Low Profile - Leon Hoppe
DIG Tatt? Check.
28 Feb 2017
Photos by Aaron Zwaal
Leon Hoppe is part of a new generation of highly progressive German riders who grew up in the web video era. Being constantly bombarded with daily injections of fresh BMX riding via the Internet, there is almost no trick that these guys hadn’t seen in a video, studied, learnt and then mastered over the course of a week, hungry for their next assignment on the Monday.
Germany's highly active and tight knit scene has taught Leon that hard work pays off, and over the past three years since, we've seen Leon transform from that unknown “really good kid”, to one of the most dialed riders out there right now. With an uncharacteristically dry sense of humor (for a German), and an incredibly positive outlook on riding, Leon is one to look out for in the future.
Ok so the standard question; who are you, what’s your age and where do you call home?
My name is Leon Hoppe , I’m 19 years old and I’m currently living in Krefeld which is a small city in the West of Germany, about one hour away from Cologne.
How long have you been riding for now?
I think I got my first BMX bike when I was like 12 years old.
Who were you’re riding influences growing up?
I guess when I first started riding I was a more of a park guy and really looked up to Mark Webb and all the UK park guys at the time. That was until I saw Deadline with Garrett, Ty, JJ and their crew. I really fell in love with street riding after watching that video, it totally changed the way I looked at BMX and made me think more creatively on a bike. I think the day after that I took my brakes off and put pegs on and went out riding street and trying to grind everything every day I could.
What do you do for a job? You’re a Chef right?
Haha yes! Not many people know this but I actually just finished my apprenticeship earlier this year and now I’m officially a fully qualified Chef.
Are you also super into cooking, or is it just a job to you?
Yes and no. To be honest it’s more of a job for me I think. I mean I love cooking for my family and friends and trying new stuff, but at the end of the day it’s a job that pays the bills and helps me get by. That being said, I don’t think you can be a Chef if you don’t have a genuine passion for cooking and eating so I’ve got love for it for sure and I think it will always be part of me.
What’s an average day for you like?
I get up pretty early for work, feed my caffeine addiction, drive to the kitchen and make people happy all day with food. After working I’ll probably head to the local skatepark and ride till its dark, come home and play FIFA with friends . Always the same 5 days a week , I have a routine like everyone else, but at least I get a lot of time to ride. No time for Vlogging though, sorry…
What’s it like coming from Germany, what’s the BMX scene like there? Who do you normally ride with?
The BMX scene here in Germany is like a family to me. Germany isn’t exactly a small country, but the scene is tight. There’s always people to ride with, and always something good going on. People are motivated to ride here, even in the winter there’s jams and stuff going on which people riders will all travel to. I couldn’t imagine a life without my friends I ride with. Normally I ride with Lars and Daniel, two close friends from my hometown, but I often travel to Cologne or to another city to ride with guys like Felix Prangenberg , Nico van Loon and Dominik Betten. I try and travel as much as possible and see all of my friends in different parts of the country. Were’ lucky for sure. There are so many good spots in Germany, I think a lot of guys in the US would be blown away by some of the spots we have here.
What do you think the average US rider thinks the average German rider is like?
I have no idea to be honest. I’d imagine some of them probably think we’re always riding bikes whilst drinking beer and eating Bratwurst all the time? There may be some truth in that for certain riders over here though haha
In a time where most riders are pretty focused on only one type of riding, you’re no stranger to filming a street section, riding in skatepark contests, and even building backyard trails. Why is this?
I think I try to ride everything because all aspects of BMX are fun to me. BMX is meant to be fun at the end of the day, so why should you be focused on one thing when you could be having just as much fun doing more? Even though I ride a lot of street, I think I can still be having just as much fun riding a miniramp or hitting the trails. This is something that will never change for me. BMX has so much to offer, if you’re purposely missing out on riding something because you don’t think it’s cool I think you’re missing out on so many opportunities and good times.
Explain your bike right now, what kind of setup do you ride?
I ride a Radio Bikes Nemesis frame, fork and bar which I was luck enough to help develop with Tanner Easterla over in the US. I like these parts because the geometry is pretty great for everything, not too long or short or twitchy. I think everything else on my bike is from éclat which is great because they make solid shit that’s built to take a beating and I’m not exactly kind to my bike sometimes… I ride 4 pegs and a freecoaster just because it just opens up more possibilities whatever you’re riding.
Who do you ride for right now, who supports you?
I currently ride for Radio Bikes , People’s Store in Cologne, and The Fella Bmx. Big shout out to all of these guys who keep me having fun on my bike.
Didn’t you almost have your own signature frame when you were 16?
Oh man I knew this was coming. Yeah so when I was 15, before I got hooked up by Radio, I rode for a small German brand that was around for a few years called Dirty Steel Industries. Those guys were really good to me, but I think they were more into making lighter park parts and they didn’t last that long with my size and my riding style. Since I needed a stronger bike, they then asked me if I wanted my own frame. Being that young and being offered a signature frame at that age, I obviously said yes. After a good while I had the prototype of my own frame in my hands which was a super crazy feeling for being that age. It was actually a super good frame, and lasted for ages, but they kinda slowed down as a brand and sadly it never got produced. Still an amazing memory that I’ll always have hanging on my wall to look back on when I’m old.
You’re a big advocate of wearing a helmet, especially on street. What are your reasons behind this?
Purely my own safety, it isn’t a statement. I just want to look after myself. I’ve already had some pretty bad crashes where I was wearing a helmet, and I don’t want to know what would have happened to me if I wasn’t wearing one. You’ve only got one head, it can’t grow back like a fingernail…
What’s the scariest thing you’ve done this year?
I always try to scare myself every now and then to keep the adrenaline up. Being scared is good for you a little bit here and there. The last time I was super scared was actually in a game of bike contest against my Radio teammate Kenneth Tancre from Belgium. I had to do a backflip barspin, which was absolutely terrifying. I somehow landed it, but holy shit I was scared about it.
You actually have DIG tattoo right, explain how that happened?
No crazy story really, it was my very first tattoo, and I guess I just wanted something represents what BMX means to me. The symbol instantly appealed to me the first time I’d seen it, and has stuck with me ever since. To me, the symbol explains that BMX is all about cohesion and brotherhood and I’d always really liked the way it looked. I guess it’s better than an anchor or a heat on my arm right?
This video was meant to be finished in the summer but you ran into a few difficulties filming this project right?
Yeah it was originally just meant to be a Summer project but I hurt my back super early on with that Barspin drop and couldn’t ride for a good few weeks. Then life got in the way as it usually does, me and Marcus both had a lot of work to do and couldn’t find a day where we could both meet up and film. Luckily the weather held out, and we ended up finding a few days at the end of November to get the video wrapped up and I couldn’t be more stoked about it.
What are you looking forward to the most in 2017?
I’m looking forward to Simple Session in February, I’ve always wanted to go and this year I can finally make it out there. We’ve got a Radio Bikes trip after that, and more good trips with my friends on the horizon. I’m just looking forward to riding as much as I can and hopefully getting out of Germany a little more.
Any last words?
Yeah I’d like to say a big thank you to DIG for this interview and opportunity. Thanks to my friends Marcus Brückner and Aaron Zwaal for helping make this project a reality, all my sponsors for their support this year, and a special thanks to Dave Paterson for everything he does for me. You guys all rule.
Sunday's Cali AM Shredder