that in which he conjured up incredible tricks and lines inspired by his childhood. We caught up with him to find out just what it took to put together that seven minutes…


It took two years from concept to build and production. Are we allowed to know how many takes/hours of filming went into the actual clip?
It actually took around two months to design and build the entire set and another two and a half months to finish filming. We would try to be in the warehouse 5-6 days a week which really took it’s toll on all of us, but myself and all my friends involved were very driven to make the best film we could in the time we had.  On what was supposed to be the last week of filming got a virus in my ear called labyrinthitice which badly effects your balance, this brought the whole project to a standstill for three weeks and at the time made us feel we weren’t going to be able to finish the video before we had to be out the building which was getting demolished. Luckily it cleared up and we managed to get everything done.

Tell us a bit about what you’re riding? Is it a pretty standard or are you quite finicky about your setup?
I have been lucky enough to be riding for Inspired bikes for the last seven years. They have helped design and build my bike  (The Inspired Skye) which is made specifically for Street Trials.  The bike has a low short and very strong aluminium frame. It also has rigid aluminium forks with a 20mm bolt through axle, which makes them very precise and stiff. I run 2011 Shimano Saint disc brakes with 203mm rotors front and rear, which are very sharp and powerful and consistent. I also run Prototype Continental tyres, which have loads of grip but also roll fast. My bike is always in perfect working order. When something is not working right it almost feels like I’m ill as it almost feel part of your body so it’s important to keep it tuned!

Worst crash and injury? (Any big/funny wipeouts during filming for Imaginate?)
Over the years I have had my fair share of crashes and injures. The worst injury I’ve sustained from riding is tearing a disc in my lower back in 2009. I didn’t actually fall off to tear the disc it was actually just from a heavy landing 360ing off a 12-foot drop. I had the disc operated on last year but it still gives me bother.  I had a few good crashes while filming Imaginate some of which can be seem in the outtakes at the end of the clip. One day I tried to land an opposite 360 flip on the railway platform. It is a pretty loose rotation and I had to take a lot of crashes to land it. In one of the attempts I over-rotated pretty badly landing straight to my back, which fairly knocked the wind out of me. Luckily I just landed on my soft ribs and was able to film the next day. I also had a crash doing a foot jam whip drop off the end of a Tank turret. My wheel slipped sending straight to my back down an 8ft drop to concrete. I was knocked out briefly but again was lucky and just getting away with a couple of bruises.

Plans for coming back to SA, soon?
I really enjoyed my trip to South Africa, I would love to ride the rocks in Camps Bay again. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to visit again soon!

Can you give us a bit of insight into your training programme?
For years I would get all the strength and fitness from just riding my bike. These days I take better care of myself, I try to be in the gym at least three days a week. I don’t really lift any weights, instead focusing on bodyweight exercises to balance out all the imbalances my body has from trials riding. I also ride my Orange 5 mountain bike and Gas Gas moto trials bike but I don’t look at this as training, I just go out and ride for fun. 

Haven’t watched Imaginate? Check it out here