Amity Bike Co is one of those names that has been popping up more and more over the last year. I recall thinking the first time I saw the name Amity that it was just going to be a crew of guys from the U.K, but clearly, I was wrong. As time went on, I started getting more curious about the brand, and eventually I started noticing their product line and team growing at a fast pace. After an interview with Amity’s rider, Mike King, I decided it was time to get ahold of Amity and find out a little bit more about them. We had held off since a lot of things had been just starting to pop up with new products, addition of a U.S team and such. It took three months, but Marc and I finally got a chance to talk about the brand. This might just be the start for the brand, but if things keep going the way they are, we will be hearing more from Amity for years to come. Check out what Marc had to say, some product photos and some recent team edits. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments!
So let’s start this off from the beginning. When did you decide to start Amity? From my understanding you have a few other projects in dirt bikes and what not, right? What made you want to come back to BMX?
Well, I guess you need to know a bit of history 1st before I tell you when sparks for Amity tripped. Ever since I was a baby, I have been into 2 wheels. When I was about 7-8, BMX went crazy in the UK, but I only had a Raleigh Grifter that I modified with some blue comp 3 style skinwalls, pads, layback & blue star grips. When I was 9 (1984) after 2 years of begging, pointing (having the piss taken out of me etc), I finally persuaded my Gran buy me a BMX. Back then all I wanted was a Raleigh Burner (I think back then Halfords were selling them) but that was until I stepped into the attic of a bike shop in Cheltenham. These guys had clearly done their homework because the place was full of American branded BMX’s they had imported. The one that jumped out at me was a Californian Mongoose. The price tag, £200. This was 1984, I was a VERY poor kid from a poor family that had a Gran who wanted me to have what I wanted. To put this in context, that’s £500 in today’s money on a 9 year old boy. My mum could not afford to pay the coal man, but I had a £500 BMX. Why am I banging on about this? Because the feeling I had when I 1st rode that bike will always stay with me. Somehow everything seemed perfect. To this day whenever I look at a bmx I get a happy feeling (I associate a BMX with feeling happy & having fun). So, 3 years ago one of my employees walked into my warehouse pushing his latest ride with a “stomp” sticker on it, that happy feeling combined with my brand logo stuck to it, sparked an idea. I started looking at BMX again and even bought a WTP and started riding (having not ridden since my early 20’s – I actually thought I was too old). I have to say that a lot of my initial inspiration came from Mark Webb and his edits. With this in mind I set about meeting up with him for a chat & that’s where I met Ben Wallace & Amity was finally born. I owe a lot to Mark, he stopped me making some stupid decisions and he encouraged Ben to work with me which deffo helped us hit the ground running. Ben should take a lot of credit for the Amity Zenta complete as he has a lot of input into the original design.
Where are you guys based out of? Have you been starting to feel the building is getting more and more full with each shipment? Do you think there will be a need for expansion any time soon?
We are based on a farm in West Sussex. Our buildings are old chicken sheds & we are surrounded by some of the most stunning countryside in the UK. Every time we outgrow ourselves, we take on another chicken shed. However, you are right we have totally outgrown the farm (it’s just not practical any more), we need new premises & have literally just signed up on 3 year lease to a 6,000 square foot warehouse (big enough to put a small park in & keep our stock). We are all really excited about the move.
Other than yourself, who is involved with Amity? Product design, team manager, sales, all the way to the toilet scrubber and coffee maker?
Hmmm mnnnk. Let’s start with Mark. He’s my business partner & he deals with all the sales and distros. Then there’s me the driving force behind the operation. I have the vision which is heavily influenced by the riders on the team. I head up design & marketing and I deal with the factories too. Product design is a combination of me, our riders & our CAD guy, Jim. We also have Conrad who is training in sales and design and he has some great ideas (is also a rider which helps). Gail heads up our graphics design and web work (company called Frogjuggler who actually deal with all of our brands marketing). Mikey King is our TM, the riders use him as a 1st point of contact and it has to be said Mikey keeps me on the straight and narrow. Then we have Shell (do not mess with shell cus she pays the wages and deals with more shit on more levels than most people could imagine), then there’s the warehouse boys who all love to ride and their manager Gary (who would love to ride too but is far too old and over weight now – just kidding). They pick & pack and usually they are under a lot of pressure. That’s pretty much it, although we do have supporting rolls from Baz, the big Australian wood chopper & his side kick ‘Squeaker’. Squeaker is the village idiot & likes nothing more than being kicked and dancing with his blow up doll Shell. Yes, the rubber Shell is named after Shell our secretary! Good night John boy……this is the country side after all. Here is squeeker in action, we can be cruel…
Obviously it sounds like you have a lot on your plate. What is a typical day like for you? Is there really a “typical day”?
Pretty much every day is the same when I am not travelling.
1) wake up when I’m ready
2) make breakfast for my wife & daughters (2 & 5)
3) fire up my pc & start chatting with Taiwan, China, USA (if I am up early enough) and answering email. A bit of Bacebook etc. Deal with the warehouse crisis of the day.
4) Maybe 2 hour Skype call on our latest design project.
5) Twiddle my thumbs if it’s quiet, go for a serious run, then down the warehouse for either a session on our ghetto set up, or a full on business meeting with Mark and Gary which will normally last until 7-8pm by which is about the time the local pub is calling me to carry on the meeting with beer. I head home around 9-ish, dinner, wine, maybe a lil smoke then bed, then start this shit all over again. I love it.
What are some of your overall goals and dreams for the brand? Where would you like to take things as time goes on?
To be honest, I look at Amity as a family. Of course I have my own dreams and ideas, but if truth be told, it’s down to the riders. I use their inspiration to drive our designs & they create & produce an image which defines us. In a perfect world I would love Amity to be self perpetuating. Basically, as it starts to make a profit, it looks after the riders who in turn help the company grow and develop. So far this is exactly how Amity has developed. The more we make, the more we put back in. At the end of that day if we do not support the essence of our company how can we expect it to grow?.
It looks like you have a pretty solid line up for 2011 with completes, frames, bars, forks, etc. Care to take us through the line quick?
It’s all here: AmityBikeCo.com. If I were to take you through it all we would be here quite a while…my personal favourites are the Zenta, Russo & RD range.
What makes your products stand out from other brands? Why should somebody buy an Amity frame over let’s say a United frame?
What brands people want to buy is down to what influences them the most. If people like what we do & our minimalist approach to design, then hopefully they will buy our products. I guess what makes them stand out is that we are still relatively new, we have a strong team and we are very keen on our UK pricing. In the future, you will see innovations & inventions from us. This will be the next step which will hopefully keep our customers interested.
I noticed you have the Jesus forks, why don’t you have Mohammed forks, also? Do you catch much heat from the religious / anti-religious people out there?
The whole Jesus thing is not meant to be religious. None of us are religious in anyway, it was meant to be controversial and get people talking. It’s controversial because people will automatically assume it has religious connotations. In fact what you see is merely a reflection of your own attitude. Jesus is a name, as is Zenta, Russo or Bamity. What you see when you see this name is in the minds eye. If you choose to see it as religious, that is your choice. So in answer, we could have used Mohammed, but it didn’t fit on the forks and no as yet we have not caught much heat, although I am under a lot of pressure not to release these forks in the USA – hahahah
I’m sure you have already got your work started for 2012. What changes and additions can we expect for that line so far?
Errr…we got some pedals lined up that will hopefully shake things up. We also got some new forks in the pipeline, a new seat (RT signature), We also have 2 Matt Priest Signature bikes & signature frame & signature frame for Tammy. So yeah this years there is plenty going on.
Since you have interests outside of BMX, do you have any plans of doing things outside of BMX with Amity? A lot of brands have cruisers and fixies these days.
We do have other business interests, but we have different brands for these product lines. Amity is pure BMX & we would not consider diluting the brand unless it was dead in the water (hopefully that will never happen).
I know Mike King said there really wasn’t a plan for a DVD anytime soon, so what about team trips, and things like that? What do you have lined up for the guys this year?
Well, the Portugal team edit we put out this year was amazing. I have to say probably 2 of the best weeks of my life. We decided to charter a Yacht and cruise around the Algarve enjoying some top weather & some amazing riding spots. The problem we have for 2011, is how do we better that? The current idea is to rent a house in the Canaries where all the riders can stay as & when they can get there. Mark and I will again charter a Yacht & do a bit of island hoping to find some different spots. Hopefully it will all fall into place we’ll see.
I personally like to see all aspects of BMX although I don’t like to pigeon hole, I wanted all styles of rider on the team. It’s also important that the riders are not fazed by other “styles” of riding such as if we went to a set of trails, I would hope that all the riders could get through and enjoy themselves. Like I say, we don’t like to pigeon hole, the team is full of riders with their own thing going on that can all come together, get along and have fun. We want to present an image of BMX that people can relate and aspire to.
It looks like you have started up an international team with the addition of web video extraordinaire Tammy McCarley and a few others. Do you have any plans of adding more guys around the world?
As I said earlier, we want Amity to grow and fund itself. The USA seemed to be the next natural progression. We get a lot of emails from riders in the US enquiring about our parts, but as yet a suitable distro has not stepped up. So we decided to start the team ourselves to get the ball rolling. We have distro’s in other countries & they also have riders on the extended Amity team. I am sure the family will continue to grow as Amity expands & becomes accepted globally as a legit brand.
Let’s say somebody has a little too much faith in what they are doing and end up with a cracked set of Jesus forks. What kind of warranty does Amity offer? What’s the process for getting something replaced? What kind of turn around time can we expect?
To date after 15 months of selling Jesus forks to the world, not one set has come back. So, if a set were to come back (our company has 3 degree qualified engineers) we would study them hard and try & work out some way that your warranty does not stand, haha, just kidding. Nah, tbf, we offer a 1 year warranty & we have really good factory back up. If it’s genuine, we forward a picture to the factory & in most of the few cases we have experienced they agree to warranty the part, so we send out a new one.
Amity is still a real new brand, and you guys have your eyes set on expanding into other countries such as the U.S. Who should shops and distributors contact to get you guys in their shops and warehouses? Why should they carry your stuff?
At the end of the day, we are easy going guys enjoying what we do. We don’t have minimum orders, we aren’t gonna push product on you that you don’t want. If you like what we do, then email me at [email protected] and we can start chatting.
Let’s say a kid in the U.S wants one of you frames right now. How would they go about picking up an RD frame?
Frames and completes we can send from the UK & the price is around 15% higher to cover shipping. We can deliver within 2 days of order. However, we would prefer a US distro to come talk to us & serve the US market better than we can from the UK. This is because smaller parts are just not feasible unless ordered with a frame.
Anything else you want to say?
That’s basically what’s up. Thanks for the questions & sorry it took me 3 months to answer them. Peace!
For more information and products, hit AmityBikeCo.com
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