Felix Prangenberg - Youth of Today Interview
When your Dad looks out for the cops while you get a clip...
23 Jun 2015
Interview and photos by Martin Ohliger
This does not feel like a photo and video shoot for the ender of a web video... It’s more like a family trip to Disney World. Felix, his younger brother and his best friend and filmer Leon are sitting on the back seats of a minivan. Felix’s Dad is driving and absolutely nothing suggests that in about 30 minutes he’ll be on the lookout to warn us if the Police come back while his son climbs onto a roof and 180s off of it. But this kind of scenario is quite normal for Felix. He’s too young to have a driving license and has to rely on his parents driving him everywhere. Yet, he has a mean tabletop, does the biggest truck drops with ease and on top of all that he’s one of the most relaxed guys to be around. Felix Prangenberg really proves that age is just a number.
Felix Prangenberg - DIG 'Youth Of Today' Video
Proving that age really is just a number... - More Info
You will have to tell that story about how you started riding BMX again.
No problem, I told that one pretty often already … My dad is crazy about bikes and he has a friend who used to be one of Germany’s best downhill riders. I learned riding a bike when I was two and a half years old, I even started without training wheels. Then I really, really wanted to have a mountain bike, so I traded my pacifier for a mountain bike that was far too big. But I was happy with it, I rode it a lot together with my dad and even started racing. I got my first BMX bike in 2003 and first I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. I eventually started jumping stairs with it and here I am!
You can almost tell this story in your sleep – you’re pretty media-savvy, you’ve been on German television several times and you do lots of stuff on Instagram.
Instagram is pretty important to me, just creating stuff and showing to the world what’s happening. These television appearances always came around the BMX Masters/Worlds in Cologne. When I was 12 I had to turn down some requests because it got out of hand and I just wanted to ride my bike.
My Dad built some small ramps, about 40 centimetres high. And we built a small dirt jump behind my grandmother’s house. Then there’s the indoor park in Cologne, about an hour away, and my parents drove me there about once a week. And the rest of the time I just rode the streets and sidewalks. I learned bunnyhop 180s really early and I think it might have been an advantage for me not to have a park next door, because I was forced to learn other stuff.
Your Dad is really into contests and cheers really loud when you ride. How do you feel about that?
He’s just really happy to see me pull tricks and I think he’s proud, too. I had to tell him that I like him being into my riding, but that it might look a bit strange. People always assumed that my dad made me ride contests, but it’s the other way around. My parents always had to force me to stop riding my bike.
I think the support you get from your parents is really great.
Without my parents nothing of all this would have been possible. They built ramps for me, they drove me to Cologne so often … My Dad taught me how to bunnyhop and he taught me to balance on a bike in our living room in front of the television. Without them I would be stuck in Roßbach.
You don’t have any possibility to go ride somewhere else without your parents driving you?
That’s a real problem. I’m doing an apprenticeship now and I really want to ride when I have time, but my parents always have to come and pick me up at the nearest train station.
How do you fit in riding your bike now?
When I went to school I was home at 1.30 and on my bike at 3.00. Now I’m home at 6.00 and in the winter it just plain sucks. I leave when it’s dark and come home when it’s dark again. Fortunately I do have a bike at work and I can ride a bit in the lunch breaks. All in all I do have less time to ride my bike, but I had to do something and school would not have been that much better. I’ll just have to deal with it.
Did you think about just riding your bike and live the life of a BMX Pro before you started your apprenticeship?
I love to ride my bike, but calling myself a Pro doesn’t change anything, when I’m still living in Roßbach and don’t have a driving license. Sure, I have my small backyard park, but if I wouldn’t do the apprenticeship I’d just hang around and ride my park every day. I’d rather do something solid and after that we’ll see how it goes.
You’ve been on the wethepeople pro team for a few weeks now. How does it feel to be that young and to be on a team with legends like Max Gaertig?
It’s crazy that a company like that wants to do something with me. Being on a pro team is incredible. And it’s nice that they’re based in Cologne, so I already knew some guys who work there and some of the other team riders.
Do you think there are new possibilities ahead?
Yes, I’ll definitely go on more trips. It’s a bit complicated because of my apprenticeship. I already had to cancel two trips because I didn’t have enough leave days left over, but I’ll sort that out. Maybe I’ll go to work on Saturdays to do overtime. Then there are the parts. I’ve always liked the stuff they do and it’s nice to ride different parts and so many prototypes. Wethepeople just makes rad stuff.
It’s not an option for you to quit the apprenticeship?
I rarely get to ride my bike these days, so the thought has crossed my mind. But in the end I’m too prudential to just quit.
You went on your first trip with your parents when you were 13 years old, right?
Yes, to Dresden on that springbreak trip. You had to talk to Dad several times before my parents allowed me to go.
How is it to be the youngest on a trip?
For me it’s standard, I don’t know it any other way. But it doesn’t matter how old you are, BMX is a family. When I was 8 years old David Theissen (local legend from Cologne), who must have been 14 years old at the time, taught me how to drop into a quarterpipe. If someone rides BMX, he’s part oft he gang, that’s how it is here.
So you never really thought about always being the youngest?
No. And nobody ever made me feel like it matters.
The BMX scene is dominated by people twice your age – company bosses, TMs, filmers, photographers … Did you ever think that they don’t really get how riders your age see BMX?
No, never. And I’m stoked on the stuff those guys did in the past and still do. I do think that we have too many stereotypes and hate in BMX nowadays, but that doesn’t seem to be an age thing.
"When I was 12 I had to turn down some requests because it got out of hand. I just wanted to ride my bike."
Have you ever thought about the fact that it could have been too much, too soon? You’re 16 years old and you’re already on a pro team and you’ve already been to the X Games, California, Woodward …
Absolutely not. I want more of it and I’m looking forward to riding my bike a lot in the future.
You want to thank someone?
I want to thank everyone I got to ride with and had a good time. I want to thank Achim Kujawski (Nike), all the Parano Garage boys, everyone at wethepeople for getting me into the team and being the best so far, my tire sponsor Schwalbe, my phone sponsor Vodafone shop Neuwied who makes it possible that I can update my Instagram from everywhere on this planet haha, my good friend Leon for filming this edit with me and the biggest thank you goes out to my parents! Without out them I wouldn't be where I am now and would have never seen something different than my little village. And thank you guys from DIG for giving me this opportunity!
Thanks for your time and say thanks to your Dad for driving us around!
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