Name: Matt Wilhelm
Location: Chicago, IL
Sponsors: Dan’s Comp and Hoffman Bikes
Frame: Hoffman Strowler
Fork: Odyssey Flatland Classic Fork (minimal offset)
Bars: Quamen Hiro bars
Grips: Hoffman Circle Grip
Barends: Cam Acura
Seat post: Thompson
Seat: KHE Watanabe
Cranks: Profile 165mm w/ TI spindle
Sprocket: Hoffman Dinky Sprocket
Chain: KHE hollow pin
Brakes: Suelo Front and Fly Rear
Cables: SST Oryg and Odyssey Slic
Brake Lever: Dia Compe Tech 77
Detangler: Odyssey GTX
Front Tire: KHE
Front Wheel: Hoffman Generator 48 hole Rim with Fly Hub
Rear Tire: KHE
Rear Wheel: Hoffman Generator 48 hole Rim with Nanakai Freecoaster
Pedals: Hoffman Solemate
Chain Tensioner: Quamen Pops
Pegs: Tree Big Balsa
Lots of tape, sawed down handlebars, and my chain is tighter than Raphael Chiquet’s shorts.
Which parts do you go through the most?
Tires, tires, and tires. Spinning in a parking lot is like taking sandpaper and rubbing it directly on your tires.
Describe your bike setup and how you like your bike to feel…
Yeah, so I run two brakes, so what? There are some tricks that I need brakes for. Why limit yourself? I am also extremely happy that I can run colored rims now with the addition of soft brake pads. Chrome rims got old about ten years ago, so I’m glad I finally caught on.
What part are you most particular about or do you feel makes the biggest difference on your bike?
As far as riding goes I am actually most particular about shoes. I can ride different handlebars, pegs, or whatever, but if my shoes aren’t right I am thinking about it on every trick. I actually went to the Dan’s Comp warehouse and tried on just about every shoe they have. I thought they were going to drop me from the team because I was being such a pain.
“Yep, 20 hours of spinning, and I have to put on a new tire.”
Do you remember your first “real” BMX bike?
I traded a GT interceptor frame and $5 for a Haro Master frame. I could only come up with parts meant for racing so I had knobby tires, and when you would wallride a fence all of the knobs would fly off. I also only had two pegs for the first few months, and they were both stripped out. The most embarrassing part was that I wrote Beavis and Butthead quotes on the bike with nail polish. That stuff doesn’t come off easily and when it does you can still see it. What was I thinking?
You have the absolute tightest chain in BMX-it probably can’t get any tighter without breaking something. Why keep it so tight, and why do you run a half-link?
I need it tight to keep my cranks from moving while I’m spinning on the back wheel. If they move even the slightest bit it could cause my freecoaster to engage, which usually ends in a pedal to the Achilles tendon. I run the half link chain so I can run the gear ratio I want. I’m actually surprised that the chain doesn’t snap more often.
I know you keep a complete spare bike in your car, what’s that about?
I have an extra bike with non-marking tires on it in case I have to do a show on a really nice gym floor. It’s also good to have a back up because if my regular bike breaks, and I’m doing a one-man show, then the show is pretty much over. One time I didn’t bring my extra bike, and my tire blew up as I was getting introduced. The loud explosion made a few kids cry. Making children cry when you’re supposed to be entertaining them is not good. Now I know what it’s like to be a clown at a birthday party. After I did about two minutes of tricks on the good tire I showed the kids how to fix a flat and finished the show.
What’s up with all the tape on your bike?
I’m guessing that nobody else uses coach tape to wrap the rails of their seat or their brake levers. My fingers were hurting a lot, and I was getting some pinched nerve issues from grabbing the rails of the seat on a few tricks. Wrapping the rails of the seat in coach tape really just makes it comfortable. I guess that my plastic seat is padded after all-just underneath. The tape on the levers is pretty much for the same reason. I also have tape around the left spring on my front brake to keep my pants from getting stuck on the Miyagi Spin. I probably go through more tape than a Milli Vanilli concert.
You are one of the fastest spinners in flatland and I know you recently switched to a new type of tire. How are they working out for you and do you have any tips on working with slick floors that help you not slip?
During the winter I ride in a warehouse with a really smooth floor. I have been going back and forth between KHE and Ares A-Class tires. Both are pretty good on the slick floors. In the summer I will probably switch back to a Primo Wall because the KHE tires only last me about 20 hours of riding outside. Yep, 20 hours of spinning, and I have to put on a new tire. I love the way they ride, but I can’t afford them because I would spend $200 a month on tires. It’s like having a high maintenance girlfriend you buy expensive jewelry for, and then she cheats on you.
I did a bunch of different things to the floor. I waxed the floor, which trapped all the dirt below the surface. This was great until the two businesses I share started tracking a bunch of dirt and salt in by driving their trucks over it. I was about to spend over $1,000 to build a complex removable wood floor, until I bought a 2-liter of Coke and mopped the floor with that. Problem solved. The only downside is that when you fall it feels like you are rolling around on the floor of a movie theater.