In The Union’s existence, we have worked with a lot of different photographers and filmers on original content. We have always wanted to work in some creative writing as well, but we didn’t quite know just how we wanted to go about it. Then, the other week Stuart Fenton hit us up asking if we would be interested in giving something like that a go and we decided to see just where we could take it! Today we are presenting you our first Editorial and we think it turned out great. Let’s take a look at this great piece by Stuart with with a perspective on Front Brakes and their current status…
“Over time every style of riding has had a moment in the sun, only to fizzle away and immerge reinvented years later. It’s the Double Helix phenomenon; when one style or fashion is in an ascent, another is in descent. In the context of BMX it means that riding is always evolving and never standing still. Over the last ten years we have seen a park riding boom, a trails revival and now we find ourselves perched firmly on a 3.5 foot waxed marble ledge. The same phenomenon can be observed through the popularity of freestyle era four piece bars, which ten years ago would have been laughable. Four piece bars were the badge of the BMX dinosaur, not the forward thinking BMX revolutionary! Additionally, we’ve also seen the popularity of once neglected front wheel manoeuvres, another remnant of the Freestyle days and the flatland foundations of BMX….
… Much loved, but often underestimated and marginalised by the grandiose side of BMX. The original freestylers were armed with flatland skills and front brakes that influenced a legion of kids across the globe. As years passed by, riders experimented by removing their front brakes and the pool of influence gradually reduced. Now it is not outrageous to say that front brake riding is a sub-culture of BMX.
When a new video or edit is released featuring a front brake rider, it always receives strong views and an enthusiastic response. Most fans of BMX are genuinely hyped on watching front brake riding, but despite across the board appreciation, a comparatively small number of riders choose to ride them. I believe that the plateau in popularity is down to a perception problem. Understandable presumptions as opposed to genuine truths.
Thinking of esteemed individuals such as Dave Freimuth, Brian Vowell, Rick Moliterno, Dave Osato, and Clint Millar, I think of warriors in their field and some of the most exceptional and talented bike riders the world has ever seen. But I also think of a collective style that’s slower, more thoughtful, more considered and more precise than the trails, park or street equivalent. These are attributes that many, myself included, love about front brake riding, but they act as a double edged sword because they are the same qualities that deter us from using front brakes ourselves. I can’t describe it any other way than the following. It’s like really loving oysters, and ordering them every time you’re in a restaurant, but never cooking or eating them yourself at home (nor everyday!).
It’s ironic that the style that attracts us forms the same barrier to deter us from moving from appreciation to adoption. The definition of riding in 2015 is very much about control, precision, and dare I say it, front wheel tricks and not for a generation has the time been more apt for a front brake revolution. We just need to challenge the perception that front brake riding is restricted to that established slower and technical methodology. I love the way that Rooftop rides because he doesn’t let front brakes define his style and he doesn’t ride a slower and technical style. I am not in the slightest being critical of this style. Just merely suggesting people may not want to ride like this themselves.
As front brakes have been out of favour with the majority of riders, as a discipline it hasn’t seen the same evolution as street or park riding. Just think about how riders use pegs now compared to 20 years ago. Now imagine where we would be if front brakes were as established as no brakes and four pegs are today? The possibilities are endless for the evolution of front brake riding.
The number of brands that sell forks with lugs has dwindled but more are producing forks with removable mounts. I think this is the natural migration of the removable brake lug technology from frames to forks as opposed to meeting consumer demand. Nevertheless, it’s all positive as it gives riders more reason to try them out. Last year Jason Enns toyed with them back on his bike and secured his first BMX PLUS cover with a belting X-Up Canadian and much buzz on social media. Maybe the new style forks could tempt some of the esteemed elder statesmen of the 20 inch world back to the dark side to help the push?
Ultimately thought, what front brakes needs is a Taj, a Garrett or a Steven Hamilton to come along with the right style, the right imagination, the right look, all at the right time to galvanize the positive sentiment towards front brake riding. A new hero to lead the way and rewrite the BMX zeitgeist, reignite interest and establish the position of the front brake in BMX.” – Stuart Fenton
If you are interested in doing an editorial piece with some creative writing, hit us up!