Teen rider makes mark with 'volt'

Davi Johnson's father, Lance Johnson, captures his son landing "the volt" for the first time on dirt.


Eighteen-year-old amateur FMX rider Davi Johnson's dreams of a professional freestyle motocross career are closer to becoming a reality. Having moved from Odessa, Texas, to Temecula, Calif., late last year, he spends the majority of his days pushing out reps with Charles Dao of Icon Sports Fitness and digging himself out of his foam pit. Laziness and giving up are not in the vocabulary of the rider better known as Davi J as displayed by signature graphics and T-shirts.

After competing in the 2011 DBK Amateur FMX Contest Johnson spent every day thinking about what he was going to do next that would help set him apart from the rest of the competition and ultimately make a name for himself. Well, a few months back the idea of pulling off the "volt" trick popped into his head.

Only a few riders have attempted the trick, so tackling a goal like this is no easy feat. And so began the countless hours of dedicating himself to beating up his body in the foam pit and receiving a couple of concussions along the way. After six weeks of attempting it in the foam pit, he was confident that it was time to take it to dirt.

The volt is only performed by a handful of people who also are among the top riders in FMX. It's a technical trick and to be good at doing it you really have to be comfortable with the front end of your bike floating out from under you in a washing out manner, similar to what it feels like when you wash out the front end coming into a turn. This trick is definitely a technical one that takes tons of commitment and dedication to pull it off in competition.

All that risk was no match for Johnson's determination and will to master the trick. He's looking to work his way up in the FMX community and pulling the volt trick several times at this year's 2012 DBK amateur contest was a major step He now has his sights set on riding X Games and X-Fighters, the crown jewels of FMX competitions.

I have no doubt he will work hard and do everything in his power to get there. For now, though, getting as much experience as he can is key and in time he should find his way there.

After the DBK amateur contest I talked with Davi J about the process of dialing in the volt.

ESPN.com: When did you start thinking about doing the Volt?
I started thinking about doing the volt trick around three months before the DBK event. I was just brainstorming one day and thought it would be really cool if I could land the volt and pull it off.

So from the point you actually started trying it in the foam pit to the DBK contest, how long was that? Ummm, it was probably a month and a half of going straight into the foam pit, ramp to foam, ramp to foam, 9-5. It was a fun thing to figure out

Why the volt trick?
It's a trick only a handful of people are doing and when you do it, it's the greatest feeling in the world.

In your first attempts at the volt how close were you to getting around and back on the bike?
My first attempts going into the pit were basically letting go and ditching the bike so I could see how the rotation was going to feel and figuring out what I needed to do to get back on the bike.

Chris Tedesco

Davi Johnson shocked the freestyle world by landing the "volt" during his amateur class qualifier Dec. 8 at the DBK Amateur FMX Contest.

How long did it take for you to get it dialed in the foam pit?
Probably took me about three weeks to get it into the foam pit. I really beat myself up, I messed my foot up, my wrist, my hand, my head, my whole body. It really made me relearn everything, like how to take a hit.

Did you have it dialed to dirt before you got to the contest or was the DBK contest your first attempt to dirt?
Yeah, I probably did it 45 times to dirt before the DBK contest.

That's a lot of times you landed a technical trick.
Yeah, I landed it 45 times [laughs].

What does it feel like to actually be doing a volt in the air?
I don't know. I guess I'm feeling the adrenaline rush coming up to the ramp and it's all or nothing, so I twist my hips and spin and once I'm doing that it's kind of a weird feeling that you're just floating through the air. It's weird! A good explanation is you're floating through the air. Once you start to come back around, you start to see the bike and your heart starts pounding and it's the greatest feeling in the world to land on both wheels.

Yeah, I bet landing on both wheels [is] a good feeling!
[Laughs] Yeah, it is! I just can't do too many back-to-back because I start to get dizzy.

What happened at the DBK contest, I know you had a mishap in the final?
Practice and qualifying went perfect. And coming down to the main I was going to go for the volt on the first jump, and when I was spinning the sun kind of got in my eyes and I couldn't see the bike. I got on the bike as much as I could see and held on for dear life, hit the ground and got knocked out but I'm doing good.

No broken bones?
Yeah, no broken bones, so it's all good, It's a good day!

Anyone you'd like to thank?
I'd like to thank Troy Lee Designs, Mom, Dad, my friend Brendan Smith who got me out of the foam pit each and every time.

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