Photos by Jason Finn
Some of my earliest memories of Bruce Crisman are from around 10 years ago when I first started seeing him in magazines, videos and at big contests like the X-Games. In fact, I’ve got an old Diamondback poster of him doing a 360 one-handed X-up at Woodward still hanging on the wall of the room I grew up in. Over all those years I’ve been a big fan of Bruce and it was always awesome seeing him progress from this killer contest rider into a freecoasting street machine.
Then a few years ago he kind of disappeared with rumors about his back keeping him off his bike. It was weird thinking that there’s a good chance I wouldn’t see fresh footage from him again.
That was until a few months ago when he started popping up in edits. Then it was announced that he had joined the 2Hip team and I knew he was really back on it. Last week his welcome edit dropped and people were blown away including myself. Shortly after I posted up the edit, I got an email from the legend himself thanking me for posting up the video. I was honestly blown away. I also knew there was no way I wasn’t getting an interview out of him to see what he was up to and what he has planned now that things are back on track for him. This is one interview I never thought I’d get to do. Let’s check it out!
Name: Bruce Crisman
Location: Portland Oregon U.S.A.
Years riding: 22 years.
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories just come to mind?
In 1991 I decided to make the transition from skateboarding to BMX when I learned that my cousin was into (trick bike riding). My first bike was a GT Performer.
Let’s kick things off with the sponsors. It was announced recently that you have decided to join the 2Hip team. How did that opportunity come about and how are things going so far?
RonW has been somebody I’ve looked up to since I started riding. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know him over the past 4 years and we’ve often talked about eventually working together on a project. So long story short; I am now working and riding for 2HIP, things couldn’t be any better.
Do you have any trips, signature parts or anything like that in the works with Ron?
We do have trips lined up for the coming year and a big one planned for 2014. 2HIP Meet The Street Series are also going to be in effect sooner than later. As for signature products; we will be releasing my signature bike line for our 2014 models.
You have been on KHE for quite some time for obvious reasons. Now that you’re back to full-strength do you have any plans to get things going with them again?
As for now I do not have any future plans with KHE other than continuing to ride my Limited Edition Freecoaster Hub, “Reverse”.
Any other sponsor news you can tell us about?
2HIP and Goods BMX are both taking good care of me.
So back to the whole getting back into the swing of things. You spent a few years struggling with a back injury, right? What exactly happened that caused it and how long were you dealing with it?
I believe it was 2005 or 2006 when I was in Brazil filming/photos/etc. The short version of the story is that I hadn’t warmed up hardly at all before sending myself over a gap that ended up compressing the discs in my lower back. The footage can be seen on my section from Living In Exile. It’s the last clip.
Over the years a lot of the big name guys like Taj and Ruben have struggled with back problems. Ruben’s problem stemmed to jaw alignment problems that was corrected with braces. What did you have to do to get the back fixed? Was there surgery involved?
No surgery involved as I refused even when the pain was unbearable. I’ve seen both my grandfather and father go through back surgeries and it just scares me to think of the amount of time they were laid up for.
As for my own recovery; I owe a big thanks to both Scott Hagnas and Marty McFarland. They are both amazing old skool NorthWest riders whom now are physical therapists and have shown me that the road to recovery can be made easy just through effort and a consistent routine. There are a few different stretches that I stick to on a daily basis but mainly I just use a pull-up bar for short reps. and to stretch my body out before I ride.
Were you still riding here and there over the last few years or was it pretty much unbearable?
I was riding yes but only for the amount of time that I could handle. Maybe once a month I’d roll around at the skatepark but street is where I endured most of the pain.
When your issues were resolved did you ever intend on doing the “sponsored” thing again or was it just something that came up? I’d imagine you look at the whole “Pro” thing a lot different now than you did back in the day when you rode for brands like Haro and Diamondback, right?
Being able to ride and enjoy my bike again was and is my first priority before landing any sponsorships. I just wanted to at least be able to film some clips for our local videos.
Actually, looking back at your history of sponsors, you have a pretty impressive resume. Who was your first sponsor?
I am grateful for every single sponsorship that I’ve had over the years. My first sponsor ever was JNCO Clothing when I was 18. They put photos of me riding burnside on their website and it got me so siked to push my riding even more. From then on I’ve had the same feeling whenever riding for any particular sponsor.
You were always pretty proactive on your own with starting brands like Shola and Facad if I remember right. Have you thought about giving that a go again or are you pretty content with the way things are right now?
Shola and Façad were both exciting times in my life. Mike Hoder and Davey Watson were riding incredible and I had the chance to witness some of the craziest riding I’ve seen to date. As for starting another brand; I do plan on starting another t-shirt company in the future. Nothing too fancy, just t-shirts with designs that people would be stoked on wearing.
So you had your anticipated welcome to 2Hip edit drop the other day. How do you feel it came out? Were you surprised by the reaction it got?
Over all I am pleased with how the edit turned out. The last clip in the edit was something I had been eyeing up for almost 4 years. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to finally get in done.
I didn’t know what to expect as for how people would react to the edit but the feedback I’ve gotten so far has been positive.
Have you been filming for anything else lately? When can we expect some more footage from you?
Shad Johnson from Goods BMX is currently working on another shop edit. I’ve been filming with him a bit so I should be having a few clips in that video when it drops. I believe it will be online by the end of this month (November 2012); GoodsBMX.com
I know the Northwest gets pretty rough this time of year with constant clouds and rain. Do you have any plans on getting out at all for trips? Anywhere in particular you want to go?
Yes it does rain here in Portland, in fact it’s raining right now. I’m hoping to get out to the southern part of the states and/or Woodward this winter. Its been years since I’ve been to Woodward so I feel a reunion coming on.
Where have you been getting most of your riding time in these days? Any hot spots you have been really stoked on?
No spots in particular. I just like cruisin’ around the city these days. Just as Seth Kimbrough has shown us over the years; you can always make something out of nothing, you just gotta find it.
Over the years freecoaster riding has been pretty limited, but it seems like this past year things have really blown up with pretty much every brand trying to develop their own coaster. How do you feel about that? Are there any that have really caught your eye?
When KHE ran the “Reverse Online Video Contest” I couldn’t believe the amount of amaaaazing freecoaster riders there are now. I look forward to seeing these kids push the (fakie) limits even further.
Truthfully I’ve only heard through rumors about other freecoaster hubs coming out and I think its great. The internals for freecoaster hubs over the years have been a difficult task to perfect so I’m very interested and thrilled to see another approach to designing a solid hub.
I know over the years you have done a fair number of contests and even won a few like X-Games park in 2001. Do you have any plans of getting back into that or is it really not your thing anymore? I feel like you would kill it at some of the street contests…
The street contests I see online lately look amazing. I think it would be a lot of fun participating in some of them. Filming and photos of course take up most of my BMX traveling so we’ll see if time permits.
I always think it’s interesting to get the perspective of a rider that’s been around for a while. What do you think of BMX now versus 10 years ago?
BMX is amazing now, then and forever. I’m happy to be a part of it.
What do you think you would be doing today if you never got into BMX?
Playing music, drawing, and most likely running the family business.
What are you usually up to when you aren’t riding these days? Are you working or anything like that?
If I’m not riding I’m either working with RonW, playing music, drawing, or spending time with good people.
A little sample of the art Bruce has been doing lately.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I like to get out of bed in the middle of the night sometimes for a jog.
What’s the last song you heard, movie you watched and website you visited?
Song: “Madd World”, Movie: “Bobby Fischer Documentary”, Website: “Youtube”.
What’s one thing you could use more of in your life and one thing you could use less of?
At the moment I could use more daylight and less rain.
Who or what are some of the biggest influences on your life?
My mother. She is the biggest influence in my life.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Riding, drawing and playing music.
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks go to; God the creator, my mother, father, family, friends, RonW and everyone that has been supported me.
Anything else you want to say?
Thank you Kurt and The Union for this opportunity.