Friday Interview: “Why’s Your Bike Like That?”

I’m a creature of habit on and off my bike. I like the same food, I frequent the same businesses, and for the most part, I really, really like my bike how it is. I’ll admit that change is difficult for me at points and I like knowing that my bike feels just like it did yesterday, so I rarely switch up my bike and only get a new one when I feel like I’m on borrowed time. But, part of what makes BMX so great is that bike setups are generally limitless and the different types of riding that come from those setups. Dimensions aside, a BMX can be simple or complicated and most of the pros out there today have, ummm, evolved into what they ride today. In this week’s interview, I asked a few people to explain why they like their bike the way they do and maybe a couple of stories will inspire you to break out of the norm today and try adding (or removing) an accessory or two. Who knows…maybe you’ll like it. —Ryan

Kyle Hart:

Kyle Hart, turndown. Photo: Fudger

“I’ve been riding four pegs, four piece bars, and cassette for a few years now and been brakeless for about 12 years. I love four piece bars because all my favorite shred heroes used to ride ’em when I was a little party tot. They give the bike an attitude that can’t be duplicated with bone stock two-piece bars. I love grinding, but I suck nard bags at it. So in a weird, turdy way I don’t have a “switch” so I run four (steel as hell) pegs. More shit on my bike to grab! I’ve thought about running a freecoaster because backwards tricks are mega fun but I think you lose a lot of your personal style in the switch to a permanent moonwalking device.

“I’ve thought about running a freecoaster because backwards tricks are mega fun but I think you lose a lot of your personal style in the switch to a permanent moonwalking device.”

It just ends up looking like you hop around in the same position regardless of the hyper tricky mega stunt you are performing. I’ve played around with a lot of different setups over the years but I ended up stopping after I felt that I didn’t have any limits anymore. All the shit I can envision myself doing in the future is on this setup and I wouldn’t have to change a thing to express myself properly on my two wheeled vertical journal. So in that respect I guess it was a progression into that decision. Party on.

Chris Silva:

Chris Silva, pegless tooth-hanger. Photo: Fudger

“BMX is a creative outlet. I’ve always been a creative person and always stray away from what seems to be the norm or trend; in all aspects of life. I rode a lot of different setups over the past 17 years but I seem to always go back to the most simplest of setups; pegless and a brake. This also just happens to be what maybe people are not riding, but I see it as the most fun and creative. A lot of riders seem to just chase the same tricks on street while all riding the exact same bike setups, watching a videos and seeing the same moves over and over is so mind numbing to me.

“A lot of riders seem to just chase the same tricks on street while all riding the exact same bike setups.”

I love to see riders who bring something different to the table, it can be the most simple trick but making it original, it can change the way people think and make them want to go out and create as well. That is how I like to ride and progress, yeah there are always similarities between every rider but being able to imagine something new or different is when BMX changes from just riding to actually creating.”

Chris Doyle:

Chris Doyle, 360 turndown. Photo: Fudger

“Regardless of the changes in the technology of BMX bikes (BB sizing, headset sizing, smaller gear ratios, etc.), I’ve run my bike the same way since I was 15 years old. I consider my set-up to be both simple and practical… for me anyways. Perhaps the two most notable and obvious attributes of my set-up are my brakes and my, ‘by today’s standards’ high seat post. A lot of people think I ride brakes for safety while riding trails and/or because I have a love of rear brake tricks. Well, I do love me some fufanus, but the truth is, I don’t go brakeless because I can’t stand riding ‘death grip’ (gripping the bar with the entire hand). I have, as long as I can remember, always ridden with my index finger on my lever. I don’t remember how or when I started doing this, but it’s something that I’ve always done. In fact, years ago I snapped a brake cable and took my brakes off and left them off for well over a month… but I had to leave the brake lever on out of comfort. I felt so out of control while riding death grip. So you could say I’ve been brakeless, but never brake lever-less. Keith Gower had a quote in an old magazine where he said, ‘People who don’t ride with a finger on their lever suck.’ We all know that’s not true, but it’s funny nonetheless.

“I still don’t understand how the younger generation does so many barspins with slammed seats.”

My (high) seat post is another noticeable, but important part of my set-up. At first, when I was about 14 years old, I jacked my seat post up so that it would be easier for me to learn barspins… the old fashioned way (level, pinch the seat with your knees, and toss the bars). I’ve always been tall; therefore, my seat post was as well. I still don’t understand how the younger generation does so many barspins with slammed seats. A few years ago I messed up my seat/seat post combo and was forced to use a tiny seat post – my seat was slammed for exactly one session. Not only did my barspin tricks suffer (or were non existent), but I noticed that my big ass feet (size 13 shoe), would get caught under my seat while doing turndowns and tables… I could do both, but not the way I liked them. So, it looks like for the duration of my riding, my seat post will always be, at least, ‘one fist’ tall.” —Chris Doyle

 Chad Kerley:

Chad Kerley, ice-to-bar. Photo: Fudger

“The way my bike is set up is for the streets. I’m running a freecoaster now and I’m into it. I think it helps my progression in riding because there are so many cool new things to learn with it. It’s made my riding feel fresh and new lately. I’m running four plastic pegs, which I recently got on so yeah I’m pretty late haha. With how much I ride ledges I finally realized that plastics are necessary to have on my bike. Now I don’t have to fight the grind as much; it’s just buttery every time.”

 Ashley Charles:

Ashley Charles, 180. Photo: Fudger

“I feel like my bike set up hasn’t really changed in years apart from taking my brakes off a while ago and from time to time taking my pegs on and off. I like my set up to be dialed at all times, with a good amount of length and high tire pressure to aid height and speed. For a while now I haven’t been running pegs and this is for a few different reasons. I have always loved the feel and look of a bike without pegs. Mainly, I took them off when I first started riding again after my knee surgeries so that I wouldn’t be tempted to do any small grinds that might cause me to put my leg out to break a fall. After I was back in the swing of things and riding street again I found myself looking for more creative setups when not having the option of grinding.

“I don’t believe that progression should solely come from adding stuff to your bike.”

It’s also too easy to just find some perfect ledge or rail out here in California. Four pegs has never been my thing, although I totally respect that kind of riding and the people that pioneered it. Although, for a while it seemed like a lot of people were putting on four pegs because it was the trend but weren’t actually using them. I don’t believe that progression should solely come from adding stuff to your bike. I run a cassette over a freecoaster because my bike is set up for the kind of riding that I enjoy and have enjoyed for a long time.”

“Dirt” Ron Pitcher:

Dirt Ron, nosepick drop-in.

“When I was twelve my aunt gave me a Ride magazine, and I just wanted to be like all the dudes in the mag. I was looking at dudes like Brian Castillo, Dave Young, Dave Osato, and countless others with different setups. Back then, a lot of pros were still running fully loaded freestyle machines (four pegs with front and back brakes). It was amazing to see how many tricks they could do. My first bike was a Robinson complete for racing, but I quickly took it to street and dirt. I was definitely a trick ferret and tried to learn every trick possible. My setup changed with the phases of my riding style; four pegs, one peg, brakeless, pegless, gyros—I tried it all. I stopped riding pegs when I got tired of crashing on handrails. I would get frustrated with different brake setups, going back and forth.

“Four pegs, one peg, brakeless, pegless, gyros—I tried it all.”

Being limited by my setup also forced me to be more creative. Lots of foot plants, fakies, and sprocket bashes. I definitely skated a lot between flat tires and broken bike parts so that had some influence, as well. After 15 sum odd years of riding, I think I’m stuck with the pegless, front brake only setup. After all these years I guess I’m still a trick ferret, I just switch some tricks out for others or give up on the ones I can’t do anymore. I always liked my bikes simple. Most of all I set them up to do the tricks that I enjoy the most and feel best.” —”Dirt” Ron Pitcher

Click to the next page to see answers from Aaron Smith, Drew Bezanson, Christian Rigal, Kevin Porter, and Scott Ditchburn…