A child prodigy on a bike, Paul Basagoitia
won a BMX World Championship in his age group at 10 years old. At age 17, he borrowed a mountain bike to compete in his first slopestyle—and won the 2004 Crankworx Slopestyle in Whistler.
For the next decade, Paul's status in the sport continued to escalate—popularizing tricks previously seen only in the realm of BMX—until a devastating crash in the finals of the 2015 Red Bull Rampage fractured his T12 vertebra, damaged his spinal cord, and put an abrupt end to his career.
Told he may never walk again, Paul could not accept that prognosis—and decided to fight against his paralysis from the waist down. Through months of physiotherapy, often up to ten hours a day, Paul persevered—building from one positive achievement to the next: Getting up from the wheelchair on his own, driving a car again and taking his first steps without crutches.
Today, over five years after the crash, Paul is riding a bike again—thanks to e-bike technology.On being an e-bike ambassador:Paul Basagoitia:
I don't have to "sell" anybody on e-bike technology—the capabilities sell themselves. Every person I've witnessed test ride an e-bike comes back excited. For e-bike technology to explode in the mountain bike world while I was hurt was a huge blessing. Now I’m able to go out and ride with buddies. All the hill climbs I would not be able to do on a regular mountain bike, I’m able to do now with an e-bike. E-bikes have opened up so many doors as far as me being able to have more access to these trails. I literally had everything taken away from me in life—this technology has helped me in so many elements of life. Now, I’m slowly getting everything back in life—and the e-bike is one of them. I wouldn't be able to ride 80% of the trails that I ride without an e-bike. And I believe the e-bike can open up what is possible for every rider.On limitations:
I know what my body can do, and can't do. My body tells me "no" before my mind tells me "no." For me, drops with flat landings are a huge challenge—I know my ankles will blow up if the landing of a jump is shallow or doesn't have a steep backside. I have atrophy below the knee of both legs—and no feeling or sensation below the knee of my right leg. So I wear AFO braces to help keep my feet up, and in place. With no calf strength or dorsiflexion muscles, you have to compensate with other muscle groups to put the bike where it needs to be—I use a lot more upper body strength to move the bike around now.
On building physical strength for riding:
Ankle and Foot Orthoses (AFO) Braces
"I wear custom 'AFO' braces that I had made for riding. My first all-carbon braces kept snapping—at $1500 a set, that started to add up, so we replaced the material with plastic to get more flex."—Paul B
I'm always working out my legs. I do a lot of acupuncture to aid blood flow—and help get sensation in my extremities back. I still have a lot of atrophy, so I use electro-stimulation—they're like little electric pads I attach to my muscles to try and get them fired back up. After a hard day of riding, I need to spend 30 minutes in the hot tub. On progression:
Since my injury five years ago, I never thought I'd progress as much as I have. Every year, I get a little better on the bike. It takes a lot more muscle groups to walk properly than it does to ride a bike.On his favorite trails in Scottsdale:
About 20 minutes from my house, there are trails called the NRA Pit. It's a little jump trail with some singletrack and at the end it has this awesome left hip. I was able to crack my first real table, again, on that jump—Kirt Voreis built that hip and it's perfect. I try to go ride there at least once or twice a week. On the benefits of e-bikes:
There was a time in my life that I hated bikes—after my injury, I was like "damn, bikes took away my legs." But as time went on, I healed, and to see what e-bikes are doing for me, and others, is so powerful—it has had a huge impact on other athletes and other people, as well. It’s so awesome that it’s bringing so many people together, on trails, riding, and having a good time.
To go out, to ride trails, to have the freedom, to have these conversations, to just enjoy life, that is so important for me now. To be able to explore new trails, meet new people, and just ride bikes again is incredible. And whether it’s with other pedal-assist bikes, or with traditional mountain bikes, I want to go ride with people. I just want to go out, ride, and have a good time—enjoy what this world has to offer. On the giving back:
I'm associated with the High Fives Foundation
working with the adaptive sports camp at Northstar every year and providing shoes for everyone through my role with Ride Concepts. I go and help the riders—with people that are new to the sport or returning.
2021 Canyon Spectral:ONMotor:
Shimano EP8 Fork:
SR Suntour Auron35 BoostShock:
SR Suntour TriAir 3CRCrank:
Shimano XTR, 34TCassette:
Shimano XTR, 10-51TWheels:
Spank 350 Vibrocore, 29" front, 27.5" rearTires:
Schwalbe Eddy Current 2.6"Handlebar:
Spank Oozy 780 VibrocoreStem:
Spank Split 35Saddle:
Spank Oozy 280
Produced by: Nick Mitzenmacher
Photos by: Austin White
With support from: Canyon USA
Featuring: Paul Basagoitia@Canyon-PureCycling