Kareem, introduce yourself to the cyberweb. What’s your name, age, how many years have you been rolling on a fixed gear?
Kareem Shehab, 25 years old, fixiefabulous for five years.
What originally pushed you in the direction of fixed gear freestyle?
I used to ride my road bike around everywhere, then I saw some videos of people doing trackstands, backwards circles, skid combos and bombing down insane hills. Naturally I wanted to try that stuff out and it kind of progressed from there. My favorite back then was bombing down hills brakeless—you get such an adrenaline rush! Anyhow, coming from a blading background it seemed natural for me to translate that street skating mentality to track bikes. Might also have to do with the fact that I sucked at Keo spins.
A decent portion of your first fixed DVD, Death Pedal, was shot in Indonesia right? What’s the story on all that, how’d you get out there, what was the food like, the fixed scene?
Death Pedal was filmed all over the place. In Southeast Asia I went to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. I was able to do this because my family had moved to Kuala Lumpur and it was really easy for me to travel around when I’d go back home to visit them. Back then the fixed scene was pretty much non-existent. Now though, it seems like there is a huuuge scene for fixed riding out there. My parents don’t live in that part of the world anymore but I would love to come back and check it out.
You’ve been doing a lot of rollerblading lately, more so than shredding the whip. Whats your take on all that, do you find blading more enjoyable and stress free than riding the fixed?
Blading is and always will be my first love. I started about 14 years ago and am still going strong. Recently, I’ve been skating a whole lot more since I’ve finished my Big Money Hustlaz part and also because they’ve opened a new skatepark here in Atlanta that’s really sick and close to my house. They don’t let bikes there unfortunately so I go there to blade. I do however, have a lot of fun doing both, blading and biking. My outlook on blading is this: I’ve pretty much taken rolleblading as far as I’ve wanted and have accomplished pretty much all the goals and dreams I’d had for the sport which makes it a whole lot more relaxing and stress free since I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. With bikes, I’ve only just scratched the surface…
What is your general outlook on fixed shredding? What would you tell those who are new to all this? What about the sponsor hungry youngins?
I am extremely optimistic about fixed gear riding. The sport is continually growing and progressing and as long as those two things continue I think that the sport will never grow stale. I think anyone who is just now getting into it should feel lucky that the equipment is just now finally getting dialed to the point where shit isn’t breaking every session. You know as well as I do, how frustrating it was breaking axles, frames, wheels etc. what seemed to be EVERY session. A few years ago you were really limited by what your bike was able to handle. Now the bikes have been refined to the point where you don’t have to think twice about your frame snapping in half if you jump a stairset.
To anyone who is trying to get sponsored, let your riding speak for itself. Put out edits online, make sure they are filmed good and that you are bringing something new or unique to the table. Go to contests and ride hard. In addition to being a good rider, you’ve got to have a good personality/image. The reason a company would ever sponsor you is because they think that your endorsement will help them sell more product. If you’re a super good rider but a total shithead you’ll never get sponsored. I mean you have to have skills, there’s no doubt of that but being marketable and having a strong personality will go a long way. There are so many of kids (and grown ass men for that matter) who just spam e-mail every company they can think of with sponsor me e-mails. Stop doing this. You know who you are.
I did your BE-MAG interview for you about a summer ago. How did the blade scene take the fixed mix into blading and all that? Seemed like a lot of back lip was being thrown out.
A lot of people were really stoked to see what I was doing with fixed gear. Others were not so enthusiastic about it, saying that I’d abandoned my sport. I could care less about those people. I’m in no way shape or form a spokesperson for aggressive skating. I do it because I have fun doing it. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t waste my energy sweatin these types of people. Besides, you know you’re doin good when you’ve got haters.
You just graduated and got your Masters degree right? What’s in the works after all that stress and insane school work?
I haven’t graduated just yet but I will in December with a masters degree in mechanical engineering with a focus in design and manufacturing from Georgia Tech. For the record grad school isn’t really that intense and I’ve found that it’s actually a lot more fun than undergrad. When you’re an undergrad, you pick a degree and you pretty much have a set course regiment for 4 years give or take maybe 2 or 3 electives. Some of these classes you take as an undergrad you might love, and others you might hate. Love em or hate em, you don’t have a choice. In graduate school you get to take pretty much any class which interests you and if you want you can choose a thesis project which you define on your own. This has been a huge motivator for me and has made learning and going to school a lot of fun for me. After grad school who knows? It would be cool to be able to apply my degree with a job in the bike industry.
Do you have any plans on taking that knowledge that you have and making some insane parts and such for our dry industry?
Ha you know it! I’ve got a list of new product ideas and the know how to implement them!
You and Chris T own Loosenuts Cycles, how’s all that going and for those who don’t really know what is it specifically? Where is it?
Loose Nuts Cycles is a full service bike shop here in Atlanta GA that Chris and I opened last summer. We mostly specialize in commuter, urban, track, FGFS, and BMX although we do work on any and all kinds of bikes. Business is going really good and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Check us out at www.loosenutscycles.com
The Loose Nuts Cycles team DVD just wrapped up production. How does it feel to have an insane group of riders (everyone and their moms) in the first team vid and better yet, one of the sickest teams period?
Our team is awesome. You guys are not only some of the best riders in the industry but you are also a group of guys I hold in very high esteem. I don’t think the video would’ve come together so well without such a solid team behind it. I know that you especially went above and beyond with filming not only your own part but most of Tom’s and a lot of the friends sections as well. For those who don’t know our team consists of Myself, Torey Thornton, Steven Jensen, Tom Lamarche, and newcomer Miles Mathia. Come to think of it I guess you’re right, that this is the first team video to come out for FGFS. I really think we’ve set another milestone in the sport with this flick.
Why did you name your cat sha’nay’nay?
Shanaynay was the best character from the sitcom, “Martin”. GINAAAAAAAAA!
So there is talk about at 26’’ specific Leader frame that is in the works, do you want to shed the darkness and give some info on that?
Leader hired me as an independent engineering consultant to design a new 26” specific FGFS frame which I’ve named “The Pharaoh” as a nod to my Egyptian ancestry. The bike has been in the works for a while and the prototypes just made it stateside about a week ago. Everyone who has been testing it, myself included is really happy with how it has turned out. I think the bike will be a hit. It’s got an extremely short wheelbase and incredible toe clearance and tire clearance. To create the geometry for the bike I made a cad model that would show me exactly what clearances/standover/trail/etc the bike would have. Most bike companies will have the Taiwanese or Chinese factories handle their geo’s.
Any new products or plans for the future of LNC?
We are launching our web store. Should be live by the time people read this. We’ll have a pretty decent representation of our vintage road and track stuff as well as some FGFS and BMX stuff. The brick and mortar component of our store will remain unchanged. Other than that, we plan on stepping up our apparel game (see the Zombie Hollercaust Tee’s) and perhaps coming out with some sweet components. Most people don’t know this but we also sponsor a Road, Track, and Mountain bike team as well and those guys have been putting in work in their respective fields. We’re like the united colors of Benetton of bike sponsors.
Any shout outs you want to give?
Shouts go out to all the ATL, SD, and NOLA homies. WRAHW, LNC, Leader, Halo, Gusset, Blaq, and Gnome. Thanks to you as well for the interview! I look forward to riding with ya soon bud!
Photos by Trace Taylor, and up rail shot by Peter Diatoni