Every once in a while a rider will stand out to me as unique, original, and passionate. One of those riders happens to be Chad Johnston. He is a flatland legend, has been around since day one and has always stuck to his guns. He rides his bike exactly how he wants, and sets trends along the way. No brakes, and no pegs are necessary for the style of riding that Chad does and as of late he has been breathing life back into the flatland side of things over at S&M Bikes and has been working hard on a signature line of flat specific products. As always, this column is forever changing, evolving and progressing. As time goes on, I try to keep things interesting while creating content that will appeal to the masses. Take a minute and get to know a little more about a rider that has been here, there and back again and keep an eye out in the future for the next original “Bio” piece.
Chad Johnston is a rider that has done it all in his very own unique way. He has blazed his own path throughout his thirty-plus years of riding and has maintained a steady presence within BMX during that time. Whether it be running a flatland video series, traveling and competing in flatland contests, designing signature parts or just simply riding on a regular basis. Chad’s love for BMX has not changed since he was a young kid growing up in California in the 1970’s. He has been pushing the very progressive and challenging peg-less, brake-less flatland style for a while now and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. He has carved himself a nice little niche in the flatland world and has been living it up in Southern California taking each day as it comes. Chad truly understands what it means to follow your dreams and makes the most out of every opportunity that is presented to you and if you ask me; that is what life is all about.
Chad was born in Bakersfield, CA in 1970 and actually spent a lot of his younger years traveling up and down the west coast for his father’s job. They lived in many different states including Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and Washington to name a few. He even lived in Manitoba, Canada at one point but ended up moving back to California in 1985. His love for riding started when he got his first BMX bike around 1982. Like many others around that time, Chad actually raced as a young kid hitting the track as early as 1983. He eventually ended up getting a freestyle bike and rode it all as a kid whether it was the local racetrack, a stand-alone quarter pipe or a parking lot. He broke his leg pretty bad riding a quarter and ended up sticking to the ground mostly after that; and that is where his love for flatland began. He quickly became addicted to the challenge that riding flat offers. In the late 80’s when Chad graduated high school his Grandmother gave him $1,000 and he went right out and bought his first video camera. It was a Panasonic JVC GF-500, one of those big, bulky VHS-tape cameras that you would rest on your shoulder. It came with some cables that allowed him to hook it up to the VCR and that is how he began filming and editing. He originally got it just to start collecting footage but then he eventually started Intrikit, which became his video production company. The first Intrikit video actually came out around 1990.
Fast forward to around 1995 or so when he was living in Bakersfield, CA and fellow flatland lifer Jesse Puente came up to visit him and re-ignited his spark for riding flat. He started riding with Jesse more and more and eventually ended up deciding to move down to Long Beach where the weather was more consistent and pretty much perfect on a daily basis. Then after 1998 he did a video a year and sometimes two. For years Chad hustled and made it work without having a major sponsor. He was selling VHS tapes until he made the switch to DVD’s. Then the Internet came around and of course video sales went down. Around that time he did a limited edition frame with Ed Nussbaum over at Sick Child called the “Instrumental.”
When he first made the move down South the scene was already stacked with riders from all over. Sessions with some of flatlands best went down on the regular in parking lots, empty tennis courts, beach spots, parking garages and more. Chad was living it up, doing his thing and making it work. He eventually teamed up with his wife Amy to put on some of the most successful flatland jams in the country and for five years straight really helped shape the flatland community in Southern California during that time. In 2010 he also helped get Neighborhood BMX shop going with Aaron Bostrom. They both put in the work to get the shop together and created a place for the locals to come hang out, get what they need to keep their bikes rolling, and simply enjoy BMX. Chad later ended up getting busy with riding and wanted to get back into things and focus on his personal goals. As he says, “small business is tough with two bosses.” Him and Aaron parted ways, as business partners but still remain good friends. Chad always kept in contact with Sean McKinney from S & M and in recent years they have been putting in work pushing flatland over there. Chad has worked on multiple signature parts with them including bars, a stem and his own frame. Currently they are working on a signature fork but it is still in the prototype stage. The goal eventually is to be able to offer a full flatland kit. Chad should be an inspiration to every rider out there simply because he has been living it for so long. He has seen BMX rise, fall, and rise again. He has been there throughout it all. He has an open mind about life in general and really does a good job representing the carefree California lifestyle that most people only dream about.
“My bike has been a way for me to live free and the Southern California weather has helped make it comfortable. I’m able to ride when I feel like it, not just when the climate allows. That kind of feeling is what makes Long Beach a BMX paradise.” –Chad Johnston
That’s all for this week. Keep posted to The Union daily for industry news, updates, videos, original content and all things BMX. Also, be sure to check back next Wednesday for the seventy fifth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at [email protected] and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jeremypavia.
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