Edit: This graphic, which was a quick 5 minute photoshop job, has been a large focus for a lot of criticism lately… Sadly, more than the words. This graph is not accurate at all, and was simply just a form of showing that there are more and more knock off BMX brands popping up every day producing more and more products causing there to be more supply than demand. I don’t have numbers to verify, and I sure as shit know I wouldn’t deny it being inaccurate but there are no numbers to verify, just constant complaints about there being too many brands now days… It was just something to go with the text. Apologies to anyone who was offended by this. I’ll put a picture of my room mates dogs red rocket or something that has no relevance if something like this comes up again.
After doing the first BMX Economics piece a few weeks back, I really wasn’t sure what could go into a part 2 since there were so many things brought up in the comments that could lead into a ton of different directions. Then today I came across not one, but two separate pieces that really sparked some things that I think might open a few peoples eyes to “solutions” to the current state of BMX… Let’s go into this one again!
The first column I came across was the one that Brett Downs (At least I’m assuming his name is Brett Downs, haha) which raised a pretty interesting point on one really important aspect of BMX marketing that hasn’t quite gone away, but has been toned down a ton over the years. That would be BMX Shows. In the piece, Brett discusses the importance of BMX shows and how they can potentially be getting kids attention by showing them what’s possible on a bike and how to make it fun… Not just dudes tossing circus tricks.
Now, there are definitely crews out there traveling around doing shows at schools and other locations all over the country… Believe it or not, there are a TON of super talented riders that you will never hear about because they don’t put out edits or enter contests… They simply spend their time doing shows, getting kids psyched on BMX. Crews like Micah Kranz and the Division BMX team, Team Soil out in California, 5050 BMX Shop runs a team if I remember right, I think DK still has a show team floating around the midwest, Dustin Grice and some of the Twin Cities guys have been doing shows under the Twin Cities Fantasy Factory name for the past year or so as well. That’s just a small list and I’m sure there’s probably a hundred teams in the U.S alone.
These guys are all super key grassroots groups that are primarily riding for people who have probably never experienced BMX in their life. This is awesome since it’s a huge opportunity to spark a flame in peoples minds as something that they would like to do. Fresh blood is something that keeps BMX alive because if you think about it, the sport has a lot of hurdles to jump to keep people interested. Here’s a little something to consider why it’s important to get the younger kids into BMX at an earlier age that their teens…
Let’s say a kid gets into BMX at 13 or 14… When they turn 16, it goes two routes. Either the rider uses the car to pick up chicks or he uses it to get him and his friends to a spot or park they normally couldn’t ride to. So right off the bat there’s a 50/50 chance we lose riders there.
The kid chooses to stay on his bike… 17 and 18 hit and he’s probably starting to see a lot of distractions like a job to pay for his gas in the car, planning for college, girls, parties, etc… So by the time they graduate there’s a good number of riders that just don’t put in the time they used to or give up on things all along.
College or the real world hits… 40 hours a week between classes and homework or studying, maybe a job on top of that… Or they are stuck with a 40 hour + week job which requires them to bust their ass not leaving much energy or the option of getting hurt from riding… There’s a bigger number of riders who have to put BMX on the back burner or put out the fire.
So by some miracle the rider is still into it into his early 20’s… Wear and tear is starting to slow the person down or they don’t have nearly as many riders that are their age to ride with anymore… Other interests take over.
Obviously things further like getting married and having kids cuts even more… It’s just the chain events of life.
By this point a lot of people who rode when they were younger just aren’t riding anymore. Everyone has seen it happen. I remember when I used to go to the park and there would be 20+ kids all riding my age. Most of those guys started out with completes and then ended up building up their own bikes. Over time, people stopped riding and now there’s only a couple guys I grew up riding with that ride on a some what regular basis when they can find the time. It’s depressing…
Why the hell am I talking about this? We were just talking about how shows get kids into BMX…. Hear me out! I think this cycle is what is leaving BMX in a bit of a dry spell at the moment. For the longest time, I feel like BMX started transitioning its focus toward catering to existing riders. There’s no denying that there’s been some incredible progress in the quality of BMX bikes over the past decade with a HUGE amount of growth in the after market products department… But there really wasn’t a ton of focus on the kids. 12″, 16″and 18″ bikes really weren’t starting to pop up until a few years ago and, at least from my standpoint, there just hasn’t been a huge push to get the younger kids attention like it used to be.
Now, I don’t have any data to back up this, but from what I’ve seen on a local level, there are just fewer kids picking up BMX bikes which leads to fewer kids riding when they turn 16, 18, 21, etc… So now we’re seeing a lot of guys in their middle to upper 20’s who have been riding 10+ years starting to slow down and fewer kids coming up to fill. This is just my opinion since I’m sure there are places where there are a TON of kids getting into BMX, but I’m sure there are also a ton of places around the world that are like mine where things are slowing down. I see fewer kids with custom built completes with after market parts than I used to back in the day… Just more and more kids on torn up complete bikes they dragged through hell and back with no real drive to upgrade. Could this be why things are causing the drop in sales and everything? There’s a good chance.
Maybe BMX could use a little more focus on the grassroots level again. There’s no denying that BMX has established a pretty solid base. I mean the bikes and the riding is better than ever… But maybe we need to focus more on who isn’t riding versus how to please the kids already riding that want 17 versions of a freecoaster to choose from? Maybe we need to figure out a way to get kids to choose a bike over a scooter? Create more options as far as low-price entry level bikes that are going to make it easier for kids to learn how to ride?
Hell…Maybe Colony needs to bring back the trade in your scooter for a discount on a bike deal they did a few years back?
Maybe there needs to be more shows with incentives to get kids out on bikes? I don’t know… But I know anything that can be done to get the attention of the kids will ultimately help BMX in the long run since it’s the young guns that are going to keep the pedals turning when all of our backs and knees are blown out from the years of kicking our own asses.
On a side note that just popped into my head after I finished this… I should mention that I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “what are you talking about? There are more riders than ever… Just look at how many videos pop up everyday!”… Which could be a valid point, but how many riders do you think there were when internet didn’t exist or cameras weren’t so easily accessible?
The second article was by David Alden who, based off what Brett Downs wrote, came through with this piece that focuses on a few other topics on top of the whole aspect of shows like the concept of starting an organization for BMX to help bring up BMX in a more “professional” light to outside groups and the importance of riders doing a better job of promoting BMX.
The topic of starting an organization for BMX came up shortly after I did the first BMX Economics piece and I had a few side discussions with different people throughout the industry about this. The concept of starting a BMX organization is in theory an awesome idea, but actually putting into effect is the challenge. BMX has been based off of the concept of “you do this on your own and you have the freedom to do whatever the hell you want on your bike” which I think makes the idea of a governing body in BMX such a weird idea. However, if it was done right it could actually help out BMX a ton. Having a group of industry leaders all working together to ensure things are being done right could be huge. Imagine if instead of everyone sending X-Games or Dew Tour some tweets about how they can fuck off if they don’t do something like bring dirt back, that guys like Chris Moeller, Mat Hoffman, Dennis McCoy, Ron Bonner and Ralph Sinsi were able to go to them and say “This is what we want to see done, and this is how it should be done.” that maybe we might be able to get more accomplished.
Maybe BMX needs to take the same route as skateboarding and start our own version of Street League? Sure, Rob Dyrdek had MTV and DC on his nuts to get it going, but I’m pretty sure our boy, Mat Hoffman could get the ball rolling… Hell, the producer of Jackass, Jeff Tremaine, was a BMX rider! The thing about business is that all it takes to get people in power positions with money to make things happen is a good idea that will work. Look at all of the cool shit Red Bull has been able to do the past year? There were BMX riders with good ideas that made those things happen. I’m sure they would be down for some massive tax deductions in getting something globally televised going… I’m sure if we had an established organization that had the right people who know how to get things done came to ESPN with all of our shit together and said “see how well Street League works for skateboarding and your ratings? We could do that with BMX and this is how…” it could happen.
Would a BMX Organization really be able to do a lot? I don’t know… I mean you could have it be a way to unit and promote well established brands or groups in BMX doing things the right way to shops or media… It could be a way to create a barrier to entry to help keep these shitty fly by night, slap our name on a junk complete bike and sell as many units as we can to make sure we make profit BMX brands for starting? It could also be a great tool to reach suits and outsiders who stick to the traditional “Business models” and get them to take a look at BMX and realize we’re not just a bunch of dirty dumbass kids on bikes that are just here to destroy some rails and knock up their daughters… But a pretty well established industry that is working out the bugs to really make it something that can compete with football, baseball or anything else out there.
Now I don’t really know if BMX will ever try to establish an organization or if it would even work, but it’s definitely something that has been on a few peoples minds and it seems like everyone would be willing to try? Would this help the BMX economy? Yeah, I mean anything to help protect the sport and the riders is bound to be a good thing, right? This is something I would like to hear some opinions on especially.
So I guess to kind of bring this all to a conclusion, there are a lot of aspects in BMX that could influence why we’re going through a tough time these days and how we could improve on it. Does getting more kids involved in BMX and making it more accessible while having the right opportunities to keep them interested need more attention? Definitely. That’s something that will always be important and there’s been so much done to make that happen. Does BMX need some sort of organization to help protect the sport and create a way to make it look more professional to the outside world? Yeah, I think so.
Here are a few questions…
What can or should be done to help BMX get more kids into BMX seriously and not just rolling around on a Wal-Mart bike at the skatepark?
What are some other ways we could improve BMX in the form of getting more riders involved?
What are your thoughts on a legitimate BMX Organization?
Am I completely way off and probably should be slapped?
Let’s talk about this!
Shout out to Brett and David for inspiring this one…