Is it just me, or has BMX been getting quite a bit more exposure lately? Has it been growing? Where has all this money come from? I’ve been having a bunch of things running through my head the last few days (this post is two days in the works) about what feels like quite a bit of growth of BMX lately. Am I just imagining things or what?
Maybe it’s just that time of the year with the X-Games and Dew Tour and everything, but it seems like BMX has been getting its coverage all over as of late in sources outside of the BMX world. I think seeing a tailwhip and a hang five in a Famous Footwear commercial was what made me start thinking about this though the other night. Here’s that commercial…
Then of course the recent AXE commercial that I think only ran during the X Games?
It just seems like there’s been these weird commercials that are nationally televised that’s showing BMX in this “hey, it’s the thing to do” kind of style that skateboarding has been going through for the last couple of years… or decade… whatever. You get what I’m saying.
But it’s not even just that. MTV has always been pretty good about doing things with BMX. They had that show that followed Garrett Reynolds and Dennis Enarson around for their last few months of high school a year or two ago, the Fantasty Factory has BMX dudes on it pretty frequently, and of course the last few years of TJ Lavin and Dave Mirra hosting the Real World or whatever it is. I kind of blanked on how that channel has been making BMX look cool to a lot of the younger kids out there lately.
The next big thing that really tripped my mind for this was Mat Hoffman’s 30 for 30 on ESPN that turned out awesome. If you haven’t seen that I’d advise you check it out if you have got a minute…. or 45ish. But it’s so crazy to think about the number of people who didn’t know much of anything about BMX seeing that. I’m sure it was probably a pretty heavy history lesson for some of the younger kids in BMX as well. Given, all the “outsiders” probably all think we’re a little off and crazy, I’m sure some people found some respect for the sport/lifestyle… whatever you want to call it.
It’s just weird to think of how there are brands outside of BMX looking in that are thinking they need to market towards BMX. I’ve been getting a few emails this past year from marketing firms looking for some sort of help to promote their product. The number one thing I always ask for is “what is your brand giving back to the sport?” and generally that’s what ends any sort of contact. Sure, I come off as a dick but it’s not worth my time to help somebody who probably can’t ride a bike make money off us. That’s not going to help it grow either.
I think this is what I’m trying to get at here. BMX has been growing. It seems like lately there has been quite a big push for the sport from outside sources that aren’t the core brands that are actually producing the products and sponsoring riders. At first I was a little iffy because I just don’t believe a brand should be in BMX if their main purpose for getting involved is to profit off it. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t think Nike was going to do it right when they started popping up the last few years. But, obviously they have been doing some big things that has been pouring money into promoting the sport and supporting riders obviously. It’s hard to not like seeing big contests, and genuine support for the support in their own way.
When you look at brands like Nike 6.0 and Gatorade who have done some pretty interesting things to promote the sport lately you can get the idea of what I mean by support in their own way….
In the last two months Nike has done the BCN BMX Pro in Barcelona which overall, turned out really well from the actual contest to the video contest they had. I’m going to assume at least $100,000 was invested in that whole project. Then they left the skatepark up for the rest of the summer for the locals to ride. That’s pretty rad. Then you look at the $85,000 in prize money they gave away this past weekend at the HB BMX Pro in Huntington Beach. Now, I know that doesn’t really “help” the majority of kids out there who don’t ride contests or are able to toss frontflip tailwhips or ride like Garrett Reynolds directly. But, I’m sure it motivates some kids to really push themselves to ride at a higher level. I don’t recall seeing so many kids who can’t even drive be able to give pros a run for their money until lately. They have also been doing some advertising on TV promoting Garrett and Nigel which is only getting more kids attention.
Of course I’m posting this video again. It’s awesome.
Gatorade has done some interesting things as well. The All Day series they have been doing with Nigel Sylvester has come off pretty positive and gives a look into a life that you can achieve from riding BMX. But they too have had BMX starting to pop up into their more mainstream image. It’s not just something they have people rep for them, they rep the people they support. I think people are just seeing BMX as a legitimate sport instead of a bunch of kids fucking stuff up and getting wild. Having a brand like Gatorade that sees the sport isn’t that… well, JUST that.. only helps.
Other brands like Red Bull, Rockstar / Relentless, and Monster who have been doing some pretty wild contests and events with big money involved has also been really awesome. The Red Bull Stomping Ground contest was almost a wash, but it worked out and even with it not going as perfect as it could have, I would have rather been at that then any other contest this year – Unless I could have made it to Barcelona but that’s mostly for the location. It’s just rad to see brands like that who could have pocketed $25,000 give it out as a first place prize for something like that. I’d imagine the overall cost of Stomping Ground was over $150,000 as well. That’s pretty ridiculous since if you look at an event like the old Bone Deth contests that were probably organized for $25.
It’s just weird to think that in the last 3 months there has been one Red Bull contest, 2 Nike contests, X-Games, and 2 Dew Tour stops (if we include this coming weekend) that have all combined have dropped a few hundred thousand dollars to make some events happen.
Don’t get me wrong. BMX isn’t supposed to be about money. It never has been, but it’s just interesting to see brands that don’t make anything directly for a BMX bike being so stoked on the sport. That, and it helps out huge in just promoting the sport to new riders that might get into it because what they saw on TV. You know a lot of kids pick up bikes for that exact reason these days.
I think it was Lil Jon that said something that hit me pretty hard in a good way once. He said something along the lines of “There’s not a lot of money in BMX, but we all manage to get by”. Which is a pretty crazy and true statement because how many times have you gone on a trip, showered once the whole time, slept on a hardwood floor or even in the back of a car, ate like shit, lived off less than $100, and still managed to have one of the best times of your life? That’s just the way BMX has been. It’s just interesting to see so many riders who can get by just off riding BMX these days.
But then you gotta look at how many kids have been picking up bikes lately. It’s weird to think that I was riding last weekend at the skatepark and there was about 20 kids on bikes, and two on skateboards. Given, the park is designed to favor bikes a bit more (hey, it’s what happens when you get to design and build a park for somebody) but still. 8 of those kids were all from the same city that I’ve lived in for the past 19 years, and have been riding in for the past 10. I’ve never seen them or anything. Where have they been hiding? I have no idea. I just know that it was awesome to see that many kids getting into BMX and really trying to learn how to ride well. It’s also pretty cool because I know the scene is starting to grow again where I thought it was starting to slow.
One thing that has been really awesome is just that the price for a real solid unit has come down as well. You can get a bike that’s spec’d to a level that will hold up to some heavier riding for a pretty low cost. I know Sunday and Verde have some damn good looking completes that people have seemed to be psyched on. I know when I got into riding the bikes had single wall rims and weren’t exactly ready for the kind of riding that was happening. But yeah, I guess that’s just something that I think has been expanding things as well. It’s funny when you hear about skateboarders talking about how expensive BMX is when they’re buying new decks and shoes every other week.
Here’s another random thought I just had about all the people getting into BMX. There’s also a lot of real talented artistic people getting into BMX. Have you noticed the quality of web edits lately? Sure, it costs quite a bit of money to pick up a Canon 7D or something to really make something that blows minds but it’s happening. I spend a good two or so hours a day going through videos and what not for the DIG site, and there’s no shortage of well filmed and edited videos.
I think that has also been pretty big in helping BMX grow. There’s this endless number of videos that get people psyched on bikes, and I’m sure there’s been a few people who got into BMX after seeing a bunch of videos. That, and I think just the ability to do so many things other than just ride like shooting photos or filming and editing helps keep a lot of kids interested in what they’re doing or motivated to push their selves or their friends.
I doubt anyone is still reading, but if you are I guess I’d like to hear your input on all this.
Am I imagining things?
Are all the occurrences of BMX popping up on TV, all these bigger corporations supporting the sport, and more kids starting to ride something that has been happening for years and I’ve just taken notice of it, or is there some legitimate growth happening as of the last two years?
Do you feel like having these big events with big corporate brands sponsoring them are a good or bad thing?
What do you think it is that’s really attracting kids to riding BMX these days?