Friday Interview & Bike Check: Bruce Crisman

Age: 33
Location: Portland Oregon
Sponsors: 2HipBikes, GoodsBMX, KHE Reverse Freecoaster Hub

When it comes to riding and progression, Bruce Crisman has always been ahead of the curve. From his humble beginnings shredding Burnside, to riding for Haro and doing barspins-to-one-handed fufanus on backrails, then going on to win gold in Park in the 2001 X Games while riding for Diamondback. Eventually he traded his brakes and pegs for a freecoaster and totally reinvented his riding style—eventually  becoming one of the most forward thinking (pun intended) freecoaster riders BMX has known. Aside from Bruce’s countless riding attributes, he’s hands-down one of the nicest guys you’ll probably ever meet. Bruce had to stay off his bike for over two years due to back issues, but after a series of hurdles, he’s back to riding again, picked up a new sponsor 2Hip, and we were lucky enough to catch up with him and shoot his new bike as well.

Interview by Jeff Zielinski
Action photos by Jason Finn 

Bike Check Photos: Jeff Zielinski

Frame: Jake Ortiz signature 20.75” (available very soon)
Fork: 2Hip Groovetech Endless fork
Bars: 2Hip Groovetech Future bar
Stem: 2Hip Groovetech Fate stem
Grips: ODI Longneck
Barends: ODI
Headset: FSA Impact
Clamp: integrated
Seatpost: Pivitol
Seat: 2Hip Pivitol 10
Cranks: Eclat Onyx
Pedals: 2Hip XX Super Concave
Sprocket: Sunday 28-tooth
Chain: KMC
Front Tire: WTP Grippin’
Front Wheel: Odyssey Quadrant Rim w/ Vandero 2 hub
Rear Tire: WTP Feelin’
Rear Wheel: Odyssey Quadrand Rim w/ KHE Reverse Freecoaster hub

So what have you been up to lately? How have you been dealing with the winter in Portland?
I’m doing great, and am grateful for life every single day. Winter is my favorite time of the year as I am able to catch up on my art drawings and playing music. I have also become one of the bike instructors for The Lumberyard bike park here in Portland along with Paddy Gross.

You’ve been riding for 2Hip for a few months now, how did that come about?
Ron Wilkerson and I have been in contact throughout the past several years and during that time he has become one of my dearest friends. We occasionally would discuss the possibility of me reppin’ 2Hip one day and that’s basically how it happened.

Ron Wilkerson is an interesting dude, what’s it been like to work, travel, and ride with him?
Never, ever, ever a dull moment with Ron W. He has created a long list of unforgettable moments in my life. Moments I can’t believe that I have experienced. I have so much to thank him for.

Prior to getting picked up by 2Hip, you had only been riding for a few months again after having to take what seemed like a year or two off because of back issues. What exactly was wrong with your back and what did you have to go through?
I was suffering with pain from compressed discs in my lower back/spine, which certainly kept me from bike riding as much as I had in the past—a little over two years, I believe. My biggest fear was that I would let 10, 15, 20 years go by without correcting my problem and then never have the opportunity to fix it with the strength that I possess in my youth. After many days of exhausting pain I decided to get real with my situation and correct it—which required time off from street riding and any sort of riding that hindered my lifestyle.

What were you doing during that time period when you couldn’t ride?
About two and a half years ago I decided to attend college. I had by then been competing/traveling (BMX) since 1998 and just needed a change in my normal routine. School was a great experience. I’m so glad that I attended and meet the wonderful people that I consider to be life long friends.

Footjam whip on a sweet looking bank in one of Portland’s industrial areas.

As far as BMX injuries go, it seems like the back is the new knee, a lot of riders, especially us older guys, are beginning to have chronic back problems. I know you’ve made some lifestyle changes to help combat it—including wearing running shoes (even when you ride), as well as stretching, and diet changes. Would you please elaborate on what you’ve been doing to cure/control your back problems…
Yes, I too have heard that a lot of riders have been experiencing severe back pain, so I am happy to be able share this information. There are three important things—which I now live by to avoid back pain. First, consistent exercise is key; I understand that our lives get busy, but by creating just a few minutes of our time to stretch and do a quick exercise on an everyday basis is crucial. By committing to this you will see the results—less back pain. Secondly, our diet is very important; keeping our bodies as lean as possible will help relieve back pain as unnecessary weight causes pressure to the already injured part of the body. Also, providing proper nutrients to our diet on a daily basis supplies us with the energy and drive to continue to work out. I take one packet of Emergen-c with a glass of water first thing in the morning and can completely feel the difference in my daily routine. Lastly, in all my years of riding I never once thought to ride with running shoes, but after giving them a test for just one month I discovered that air pockets absorb so much impact—especially while riding street. Those are the three changes that I have made in the past few years—which now allow me to ride my bike on a daily basis.

I know when I’m hit with a back attack, I can hardly do some normal daily routines that I normally take for granted, let alone ride, so when I’m healthy I try to ride as much as possible to make up for the lost time. I’m sure it’s been much the same with you?
No doubt, riding for me nowadays is something that I want to enjoy from start to finish every session. I’ve had plenty of time off of my bike in the past—which reminds me to not take for granted any opportunity from here on out. 

Riding aside, what else have you been up to? Still playing music?
Yes, I’m still playing music with a band called Decoro. For the past 12 years Darrell, Mark, and Luke have been like brothers to me—we meet once a week to jam, play shows from time to time, and enjoy writing and recording music together. We are currently recording some new tunes which can be heard on our ReverbNation within a couple of weeks.

On a slightly different note, I’m sure I’m not the only person who wants to know what became of projects like Façad and then Shola? Any plans to rekindle either of them? Or possibly start something entirely new?
Façad and Shola made a strong impact in my life and I hold onto those memories daily. Although I may never rekindle either of them I feel honored to have worked with/filmed such incredible bike riders during that time. As for any other projects, I do have something in the works that involves my art drawings. I am now working with Jeffrey Howard, an art promoter here in Portland and we will be making any and all notifications from my facebook/instagram once our project is complete.

Spring is right around the corner, do you have anything else coming up—projects, trips, etc?
Ron W. and 2Hip Bikes is keeping me plenty busy for the remainder of the year. We will be re-introducing the 2HIP Meet The Street contest series this summer, so keep an eye out on our website and Facebook for updates. Shad Johnson and I are also working on a GoodsBMX edit, which will be posted on the Goods site.

And finally, would you like to thank anyone?
I would like to thank God, whom I give thanks to for my everyday life, my mother and father for their continual love, Ron W. for the endless support that he gives me, Jerry Bowlby for always keepin’ it real, Will Heiberg, Joe Prisel, Craig Adams, Michael Whitesel and all of the staff at The Lumberyard, all of the Crisman’s, all of the Stigall’s; my amazing family whom I love dearly.

Spine 360 at the Lumderyard.