The Friday Interview – Viki Gomez
Complete Bike Check On Page 2 Of This Article
Interview and photos by Fat Tony.
Spanish flatland icon Viki Gomez recently spent some time in the U.S. riding, hitting up a contest, hanging out with friends, and working on Fenix, a new company he just started. We caught up with him when he was working on a production run of frames and shot some photos while picking his brain about what he has going on. It turned out to be a perfect opportunity for this week’s Friday Interview, and since the bike is new, we shot that, too.
So the big news with you is that you are starting a new company called Fenix. How did this come about and where are you at with the company right now?
I’m starting a new company of frames and bars made in U.S.A.! Yes, made at the Quamen factory in California. So I can warranty that the quality will be the bes , not comparable with the bad, cheap tubing and shady welding from Taiwan! So now we are almost done with the first production and around the end of May the frames and bars will be ready!
How did you come up with the name for the company, and what significance does it have?
The reason why I called this company Fenix (Phoenix in English) is because it’s the fire bird that reborn from its own ashes…what ashes?…the ashes of a burned company called KGB…and burned because Taiwan’s mentality just focus on mass-production and money—bad and cheap job. And it’s not good for a progressive art form not made for the masses….
It seems like both you and Martti Kuoppa (former partner in KGB Bikes) both started companies shortly after parting ways from your company together. Explain why you two decided to stop doing KGB and why you decided to do separate companies.
We wanted to create a movement with KGB, not only a bike company… We wanted to show how infinite is flatland, how many tricks you can do being underground—just you in your spot with your video cam… We learned how to carry an international business for five years. We sold our bikes in more that 42 countries, and the most important thing is that from our own pockets we supported the scenes in South America and Asia…just to give a chance to ride to those who cannot afford a bike! Maybe it s because Martti and I come from a childhood where neither of us had money to buy a bike…but our mercy had a limit and we chose to close the company after Taiwan produced (for third time in five years) a shit bunch of products. And when we asked for warranty as it was properly signed in official documents, they just said: "Sorry, we suggest you to look for another agent and factories." I have to be honest and say that I’m disgusted about those fat Chinese business men trying to look so cool with the dollar symbol in their eyes…those guys are not riders, and they never care about anything else besides money!
As good friends and business partners with Martti Kuoppa, what is your relationship like with him now that you are both doing different things?
He s my brother, man! That s all I have to say! We never stopped being friends, so I guess some people took it wrongly, but when you live 4,000kms away from each other and we have no more business and sponsors in common, life changes… We are not traveling together anymore and that sucks a bit because we had lot of fun together being all over the world for the last 10 years. So I guess now we just have time to meet once in a while but we are in contact a lot. Especially our minds are always connected in the freestyle world since we cannot stop thinking about tricks, tricks, and more new tricks…but we are not going to cry, it s part of the evolution of our lives we are made for!
I know you were in California recently doing stuff with Quamen Bikes and working on your Fenix frame. How did all that go, and what all did you do with the guys at Quamen?
The first time I came to USA in 2000 Quamen bikes was so kind to me and let me stay at the factory. Also, they helped me with some pieces and nice hospitality. Now I wanted to do something more serious after the shame of Taiwan. So I know Zenta (Quamen owner) is the best welder out there and also he’s Japanese, which gives me a nice confidence when we talk about quality. I’m just so happy to work with them, and everybody at the factory is so nice, friendly and professional. That s how I am, too.
What roll will Quamen have with your new brand, and why did you decided to get your frames manufactured there?
Quality and professionalism! Plus there is a nice Mexican restaurant next to the factory that makes me regret to have gone every morning in the toilet! Hahaha…
Besides the frame that you are currently riding, what else will Fenix be making? When can riders expect to be able to buy the stuff?
We will produce frames and bars. We have different models coming but we are going step by step to make sure everything is perfect. By the end of May everything will be ready to ship!
What are your plans as far as marketing and pushing the brand to help get it off the ground?
Flatland is so underground, so I guess this company will not help me to buy a Ferrari anytime soon, but I will try my best in all the ways to promote the spirit of the brand… Filming new tricks for the web, going all over the world in shows and contests, motivating all the riders, and people showing them what flatland has done for me and how flatland has saved my life!
What is unique about the frame you designed, and what was the reaction you received when you debuted the frame at Jomopro?
The frame design is based in straight tubes with lot of space and strength. So far everyone told me they loved my bike and many people are already waiting to get one as soon as it is ready! As I said, the difference between my frame and others is that it s done in U.S.A. with the best tubing, so it’s supposed to last for long, long time!
You recently got on the Suelo team… What’s it like riding for a company from your home country of Spain, and do you have any plans with them for the next year or so that you can share with us?
Flybikes, owner of Suelo, has been my real sponsor forever! They were the first ones to believe in me when I was just 19 years old, so they did and somehow thanks to them I’m here today. My relationship and respect with David, the owner, is really good! David is a rider that loves BMX freestyle and always showed his respect and passion for flatland. So coming back to them is an honor for me! Especially to support a company from my country! I have plans to design parts for Suelo that will be ready one day. I will not tell which ones, but expect the best light quality! It’s very typical from Suelo. I m so proud to be on the team with Moto Sasaki, one of my biggest motivations nowadays! Thanks to David and all the team at Suelo and Flybikes!
Besides working with Quamen on your brand, what else did you do while you were staying in California?
I have my very good friend Jesse Puente, a rider who always gives me inspiration and good vibes…a true friend who I have so much fun with! So he showed me Venice Beach, the best place I ever have been to ride…so many good vibes, lot of business to do if you want to get some contacts for shows and projects…such a good floor and ambiance, etc. So I spent my days there riding and having fun later on in L.A., East L.A., and Hollywood. Also one day we hung out with Mr. Pete Brandt! The beast! He is also a very good friend and inspiration. Jesse and Pete are real riders, and I love to ride with them. It seems that California is very similar to Spain in many ways, so I feel I could live there no problem. I want to also thank all the riders who were with Jesse and me busting out! You all guys made my trip! Thanks, for real!
Also while you were in the U.S. I know you went to Jomopro and made it to the finals there… What did you think of the contest and how did it compare to other contests in Europe or Japan?
I liked to go to Jomopro…the vibes and atmosphere were amazing. riding with Trevor Meyer, Chad Jonhston, Jean-William Prevost, and everyone there was amazing. Everyone really appreciated my visit, and they gave me many good energies. I was so happy that I pulled new combos in the practice! Those were dedicated to all the riders. Being in the finals was amazing, and loosing my battle made me realize that from now on I just will try my new tricks in the contests. It opened my mind, so I just go for new shit from now on. Thanks to everyone out there who made this contest to happen! I look forward to come back next year…RIDE ON!!!!
Name: Jorge Gomez (AKA: Viki)
Height: 1.70m (5′ 7″)
Weight: 70 kg (154lbs)
Location: Madrid, Spain
Sponsors: RedBull, Fenix Bikes, Suelo, Innertwine Clothing
Frame: Fenix "Akbal" frame
Fork: KGB Space II
Bars: KGB Return 2 (4 pieces) 2006
Barends: Flybikes plastic
Sprocket: Suelo, 20t
Brakes: KGB Space II
Cable: KGB Space II
Brake Lever: Flybikes
Front Tire: Suelo white Kevlar
Front Wheel: Flybikes rim and hub
Rear Tire: Suelo black Kevlar
Rear Wheel: KGB freecoaster and Suelo rim
Pedals: Flybikes Ruben Alcantara
Chain Tensioner: Quamen
Pegs: KGB XL, 125 mm
Which parts do you go through the most?
Usually cable for the KGB space II brake system.
Describe your bike setup and how you like your bike to feel…
My bike setup now is just perfect for me! 18.7″ TT length, 1.650kg (3.64lbs) frame and super light Suelo parts! I love the tires—fast and gripy!
What part are you most particular about or do you feel makes the biggest difference on your bike?
I think the front KGB brake system, and also the Suelo tires! I loved them since the first time I tried them. I’m faster and more controlled. They last for ever, too!!
Do you remember your first “real” BMX bike?
Yes, it was a Haro Master ’93 with lot of heavy stuff…but I learned all my basics with it and I loved it!
Are you particular about PSI?
I run 130, PSI which is just perfect for my weight!
Why do you run your front brake lever on the right side of your bars?
No reason why, it works for me there…but I find new ways on the other side then I will change it. I just wanna get new tricks man! So my advice is never be stuck on one setup…change it, and it will help you to get new tricks and new visions! Remember Axle Rose’s expression…”Nothing last for ever!” Haha..
Tell us about your front brake setup…
This front brake system was invented five years ago. It gives you lot of space for scuffing, and the sensation that you don't have a brake, but you have it when you need it without it disturbing you. This model I run is not the best…but now Suelo is going to try to make it so good and perfect! This year many people who have been sick of the same tricks with no brakes for the last three years told me they want this brake because it gives them the feeling of no brakes! I just know that I cannot go back to the past and put on a normal U-brake…no way! I was born in the future! Haha…