Drew Bezanson Sets His Sights on MTB Slopestyle

Mar 9, 2016
by Red Bull Bike  
Drew Bezanson

Drew Bezanson poses with his new slopestyle bike. Image by Mitchell Hubble / Red Bull Content Pool

Only a handful of athletes have successfully pulled off 'the crossover', competing professionally in more than one sport's discipline.

Back in the late ‘80’s, it was Bo Jackson; the multi-talented hero of North American pro-sports who played both baseball and football at their highest levels, and one of the few athletes to ever be named an All-Star in two major sports.

In the world of action sports, athletes like Shaun White have claimed X-Games medals in snowboarding and skateboarding vert – and even taking a shot at competitive surfing.

Now, Drew Bezanson intends to join those ranks as he enters the world of Slopestyle Mountain Biking this season with the goal of competing at Red Bull Joyride at Whistler this coming August.

There’s no doubt that it will be a tough road to Whistler, but there aren’t many people out there more suited to the challenge. Read on as Drew talks about his plans for the upcoming season, the challenges he’ll face and if he will really leave BMX for good...

What made you decide to seriously consider competing in slopestyle MTB?

What really made me want to compete in Slopestyle MTB was the courses. Every Slopestyle course was exactly what I love riding on my BMX; big dirt jumps, flat drops and step on step off features. Then Crankworx sent me a tweet last summer when Uncontainable dropped saying I should compete at Red Bull Joyride next summer – I wasn't sure if they were kidding or not, but I’m going to take it seriously!

Let's talk about Uncontainable. That was a quest to go even bigger and defy the limits of conventional BMX parks… did you foresee slopestyle as the next step during that project?

No, never did I have mountain biking in mind while doing Uncontainable. That was just something I wanted to do for myself, I just wanted to ride bigger versions of what I love to ride on my BMX and push my ability.

So what is your ultimate goal taking on the world of Slopestyle?

My ultimate goal is to come in and be competitive while having fun. I just want to take full advantage of the opportunity I have before me.

Any predictions? Do you think you’ll do well in the contests, or have any advantage over the competition with your BMX background?

Yeah, I think I’ll be able to do pretty well with my background in motocross and BMX. I think from racing motocross, it will help me be a bit more comfortable on the courses and larger bikes. But from the BMX side, I think it will help me in the way I look at the courses and the ideas that come from having ridden BMX my entire life.

What do you think will be your biggest challenges entering the sport? What will you need to adapt to?

I’ll need to get more comfortable with the different types of course, features beforehand. They are a bit different, and there aren’t too many places you can go and ride a full slope course.

How long have you been paying attention to slopestyle MTB? Are there any athletes that inspire you?

I’ve always watched MTB growing up. I had a lot of friends that rode, but I really started paying attention to slopestyle in the last four or five years. Once I got to know some of the riders like Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Brayden Barrett-Hay and a few others, it was fun to follow them and root for them and watch where they take this sport.

So is this the next major step in your career? Do you feel like you have outgrown BMX altogether?

I will never be able to outgrow BMX, that’s impossible. It’s my number one passion. My love for bike riding is just growing that much more and I’ve realised that I enjoy riding every style of bike.

How are you planning to prepare for your first contest, and what does the qualifying process look like?

My preparation leading into my first contest will just be a lot of seat time on the bigger bike. Figuring out which tricks transfer over easily from BMX and work well with the bigger bike will be my main focus. I’ll definitely try and do a few trips to ride similar course setups to the ones that will be on the contest circuit to try and get my feet wet.

Drew Bezanson

Drew Bezanson tunes his new slopestyle bike. Image by Mitchell Hubble / Red Bull Content Pool

This week, Drew will visit Crankworx Rotorua on a recon mission to get better acclimatised with the contest scene and competition. But in order to earn a spot in the start gate and compete with the best slopestyle athletes in the world, he will need to prove he can hang just like any other rider climbing the ranks on the FMB World Tour.

In order to qualify, his first stop will be the Swatch Rocket Air from April 29-30, which is a wild card event for the Crankworx Les Gets contest later in June. A win at Crankworx Les Gets could qualify Drew directly for Crankworx Whistler and Red Bull Joyride. Otherwise, he will have another chance at the Colorado Freeride Festival from July 28-31, which is a direct wild card event for Red Bull Joyride.

Stay tuned to www.redbull.com/bike for more great content.

MENTIONS: @redbullbike / @RedBullCanada / @Fox-Head-Inc / @trek


  • 126 4
 He's gonna be a scary competitor in competitions. He'll give Semenuk a run for his money for sure
  • 27 1
 i use to watch semenuk on a bmx when he was like 15 it was insane
  • 22 0
 Drew is an amazing rider as well as really nice guy, will be great ambassador for the sport.
  • 14 0
 Semenuk just had a BMX edit on pinkbike like this week...movie monday I think. It was steezy (hope that means good haha).
  • 6 0
 this is awesome news .. there more BMX athletes coming in FMB in 2016 .. woah so exciting!
  • 2 1
 I wouldn't go that far. Yes, bezanson is an incredible BMX rider, but he's in Semenuks backyard now, And Semenuk is one smooth ass mother fucker!
  • 2 0
 Agreed, but all these guys have gnarly skill. Guys like Nicholi Rogatkin used to destroy in BMX (and still do). Of course Bezanson will be able to transfer and be competitive, but I would be surprised if he finds himself easily taking podiums so quickly.
  • 35 1
 I think the Bo Jackson comparison is a bit much to compare moving from BMX to a DJ bike. Probably most of the current "all stars" of slope style started out on a bmx just nobody made a big deal when they switched tire size because they probably did it when they were like 13.
  • 12 0
 They're not comparing him to Bo. They're just pointing out how incredibly rare it is for someone to cross over to a different discipline successfully. If you want something more relate-able, the comparison to Shwuannn Ginger is pretty accurate. Even though he's still riding a bike, slope MTBing is incredibly different than BMX park. I'm really excited to see how this plays out especially given how insanely good Nicholi is with his BMX background and of course the legend Darren Berrecloth. They both have progressed the sport in certain ways so I can only imagine the same for Drew but on a bigger scale.
  • 34 2
 what about the grand master Shaun Palmer?
  • 13 0
 Holy crap this is awesome news. Anyone not familiar with Drew better ask somebody. Slopestyle just got a lot more competative. This guy goes balistic with every trick known to judges.
  • 4 0
 I think the fair comparison would be park skiers and snowboarders who can also ride pow with bigger fatter boards. Its just learning to adapt to the difference in the equipment that accomodates for a different kind of surface.
  • 21 0
 i'm backing onecut here.......

palmer really did the most sports at the highest level. bo jackson was rad, no doubt...but......

in all reality, who can claim they competed and beat the best in snowboarding, skiing, mtb dh, and sx?
plus he won the pikes peak race.and didn't he smoke everyone at the long beach grandprix celeb race?

he should have got the indy car ride back in the day.
would have love to seen 'the evil king' school the indy club.

when it comes to raw talent, there are not many that can throw down with shaun palmer.
  • 3 2
 ^ Palmer is f*cked. We can all agree with that. Loved his style as well.
  • 1 1
 For sure
  • 2 1
 definitely watch "The miserable champion" great documentary about Shaun Palmer
  • 1 0
 Yeah, someone needs to make a proper movie about Palmer. The guy is the best athlete of all time no doubt about it. Gold medals in snowboard and ski, world cup wins in DH and finals in the american supercross championship.
  • 1 0
 To be fair, all of those sports are niche sports. Were not talking about soccer or track and field or other global and inexpensive sports that any person could participate in. Only people who have money get to ski, snowboard, dh race, or ride a dirt bike.
  • 2 0
 Also.... Jim Thorpe and Travis Pastrana are very high mentions to compare. Jim Thorpe did more sports, and popular ones too, not niche ones. Travis is simply the best guy on wheels.
  • 1 0
 Ron Jeremy also did alot of things!
  • 1 0
 @stacykohut: I usually won't be the one sticking up for mainstream sports here, but where Bo Jackson competed, he was competing in major sports, with the best scouting programs in the world. Don't get me wrong, Palm Daddy is worthy of all that praise, and those sports are just as hard if not harder, but Jackson is right up there alongside him in terms of phenoms
  • 1 0
 The only diff is Bo Jackson would snap the bike in half if he stuck out. Not sure if any riders possess that strength.
  • 28 0
 This is going to be good.
  • 26 2
  • 8 0
 how trek thinks .........................................
  • 1 0
 @RedBurn: Well its a corporation, so yah.
  • 19 0
 YES FUCK YES Drew was at Highland pretty often last year and he tore the mountain apart every time, I was wondering if he would eventually do this
  • 14 1
 So is the trek slope bike something he bought on his own?
  • 15 0
 I think Trek did send him for free
  • 4 0
 I'm pretty sure drew rides with brett reeder too, so that might be why Trek
  • 9 1
 I love watching drew ride bmx, just a rad guy with good steeze. So happy when I saw this!!
  • 9 1
 This will be good

just curious, more money in bmx or mtb for top athlete?
  • 10 2
 mtb for sure, but at bezanson's level it doesn't really matter
  • 10 0
 The bmx industry is pretty bleak right now, at least in terms of making a living as a pro. Watching podcasts on The Come Up, it seems that it is really difficult unless you have a major energy drink sponsor. I think most pro riders work a regular 9-5.
  • 3 0
 two checks are always better than one. cha ching.
  • 5 0
 its not new news within the bike industry that BMX has been in decline for a few years now. the big problem is the lack of new riders coming into BMX

its never been the easiest sport to get into it terms of equipment cost (BMX bike compared to skateboard or micro scooter), there is a steep learning curve and issues with access - in the States there are BMX bans at a large number of cement skatepark due to outdated liability laws. Here in the UK the kids are getting skateboard, scooters or just playing console games, there are few new riders

If no young kids are getting into BMX, the sport becomes hollowed out as the older riders eventually stop riding due to age, commitments or injury
  • 5 1
 It's not even participation that is the main issue, it is simply the demographic; MTB tends to be older chaps with solid jobs and pocket money (predominantly) and BMX is built on a budget of bikes bought by mum mostly, the money and advertising will obviously go to the side of the sport with the largest potential for revenue if you are a big company. Just the way it is!
  • 6 0
 we are the roadies of bmxers!
  • 9 1
 WOoooo this is gonna be huge!
  • 6 0
 Everyone can thank Brett for this! think this is going to be so sweet for the FMB scene
  • 5 0
 With the way Drew likes to go big, I won't be surprised if he get a long travel bike and shows up at some FEST series events. .
  • 3 0
 on the flip-side (no pun intended), i doubt any slope rider could hone up to what drew throws down in park on his 20", he is on some other level. riders beware, some sick raw talent in the mix for the better!
  • 1 0
 the only down-turn (again no pun intended, lol) is when switching to 26" you can no longer do turn downs to the right (with brake lever on the right). or can you?
  • 5 5
 BMX'ers coming to MTB is going to push things forward a lot, as far as slopestyle goes it's going to really heat the competition up and diversify the tricking. There's a lot of history in BMX as far as tricking goes, a lot of slopestyle stuff is somewhat rudimentary on the bmx bike at pro levels. For riders like this that have no problem going for amplitude with their tricks, that's a legit threat to people like semenuk/rheeder/etc.

I kinda am weary of BMX'ers flooding over that want to just win stuff, I really feel like Rogatkin came over initially because the competition was just way too heavy to be top notch on a BMX bike. Somehow or another he got to see Crankworx Whistler in person and might've seen it as an opportunity he knew he could come out on top of... although I'm sure now that he's been on big bikes and little bikes he's well aware that mountain biking is the greatest discipline of biking (:
  • 10 1
 ^ I don't think you understand how different it is to pull off "rudimentary" tricks on a slope bike vs. a bmx, with incredibly different rigs and features. If it was so easy, slope would have been taken over by BMX riders who just wanted to win a long long time ago.
  • 2 2
 You are the one here having no clue scott-town. Bmx riders who tried my mtb where able to do their same tricks in only 2 or 3 tries on my mtb and they had them dialed again after that. They did tricks like landing a bunnyhop tailwhip second try and even pulling a truckdriver first try. Once you can do a trick, you can do it on any bike.

How do you think freestyle fixed gear riders are doing 720s? They learned it on their bmx and could easily adapt it to their fixed gear bike, which is less easy (but still easy) to adapt then to mtb.

I've ridden rigid hardtail pretty much all my life, but still landed a bunnyhop 360 on my friends full suspension Kona Bass and even sticked them on a 170mm full suspension Scott freeride bike. Transfering tricks to other bikes is nothing. But the difference between learning them the hard way (mtb) or the easy way (bmx) is huge.
  • 1 0
 doing tricks on flat/small air is pretty much different than on real courses.
  • 2 0
 @Mattin We're talking about the highest level of competition on big slope courses, bud. Not just messing around in some parking lot or at a local dirt jump spot. As I wrote before, if its so easy then why hasn't it happened already?
  • 1 0
 I think roughly 15 mtb riders in the world can do a bunnyhop tailwhip. Which means it is quite the highest level in street riding.

BMXers usually dislike anything thats not BMX and often downhill on mtb riders. Thats why it takes guts to stand up against the social pressure of all your friend and fans, leave all your BMX sponsors behind and switch to mtb, where youre not even sure if youre going to like the bikes, courses, fellow riders and the whole scene.

Generally people who are successful in BMX don't make the switch. It's mostly the people who are very talented but seem to stick underneath the top, or are getting too old to stay on top, who make the switch (Drew is an exception to this). I think if you're a top 10 bmx rider you will earn a lot more money than a top 10 slopestyle rider, since there is so much more coverage for bmx (= more money in advertisement = more sponsorship money). But if you're number 30-50 in bmx and you can adapt your riding to mtb, you'll become one of those top 10 slopestyle riders and you will make more money with MTB than with bmx with your skill level.

And yes it has happened a lot before. Just a couple of names that quickly come to mind are Darren Berrecloth, Cam Zink, Brandon Semenuk and Anthony Messere.

All riders who didn't make that top 10 cut in bmx, but switched to mtb and became legendary names.
  • 1 1
 @Mattin man,what's wrong with you? We talking about MTB riding, who the hell cares about stupid riding on FLAT?
And yes,only I know more than 15 people who can do hop whip (even on normal mtb,not oversized bmx which idiots like to call mtb).
Brandon Semenuk started with MTB, he didn't ever riding professional BMX. Nearly the same with others. Some BMXers have potential to ride big bike and big courses, some - not. It's not the same - vertical flyouts with 0.3-3 meters length air,and with tables even.And 12 meters with gaps,in a line.In bmx contest you could easily crash in a run and win.In mtb it's hard to win when you even slide your foot once.
  • 1 0
 If you hit a kicker at full speed the difference between doing tricks on the bike will get smaller because A) the kicker throws you in the air anyways B) you get more airtime, which bmx riders will appreciate because of the slower movements on the less twitchy bike.

Also the difference between jumps at pro bmx dirt contests and the average FMB contest is pretty much none. Yes mtb has some exceptions such as Crankworks, Fest and Rampage, but most contests, like Vienna Air King and Swatch Rocket Air are exactly the same size as bmx contests. Very often I even see bmx dudes huck stuff mtb riders wouldn't even ride on a hard tail. Like 5m high tail whip drops into mellow grass banks etc. Some of us think us mtb riders go bigger, becauss our bikes our bigger, but generally we do exactly the same stuff.
  • 1 1
 @Mattin I really don't know why street riders like u are so stupid.BMX dirt jump contest could be compared with smth like VAK,but not with Swatch Rocket Air. Bmx contest have only 3-5 features, in true mtb contest its 8-14 features.Bmx contest have 8m gaps max,in events like Dreamline, and it's not any super hard tricks on this contest.In mtb 10m jump is pretty much normal. It's not exactly same stuff, you might think so just cause you see some of non-true mtb riders,who riding flat/skatepark/etc and you think that this is mtb.No.
Can you plz name me at least 5 bmxers,who regularly do tailwhip from 5 m drop? Real 5 m drops,not drops which you fear tell you that it's 5 m.
  • 2 0
 What's funny is watching the MTB fanboys get their panties in a wad because a top tier BMXer is going to come in and instantly become a household name and show just how easy it will be to dethrone the big boys in the sport. Watching BMX vids is like watching a video game nowadays. you definitely cannot say the same about MTB park/street.

Taking nothing away form the guy, I've met and rode with him...super cool dude, but Aaron Chase is considered one of the most technical MTBers in the sport....you put his bag of tricks in a park course against an am nobody in BMX and he'll get decimated.

Sure, slope is a different ball of wax, but there's not much to transition from if you're a guy like Bezanson who already goes HUGE....he might not be able to triple whip a big wheel'd bike, but I bet you he can already do a double whip flip...and who in MTB has that yet? Almost any sponsored am BMXer has that....which is the point Mattin is trying to prove. MTB is pretty far behind. Mst BMXers don't leave BMX cause of sponsorship or pressure from peers. But make no mistake...there's a reason your top MTB guys have a lot of money compared to your top tier BMX guys. BMX is still widely considered a child's bike or xgames novelty. MTBs are "grown up" bikes (for whatever reason)....there's more money in MTB....it's a smart move on Bezanson's part.
  • 1 0
 +1 for Rupintart.

Also calling me names and saying what's wrong with me, for having a different perception than you is extremely low. Just shows how narrow-minded you are.

In the end, only time will tell.
  • 7 3
 Another Canadian with the possibility of standing on top of the podium!
  • 2 2
 Slopestyle is about to get interesting even more! Semenuk and Rheeder will have a run for their money now!!!
  • 3 1
 This is great news, Drew is a super creative rider. Need some more people coming up with new ideas besides Semenuk, Rogatkin, and Macduff!
  • 3 2
 Macduff don't ride FMB Tour.
  • 10 2
 Doesn't stop him coming up with new ideas! More reason why he's so creative, just goes and builds his own crazy as fark features! Pure Darkness and various loops etc!
  • 2 1
 Guy's absolutely nuts, and in my opinion BMX are way harder to ride, but might partially be my size. My friend was better on MTB than BMX when we were younger, and he was reasonably good at both.
  • 2 0
 A BMX is easier to throw about and less stable. They handle way faster as there's less centrifugal force with them) and are less forgiving. The smaller wheels don't roll over things well, but they accelerate and brake way better (for the same brakes). On a BMX track, they pump way better and you get more speed for your manual, but it's trickier to hold it.
  • 2 0
 Definately a good addition to mtb, this guy seems like a good guy and he shreds. Will be cool to watch his progress!
  • 1 0
 Ya he deff a good guy and has reached amazing success as a bmx competitor. One can only imagine how much shredeth the man can do on a slopestyle corse. You only have to do a little reasearch to understand the immense talent about to enter the slope cicuit.
  • 1 0
 My favourite rider along with Dennis Enarson! Would be great to see him compete in MTB and hopefully WIN Semenuk and Rheeder!
  • 1 0
 I think he will do pretty well, reminds me of Anthony Messere making the switch
  • 4 2
 Woah! Amazing athlete! Can't wait to see this!
  • 7 6
 Old News to me, but the dude can ride anything, I have seen it first hand, so Nyqvist as well!
  • 2 1
 Hope to see him ride rampage too
  • 3 1
 I cannot wait for this! How come you didn't break the news earlier on Rick?
  • 2 1
 i can't do that, PAT
  • 1 0
 I can't wait to see what the BMX guys bring to the table. Nyquist will shred for sure. All of his spins are usually opposite but they look so natural.
  • 2 3
 It is impressive how you can have a self-important circle jerk of flaccid egos, all on your own. Bravo, fine sir and/or madam.
  • 2 1
 Sickest news, can't wait to see him at rampage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 3 0
 Game over!!!
  • 2 1
 If anyone is gonna be doing a 3 whip on a flat drop any time soon I think It will be him
  • 1 0
 Really? They couldn't be bothered to make him stand 1ft to the left just to get those batwings right?
  • 2 0
 Awesome. Hope he does some Redbull edits soon.
  • 2 1
 That's I was waiting for !
  • 3 2
 He will just destroy everybody!
  • 6 9
 He's going to absolutely crush it. MTBs are like 10 years behind as far as tricks bleeding over to them, most notably because nobody was a top tier BMX rider. Paul Bas was struggling in BMX in the early 2000's (most never even heard of him until he switched to big wheels) and when he switched to MTB he CRUSHED IT......and he's nowhere near the level Bezanson is, now or back then when he transitioned over.

I understand, like he said, there's going to be some adapting from the smaller wheels to the bigger ones...but let's be real here, that was probably him just being humble....he's probably going to SLAY everybody.
  • 2 1
 Funny how people neg prop you while what you say is the truth. They either have no clue about street/park/dirt riding, or they refuse to accept negativity, even though its true.

Its so much easier to learn tricks on a bmx. And once you can do any trick on a bmx, it will only take you about 3 tries to adapt it to mtb. Semi-pro bmx riders did bunnyhop tailwhips second try on my mtb while never having ridden a mtb before, and some other dude sticked a truck driver first try on his second jump.
  • 1 0
 This is really exciting. Stoked to see him throw down.
  • 1 0
 This will be a walk in the park for him.
  • 1 0
 Funny how one discipline can easily ride the other but not vice versa.
  • 1 0
 How'd you come up with that conclusion?
  • 1 1
 He is making a good decision.
  • 2 2
 Bezansons a beast and will catch on real quick!
  • 1 0
 Sick. Crazy sick good.
  • 1 1
 OMF... U must going with ur bike in BMX competition Big Grin LOL
  • 1 0
 Baldock you're up!
  • 1 3
 Real bmx folk that actually jump things are going to dj.- I'm not surprised. This current curb-bopping grind crap state of bmx isn't cutting it.
  • 2 1
 Are you stupid? Because I think you are.
  • 1 0
 Go Drew!!! You da man!
  • 1 3
 So another Rogatkin kinda rider. FMB's gonna be legendary with this guy joining the game!
  • 2 5
 Does not look to enthusiastic in that first frame there. Wink Razz
Should be interesting.
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