Kevin Jones: A Pivotal Moment that changed Flatland forever!

Today we have a special treat from the flatland archives that changed modern day flatland forever. Courtesy of Mike Daily and the Plywood Hoods, Kevin Jones and his amazing run from AFA Masters in Austin, Texas, 1987. Miker invited me to write a little something about his influential moment.

Effraim Catlow / Flatmattersonline.

Kevin Jones, 19 & Over Expert, AFA Masters, Austin, TX (May 2, 1987).

Mike Daily, Editor of the Plywood Hoods Trick Team zine Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag! has reached out to Flatmatters for this exclusive world premiere of the flatland run that got York, Pennyslvania’s Kevin Jones sponsored by Skyway. There are so many thoughts that rush into my brain, as (thanks to the Raybo/Dellavalle tapes that Mike was entrusted with to make the Aggro Rag book in 2013), we now get to watch Kevin’s breakthrough run from the 1987 AFA Masters in Austin Texas.

Why do I say Breakthrough?

During this period of time, there were a lot of rumours about Kevin Jones, coming from across the pond. All we had was whatever text was written in the magazines. Most likely that was either Freestylin’ or BMX Plus! at the time–if we were lucky, maybe a photo or sequence.

This is the contest that proved that Kevin Jones was the real deal. Can you ponder entering a contest with tricks that have never been done or seen before? Think about that for a moment…

Then think, Kevin was unsponsored. In my mind, that isn’t a big point but at the time it was, and it turns out it was for Kevin. The video description reads:

“Skyway rushed to sponsor Kevin Jones after his second place finish in 19 & Over Expert at Round 3 of the AFA Masters series held May 2, 1987, in Austin, Texas.

“Kevin pulled stall lawnmower to backwards peg picker into trolley (his head tube-straddling, no-handed scuff); and uptight wheelie (his upside down backwards wheelie while turning the cranks by hand) into straddle.

“Kevin also premiered standing room only (his standing-upright backwards infinity roll); elephant glide (his sitting-on-the-crossbar while letting-the-back-end-of-the-bike-swing-around foot-drag scuff); and then–after he had run out of time, unfortunately–locomotive (his backyard-like progression of his tag sanity hops). Kev actually coasted the locomotive a few seconds without scuffing (locomotive glide), then pulled it off.

“Lew reported in the September ’87 issue of FREESTYLIN’ Magazine:

‘Kevin Jones got the crowd louder during his run than anyone else the whole weekend, including the pros. Every trick he did looked impossible yet was wired. He had a style so fresh it’s gonna take even the best guys a few months to catch up. He did one of those runs that left every man, woman, and child in the arena stunned. He got second place.’

“Haro’s Rick Moliterno–ever the man to beat in 19 & Over Expert–got first. Kevin later told Spike Jonze for FREESTYLIN’ (August ’89): ‘I would have been satisfied if I’d have made the top ten, and then I got second. I didn’t know why there was all the controversy about it…[Rick] beating me. I was just glad to get second, plus I got sponsored. That’s all I really wanted to do anyways was get sponsored. I never really cared about getting first.’”

A couple of things stood out to me about this run besides the originality of the tricks Kevin is doing, that’s a given!

I commented to Mike Daily, it’s like Kevin is battle riding. And what I mean by that, is not battle contest riding. But it’s almost like he’s at a Deejay contest, and he’s gesturing to the crowd mid-trick: “Hey, what do you think?”

And being that the BMX Freestyle world had never seen these tricks before, it makes total sense. Then my thought changed to: “How would you judge this?” I imagine back in 1987, the AFA was largely judged by riders’ parents. This new approach to flatland wasn’t anything that really could be measured. Watch the run again and notice the techniques on show: boomerangs, hopping, scuffing, there’s even a body varial (stubble duck-type move out of the trolley), and rolling tricks, but also the way he connected was very new. The deadtime between the tricks was something that made me think about deejaying, and bboy culture. The gestures! Raditude for a genuine reason is the best. I can imagine this was as heartfelt as it gets.

In the end, the result is not important. The whole world of flatland got to witness this gem and now in 2019 we finally get to see the run that changed the game for us all. Realistically, all we can do is thank Kevin for his vision, and his humbleness.

Let me leave you with a thought: Is this the most important moment in the history of the progression of modern day flatland?

27 thoughts on “Kevin Jones: A Pivotal Moment that changed Flatland forever!

  1. Every culture has a past and that show you what should be done even in the world of today to explore and develop as rules are meant to be broken if they only make sense and Kevin showed this.

  2. Wish Kevin wasn’t such a recluse. He’s been radio silent for years and years. Does he still ride? What’s he up to these days?

  3. The progression jump from what was being done at this time to what he performed in this run has never, and will never, be repeated again!

  4. wow history lesson right here from the K,the real boss!Around 1985 when Mike Daily showed to Kevin for the first time the gyro and the pegs while Kevin was a break dancer,I think that was the most important moment in the history of the progression of modern day flatland,that’s where everything were about to begin…and change forever…

  5. From what I read years ago, Kevin doesn’t care to be in the spotlight. Apparently he still rides, but I also read that, he doesn’t try to invent new tricks anymore. I definitely recall this run and how he blew away all the pros. Not taking anything away from the pros of the time, but I’m sure Kevin’s pay was way less than their pay.

  6. To me, this is the largest leap forward that I can recall. What I remember most, is that the race to learn many of these tricks began that day. It was almost as if a line was drawn in the sport. Many chose not to cross, and began their slow fade away. Others embraced the change and began creating and innovating. An explosion happened and two months later so many scenes looked different. With these new barriers broken, many riders had already dialed some of these new tricks. That set in motion one of the most progressive years that I remember. A good lesson for all of us, innovation breeds growth.

      • Where is this dude MarC if that is his name,that he was saying that dropping the bike down and then pick it up looks ugly and all those aesthetic nonsense about flatland he was talking about??Effraim do you remember that guy?I am soooo curious right now to hear his opinion about that Kevin Jones contest run….it would be VERY interesting…!!

  7. It’s great to see this getting attention, because at the time – it was an atom bomb dropped on all our heads. Like Kevin had been sent to Earth from a distant planet to teach the mere mortals. I saw this run on a videotape within a few weeks of that contest, and immediately dropped whatever tricks I was doing to focus on learning the locomotive. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

    Practically overnight, everyone in our scene was now scuffing tricks that used to be “kick-brake, kick-brake”, like funky chickens. Lots of tricks died almost immediately – they now seemed silly by comparison. The forward rolling stuff was soon to follow, and if you competed or showed up for a jam, you knew you had to throw some of the new style down or you were yesterday’s news.

    I still refer to Kevin as the greatest flatland rider ever, because he completely changed the sport, and opened everyone’s minds beyond what we had imagined. To this day, most of what we do is based on his staple tricks / positions / techniques.

    Also, I still get a kick out of the cult rumor mill that started among us – “I heard Kevin is doing ________! Apparently, he can coast it the whole length of the parking lot, forward AND backward. I heard about it from _________.”

    “No way, that’s impossible!”

    “Dude, it’s Kevin Jones.”

    The realm of the impossible was suddenly a *lot less certain*.

  8. Hello future. Goodbye cherrypickers and miami hoppers. He taught me hang 5s at a contest before he had a name for the move. 🙂

  9. Definitely a moment that changed flat forever. Most of us did not have access to the video footage, so there was still an air of mystery about it all. We knew the guys from York were up to crazy shit but the delay in magazine write-ups and video production meant that, by the time we saw the tricks, Kevin was already another 6 months ahead. And, the tricks he was doing in contests were already his “safe” tricks that were reasonably dialed (in other words, the stuff he was doing in the parking lot at the same contest was even crazier and even further ahead).

    I feel like Kevin had several of these moments. Each time a Dorkin’ video came out. The PA contest where he debuted the hitchhiker and backpacker, etc. All huge and each “re-set the table” so to speak.

  10. This 3 minutes is the dividing line in flatland – there’s before this and after this. Right up there in significance as the Wright Brothers first flight or 1st moon landing.

  11. I had the pleasure of seeing this in person. I was there and it was an amazing point in flatland. I finished pretty well in the class just below and introduced the backwards hang 5 and some other stuff that got completely over shadowed by the incredible stuff Kevin was dropping at the event. He was pushing the limits of the time and defining what was next for flatland. I will always consider Kevin the originator of the modern era of flatland riding. What creative vision and what an incredible talent!

  12. My suggestion to you Giannis is, to not worry. I’m not saying anyone should live in the past, but we should acknowledge and respect those that helped flat become what transpired. I’ve heard fairly new and younger riders who have been around 5 minutes, but act as if they’re great. They don’t care to respect the past, or in some cases acknowledge it. And in my time, various people are no longer riding. Given they’re younger, I don’t hold it against them.

    • Completely agree with you Tristan but you know…Democracy was born from here where I live…Athens,Greece.So I hear and respect everybody’s opinion and choice so to speak.When you say to an other flatlander that ‘hey dude you’re too concerned on learning too many new tricks,you’re trying to be original by letting the bike down and then pick it up and you roll around on the floor and that all don’t feel or look good” you know Tristan I laugh because that quote remind me the one and only Kevin Jones…this contest run of the K in 1987 is the perfect example that shows when you have a vision in life and don’t follow any silly rules you can go forward and progress…and Kevin did exactly that thing,he moved forward and progressed the sport like no one else.Massive respect to the Godfather of modern day flatland,with his attitude on bike riding I learned the right way and now I know where I want to go….

  13. Such an Amazing run…The first link when there were barely things like links was so rad..I believe there as a tiny pic in a magazine of him doing the locomotive from this contest, Lucky for me i had a friend who knew the plywoodhoods and it wasnt long before i was riding with Kevin and gang….

    • So jealous for you Jason you rode with Kevin!!Must been an unforgettable experience…thank you for the comments also for freestyler 101 edit!!Keep riding!!

  14. Agreed / stoked on yalls comments …..Rich W , Giannis , Tristan , Brandon …..hell everyone had rad insightful things to share about this run that SLAAAAAMMMED the sport full stop…….funny ….Ive anticipated seeing this run since the 7 th grade , hahaha. Watching it multiple times since its been posted on here , WOW , a real mind trip ,thinking about just how far ahead of Kevin was / has always been , but THIS here just SCREAMS that fact . The whole time watching this ,Im thinking 1987 ! 1987 ! Big -E , youre spot on with what you’ve stated , Rich W , bruuuuuuv …… riding amigos at the time / myself would ALWAYS talk about just THAT fact …….we would be like can you imagine just WHAT he has on the back burner ??!! Super scary thought . Bobby Fischer , who used to ride for Standard bike co. , had the Shaman signature frame , he told my friends and I that he heard through the grape vine that one of those back burner tricks that Kevin was trying to dial , back in September 1994 was a back wards peg wheelie turn bucket to forward peg wheelie……… roll the backwards peg wheelie on the left foot , decade off that foot only , turn bucket as youre in the decade , NO platform use , land in a forward rolling peg wheelie on that same left foot………..when he told us this we all , including his friend Andrew Burleson , we ALL stopped riding ….sat there quiet for like 15 minutes , hahahha.. to this day Ive wondered / wanted to see THIS move by Kevin ……….thanks for sharing this Mike Daily , Effraim , all involved ! Its MUCH appreciated -TIMES 7 !

  15. And the thing that I also recall reading years ago, was that, Kevin said that someone out of Finland might just blow everyone else away. Wether he knew of Martti, I don’t know, but it shows that Kevin realises there’s a whole lot of people in the world, that are good/great riders. It also shows, that being open minded/lateral thinking can and has helped progress flat.

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