GT Bicycles hit us with some news this morning that Jeff Z. has been named the new Team Manager for the GT BMX Freestyle program! As many of you probably noticed over the past few years that Jeff has been very involved with the brand tagging along on trips and shooting photos for the team, product and brand as a whole, so this was a natural progression that makes a ton of sense. Ben Ward has been juggling the team, along with the whole BMX product line and more, so we can only imagine how good things will be with Jeff and Ben working together to keep growing the GT BMX program. Below is the official press release to bring the news!
Just when you thought you have seen every video with every possible angle from GT Bicycles coming through with a video from their team trip into the Swamp. This one is different than the other videos we’ve seen with more focus just on what the team got into while cruising the ramps and trails. There’s definitely a bunch of footage we didn’t see in the other videos in this one, making for a real good watch. Hit play and check out plenty of bangers.
“It’s the one BMX event of the year that cannot be missed. The world’s longest hand built rail…over a swamp, a ridiculous double loop of death, the finest handcrafted plywood features and ramps plus maximum bonfire carnage can only mean it’s Florideah Swamp Fest.
GT BMX Freestyle team riders Albert Mercado, Brian Kachinsky, Dan Conway, Leandro Moriera, and Team Manager Ben Ward made their way down to Florida to pit themselves against the crazy. We tossed in Tristen Cooper and Mad Mike Guth for their first official team trip and sprinkled on our newest recruit, 16-year-old Brazilian phenom Gustavo Balaloka. Jeff Purdy and Jeff with Glasses even wandered in from the swamp to lend a hand to the chaos.
Did they survive? Let’s put it this way, they will never be the same…
Filming/Editing: Ryan Chadwick” – GT Bicycles
If you have been following the GT Bicycles crew over the past three years now, you have seen a lot of progress. They’ve completely revamped their team, the product line has gotten a ton better and they’ve been far more actively supporting BMX like they had back in the day. A big part of that reason is Ben Ward‘s role in product design and managing the BMX program for GT, and seeing his ideas coming to life are pretty wild. A little while back, GT released their classic Pool tire with a crazy sidewall that used their Junk Food design that was found on one of their Pivotal seats. We have seen BMX tires come in a lot of different colors, sizes and patterns, but we didn’t expect to see graphics like that on the sidewall. We decided to hit up Ben to learn a little bit more about the story behind the Junk Food Pool Tire… Let’s do this!
GT Pool Tire
– 20 x 2.30”
– Inflated Width: 2.37” (60mm)
– Inflated Diameter: 20.60” (523.2mm)
– Max Pressure: 60 psi
– Weight: 31.40oz
• Non-directional tread
• Micro-knurled surface
• Quick Release grind friendly sidewall
Alright, Ben! Let’s get into this. The Junk Food Pool Tires have been finally released and seem to be getting a good response. When did you originally start working on this concept for the tire?
We started working on this concept just over two years ago.
What were some of the reasons it took so long to go from concept to final product? Were there any crazy hurdles you had to jump to make this happen?
First was the idea and figuring out how to pull it off. Then a few rounds of samples, mainly to get the colors to pop and match the textile versions of the Junk Food pattern as close as possible. The last bit of time was rebuilding our customer base on the sales side to make sure we had people to sell the tires to. We’ve gotten some great traction there, so I hope to keep rolling out new goodies for everyone.
What made you want to go with the Junk Food design? Were there any other options that you guys had considered when ideas for this started flying?
Nope, no other ideas. Truth is, I wanted to jump the shark with a print design. Something so out there you couldn’t take the silliness any further. That idea just ended up turning out rad and people are stoked on it, haha. Hat’s off the Chris Piascik for turning my silliness into something cool.
Is there a possibility that you be doing any other designs in the future or is this kind of a limited run you wanted to try out?
Everything has gone so well with the idea development and now that it will finally be under riders, I can see how it does with the masses. I want to keep working on new designs. But that is down the road, people are just now getting a taste of this.
Since we know somebody will ask… How are they for grinds? Does the sidewall help slide better or is it slightly sticky? Does the print hold up to wear and tear well?
Both our LP-5 and Pool tires have Quick Release smooth sidewalls for grinds and you shouldn’t feel any difference between the Junk Food wall or a black wall Pool tire. As you ride, the graphics will smudge like any color sidewall.
What sizes do the Junk Food Pool tires come in and what are they retailing for?
The Junk Food Pool tire is a large 2.3” (measures 2.37” inflated) and retails for $24.99. That’s a bit higher than a standard Pool tire, but still competitively priced for such a unique offering.
We had a lot of the old school guys asking if the tire was going to come in smaller sizes? Any chance you’ll do a limited edition run of smaller 1.95” or smaller tires for the collectors out there?
We do have molds for the Pool tire in a 1.95”. The sales on it completely fell off, so we haven’t brought any more back in. Noted on the request for the future. For the Old School heads, we have the LP-5 (Logo) tire in a 2.2”. It is true to size and I think they will love it for both the size and nostalgic look.
Do you think we’ll be seeing more brands picking up this unique tire option in the future? The possibilities seem pretty endless.
Unfortunately, an original idea doesn’t stay original for too long in BMX, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some other brands figure out how we pulled the concept off and do their own versions. Saddle and tires have become the apparel part of the bike, so I really want to see where we can go with ideas to help the rider’s dress their bikes as unique as they dress themselves every day. Of course, for the white T and blue denim crowd we still make things in standard Black.
Since we know you recently spent some time over in Taiwan… Any hints at what’s to come for GT in 2018?
I’m not much for giving out hints, just keep an eye on the brand and teams social media pages. Odds are we’ve told you what were up to, you just didn’t catch the clues, haha. #srslyfun
We have seen a lot of comments of people talking about how products aren’t as creative and unique as they used to be. Where do you see BMX products going in the coming year or two? Do you think we’ll start seeing more creative and unique designs start popping up again?
If those two keyboard vocal people could buy enough product to keep brands doors open, you would still see creative and unique offerings. The thing is, those products existed and the tide turned. Pockets have gotten leaner and no one wants to take a chance on purchasing new ideas. Tried and true is the current path. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There isn’t enough money in BMX to justify reinventing the wheel when the current wheels are infinitely better than anything before them. I am not going to comment on where I see things going, but what I would like to see is more people putting the phones down, closing the laptop, getting away from the desk to go outside and ride, like I should be doing. Thanks!
If you aren’t feeling the Junk Food Pool Tire, the tire also comes in a pretty wild Black that slowly turns yellow as it wears down. If that’s a little too wild for you, you can pick it up in Black, Brown and red.
Here’s a look at the Junk Food Pivotal Seat that matches the tires as well. Just incase you missed that one when it came out awhile back!
Here’s a BMX video we’ve been really looking forward to seeing! The GT Bicycles team have been busy bouncing around the world this past year stacking clips on the streets from California to Taiwan and plenty of places in between! Here’s a look at their full “Seriously Fun” video that will be online for the next 72 hours courtesy of Ride BMX! Get on that play button and check out all 21 minutes of pure goodness before your time runs out! Everything about this kicks ass! If you want, you can download a copy right here and GT dealers will have physical DVD’s soon as well!
“It’s here!!! GT is currently premiering their new 20-minute DVD “Seriously Fun” right here on the site for 72 hours! The video is amazing, from Brian Kachinsky‘s BANGER opening section, to the sleeper Rob Wise section, grind technician Jeff with Glasses‘ part, Albert Mercado‘s light-hearted and uber-creative section, or the savage Dan Conway‘s HEATER of an ender. There are also appearances from the rest of the team like a short but sweet section from Jason Phelan, and a mix from the AM and flow crew. The video has feel-good vibes throughout and some seriously insane riding. High-speed gaps, gap to rails, huge/tall rails and hubbas, unique but gnarly setups, creative/tech jibs, spot use, crusty spots, Cali spots, this is GT BMX in 2017 and it’s pretty damn awesome.
Download Seriously Fun Now
DVD’s will be packed full of extras including past GT edits and a big secret bonus menu. Available soon at GT Dealers!” – Ride BMX
A few weeks back the GT Bicycles team made a trip on over to Taiwan to spend a week and a half exploring the place, riding spots and just experiencing everything the place has to offer. There’s a fully edited video from the trip coming, but Ride BMX just dropped this raw cut with 32 minutes of footage showing what the crew got into. If you have some time to kill, this is worth a look!
“Go behind-the-scenes with the GT BMX squad on the trip of a lifetime as they descend on the small island of Taiwan, cutting through the city and applying their street trigonometry knowledge along the way. Brian Kachinsky, Rob Wise, Albert Mercado, Chase Krolicki, Jeff With Glasses, & Dan Conway spend 10 days stacking for the upcoming GT Mixtape “Seriously Fun” which debuts soon on the site. (Peep the teaser at the end of of this video).” – Ride BMX
It’s weird how thoughts can be triggered and once those thoughts are started, you really can’t get it off your mind. This morning when I hopped on the computer to get the day started, one of the first pieces of news I came across was that GT Bicycles added Albert Mercado, Dan Conway and Jeff With Glasses to their team. Now, initially it triggered this thought “Man, GT have been really taking steps in the right direction”, but that really just scratched the surface because then it lead to a more in-depth thought which was that GT Bicycles have really stepped their game up since they brought Ben Ward on board. Ben has been making the necessary changes to the team, product and overall image of the brand to really get people looking at GT as a freestyle BMX brand that is putting in some actual effort versus just producing bikes with no real image beside affordability. That lead to the thought of how Haro have really revived their reputation since John Buutljens was put in charge over there.
When you work in the BMX industry, you will undoubtably hear that BMX goes in full circle where trends will come and go, to return later down the road in a more refined (or possibly worse) way. We’ve seen a lot of brands come and go and we’ve also seen the reputations of brands and riders go from high to low or the other way around. In an industry that relies so much on trends and reputations, it’s no wonder that people in power have to walk a thin line to ensure that things continue forward in a positive way. You have one bad falling out in public, like when Stranger added Adam LZ and most of the team quit, or a product that completely flops, you can expect to see that snowball into a shit storm because social media thrives on drama and things that push the buttons of ethics and morals.
It’s funny how a few changes can lead to some pretty amazing things, though. Now, you probably wouldn’t notice it unless you really pay attention but it’s pretty obvious that since John Buultjens has taken the reigns at Haro, the team has become incredibly stacked and the products and brand have received a much higher approval rating than it did in years past. It went from a brand that was associated with this mass production that wasn’t really one of the “core” brands, nor did it seem to really care what these core riders cared about because Haro’s target was more toward entry level riders scooping bikes up through bike shops. I specifically remember a time when a kid showed up at the skatepark on a new Premium frame that he was really stoked on, until somebody pointed out that Premium was a sub-brand of Haro and that he was essentially riding a Haro. It was really weird because there really wasn’t anything wrong with the product, it was just that the association with Haro wasn’t exactly a badge of honor, and that bummed the kid out.
Haro released this sneak preview of the Chad Kerley signature CK frame that is in the works.
Once John took over, he put a lot of emphasis on the retro, old school roots of Haro which a lot of people were kind of wondering what the hell he was thinking. Why would anyone be stoked on a bunch of retro bikes beside these “old guys” who are far beyond this “target market” range of 13-18 year olds? Sure, it might have been something that was geared toward going against the current trends in BMX and paying homage to the history of the brand to shake things up a bit, but that was just part of why it was done. In our opinion, John was reviving the old reputation of Haro. That reputation that it was a core BMX brand that had a history of supporting some of the best BMX riders in the world, pushing those riders to show the world that BMX is a legitimate sport to the riders and the masses. They stacked the deck with riders that kids idolized and the older guys respected because they were riders that absolutely crushed it. Haro had DMC, Mat Hoffman, Mike Dominguez to name a few back in the day, which followed up with the crazy Mirra and Nyquist days that put the brand in front of damn near every kid. That followed up with a bit of a quiet period. Mirra left, they really weren’t doing anything innovative beside moving product, Premium was introduced but, in my opinion, never really gained that quality after market reputation because it was attached to Haro. It was in a bit of a rut that was holding the brand down from it’s previous history. That’s what lead to the shake up that lead to John being hired and it’s safe to say they’ve done a good job of reviving the brand to some of its core values. They put Dennis Enarson, Chad Kerley, Tyler Fernengel, Jason Watts and Mike Gray on the team, along with the legends Ryan Nyquist and Dennis McCoy still holding it down like they have for years. Mix in that team with some more appealing quality product and a much more appealing image than they had in past years and it’s easy to see the changes that have been happening that helped alleviate that rut the brand was in.
Preview of the new 4-piece bars that GT are bringing back based off their originals that started the 4-piece bar back in the day.
It’s a similar story for GT Bicycles. Over the last decade, GT kind of faded out of the freestyle side, sticking to their guns in the racing side of this sport of ours. Sure, they made some complete bikes and kind of dabbled in the freestyle stuff with guys like Jeremiah Smith kind of holding it down for them for a while, but there was never really much of a push to be innovative in the product department. At the end of the day, it was just this corporate brand that was going through the motions to keep the cash flow going.
I specifically remember the exact moment that I felt GT would be making some real moves to come back alive like it was in the past, though. It was at Interbike 2014, somewhere between the convention center and the hotel that I bumped into Ben Ward who had been kind of laying low after parting ways with Fit Bike Co., and Odyssey a few years prior to that. Ben had mentioned that he had just taken a new gig with GT and would be handling design work for them, along with their freestyle side of things. He didn’t say much at the time, but it was obvious that Ben would be putting a lot of work in his BMX role at the brand.
Immediately we saw a few shake ups with the team that ultimately lead to Brian Kachinsky, Rob Wise and Jason Phelan holding things down for the brand with Jeremiah Smith parting ways back in December. We started catching some sneak previews of some of their new products that Ben was working on, too. Then we got a look at a good chunk of new product at their Interbike 2015 booth, along with Ben filling us in on a few things he has been working on that wouldn’t be available for a little while. Now, today they announced that they have added Albert Mercado, Dan Conway and Jeff with Glasses to their squad, which is a pretty interesting combination of riders that we never expected to see representing the brand. But, it’s some new enthusiasm that the brand really needed to get some peoples attention again. It might not be on the level that Haro has went with, but seeing those changes are really good considering that a few years ago it seemed like GT didn’t really care to put much into the freestyle side of BMX.
Albert Mercado with his new GT Bicycles setup.
The next piece of the puzzle is seeing what Ben has been working on as far as the product development goes. What you might not realize is that it can take about two years before you can really see changes take effect because production and development of products is not a quick process, especially when a large brand like GT are working a few years ahead of what’s currently “new” and just becoming available. It might be 2016, but I guarantee there’s plenty of talk about 2018 at GT. These changes and new efforts being made can completely change the image and reputation that riders can have for a brand drastically.
The classic Pool tire from GT revitalized with the new energy from the brand.
So, now that I’ve managed to ramble on and on about two of BMX’s more iconic brands that have been making some key changes to revive their images, all because of some sponsorship news that popped up today. I should probably try and wrap this up and get to the point. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s pretty awesome seeing what can be done when the right people are given the reigns to put a brand back on track. Am I saying that we’ll be seeing Haro and GT taking BMX back over like they did in the past? No, and I don’t think that’s their goal. I don’t think they’re trying to compete with brands like Cult, Kink, Wethepeople or Subrosa, but I do think they’re trying to be a little more involved and current with the freestyle aspect of BMX than they previously had been in years past and that’s important. As much as BMX appears to reject this “corporate” side of the industry, it’s still important to have these brands involved because they do a really good job of reaching beyond the small core BMX community, which is important to draw in more riders and sponsorship dollars that this industry does need to keep the wheels turning. I guess what I’m getting at is that I appreciate that these classic brands still care enough to do things the right way versus what might generate the most revenue and I think that’s important to a lot of other riders, too.
Here’s some news we weren’t expecting to see this morning. If you were wondering what Dan Conway, Albert Mercado and Jeff With Glasses Ludwig were up to when there were some surprising news about them parting ways with sponsors over the past few weeks, it looks like we now have the answer. They are all now on the GT Bicycles freestyle team! Below is the full scoop! It looks like GT have been making some awesome moves.
“GT Bicycles today announced the addition of three members to its BMX Freestyle program for 2016, Dan Conway, Albert Mercado and Jeff “With Glasses” Ludwig. All are strong additions to round out a crew that includes Brian Kachinsky. “Collectively, we have done enough grinds to circle the globe a few times,” said Brian Kachinsky, GT Freestyle BMX Pro. “This is a dope crew, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. Each of these guys has their own unique riding style. Everyone has a good sense of humor and great attitude toward the sport of BMX.”
Dan Conway, a Philadelphia area powerhouse, has stamped his name on some of the heaviest street set-ups across the US. His work ethic, coupled with a positive attitude, gives Conway the grit needed to conquer unique street spots and hang with the GT crew. Conway’s positivity and heavy tricks will excite and rally the team to push themselves as hard as they can.
Alberto Mercado has earned his place among the legendary tradition of San Diego shredders with his style, power and finesse. Mercado brings an easy approach to riding, consistently putting out video parts that are both progressive and fun to watch. His hunger for projects that exercise his creative abilities makes him a welcome addition to the GT BMX Freestyle team.
GT rounds out the BMX Freestyle team with Jeff “With Glasses” Ludwig, the reigning East Coast Crooked Grind Champion. Hailing from Spotswood, New Jersey, the holy land of street riding, Ludwig has left his mark on the industry in a short period time by showcasing his style in impactful video parts. Ludwig’s respect for BMX aligns perfectly with the laidback, but hardworking GT freestyle vibe.
“I’m stoked to have a complete team with Brian, Dan, Al and Jeff,” said Ben Ward, GT BMX Freestyle Product and Team Manager. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and I can’t wait to get out on the road with them as part of the GT crew. It’s bound to lead to some BMX magic.”
For more information on GT, its pro riders and the bikes they ride, visit gtbicycles.com.”
We swung by the GT Bicycles booth toward the end of the 3rd day of Interbike 2015 to catch up with our good friend and GT product designer / freestyle team manager, Ben Ward to catch up and to get a closer look at their full range of 2016 complete BMX bikes, a prototype frame and a handful of prototype parts from bars to cranks to a stem and more. Ready to see all this? Let’s do this!