Ron Wilkerson recently drove all the way down from Santa Cruz to our office in Tustin, California to show off his new Groovetech patent pending stem/bar/fork combo. He also brought by a limited edition 2hip Pork complete with a 9-tooth cassette graphite mag wheel, and shared a bunch of wild stories. It seemed like a perfect time to share the info with our readers, so after he left we emailed him a few questions.
This year 2hip is celebrating 25 years in business…how are things after all these years?
Fricking AWESOME, I'm loving it. We're still struggling, and ALWAYS on the edge…of NOTHING…(White Zombie sample)…but that's how I like it. I'm constantly challenged, and constantly using every bit of everything I got to pull this shit off.
Let’s jump right into the new stuff…tell us all about your new patent pending stem/bar/fork combo.
Your bars will never move again, in ANY direction. Your bar/stem/fork will be LIGHTER, and there'll never be stripping-out or over tightening of stems. Splined handlebars, splined stem, notched fork, notched stem…
Funny, I was at the Dew Tour last weekend, standing there next to Mike Dominguez watching Park, and a rider fell then got up and kicked his bars because they had turned. And I said to Mike, "That will never happen again…that will never happen again." Ha.
I know you brought over one of the very first samples to show us, which looked like a great idea. However, it was really bulky and heavy looking. Where will the product design go from here?
Actually, it's NOT heavy at ALL. I took a typical 6061 stem, 4130 bar and fork, and the weight of the Groovetech Steering System was .087 lb LIGHTER! And yes, of course that was our second sample that you shot, but refinements will get it even MORE light… And it does look a bit bulky, but it's just “different.” Many BMXers aren't really able to handle things (or people) different, but there are many riders that LIKE different things, and when more and more people start using the Groovetech Steering System, then it won't be "different" anymore and they'll see how much better it is… And one thing making it look DIFFERENT is the “clamp-bar.” We had to make it a bigger diameter to allow for more selections of bar placement. Everyone likes their bars positioned exactly where they want them, and we certainly didn't want any limitations.
You were mentioning trying to license the patent to other companies eventually, can you tell us more about that?
Yeah, this is a product that should be on ALL bikes! It's not officially a “2hip product” as it's my personal invention that I've been working on for more than 1.5 YEARS. I have gone through the whole patent process and all that, so I want to get it out there… I'm definitely going to license it to 2hip Bikes and OTHERS, and I'm in the process right now of talking with different companies about the possibilities as this design should be made available for all!
You also brought a pink Pork complete; what’s the scoop on that bad boy?
Oh, THE 2HIP PORK 25 YEAR ANNIVERSARY BIKE… First made right during the “overbuilt, heavy as f**k” bike days, the 6061 Pork frame was light before “light” was cool. The original frame before the new refinements was 5lb. 3oz, and the PORK25 will be lighter than that… Only 150 made, with a revised 6061 Pork frame including mid bottom bracket and integrated headset, available in black or Pork Pink. We wanted to make a mixture between new and old schools, as well as all real awesome parts. I got Skyway to make us graphite Tuffs with a 9t cassette hub! “Modern day” riders don't really know (yet) how good graphites are… Regular Tuffs are cool, but graphites are incomparably stiffer and a better ride. Each bike will be numbered with an individual plate on the seat mast above the bottom bracket, and the complete bike weight with the Tuffs is just over 27lbs. You could ride it, of course, but this shit should be FRAMED—it's a piece of art. We'll have the first 60 in October and the rest in the Spring…
How’d you get Skyway to do graphite wheels for the bike and how’d you come up with a 9-tooth cassette hub for the mags?
Well Skyway was one of the very first sponsors for the 2hip team (25 YEARS AGO!!!), and when I had this idea I contacted them and the SAME GUY I dealt with 25 years ago was still working there! We worked out a price (Ouch—these things were 300 bucks back in the day!), were in development for a while to get the hub to fit in the molds, and now it's spot-on!!!
In keeping the theme of new products, what’s new with Jarrod Allan’s signature frame that we shot photos of?
The new “A frame” is Jarrod's first signature bike, and he's stoked on it. After a couple samples, he got the geometry exactly how he likes with the bb height, short rear end, and 20.75tt with butted tubing and all, weighing in right around 5lbs. Jarrod is one of those guys with just an amazing natural style, which I saw strait away seeing him ride yeeears ago. And I'm psyched to have 2hip BIKES come out with the first “Jarrod” signature frame!
I know the 2hip Meet The Streets contest is coming up. How long has it been since you’ve done one of these contests and how will the one in October compare to the old ones?
Dude, KEEP IT REAL. We did three years of annual jams in Golden Gate Park, ending with the final one in ’03, which was just too big—they wouldn't let us back! But now we got a new location on TREASURE ISLAND in the middle of the SF Bay! Next to a big parking lot, our location has a siiiick brick-walled building that we're gonna put ramps up to, which has what looks to be about a 4-inch ledge about 10-feet up in the wall, so I can imagine some ridiculous things going down on/off that ledge and back in. Then the OTHER side of the parking lot is the BAY, with boats and all that, so it's gonna look amazing in photos and video…
And as far as being DIFFERENT—huh? The "old ones" were some of the best BMX jams that have ever taken place. All RIDERS there shredding, no stupid rules, no waiting for the cameras to get ready, just PURE BMX. Man, if you talk to anyone who has been to a MEET THE STREET, they'll be psyched about them—they're about as real as it gets. We're gonna have a car, wallrides up to a REAL wall, maybe a shopping cart or two, and all the other misc. ramps about.
OH, and did I say that this was the jam celebrating the 25 year anniversary of 2HIP????
OH, and did I mention yet that next year we're working on making a MEET THE STREET series all around USA??? (And the world?)
And aside from the BMX world, what else do you have going on?
Dude, BESIDES all the 2hip shit, contests, bikes, team, etc., and riding my BMX more than I have in 10 years (the new San Jose park nearby has VERT!), my girl and I are opening up SAMBA ROCK BRASILIAN CAFÉ in downtown Santa Cruuuuz. It's gonna be sooo dope, with a full menu of the amazing Brasilian acai bowls, Yerba Matte mixtures, and plenty of gourmet drugs like espresso, coffee, etc., for all the achievers like Jeff Z. The space was designed by my man, BMX'r/designer/big daddy Rich Hansen, and will be featured in an upcoming 'Dwell' magazine, which is the hot mag in the architecture world these days… and besides the café goodies, after we get going we're gonna be having monthly DJ parties there, as I have a lot of world-class DJ friends in nearby SF.
PHEW. I gotta get back to WORK! Peace out, thanks to EVERYONE for the support and love—thanks to the 2hip team riders for shredding, thanks to Jarrod for his art, thanks to all my girls -Vanessa, Tiffany, and Erica for being rad, thanks to all the riders for liking COLOURS again, thanks to Spike, Lou, Andy, and Oz for making Freestylin,' thanks to Jeff Z. for his rad photos in RIDE, thanks to the bankers that have loaned us money, and then just pure thanks that I have another day…
Finishing this up, I just landed in NYC for the 2hip Mega Tour trip—see you at the MEET THE STREET jam!!!!