I’m a creature of habit on and off my bike. I like the same food, I frequent the same businesses, and for the most part, I really, really like my bike how it is. I’ll admit that change is difficult for me at points and I like knowing that my bike feels just like it did yesterday, so I rarely switch up my bike and only get a new one when I feel like I’m on borrowed time. But, part of what makes BMX so great is that bike setups are generally limitless and the different types of riding that come from those setups. Dimensions aside, a BMX can be simple or complicated and most of the pros out there today have, ummm, evolved into what they ride today. In this week’s interview, I asked a few people to explain why they like their bike the way they do and maybe a couple of stories will inspire you to break out of the norm today and try adding (or removing) an accessory or two. Who knows…maybe you’ll like it. —Ryan
"I've been riding four pegs, four piece bars, and cassette for a few years now and been brakeless for about 12 years. I love four piece bars because all my favorite shred heroes used to ride 'em when I was a little party tot. They give the bike an attitude that can't be duplicated with bone stock two-piece bars. I love grinding, but I suck nard bags at it. So in a weird, turdy way I don't have a "switch" so I run four (steel as hell) pegs. More shit on my bike to grab! I've thought about running a freecoaster because backwards tricks are mega fun but I think you lose a lot of your personal style in the switch to a permanent moonwalking device.
“I've thought about running a freecoaster because backwards tricks are mega fun but I think you lose a lot of your personal style in the switch to a permanent moonwalking device.”
It just ends up looking like you hop around in the same position regardless of the hyper tricky mega stunt you are performing. I've played around with a lot of different setups over the years but I ended up stopping after I felt that I didn't have any limits anymore. All the shit I can envision myself doing in the future is on this setup and I wouldn't have to change a thing to express myself properly on my two wheeled vertical journal. So in that respect I guess it was a progression into that decision. Party on.
"BMX is a creative outlet. I've always been a creative person and always stray away from what seems to be the norm or trend; in all aspects of life. I rode a lot of different setups over the past 17 years but I seem to always go back to the most simplest of setups; pegless and a brake. This also just happens to be what maybe people are not riding, but I see it as the most fun and creative. A lot of riders seem to just chase the same tricks on street while all riding the exact same bike setups, watching a videos and seeing the same moves over and over is so mind numbing to me.
“A lot of riders seem to just chase the same tricks on street while all riding the exact same bike setups.”
I love to see riders who bring something different to the table, it can be the most simple trick but making it original, it can change the way people think and make them want to go out and create as well. That is how I like to ride and progress, yeah there are always similarities between every rider but being able to imagine something new or different is when BMX changes from just riding to actually creating."
"Regardless of the changes in the technology of BMX bikes (BB sizing, headset sizing, smaller gear ratios, etc.), I've run my bike the same way since I was 15 years old. I consider my set-up to be both simple and practical… for me anyways. Perhaps the two most notable and obvious attributes of my set-up are my brakes and my, ‘by today's standards’ high seat post. A lot of people think I ride brakes for safety while riding trails and/or because I have a love of rear brake tricks. Well, I do love me some fufanus, but the truth is, I don't go brakeless because I can't stand riding ‘death grip’ (gripping the bar with the entire hand). I have, as long as I can remember, always ridden with my index finger on my lever. I don't remember how or when I started doing this, but it's something that I've always done. In fact, years ago I snapped a brake cable and took my brakes off and left them off for well over a month… but I had to leave the brake lever on out of comfort. I felt so out of control while riding death grip. So you could say I've been brakeless, but never brake lever-less. Keith Gower had a quote in an old magazine where he said, ‘People who don't ride with a finger on their lever suck.’ We all know that's not true, but it's funny nonetheless.
“I still don't understand how the younger generation does so many barspins with slammed seats.”
My (high) seat post is another noticeable, but important part of my set-up. At first, when I was about 14 years old, I jacked my seat post up so that it would be easier for me to learn barspins… the old fashioned way (level, pinch the seat with your knees, and toss the bars). I've always been tall; therefore, my seat post was as well. I still don't understand how the younger generation does so many barspins with slammed seats. A few years ago I messed up my seat/seat post combo and was forced to use a tiny seat post – my seat was slammed for exactly one session. Not only did my barspin tricks suffer (or were non existent), but I noticed that my big ass feet (size 13 shoe), would get caught under my seat while doing turndowns and tables… I could do both, but not the way I liked them. So, it looks like for the duration of my riding, my seat post will always be, at least, ‘one fist’ tall." —Chris Doyle
"The way my bike is set up is for the streets. I'm running a freecoaster now and I'm into it. I think it helps my progression in riding because there are so many cool new things to learn with it. It's made my riding feel fresh and new lately. I'm running four plastic pegs, which I recently got on so yeah I'm pretty late haha. With how much I ride ledges I finally realized that plastics are necessary to have on my bike. Now I don't have to fight the grind as much; it's just buttery every time."
"I feel like my bike set up hasn't really changed in years apart from taking my brakes off a while ago and from time to time taking my pegs on and off. I like my set up to be dialed at all times, with a good amount of length and high tire pressure to aid height and speed. For a while now I haven't been running pegs and this is for a few different reasons. I have always loved the feel and look of a bike without pegs. Mainly, I took them off when I first started riding again after my knee surgeries so that I wouldn't be tempted to do any small grinds that might cause me to put my leg out to break a fall. After I was back in the swing of things and riding street again I found myself looking for more creative setups when not having the option of grinding.
“I don't believe that progression should solely come from adding stuff to your bike.”
It's also too easy to just find some perfect ledge or rail out here in California. Four pegs has never been my thing, although I totally respect that kind of riding and the people that pioneered it. Although, for a while it seemed like a lot of people were putting on four pegs because it was the trend but weren't actually using them. I don't believe that progression should solely come from adding stuff to your bike. I run a cassette over a freecoaster because my bike is set up for the kind of riding that I enjoy and have enjoyed for a long time."
“Dirt” Ron Pitcher:
"When I was twelve my aunt gave me a Ride magazine, and I just wanted to be like all the dudes in the mag. I was looking at dudes like Brian Castillo, Dave Young, Dave Osato, and countless others with different setups. Back then, a lot of pros were still running fully loaded freestyle machines (four pegs with front and back brakes). It was amazing to see how many tricks they could do. My first bike was a Robinson complete for racing, but I quickly took it to street and dirt. I was definitely a trick ferret and tried to learn every trick possible. My setup changed with the phases of my riding style; four pegs, one peg, brakeless, pegless, gyros—I tried it all. I stopped riding pegs when I got tired of crashing on handrails. I would get frustrated with different brake setups, going back and forth.
“Four pegs, one peg, brakeless, pegless, gyros—I tried it all.”
Being limited by my setup also forced me to be more creative. Lots of foot plants, fakies, and sprocket bashes. I definitely skated a lot between flat tires and broken bike parts so that had some influence, as well. After 15 sum odd years of riding, I think I'm stuck with the pegless, front brake only setup. After all these years I guess I'm still a trick ferret, I just switch some tricks out for others or give up on the ones I can't do anymore. I always liked my bikes simple. Most of all I set them up to do the tricks that I enjoy the most and feel best." —"Dirt" Ron Pitcher
Click to the next page to see answers from Aaron Smith, Drew Bezanson, Christian Rigal, Kevin Porter, and Scott Ditchburn…
"My bike is set up for how I personally like to ride it. I set my bike up tall in the front, short in the back, three pegs, and a cassette. I enjoy riding both ramps and street but if I could only choose one it would be street. My favorite part of riding is hopping, grinding and doing wall rides. Those are the basics of riding street, so obviously that's what I enjoy. I personally like grinding rails more than ledges and would rather wallride down a set then do tricks down them. It's just how I grew up riding, and it still holds true to this day.
“Some of my favorite people to watch ride have really powerful rollouts…freecoasters don't allow that power, and I miss seeing that from some riders.”
Back to my bike setup… I stayed true to my two pegs for a long time but I recently put a third one on. It does open up more spots and things to ride so that's been fun. I don't think I'll go to a fourth primarily because I don't like my back foot hitting my peg and don't really like how it looks. For the whole free coaster trend, I don't think I'll be joining anytime soon. I think they are cool and open up a lot of new things to be done but they are not for everybody. Some of my favorite people to watch ride have really powerful rollouts, and puts emphasis on the trick they just did. Free coasters don't allow that power, and I miss seeing that from some riders."
"It's amazing that I remember this moment so perfectly. It was 1999; I just landed back in Chicago from a trip to Florida for a UGP roots jam. Around this time, I had been riding a lot of dirt and racing a bit. I was assembling my bike that was packed nicely in a bike bag. Everything was back together except the two pegs that were in my hand. Up until this point I had been riding pegs for almost nine years. I would take my pegs off for racing occasionally. It was during those race events that I felt a difference riding pegless. In that moment, I decided not to put them back on. Even though I have tried so many times since 1999 to go back to pegs, I just haven't been able to do it.
“I do believe that much like the change in weather, the peg era will not last forever.”
There is something about the solidness of a pegless bike that I cannot pass up. Each time I would put pegs on, I would find new reasons to justify my decision for taking them off. I'm not sure what the future holds and it has become increasingly harder to hang with BMX today because it is almost 90% about pegs. I do believe that much like the change in weather, the peg era will not last forever." —Kevin Porter
"I run four pegs no brakes and did run a cassette until about two weeks ago; I now run a freecoaster (moonwalker) and don't think I'll go back. The reason I run four pegs is so I can ride every setup I find on the street to the fullest. You never know what you're going to find on the streets, it could be a perfect ledge setup but it's on the wrong side for you but with four pegs you're good to go an grind (or slide) the shit out of it. The reason I'm brakeless is because when I did have a brake along time ago I felt like it held me back with barspins (brake lever would get in the way) and the fact all I saw at parks were sub rails that I wanted to fufanu.
“The reason I run four pegs is so I can ride every setup I find on the street to the fullest.”
The freecoaster! (Moonwalker) only had it two weeks and I've ridden my bike pretty much as long as I can everyday for those two weeks possibly the best thing I've done to my bike in awhile! It makes things faster, scarier, harder, and a hell of a lot more fun. Can't wait for the Shadow Conspiracy version to come out.
My preference for riding is rails an ledges the reason behind this is just feel of it, like grinding your first handrail or down ledge you can't beat that feeling in my opinion and I get that feeling every time I do a new grind down one. If you have never sent yourself down one of those steel beauty's you ain't lived so get livin’ an get grinding! I'm also partial to a jump box sesh, but I usually keep that kinda jazz for the winter sessions at the Boneyard (local park in Chester England)."
"Pegs. Since I started riding I always ran just two pegs. I put a third peg on for a day or two and although the Jimmy Levan style toothpick grinds were a blast, I didn't like the way it looked when I looked at my bike. I never rode four pegs because I enjoy doing pedal tricks and I didn't like my back foot resting or getting caught on my back peg.
“I definitely get the most stoked when I find something random to stall or ride that most people wouldn't think of riding.”
Brakes. Growing up I actually rode brakeless for years. I never had brakes that worked or my back wheel was way too bent, so I just took them off. Then, after watching guys like Brian Terada, Danny Hickerson, Sam Lowe, etc. do big fufanu's and hurricane tricks that's what I wanted to do. I got a straight cable at first and then got a gyro when I was 16 and have been riding one ever since.
Riding setup. I grew up watching Metro Jam's, Backyard Jam's, and contest of that style and the craziest tricks of the contest usually went down on a wall ride or big sub box. Those contests inspired me to ride wallrides, sub-boxes, hitching posts, which I just fell in love with. I like that you can go big on them, but most of all I like the precision of it. I love jumping, going fast, riding street, anything…but I definitely get the most stoked when I find something random to stall or ride that most people wouldn't think of riding."
"A lot of people don't know this about me, but when I was growing up all I really rode was trails. I had brakes and no pegs; my bike setup was actually pretty similar to a race bike haha. After a few years of building jumps that kept getting torn down, I started to build some ramps around town with my friends. We'd steal wood, break into construction sites, or go to our local schools to make whatever we could. I think that's where I got really stoked on riding and creating weird setups, even If I wasn't grinding back then, that's where it all started.
I remember getting a bit bored with riding when I was like 15; I was really into dirt bikes and slowly getting into cars. I had a pretty crappy bike setup, too, so my motivation was slim. I decided to buy a whole new bike and start off fresh. I wanted to change things up a bit, and my riding started to progress in a different direction. Garret Byrnes was one of my favorite riders and I got really stoked on doing pedal grinds, lip tricks and pegless grinds. I would still ride jumps from time to time, but I was starting to have way more fun riding street and park instead.
When I was 16 I went down to San Diego and met Dennis Enarson and the rest of the SD crew. Riding with those guys was insane! I couldn't believe how good they were and it really pushed me to wanna ride at their level. After riding with Dennis for a while, I took my brakes off, put 2 pegs on and started doing more tricks. My riding was progressing and slowly changing again. I was really hyped on crazy wall rides, 360s, luc-e grinds and ice picks haha.
“There were so many kids doing the same thing in every edit and I didn't want to be anything like them.”
After going half's on a video camera with Dennis, we both started filming each other whenever I went down south or he came to visit. That was when I started to do more scary stuff, because now we could film everything, so taking a bad slam was worth it because we had it on camera haha. I turned into the barspin tuck no hander guy for a while, which was fun, but I got bored with it quick. It was hard to be unique when I was just doing all the tricks I saw everyone else do, I was ready for another change so I threw on two more pegs. I credit Jason Enns for this, I was filming with him a lot and he made it looks way too fun!
That was when everything really clicked for me. Putting on four pegs was the most refreshing thing I could have done. I loved grinding and now I could do it on both sides, which made the setups endless. I seemed to fade out of the bars, tucks, and lip tricks and really just focused on grinding, I was hooked haha. That's when I think my riding really molded into what it is today. I got stoked on grinding everything; all I wanted to do was find weird setups. There were so many kids doing the same thing in every edit and I didn't want to be anything like them.
Since then I don't think too much has changed, I'm just looking for bigger and crazier setups now, as well as all the super weird ones, too. I've also been riding a freecoaster for the last year or so, which has been really refreshing and fun. I am starting to get really stoked on riding tranny again, thanks to Ruben and his amazing bowl in Malaga for that! I've also been riding a bunch of trails too, it's been awesome!
Well that's pretty much it haha. My riding has changed a lot and I couldn't be any happier!"