Friday, September 21, 2012

A Meditation On Fixed Gear Freestyle History

Bassong-wood-bike When WRAHW first started in summer 09 we focused on fixed gear freestyle as a whole and attempted to boost the media content from many different angles, video, interviews, essays et cetera . Obviously over time things have changed and the subject matter that is posted now is mostly relative to the brand and its family. Sometimes there is a need for certain things to be talked about and since there are no forums anymore or any place for people to really learn about the past or become knowledgable, some enlightenment had to be brought about some how. Now that certain sites have washed away any sort of higherarchy between sponsored riders and groms or even quality media and gross bullshit for that matter, there is almost no need for kids coming into this to know about those who paved sand for them.  This whole deal is still very young, for it has only been around for about 5 years, and with many new edits that come about there is generally something in there that is relatively new to fixed gears; whether it be spot usage or the tricks themselves. Their are a good bit of really influential OGs to the point where a post attempting to focus on every single person who opened up new doors for fixed freestyle could go on for what would seem like forever. I will attempt to give a more direct rundown on those who really seemed to turn the tables over at the time and or people who I feel really opened up my eyes to what these bikes are actually capable of doing. mash I saw the MASH trailer in 2007 when I was a junior in high school and didn't know what a fixed gear was yet. I really don't remember how I saw the trailer anymore but I'm assuming it was on some street wear site or something similar because at the time I would randomly go on sites like that. The trailer changed me and I all of a sudden was really interested in whatever it was that these dudes were doing. It looked fun and sort of dangerous so why not? Of course I watched the trailer more than twenty times and then eventually saved up my meager work money from this pizza place that I cooked at and bought a Windsor Hour that had a 1'' head tube and quil stem. At the end of my senior year I had become obsessed with fixed gears. Now, this was way before the actualy dvd came out because they dragged that out for a while, people were dying to see it due to all the hype that MASH had slowly developed, but when the video came out, it changed everything. After my second time watching the dvd i knew that this material was golden and of course the bombing and speed demon shredding was wild to watch but once I got to Mike Martin and Gabe Morford's (the creators of MASH) parts, I quickly decided that this stuff was the best. The two dude's did it the right way and put their sections in the bonus of the dvd so it was almost as if they didn't feel that their stuff was worthy of being in the actual full length (it was so different which could have interrupted the overall flow of the video). These two both killed it in their own way. Mike Martin did wild jib surfing and skid variations on things along with messing around on goofy nick nacks and odd spots, and Morford cranked super fast always, messing with some wild skids as well as pushing gap to wheelies and the first street gaps that I'd scene to date. The personality in Mike's part definitely came through and the scooter destruction was a plus.  I wont get to sappy with the description but these two parts are definitely the main reason why I ride the way that I do today pushing me deep in the direction of "freestyle".
5478347276_f18dfb8f10_b Although it may not seem like it, due to Tracko never posting freestyle stuff anymore, Kyle Kelly owner and creator of Trackosaurus Rex was the first dude to post a video of my riding back in like 08. Even before that, I was a loyal follower of the blog and posted in the comments section on the daily. I know that some of you definitely remember that insane photo that was on the splash page for a few years of Sean Callahan (R.I.P.) carving that bowl on a Bianchi Pista Concept. Wild. seanbowl-thumb Things might not get posted on Tracko anymore but that site still had a HUGE influence on fixed gear freestyle and how it morphed into its current stage. Kyle even shredded himself for a while and was pushing it for sure. There was a photo of him jumping down some stairs with his EAI Bare Knuckle. If I remember correctly Keo Curry modeled Tracko Ts for the web store and always had photos and footage posted on the site and all of that material was clearly way ahead of its time.

john

  John "Prolly" Watson. I dont really even know where to start. Basically Tracko and PINP were the only blogs that were relevant for so long. In terms of helping spearhead the east coast scene John would have to be a name that is mentioned. Peel sessions inspired tons of other cities to get their own weekly meet and sesh deal going and so many things grew from that. I remember when heads would come from all over just to ride under the BQE bridge here in Brooklyn therefor allowing various people to meet and learn from each other. I met Tom when I first moved to NY through John and his group rides. Jeremiah Jones, one of the owners and creators of Hold Fast started his first prototype in 09 and I remember being one of the first to see it one night at Peel and then was later asked to test a new prototype a lil later down the line. Of course Prollyisnotprobably grew into this mecca or whatever you want to call it but as a few friends of mine and I have said, without his first hand coverage on fixed gear freestyle out east things would most likely have been totally different for the site and I am sure John knows this. He would post so much inside photos and footage of new prototype products and parts and that may be what helped build up an insane readership. PINP is a little less freestyle focused these days but lets be honest its really one of the only sites where content is actually put up in a proper perspective with the right amount of respect and its pretty much the only site where freestyle ads exist and matter. Of course he came up with some tricks that no one had never before seen as well, and I could go on and on with this dude because he clearly has helped WRAHW out in a big way, but we will leave it at that. 4510550074_cb2990bd67_bStill bummed that i have never met this dude.  Superted rules and a lot of the time I still wished that he rode and put out clips. He was one of the first people to leave the ground and ride actual spots. Most likely he was the first dude to run wide bars and tons of other parts that would help expand the usage of these bikes, and he was definitely the first to do a bunny hop barspin. I know for a fact that most kids don't know this. I remember first seeing the video and freaking out because it seemed so beyond me, so scientific.  There are so many examples of Teds greatness just do a little bit of research. Wild life. I dont know much about Ted's brother Taliban Tom but this clip from 2010 would still be considered a banger today. yo 032 Tom was the first to do a lot of things, from modding his bike with homade parts to allow for certain tricks to go down to executing numerous tricks way before anyone. I feel ptretty confident in saying that he had wide tires and bars way early on in the beging as well. I wont go too deep into listing off Tom's resume because most people already know that he is an innovator of many sorts. Some of his parts need to be re-watched though, and his old Booklyn Machine Works setup looks so brutal. Bootleg Sessions 2 from 08 and Fixed 3 Charge weby from early 09. The bootleg part is obviously way wilder because its a video part that was taken into way more consideration, but there is definitely something really interesting about this Charge web edit that he most likely filmed in one day. Companies need to pay attention to the quality of this edit and take lots of notes.  For all the lil jokers messing around on curbs and such, Delco boy was doing wheelie 180s before everyone. Go check out he and Wonka's japan footage for that. Screen Shot 2012-09-13 at 3.09.04 AM Tom's old homemade sprocket guard constructed out of a cutting board. Delco innovation. Teppei Iwabuchi aka Nasty. It was 2010 and this fakie stair gap was so unheard of. People didnt even know what to think. Looking at this stuff now I still am in awe. Then about a year later Nasty built his bike up to take much more of a beating, putting on larger tires and wider bars, running a steel frame instead of aluminum; and came out with this unbelievable part for K@nt Hamabike and BFF. The filming editing and spot usage were incomparable to all things surrounding fixed gear at the time. Snappy, agressive and clever. If you dig deep you'd find Teppei doing tons of long winded slider variations that went on for years before others caught on.

One of the first dudes that I "grew up" riding with was Ed Laforte.  Of course I rode before I moved to NYC but I didn't really find my niche until I started shredding with ol bud.  When I first moved out here in summer 2008 he showed me around and taught me a lot. He was known for his segnature whip skid to half cab and linked up numerous rock walk variations along with other wildies. I was recently looking for one edit that featured Ed, Tom, John and a few others riding on some dead end street in Lower East Side Manhattan and I remember Ed doing the sickest whipper to half cab ever. If you find the video link it in the comments. I looked for a while and had no luck. The agro speed that he brought to the game was so unheard of and he still brings that energy to the table today. This fresh melt water edit came out in 2008 when I first met Ed. Pay attention to these tricks, executed four years ago. I remember first seeing Tyler Johnoson's footage in some old edit where he had long scene hair and was riding to Circa Survive on a red and black Trek TK1. I watched that edit tons and of course he continued to move forward and experiment with more possibilities, but I feel like during the Revival video period he began to really start pushing the limits. The nose 180 in the trailer below was filmed about three years ago, as well as this foot plant to drop wheelie. So crazy. I remember people freaking out over Tyler's full part in Revival and of course now hes at the top of his game.

I dont know much about Mike Carney but he did this rail ages ago and it was definitely the first rail done on a fixed gear, back pedal ice in 2009. Im sort of speechless. As I said, I could easily continue to give thanks to many more names but these are the few people who I really feel helped me understand the possibilities, and of course all of the family that we support bring forth the innovation on the daily. Tracko Kyle shot by Tokyo Fixed and Superted shot unknown

16 comments:

  1. i love that mash dvd, the bonus footage is so good. also i miss sweathogs from philly. i wish that crew was still around so i could have someone to bike with... i wish i would have gotten into fixed gear before last summer :/ i may not be good at riding but i sure do love every second of it, i love most of the fixed community, and i love how passionate people are about this. thank you.

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  2. Solid post. The web and the early content creators are hugely responsible for the rapid expansion of fixed gear freestyle, and FGFS has changed the course of my life. Thanks for being a part of it and pushing it, Torey. @Ralphwho, there is a new scene in philly, we're also always riding down here in baltimore.

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  3. such a good read, thanks for this Torey.

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  4. For me Dustin Klein's Fast Friday and ZLOG's Future Tense deserve mention. I always lump them in with Bootleg Sessions. I had done loads of Alley Cat races in SF as a courier, and we always played with backwards figure 8s and wheelies on our track bikes while standing by, but Fast Friday and Future Tense were big time game changers in terms of seeing people bring BMX influenced tricks to the table.

    I started riding fixed in 1996, and never imagined it would be like this in 2012.

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  5. Feels like it was yesterday. Great post.

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  6. this was an awesome post. personally for me i was heavily influenced by maca. then a bunch of fonseca stuff came around which i think should be noted- alot of dudes got exposure because of chris fonseca and i think he was an important piece to the FGFS puzzle as well.

    good shit brother!

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  7. Three things... European artistic cycling, Evel from NYC and myself. artistic cycling is the "flatland" of FGF. Evel tried to do these tricks on a standard track bike (artistic cycling bikes are purpose built). The no handed wheelie was the first step in learning these tricks. He used to practice this trick inside the fountain in Washington square park. I would watch him practice when I was a messenger at the time. I had just started riding fixed gear for work (around 1994). I started practicing the no handed wheelie and added the wheel grab around 1996. I moved to s.f. in '96, everyone thought I was crazy for riding brakeless in the city. I would do a no handed wheelie to show them my skill and converted a lot of people to fix gears. messenger world championships, where we would all get together and have trick sessions is where most of the tricks I did in my part come from. I came up with a lot more tricks but forgot most of them during filming of MASH. All of this is on regular track bikes, made for going fast...tricks where something we did in between doing messenger work.

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  8. Mad memories man! Good words.

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  9. Jeremy from Chi, 2004, 1 handed wheelies down the block

    that and all the ol' backwards circles on standby started it for me

    -Dontcoast

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  10. Although it is great where a sport of any kind can go. It is the folks who put in time and face that are responsible. I'll say Ditto- Ritchy Ditta and a sick bunch of fools who put forth day after day a lifestyle that was more than a Hipster Ethos. It was a subculture- a real way of life that was respectable at a time. There was a time when you rode down the street and knew the name of an individual and where they were by the bike they rode. That gem they scored, either from a homie or a rare swap that was only known by those- in the know. Mash and etc. are just folks co-opting a trend, Mike and Gabe stole somthing that wasnt theirs and have used it to incorporate a beautiful thing. Many have followed, and thats cool... But the real is real. Doesn't matter what frames, what helmet or sneakers you are sponsored by. The fact is, it was always about the streets, about being sidewise in a way( a punk rock mindset)- faster than and quicker than your typical trend. Cycling is and will always be the most dynamic sport on earth. But a real street credible Trackbike rider- an individual that rides for the soul of it- still lies in a chosen few! To those- Cheers.

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  11. Thanks Torey, super good read. I think Mash started it for a lot of people. I remember some videos floating around pre-mash around 2003 maybe on the Velo shop website, maybe ReLoad, I'm not sure. riding backwards and down stairs... but I think Mash and their presentation really did it. Gunna rewatch Gabes part right now! I also remember filming that tacoma video with Tyler and being super bummed when he put Circa Survive ontop of it, ha!

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  12. Keep on, keeping on Torey!! So good!

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  13. standing by with Ritchie and Danny Boy back in the 90s made was exactly how this all started for me. WSUP RITCHIE!

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  14. Damn son, no mention of Council of Doom? Cold.

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  15. Some mad videos in there! Thanks for the upload!

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