Osato Ironing By Kay Clauberg
13 Feb 2017

The Highs & Lows With Dave Osato

Catching up with one of the most technical riders of all time


Words/Interview by Paul Robinson Photos Kay Clauberg & Ed Docherty

What is it about Canadian riders and this affiliation to being some kind of beast? Was this all Jay Miron’s fault (The OG Canadian Beast)? Did he raise the ‘beast bar’ and from that point on - everyone who originated from North America had to ride like some kind of feral animal and do the biggest tricks on a BMX? Or maybe it’s just some kind of traditional Canadian mentality that gets passed on through generations…

But of all the words you could describe Dave Osato - all the ‘beast’ like metaphors and associations to ‘some kind of testosterone-fuelled Canadian rider’, for me it was technical progression, and at an outstanding level. Every time I pressed play on a new Props video or huddled round the VHS player to watch a new Backyard video that might have featured some overseas Osato footage - I was blown away with his level of riding. He actually progressed riding to galactic new heights - tailwhips to nosepicks on sub boxes, downside tailwhip bunny hop drop in’s, tailwhip to fufanus, manual to tailwhips on sub boxes into mini ramps, the list of combinations is endless and this was all happening at the turn of the millennium. His riding was brutally futuristic.

Now, at 40 years old, Dave Osato, a fire fighter who gets to ride maybe 4 or 5 times a year looks back on those wild days spent traveling the world and making the podiums at some of the biggest contests in the world. With the help of long time sponsor WETHEPEOPLE, Freedom photographer Kay Clauberg and their Team Manager Paul Robinson, we we’re able to trawl the DIG archives for some classic Dave Osato images.


The decades may have passed but that's no excuse for a shitty caption.

So how would you describe your time on the road, just travelling around and doing shows with WTP and the crew back then?

I would have to say it was a great experience. Just being able to travel the world with a solid crew doing what we all love to do was so much fun. 

How would you best explain the highs and lows of being a BMX pro back in that era

The high for me was thinking of new tricks and then going out and doing them, it didn’t matter if it took me 3 days or 3 months, that was a definite high for me. Another big high was making solid friends all over the world, even to this day I can pick up the phone and talk to anyone of them like it was yesterday despite the fact we may have not talked in like 5 years. 

The low’s would definitely be getting hurt and out of commission. Rehabbing and trying to get strong enough to ride again, that was really tough. 

I spent some time looking through the archives at the WTP office and found so many hilarious boozy photos of you. Was it all for fun or did the booze get too much to handle?

For me I think later on and near the end of my career it was getting a bit too much. I mean I didn’t start drinking till I was like 23 and from that point on I had so much fun hanging out and parting with everyone that it made me more stoked to ride. It was a great way to socialize without riding the bikes. 

Osato Table Circa 04 Van Used For Wtp Ad By Ed Docherty

Table shot for a WETHEPEOPLE advert in Vancouver circa 2004 by Ed Docherty

"I always felt that I was lucky in some sort of way but the life I had was not all fun and games"

- Dave Osato

Did you ever feel lucky, that you could wake up each day and just ride…?

I always felt that I was lucky in some sort of way but the life I had was not all fun and games. Yes its great I was able do what I wanted when I wanted but you also have to be disciplined in riding, working out to help prevent injuries.  You have to do hours of physio to get back to riding a level you are happy with. Some days were good and some were bad but the best thing I did was to stay positive, everything eventually worked itself out.

Did you always have a plan to be a BMX pro or was it something you sort of fell into?

No I never really thought about it when I first started riding. I got so excited pulling new tricks and that is what kind of drove me to turning pro. It was not till a few years later when I was doing a lot of the tricks I saw in the magazines that I thought I could take this to the next level. 

Osato Whip Dig 7

Unused Schwinn Whip pic from DIG issue 7 Circa 1997.


Late nineties Dave at the Worlds in Cologne, Germany still in that classic Schwinn red and black set up right before the WETHEPEOPLE days.

How did the WTP deal come about and did you ever think twice about riding for a brand so many miles away in Europe?

After Schwinn filed for bankruptcy I was out of a sponsor and wanted to ride for a rider owned company. I talked to the guys and they wanted me on WETHEPEOPLE. We agreed on a good deal and that was the beginning of me being in the team. I didn’t think twice about riding for a German company. 

Are you still a huge follower of BMX, do you still ride? and if not when did things start to slow down for you or just take a turning point away from BMX?

I follow it here and there on social media. I get out to the park maybe 4 or 5 times a year if I am lucky. It was sometime around 2008 or 2009 that I started to think about what was next on my plate. I just felt it was the right time for me to move on and channel my energy in other things.

Dig Osato Nose Tailwhip Dig48

DIG 48 Print ad 2005.

Baco Osato Billy Bass

Hey look its Billy Bass

Osato Canadian Vancouver Circa 2004 By Ed Docherty

Classic DIG Archives Ostato shot in Vancouver 2004 by Ed Docherty

Dave Osato Nosepick

Dream spot. Wuppertal Germany, Circa 2003. Photo By Kay Clauberg

Rf5 Osato Wheel Fix

Dirty work. Road Fools 5 from DIG 15, 2001. Photo by Chris Hallman

Dig 24 Osato Lost For Words Spread

'Lost for Words' photo spread from DIG 24 2002. Effortless whip to manual to ice-bonk, Monpellier, France. Sequence by Ed Docherty

"The high for me was thinking of new tricks and then going out and doing them, it didn’t matter if it took me 3 days or 3 months, that was a definite high for me."

- Dave Osato

Osato No Hander Ld 41

We'll just leave this one here...

About that Intro Photo...

Osato Ironing By Kay Clauberg

Photo By Kay Clauberg

"This was at my first or second Simple Session and Risto let us (Dave Osato, Tobias Wicke, Claudia Hahn, Sandra Eibel and me) stay at this amazing apartment right downtown. The problem was that we couldn't find the controller for the heater - which was found later underneath a mattress when we left - so it was super cold inside. Since alcohol fights the cold, we sort of had some of it  – resulting of course in Dave doing some ironing." - Kay Clauberg