Amine grew up in Clichy-sous-Bois, the culturally diverse suburb or banlieue about an hour from central Paris. The area, known for its role in the 2005 French riots, has greatly evolved in recent years and maintains a strong sense of community. According to Amine, a biker and figurehead for motocross in France, it’s the kind of place where people help each other out.

Amine started biking as a kid. As he got older, he began traveling the country to attend meet-ups facilitated through social media. He’s played a part in developing his sport into something much bigger, by showcasing his skills in music videos, fashion campaigns and more. As Amine takes motocross to a wider audience, he’s proud to rep the neighborhood he calls home, where bikes, football and rap are the cultural bedrock for the youth.

On a quiet morning in Clichy, Amine spoke about the strength of his home, the importance of football and why you should always ride with style.

How has your neighborhood made you the person you are today?

People liked watching me ride in the neighborhood, and that encouraged me to take it further. We have people from all cultures and religions in Clichy, and even though it’s not a very well-off area, they come together to give each other strength.

How did you get into motocross in the first place?

I’ve been riding since I was 12. I realized that I had a talent for it when I was quite young. I used to go out with my big brother on the weekends. I’d look forward to it all week during school.

In this style of the sport, competition happens in the street. It’s all about who can do the best moves. I honed my skills pretty quickly and met people who encouraged me to get into the spotlight.

As someone who constantly lives on the edge, what is your secret for overcoming fears or setbacks?

What drives me is the excitement of being on the bike. When I’m there, I forget everything else, and my problems just disappear. I’m in a bubble, just enjoying the moment.

Where do you ride in and out of Paris?

I stopped riding in the neighborhood, as it became too dangerous due to people showing off and having accidents. Now, we ride pretty much everywhere — on the freeway, on the road, down country lanes and in the woods. It’s great to ride in different conditions. If I’m feeling bold, I love riding on the freeway.

We have a huge community around France, and everyone follows each other on Instagram. I’ve been to cities like Marseilles and Perpignan for meet-ups. For riders in the rest of the country, having someone come down from Paris can be a big deal, and it’s a pleasure for me. I end up taking around 100 selfies with people each time! I like checking out their new bikes and getting into the rivalries.

Now that you have more visibility, do you feel responsible for the younger riders?

I tell them not to try anything until they are sure they can pull it off. I believe that each person has their own limit, and they shouldn’t try to force past it. Everyone has their own talents. You need to influence young people in the right way and not orient them towards needless risk-taking.

“I have always worn Air Jordans on my bike, and I always will.”

What does Paris mean to you? How do you “own” that and carry it with you?

The thing is, I don’t really feel Parisian or provincial. The banlieue is something in-between. You find it all over France, and there’s the same mentality whether you’re in Paris or Marseilles. But when I travel, I feel really Parisian. There’s a real difference between us and other people. We dress differently, and overall, we have more choices and possibilities.

What do Air Jordans mean to you?

I only ride in Air Jordans. They are the only high-top sneaker that protects my ankle and feet on the bike. Since they are designed for the basketball court, they have excellent soles. The motocross community looks to America, and we learned to wear big sneakers from American culture. I have always worn Air Jordans on my bike, and I always will.

How have Paris Saint-Germain and football culture influenced your style and impacted your life?

Paris Saint-Germain is the club in all of our hearts. Some people say they want to be doctors, but growing up, we all wanted to be PSG players. It’s more than a club. I often wear a PSG shirt, because it goes with my bike. You have to ride with style. That’s our strength.

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