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Taj Mihelich riding in an abandoned school, in Odyssey’s Electronical video.

I’ve written about the bmx perspective before, and I realize that it is not only unique to those on 20″ (24, 26) wheels. Skateboarding, mountain-biking, and other, more “traditional” outdoor activities (hiking, rock-climbing), also come from the idea of taking your environment and finding a way to adapt it to your activity.

What’s interesting about bmx and skateboarding is that so often, we’re looking at man-made objects to adapt in our quest for the perfect spot, be it a 3 foot bank to wall, or an abandoned building with an olympic-size pool – more on that one for another time… So often, the exploration is as good as the session. It was true when I was 16, and could throw my bike in my truck to venture to far-away spots, and it is still true today, when I see footage or photos of unique set-ups or abandoned junkyards full of vintage autos. Not always bicycle-related, but still conjure the same feelings of finding or creating something unexpected.

And that’s what I’m getting at – I think that so many of us who were (are) riders have that exploration built-into us, and it continues to permeate what we do. Be it as literal as my friend Scott, who shoots photos of his own “urban exploration” to beautiful results, or my friend Kevin, searching for the next perfect part for the hot-rod he’s building, or Phil and I talking about crazy boat trips up the Missouri or Kaw rivers. For me, it all revolves around some kind of creative outlet; building, photography, bikes, art, collecting, etc., and I know I’m not unique in this.

Funny that little bikes can open so many opportunities and perspectives for a lifetime.

By the way, check out Taj’s blog for a post featuring darn near every video he’s ever done. So rad…


RAD, GNARLEY, DUDE BMX Freestyle illustration by Bob Haro, 2008
“Rad. Gnarley. Dude,” illustration by Bob Haro, 2008. Click to view at 3x (1500x1211pixels).

Well, I’m a week late to closing out the week of Bob Haro here at BMXRoots. However, I think this installment and the above image makes it worth the wait. See, after I began scanning a bunch of the previous illustrations from my old magazines, I began digging deeper into the web and I found a couple of Haro’s images that others had scanned, and then I found the image above – a recent illustration that Bob had created and passed along to a guy by the handle of “Wildman” over on the vintagebmx.com forums. I knew I had an week-ender with this image, but because Wildman mentioned that Haro had sent it to him personally, I wanted to see if I could get Haro’s permission to run it here.

So, I fired-off an email and waited. Note that I had also waited to send the email until last Friday, the same day the official Bob Haro week was ending, but anyway, I digress. My email was at least 4 paragraphs long. I had so much to say to him, I mean, this is BOB HARO, c’mon, but knew I should cut to the chase. Seriously, I was anxious enough that I shot the email off and forgot to attach the image. Nice one. Bob was kind enough to write me back, ask to see the image, which I promptly sent again, and then wrote me back almost immediately giving me the okay to post it for your viewing pleaseure.

I love this one because it encapsulates the history of Freestyle in one simple image. As with the other illustrations that I’ve featured, the details are thoughtful and at-times humorous, from the bikes and clothing featured to the brands and sponsors. Unlike the Zipatone shading of the older drawings, this seems to be marker-drawn and scanned (or illustrated with a pen pad, directly) and then shaded on the computer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these illustrations/cartoons/drawings as much as I have. Keep looking here for more features like this, including some bike collections, and even more history from a broader swath of bicycle culture.

Thanks again for the inspiration, BH.
-Jeremy

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 4
Bob Haro week, Day 3
Bob Haro week, Day 2
Bob Haro week, Day 1

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, January 1985
“Ampin’, Rampin…” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, January 1985. Click to enlarge 3x.

Way before the X-Games, Bob Haro knew that kids were into all kinds of different fringe sports. BMX, Motocross and Skateboarding are all represented in this illustration from 1985. I love this one – the over-vert 2×4 transition quarterpipe really does it for me…

One more day of Bob Haro week – be sure to check in Friday. In the meantime, check out this interview with Haro during the Olympics on CNBC.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 3
Bob Haro week, Day 2
Bob Haro week, Day 1

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, September 1984
“How to Save Yourself from Going Over a Berm” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, September 1984. Click to enlarge 3x.

Alright, we’re half-way through the first ever Bob Haro week at BMX Roots, and here’s one that wasn’t a part of “Haro’s Corner”, his semi-monthly feature in BMX Action. Instead, this is a double-page spread for an article called, “How to Save Yourself from Going Over a Berm”. Elbows flying, speed lines and rat-trap pedals. What more do you need?

Also, note that Rider #33, taking the elbow to the head, is running what looks to be a Zeronine plate and Dyno pants – both competitors at the time of Haro Designs soft/hardgoods business, as seen on rider #6. A not-so-subtle shot at the competition? You be the judge.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 2
Bob Haro week, Day 1
Freestylin Book Launch

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, April 1984
“Factoryman and Yoshi” illustration by Bob Haro from BMX Action Magazine, April 1984. Click to enlarge 3x.

It is the second day of Bob Haro Week here at BMX Roots. Yesterday, I posted an introduction to this feature I’m running this week, and the illustration was of a rider popping out of a quarterpipe, doing some “trick riding” as it was known early-on. Today’s illustration is much more about the race scence of the early ’80s, especially the perception of the factory riders.

The tiny details are what count in this one. For example, the DG sticker on the toolbox, the can of 3M Chain Lube and the lifted box truck, which was, in fact, very much in-line with the motocross (motorcycle) rigs of the day. Also, you’ve got “Factoryman” with a cold drink in his hand, and his “ace mechanic”, Yoshi, representing the team. Again, I believe these caricatures were picking up on the moto references of the time.

Technically speaking, the illustration is done in marker and Zipatone, the preferred shading method of cartoonists in the days before the computer.

Related:
Bob Haro week, Day 1
Freestylin Book Launch

Bob Haro feature spread from BMX Aciton
Bob Haro from a feature spread in BMXAction magazine in 1983. Click to see the whole page.

In recognition of the first running of BMX in the Olympics, and all of the build-up and hype that surrounded it, I wanted to share some stuff that is pretty special to me.

One of the best things to come out of this Olympic thing, as I’ve called it, was the re-introduction of sorts of the BMX masses to Bob Haro. Through his contribution to the Olympic efforts by lending a hand to Nike – curating the Lightning Bolts numberplate art show, co-designing the Olympic uniforms and generally being a great ambassador, it has been so good to see some of the spotlight shared with such a major influencer of BMX culture.

On the heels of this, there have been a couple articles about Haro in both RideBMX and DigBMX magazines, and you should take the time to hunt them down. These stories give background on what he’s been up to since selling Haro Bicycles in 1993, and what inspired him to create probably the most successful brand name in BMX. If you don’t know, he’s been running a successful design studio, Haro Design, and launched Axio, a “performance luggage” and “technical pack” company.

What he hadn’t done much was show or talk about his art, which was so inspiring to so many of us BMX kids. That is, until just recently, showing his “cartoons” and photographs in the Bike Curious art show that opened in LA during the 2008 X-Games, as well as a multi-page article in the August 2008 issue of the art magazine Juxtapoz. Seeing those images of his illustrations slapped me back to my 10-year-old self, thumbing through BMX Action magazine, enamored with these black-and-white drawings that showed these exaggerated characters having fun on their bikes. And, true to his roots, Haro didn’t discriminate; he drew guys on tracks and dudes on quarter-pipes, usually with Haro numberplates and pants, JT gloves and the ubiquitous accessory of the 1980s, Oakley goggles.

As I said in my first post ever on this site, guys like Andy Jenkins and influenced me to explore art, photography, and ultimately my career in advertising/graphic design/digital media. How I left Haro off of this list of influences, I have no idea. I’ll be correcting that throughout this week, with Haro’s illustrations scanned from my archive of BMXA magazines. I left them pretty much un-retouched (thus yellowed, torn and faded – look, I flipped through these pages SO many times…), and if you click, you’ll get them at a larger size.

Enjoy the first of these illustrations, from March of 1984. Mr. Haro, this week is for you.

Bob Haro Illustration - BMX Action Magazine, March 1984
(Click to enlarge)

Related:
Freestylin’ Magazine Book Launch
Interview from Ride in 2004.

SPRFLS Header

Great discussion over on SPRFLS today, regarding limited edition parts/colors/etc. Something that’s been on my mind as of late, and Russ fired off a new post that got some discussion going. The second day in a row that the comments have really been flowing over there.

Check it out and participate in his comments section…

Here’s an excerpt of one of my responses:
Wasn’t it a similar mentality that lead bike shops to having massive amounts of inventory during the late 80s, that now lead to guys with major “scores” of NOS (new old stock) bright green Skyway pegs, dug out of these shops … how many sets of DiaCompe Nippon calipers did a dealer have to carry when they were manufacturing SO many colors?

Lotek T-Shirt

I needed some new kicks recently, so I went on the hunt with a few things in mind:
First: I wear a size 14, so my choices are always somewhat limited.
Second: Function – Gotta be able to be supportive while riding, and last a while.
Third: Style – I want them to look good in most any situation.
Fourth: I always try to support rider-owned companies when I purchase anything bmx-related.

Being an avid reader of Defgrip, I knew about Lotek, the clothing brand run by rider Rich Hirsch. I didn’t know if they’d be able to meet my size criteria, as so many smaller companies don’t make shoes for guys like me with “giant feet” as my kids say. But, lo and behold, Lotek makes the 14s. I did a little research and I read many reviews about their shoes, so I know they would be “rideable”, and because the Delta, their shoe I was checking out, was designed by Volume Bike’s Jason Enns, I knew they would last. So, I hit the Lotek site, and via their online store, I ordered a pair of Delta’s and a Fremont wallet for a helluva deal. Thanks Rich!

Also in Lotek news, they just finished a t-shirt design contest. The winning design is above (click to see the entire design, by Nicolas Ferreira), and you can check out the other entries here. Rich mentioned on his blog that it was tough to pick a winner, but after seeing all of the entries, I think they made a solid choice.

Rob and Big on SE bmx bikes

From Todd Lyons at SE Bikes:
If you’ve ever seen the “Rob & Big” TV show on MTV, then you know that Big Black is a very, very big guy. He told us a while ago that he’s really into the whole old-school BMX scene. But his problem was that he couldn’t find a BMX bike that came anywhere close to fitting him. So being the cool guys that we are at SE Bikes, we built him a custom sized PK Ripper Looptail that would fit him like a glove. I went up to Rob’s house & gave it to him a little while ago & they filmed the whole deal for an episode of the “Rob & Big” TV show. I even went to a BMX track & rode with Rob & Big & their whole crew. And man, was it funny watching those guys ride!

Anyways, I’m pretty sure that this stuff will air tonight at 10:30pm ET & PT on MTV. Check it out. And if this segment of the show doesn’t air on the show tonight, then I’m almost positive that it’ll air next Tuesday night.

Click here for more info & other air times & to check out the show in case you don’t have cable:
http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/rob_and_big/series.jhtml

I’ve watched Rob and Big a bunch, and it is a good show, with a bit of “Jackass”-like humor. From the looks of it, good times will be had on the bikes. I appreciate the fact that Todd and SE continue to push their bikes and therefore, bmx, into the public eye, continuously. More exposure leads to more riders, and so on. May the circle be unbroken, or something like that…

Lupe Fiasco’s Black/Gold Black Lightning

Black Lightning, the boutique bicycle and clothing company, has done four custom bikes for the release of Chicago hip-hop artist, Lupe Fiasco’s new album, The Cool. This is just the latest in Black Lightning’s promotion of the bmx culture since providing bikes for The Cool Kids’ video “Black Mags“.

It should be no surprise that Fiasco, with his documented love of skateboards/comics/bikes, would hook up with a company like Black Lightning to do something special for his latest album. His first single was “Kick Push“, an ode to skating, that earned him multiple award nominations.

The bikes feature the custom finishes Black Lightning is throwing down, with graphics in the style of the album art. Check out more images on the Black Lightning Blog – look closely at the details, some really detailed touches on these bikes.

Fiat 500 vs. BMX Riders in Budapest

Top Gear is my absolute, all-time favorite television show about cars, and a few months back, BBC America finally began running it here in the States. Last week’s UK episode featured riders Sebastian Keep and Ben Shenker racing one of the hosts, James May, through Budapest in a Fiat 500 retromobile. The way Top Gear shoots cars is always so well done, and they apply the same techniques to the riding here as well. Sebastian and Ben pull out some bangers along the way in unexpected places – some of which were obviously staged, but rad nonetheless.

Check it out at RideBMX UK (via defgrip).

Fuel TV Videos and Podcasts

Fuel TV, the Action Sports channel available through most cable providers, (unfortunately, not Sunflower, my local provider, though we did have it with Comcast in Seattle, but I digress) has a number of their videos available at their site, or via the podcast menu in iTunes. Quick, well-produced segments from video-makers like Props and Fuel-produced shows like Firsthand, give you some great BMX videos to watch wherever you like.

There is a ton here from other sports as well. Plenty to waste at least a few hours on during these cold winter months. Sorry, we just had our first ice storm in Kansas, so I’m a bit bitter in many ways…

Check it out at the FuelTV site here – click on the BMX tab to the far right
Or
Download the podcasts directly from iTunes

Andy Shohara, airing at the Krause Family Skatepark in San Diego

Birthday Boy, Andy Shohara. Photo by John Leonard

As we noted a little over a week ago, a skatepark jam went down in San Diego, celebrating the 40th birthday of longtime rider, Andy Shohara. Sponsored by Black Lighting, about 30 riders plus some of their kids, showed up to the park which was reserved for this event. Andy (on his new Black Lightning bike), Brian Blyther, Dave Voelker, Todd Andersen, Lee Reynolds, Woody Itson, Xavier Mendez, Alvin Mullins and others all ripped up the park for a few hours. Mullins has posted about the event in a couple of places, and has a bunch of images John Leonard shot, on his Photobucket (note that you may need to be a member to see all of them).

Happy Birthday, Andy! Damn, California Dreamin’, indeed.

Mullins’ post on the OS-BMX message board.
Photos on Mullins’ Photobucket.
Quick write-up on the event by Lee Reynolds on Fat-BMX.

I would usually say that Poison’s “Nothing But a Good Time” should only be used in a commercial if looking for a “retro” vibe. However, I will give this spot a pass because of the fact that it is being sung by a children’s choir, and because I actually stopped and watched all :60 of it when I saw it on television the other night.

So, why post about this on a BMX site? Well, first because I think this ad is so well-done, and it is rare that I’m inspired by television commercials these days. XBOX is working to win some of the family-play that Nintendo has so successfully built with the Wii. The look of bewilderment from all of the actors is perfect as the games drop from the balloons and the guerilla-style team of balloonists setup the living room in the parking lot. I’m hoping that XBOX and their agency have plans to act this out in malls across the land this holiday season.

Second, I have to wonder if we’ll begin to see more BMX bikes used as props in commercials and videos, much as skateboards have been for so long – check around the :52 mark – I was waiting for the dude to bust a whopper (bunnyhop tailwhip) or something. I’ve been guilty of boards as props – ironically for XBOX – though it didn’t make the final cut in the videos.

Third, because Rikki Rockett rocked the Vision Street Wear t-shirt in the original video (check it around the 1:57 mark) – one of the only reasons my Dead Kennedys-adorned 15-year-old self would watch it back in 1988. It was so rare to see skate/bmx anywhere outside of the magazines or videos (yes, VHS) back then.

Thanks to Stuart over at DHADM for a link to the Poison video and the :30 second version of the ad.

Nicole
You stole my soul with your cute little bunny hop, your radical table top
Girl I wished you would never stop.

Back when Nicole Kidman was an aspiring actress in Australia, she made a movie called BMX Bandits that most of you BMX-heads have seen, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve seen it countless times. I always dug the fact that the three kids rode in full gear while being chased through the city by goons with a trunk-load of guns. But, being an aspiring gearhead as well, the Austrailian-issued 4 door Ford LTD with mags also intrigued my 12-year-old brain. A giant Ford with mags? What?

Well, the band Wheatus must’ve felt the same (at least about the BMX bit, the car thing is totally my issue), because in 2005, they released a song called “BMX Bandits” that was on their album Too Soon Monsoon. The video has a pretty cool collage/illustration style, and features a red head who appears strikingly similar to Ms. Kidman. In keeping with the smattering of music videos I’ve posted lately, I had to get this one on here.

Random trivia – BMX Bandits is also the name of a Scottish band featuring members of pop-rockers Teenage Fanclub and The Soup Dragons.

BMX Old School Custom Toy

“BMX Old School” created by Israel Chavira, image from Custom Toy Lab.

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of custom toy makers, creating vinyl/metal/plastic toys rich in detail and creativity. Much like BMX, there is an obsessive community that surrounds this very cool culture. I became aware of this a couple years ago via Kid Robot, and I am lucky enough to have a Lettus Bee figure signed by Andy Jenkins. My very cool former-team in Seattle gave it and another piece of Andy’s artwork to me as a going-away gift.

Today I found a toy that, unfortunately, is a one-off, but a rad one-off nonetheless.

Israel Chavira is an artist and designer from Guadalajara, Mexico and he’s created a character called “BMX Old School”. I dig the details of the the scarred helmet, JT gloves and matching shoes. I think a bunch of us riders need to come together and order enough so that Israel can get them made. He can be contacted via his website.

There are a bunch more photos and details on the Custom Toy Lab site. Check it out.

Bat for Lashes – What’s A Girl to Do Music Video

This video has been around for a while – long enough to earn a nomination for a MTV European Music Award’s “Video Star” award. However, it was new to me, and since it showed up hot on the heels of The Cool Kids’ “Black Mags” video I posted a bit ago, I couldn’t resist posting it here. Wait for right around the :45 mark – and you’ll understand why. BMX riders in giant mascot-sized animal head costumes, with choreographed moves over a video comprised of only what appears to be one long shot. What more could you need?

Bat for Lashes is essentially Natasha Khan, British musician and artist, and much like the Cool Kids, she was also recently picked up on MTVU. The video was directed by Dougal Wilson, who has done some other pretty amazing work from some artists you may know.

S&M .38 Special with RealTree Camo

Find the frame in this photo … no really, it’s in there.

No, it isn’t a trail report, or some dirt contest in the backwoods of Kansas, featuring Warren Beatty and Burt Reynolds. Instead, some brief news about an extremely rare animal.

S&M Bikes did up two of their .38 Special frames for the Interbike tradeshow wrapped in Realtree Camouflage. Realtree is amazingly detailed camo wrap and covering for all sorts of applications, primarily used by outdoors enthusiasts (hunters, fishermen, paintballers(maybe?)) on anything and everything, including clothes and hardware.

One of the frames S&M wrapped went to Shimano and racer Chad Roberts. The other one is on Ebay. There won’t be another one of these created by S&M, so if you want a 1-of-2-of-a-kind, get your bids in now. The auction ends Wednesday, October 17. Would be a rad addition to any collection. Again, cool to see bike companies mixing up finishes and creating limited editions that are released to the public, who want to see this kind of thing.

Link to the auction here: S&M .38 Special on Ebay

Cool Kids BMX

“I’m on the Dyno with the black mags …”

More proof that, at least in the eyes of the general public, BMX culture is moving beyond giant spectacles like the X-Games. The Cool Kids are a hip-hop duo from Chicago, getting some major play at MTVU, who put them on their list of Freshman Five for this fall, with their video for their song “Black Mags”.

Black Mags has over 140,000 plays on the Cool Kids MySpace page. With a retro vibe that isn’t nostalgic, and solid, yet humorous storytelling, they could be one of the indie rap breakout stories of 2007. Nice to see the SE Bikes/DC Shoe P.K. Ripper getting some major screen time all over the video.

Thanks to “PJ Cruiser” on the BMXMuseum.com forums for the heads-up.

Here’s the official video from YouTube:

KCI baggage claim
The Baggage claim at Kansas City International Airport – what a perfect ledge to slide

I wonder how many of you are as affected as I am. Every curb, ledge, embankment, handrail, and dirt path catch my eye, and I’ve been this way for what, 26 years, now? Even when I wasn’t riding as much as now, I’d notice the possibilities of the angles, and be able to feel the pitch in my mind’s eye. At what speed will you boost the most, slide the furthest, or clear the gap without hanging up?

There are those identifying marks which are always obvious – tire marks on a wall, a parking block at the top of a bank, or grind marks on a ledge. Maybe put there by bikes, could be by skaters, but there for a reason … because the opportunity to pull a move was too great to ignore. The feeling of landing something, even if it is the 172nd time you’ve done it, always feels right. Other times, there’s nothing to identify a spot, just that it is the right shape, in the right place, and most of the time it won’t be really big or noticable, at least to those who don’t have our affliction.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel a bit either on business or pleasure, and while out, I always see objects of desire – and I know that generally speaking, nobody else I’m with has any idea that I’m lusting over a 3′ high transition with a perfect run up and landing on the other side, on the side of a seedy restaurant, at the end of a dead-end street. But, there I am, searching and plotting, every day. It is a switch that was flipped long ago, and there’s really no reason to turn it off. Sure, I may be more conscious of personal property now, but I still love architects who seem to design buildings with built-in skateparks, and city planners who make perfect 5 inch kickers along the sidewalks.

Next month, I’m going to visit my wife’s family in Iowa, and there are a couple spots there I’ve been eyeing for years. This time, I’m bringing my bike. ‘Nuff said?

BMX Roots Interbike Coverage

We’re bringing you links to much of the major BMX media coverage of the Interbike 2007 bicycle industry trade show. New products and new technology is always released at this show, and this year seems to be no exception. I remember hearing about all of this stuff months afterward from the print bmx magazines, and then waiting months to see it in the shops (if at all). With this kind of coverage all over the net, it brings it to the masses quicker than ever. Especially the shops that will carry the products and the riders that will buy them.

Support the manufacturers by hitting their sites also – they’re all providing coverage as well.

We’ll be there in-person next year, with bells on.

Vital BMX – some good interviews (Brian Castillo of Volume/Demolition, Dave Mirra of Mirraco, Chad DeGroot of UGP, etc.) and a ton of photos
http://www.vitalbmx.com/features/Vital-BMX-Interbike-Highlights,2849

Go211.com – video interviews, including Robbie Morales from Fit and George French from G-Sport/Odyssey
http://www.go211.com/u/Interbike/videos

Ride BMX – photo coverage, check the top two links on their homepage
http://www.bmxonline.com/bmx/

DigBMX.com – photo galleries
http://www.digbmx.com/news/

Spike Jonze Was A BMXer Sticker
Well here’s a new one, for me, anyway … a Spike Jonze Was a BMXer sticker, from DigBMX – have a look, and enjoy a brief history lesson – featuring a small who’s-who of ex-Freestylin’ magazine guys.

Anyone have any idea where these came from, or where they might be able to be found?


See More BMX Videos at VitalBMX.com

A cool concept for an art show was held yesterday in LA at the SLB store. Called Tuff Luv, it was billed as “A celebration of the Skyway TuffWheel from today’s leading bmx companies”, sponsored by Knight Brand.

Vital BMX has coverage on their site (nice work, guys) – looks like a good time, and an excellent concept. The wheels were all done up by a number of bmx companies – I personally dig what Stolen and S&M did with their Tuffs. I’m really happy to see the bmx community participating in something like this. The skate community has been doing art shows and other celebrations of the culture for a long time, and it is time that we see this from the bmx set as well. It would be rad to see this show on the road and growing (which the organizer, George Yang, from Knight, mentions in the video). I hope I get to catch it.

Any other shows like this out there? Post in the comments and let me know.