Cross Pollination with Bikes: Keeping Things Interesting Mar 25, 2010

Darren Berrecloth for Specialized

I just want everyone to take a few minutes and read what Alex wrote in the Steven Jensen: New Rims Edit. While I may not agree with 100% of the content, he makes a very valid point; cycling cross-pollinates. Crossing over between bikes, regardless of rim size makes things interesting. Tom LaMarche did it in 2007 and now others are doing it. Many thanks to Alex for taking to time to write this comment. Read his comment here:

This happened a bit in the mountain bike scene too when riders like Darren Berrecloth (who was a good, but 2nd rate BMX’er) switched over to big bikes, and did all the big lines that the old mountain bikers did, but threw bmx tricks in as well. He immediately won a bunch of contests and was picked up by Specialized soon thereafter.
People started to bitch and moan a bit, but after a few other riders switched over, it got some cred for the sport because people were doing more than just hucking themselves off big drops and jumps to flat.

Check out more below…

This fixed trick thing reminds me a bit of that. To me, the biggest issue in both situations is that if BMXers can switch over and kill it immediately, what’s the point of riding fixed or mountain bikes. Some people argue that its harder on a fixed or mountain bike. CT Justin’s comment about seat height hits on this. With mountain bikes it was almost like “well doing one tailwhip on a 26in bike is harder than doing one on a bmx, thats why our pros can only do one instead of 3.” Thats bullshit. If the argument comes down to that, someone has obviously just chosen the wrong equipment.

What helped with mountain biking is that the contest/big sponsor side of the sport kind of shelled off the street aspect (because BMX was so much more practical for that style of riding) and focused on the Slopestlye kind of contests, a place where mountain bikes were necessary.

It seems like fixed trickery is going to have to find a way to justify riding the big bikes rather than just the difficulty. I know people argue that the advantage is that you can get around more easily than on a bmx, but as the bikes devolve toward bmx bikes and get less efficient (26in wheels, silly gear ratios, big tires) thats becoming a moot point.

I definitely understand that there’s some reward in the challenge, but if thats the case people are going to have to stop bitching about a BMXer showing them up.

Much respect to all who have commented with a positive slant in these entries and many thanks to Alex for commenting. Remember, no one can tell you how to ride your bike. Only you can decide that!

Steven Jensen: New Rims Edit

  • ez

    This is a very good question, and really, it’s one that is fun to pontificate over, but all such discussion really won’t drive anyone to much of anything. Will it stop kids from riding if they have an epiphany that implies a sort of “my god, my bike is useless” feeling?

    Probably not.

    However, I saw the same thing happen in mountain bikes and I’ve waxed poetic on it myself. There was, to me, a convergence of interests and it was, a time and a place too. I still enjoy riding bikes of all stripes and do pull out the big bike once in a while. What made it fun and what makes it fun, is the feeling of riding down hills at full speed, away from the city and on your own. There is this empowering sense of freedom, and as generic as it sounds, as an adult a BMX bike no longer did that for me.

    I’m not the most progressive or naturally gifted rider in any area and that is, really, ancillary to this whole problem with “defining fixed gear freestyle”.

    Now, I no longer live in the foothills of the mountains, but in a city. Now Denver is not as big or dense as NYC or San Francisco, but it is still a city and that means that my life revolves around “not driving”. It sounds odd, but what made fixed gears interesting to me was: the affectation of riding a simple bike that didn’t even have brakes and the need to use some form of transit that didn’t involve a car (traffic is horrible and parking is even worse… this is the city that invented the car boot, sorry world). I have to be honest and say that the emergent culture, the alley cats and zines, appealed to the old hardcore kid in me and I enjoyed the “trend”, because that may be all that part of this was. But I grew up riding bikes, my father was a cyclist and I’ve owned more bikes than I can count on my fingers and toes.

    So maybe some of this is just a trend. Oh well, I will enjoy it while it lasts.

    That said, I’d argue that it is different enough from BMX to warrant it’s existence beyond mere trend. Just like a mountain bike is better at riding steep, rocky singletrack and navigating ladder bridges and large drops (and just as Bearclaw was the first to really do 360s off of them, the last two years have exploded what is possible on a fixed gear), a fixed gear bike is better than a BMX bike at two things that come to mind:

    1) You can ride backwards forever. Unlike a BMX bike you can do this with control and for a long time. Freecoaster hubs aside, riding backwards on a BMX bike is unnatural, more so than on my Cutter. It’s just bizzare and you feel like you are only “pedaling ahead” of the wheel, just spinning to not mess up. I never got the hang of it. So tricks that involve backward riding and immediate wheellocking (like maybe whip skid based tricks, and yes I know you can do some of those on a BMX bike) would distinguish it.

    2) I will argue against the dismissing the transportation aspect of riding. Have you tried riding anywhere with a backpack full of beer and a jacket on a newer BMX bike? Maybe you ride ratios that are useless for commuting, but I do not. Even if a lower ratio would be better for tricks, I rock around 70″ and that is perfect for hill bombing and climbing (though keeping the road cadence of ~90 rpms is out of the question on climbs, haha, we all have that problem). It really is better as an “adult” bike. I like being able to scour the city for spots to ride and to flow from one spot to the next. True, this is not impossible on a BMX bike, more so on a cruiser, but it’s still easier even on a bike with 26″ wheels (which are near the same diameter with decently sized tires anyway). I really think that this matters, but perhaps because I live in a city, I am biased.

    Is it just a trend? Are we just fighting against BMX riders? I remember when showing up with your hardtail with disc brakes, short travel fork with a 20mm axle would elicit “gears are for queers” shouts from kids. This is just the same thing. Who cares if you think BMX is better? Is there some life “cool prize” that you get for riding a “better bike” when you die? I don’t think so. I like fixed gear bikes and maybe it makes me “an idiot” or “a fool” but arguments against it are specious at best. Unless you think there is some bike god who is going to damn you eternally for “making the wrong choice”. Faith, what a funny thing.

  • antihero1972

    I won’t comment on the whole FGFS set, I have my own opinions, I just want to say Darren Berrecloth fucking rips, hands down one gnarly rider. You have to respect that.

  • I have to really agree with the sentiment that the cmx’ers are starting to devolve their “track” bikes into big ass bmxs with the 48c tires and 30t chainrings-ridiculous. I got into riding fixed for speed. I ride an aluminum frame track bike. I do have a Bruiser but I rarely (as fun as it is) use it (its too slow) and I have 28c tires on it with a 42/16 ratio that’s as close as I’ll get to Bmx.

  • i find it amazing that people are getting so up in arms about a crossover rider like steven jensen. tom lamarche has been upping the ante from the start. and it seemed like maybe he would stand alone or among a few, but with dudes like jensen pushing the progression a little quicker than expected everyone is starting to bitch. jeff posted a skate vid on the bike jerks blog that had an interview with christian hosoi. the one coherent comment he made was about being sponsor hungry. so many kids are so worried about getting sponsored that theyre forgetting to learn the basics, learn how to ride their bikes. i think that this sponsor me bullshit has a lot to do with it.

  • sammy

    i think if your into bikes, you should do whatever the hell you want with it. i dont understand why people are making a fuss about what gear ratios and tyre sizes other people ride? its there bike, you dont have to ride it. isnt that why there are hundreds and hundreds of different parts out there? so we can build our bike how we want them?! i find a bit of variation interesting and have nothing against people trying something new. i ride 35c tyres, trick forks, wide bars, low seat and low gear ratio because i spend most of my time on my fixie doing tricks, and for the long rides i just put up with it as i cant afford to have a differnt fixie for every occasion (im sure im not the only one). i think people should just get on with there own riding rather than criticising other people for being brave and inventive enough to try something new.

    so dont get in a huff next time you see someone doing tricks on a fixie, or see a mountainbiker riding in the skatepark. there just having fun! thats what bikes are for!

  • Rhys

    Its the same with ‘street’ mtbs from a few years ago. supposedly they were going to take over hte world of ‘street’, but in the end we all realised they werent that good and were ending up like big awkward bmxs.

  • danny

    Wow, that is a seriously dated photo of bearclaw.
    We’ve come a long way from the days of the 24 in the rear bighit.

  • ez


    Yeah, this was the photo Specialized sent out when he signed with the team. I remember it well. That must be like 05 or 04? I remember those Manitou forks too. Inverted with the carbon fiber stanchion guards.

    Hell, I remember when forks still had boots. Haha.

  • Vas

    good point sammy. ride a bike you want to ride, for fun.

  • A few years ago lots of people in my town were doing street trick on a 26″ MTB, then someone started using 24″ wheels, every bike was built singlespeed with modified Marzocchi DJ forks with reduced travel to 60mm.
    After a while everybody decided to use 20″ BMX simply because for pure street tricks BMX are better.

    Slopestyle is about doing tricks on a DH course, for DH you HAVE to use big full suspended bikes, so for slopestyle a 26″ MTB is better.

    Doing street/park BMX tricks on a fixed gear is only harder, I think we need something like the slopestyle, fixed gear freestyle have to combine BMX tricks AND the capability to be fast on the street.

    Freestyle alleycats ??

  • Leif

    I just say.. ride how you want period. To much hate is thrown at FGFS