The word "legend" gets used a lot these days in BMX, but when it comes to Dennis McCoy, that description—that icon status—is beyond appropriate. Ask anyone who grew up riding in the '80s, DMC was one of their heroes—one of their idols. From flatland to ramps, to street and vert—and even racing—Dennis did it all and better than most. He's invented numerous tricks, won titles, was awarded Freestylin' magazine's first NORA Cup, and he's ridden for some of the biggest brands in BMX. All with a smile, nonstop jokes, and having more fun than anyone else.
So it's not every day that someone 45 years old gets picked up by a company like Haro. But that's the beauty of what Haro has done. In a day and age when an hour ago is old news, when learning the latest and greatest add-on trick is on every contest rider's to-do list, when corporate companies are engaging in bidding wars for the next big thing who's currently just hitting puberty, Haro has gone back to their roots and done what BMX, in general, has done a poor job of—supported one of the legends who got them to where they are today (and a legend who is still ripping on the daily).
Haro Bikes, via Bob Haro, is the brand that brought freestyle to the world. Dennis McCoy was a big part of that, and now they've brought him back to their family. Read on as Dennis talks about being back on Haro and check out his new bike setup…
Let's get right to the big news—you're back on Haro. Congrats! I think that's really awesome and such a cool move on Haro's behalf. How long has this been in the works and how did it all come about?
Thanks, Keith. BMX is a family, and I have been friends with various people at Haro over the years. A while back I was in San Diego for surgery and was invited out to dinner. Memories were shared and "what ifs" were discussed. I guess team members kept that conversation going at Haro, and early this spring I got a great e-mail from Joe Hawk out of the blue. He had been out running and decided that if I was still interested in doing something, and Haro was interested in doing something, then it was time to do something and figure out what that something was later on. He is almost as talkative as I am, and every conversation was great. He offered me a place on the team and we both agreed that letting things evolve with a common goal of having fun was the way to go.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Haro Freestyler—BMX's first bike made specifically for freestyle—does that anniversary tie into things?
It probably helped move things along. That's a big milestone for all of BMX and I certainly want to take part in the celebration. The 50th anniversary is going to be even crazier.
From the feedback I've seen of the news, there's a ton of people stoked, and nothing but positive things being said. For guys who have been in BMX for a long time I see this as a way that people can relive the past—"DMC is back on Haro, the good ol' days are here again"—type of thing. You're super analytical—how do you see this? And of course, how does it feel to be back with them?
I can be pretty analytical, but for me there simply weren't pros and cons to weigh here. Haro is the original freestyle brand and it gained instant respect from the BMX industry. In 2012 Haro still has a great image and an unbelievable team that I've been asked to rejoin. What I've heard, read, and had texted to me has only made this even better. The only thing I'm questioning is whether it's healthy to smile this big 24/7.
Your sponsored—and pro—career spans decades. Give a little of your history on the Haro side of things.
That alone could fill a book, but I'll attempt to just recap. I met Bob Haro in '84 and joined the team that year. In '85 I rode the AFA Masters series expert class before turning Pro in '86 when I stayed with my Haro teammate Marc McGlynn in Solano Beach for six weeks. By the way, Marc invented the turndown when it was still called a lookdown and Roberto's tacos rule.
I went on tour that summer with Rich Sigur and Tony Murray until a broken ankle set me back a few weeks. I later joined up with Ron Wilkerson and Brian Blyther and had a ridiculous amount of fun.
In '87 I toured with Joe Johnson and Rick Moliterno, and by then we had the "summer tour is all about fun" thing down. Young adults with a road atlas, company credit card, and off days near New York City is a disaster waiting to happen. In a good way.
I could go on for hours and that's what I'm looking forward to. Reminiscing about the days of old while you're living in the next "good old days" is how this seems to be playing out for me.
Haro announced that you were the first on their "Haro Legends Team," but you'll be doing road trips with the rest of the guys and all the normal stuff the Haro team does. Explain your position on the team.
I'm "Full Factory," [laughs]. Honestly, trying to define things in a clear-cut manner is almost pointless. The lines between flat, street, park and everything else BMX are constantly blurred, which is a good thing. Same goes with me and the Haro brand. Evolve and stay fluid because 2022 is only 10 years away, even if it sounded like some crazy sci-fi future world back in the eighties.
When we got together the other day to shoot photos I wondered if you'd have a bike reminiscent of a green Haro Freestyler or black Haro Master and some throwback threads, but you've got the stock frame and shirts the rest of the team uses. Obviously you're a full team member and this isn't an old-school gimmick type of sponsorship. What frame did you chose and why?
I chose the SD Downtown. The geometry is really close to the FBM Gypsy I was riding, and I want to learn alley-oop 270 whips out of curved walls like Enarson.
Haro has recognized that supporting freestyle's legends—and with that celebrating their history and roots—is important. Why haven't other brands done this and do you think others will follow?
I can't speak to any specific brand and answer that, but it isn't surprising that the first freestyle brand would take the lead here as well. BMX is a way of life to most of us and life is meant to be celebrated. One generation of riders doesn't replace the previous one. It supports it, and I think this is becoming clearer by the day to everyone in BMX.
What are your plans for this year and moving forward? I know you said you'll be at the Worlds in Germany this summer with the team.
That is the plan. The big comps I usually ride—like the X Games and Dew Tour, along with overseas trips to the Worlds in Germany, then onto Japan and a demo for Vans in England later in the year. 2012 is shaping up to be great, and making it back to the Worlds will be a highlight to me.
Can we expect any web edits from you? You know people want to see that from you.
I would love to shoot more, but asking kids at the local park to point my iPhone at me doesn't quite cut it. We have awesome weather and world-class barbecue in Kansas City, in case some filmers are looking to relocate.
Anything you know of or can hint to as far as future additions to this Legends team?
I can hint at the fact that I am certain I may or may not know something.
What have you been doing, and into, riding-wise? We shot photos at the cement park a few miles from your house and at the vert ramp in Kansas City. The contest season is coming up—are you focusing most of your riding on vert right now?
I am right now and have been all winter, but not just because of the contest season. I haven't had a rideable vert ramp locally for about seven years. Sixty-five-degree February days in KC have to be taken advantage of. A grill fired up next to a vert ramp was a common scene at KC Indoor Park in Merriam last winter.
Who are some riders you're stoked on right now?
Weak answer, but way too many to name. There are so many styles of riding that appeal to me, and so many riders tearing it up.
I'm assuming you signed a three-year deal with Haro. Not that you're planning on hanging it up after three years, but do you see yourself finishing your competitive career with Haro?
When that day comes, I will be riding a Haro.
What are you most looking forward to now that you're with Haro?
Traveling the world with my new teammates.
I'm sure there are some people you'd like to thank and give a shout-out to, go for it…
As far as getting to the point I'm at today, I'd like to thank Paridy [Dennis' wife] and our family and friends, and pretty much everyone I've ever ridden or worked with. Specific to bringing it all back home to Haro, a big thanks goes out to Joe Hawk, Colin Mackay, Ryan Nyquist, and everyone at Haro past and present. And special thanks to Bob Haro himself for stopping through KC that summer.
(Above) Here’s one that’s probably never seen the light of day from my personal archives, before I worked for Ride…Mongoose-sponsored DMC with a no-footed flip at the 1994 Play Clothes, Chuck’s Bike Shop 20 Inch Bike Bash at Shimerville in Emmaus, PA. Dennis won the “Hard” Jumping class there, beating Jay Miron, Mike Tag [RIP], Mike Forney, Luc-E, and Eric Gagne. Photo: Mulligan
Bike Check: DMC’s Haro SD Downtown…
Height: 5′ 8″
Sponsors: Haro, Vans, Brigade, Skatelite
Fork: Odyssey 41-Thermal Freestyle Classic
Bars: Eastern Mid-Seventies
Stem: Premium Products Sub-10
Grips: Animal Edwin with flanges
Bar ends: Animal
Headset: Something real old that fell apart so I just installed an awesome new FBM one.
Detangler: Odyssey Gyro GTX-R
Front brake lever: Odyssey Mono Lever Medium
Rear brake lever: Odyssey M2 Lever Medium
Brake cables: Odyssey and Animal
Front brakes: Fly
Rear brakes: Fly
Seatpost: SDG I-Beam
Seat: SDG I-Sky Gripper
Cranks: Profile, 170mm
Bottom bracket: Profile with Gun Drilled hollow spindle
Sprocket: Tree, Lite Spline Drive, 26-tooth
Chain: KHE half-link with hollow pins
Front Tire: KHE Street Mac 2.0
Front Rim/hub: Odyssey, 7K-A chrome with Profile Mini
Rear Tire: KHE Street Mac 2.0
Rear Rim/hub: Odyssey, 7K-A chrome with Profile SS Mini Cassette Hub and Ti 9-tooth drive
Spokes: Only 72 of them these days
Pedals: Eastern, Plastic
Pegs:One aluminum Tree—front right, two Animal steel on the left
Any modifications, Dennis?
A couple of zip ties.
What parts do you go through the fastest?
Probably grips, but Animal keeps them coming. I quit wearing gloves when I started running Edwin grips about a decade ago.
From the looks of things, you built up this bike with some old parts. Do you like to keep your parts as long as possible or switch stuff out and keep it new and dialed?
I usually run things until they quit on me.
Do you set your bike up any certain way for specific tricks?
How do you place your handlebars?
Even with the headtube.
Any special reason you run a front-load stem over a top-load?
I have for years and I love my stem. Also, top-load can suck to tighten with brake cables in the way.
How do you like your grips—thick, thin, new, or worn-out with holes in them?
Thick-to-a little worn. Edwin grips are comfy the day you put them on.
What's your seat height rule of thumb?
Just what feels right. This frame has a more compact triangle, so a little more post is exposed. It's giving my feet more room for decade lip tricks. [Q&A continued below the gallery…]
How do you like your brakes to feel?
I prefer it when they are happy.
Do you have a secret for getting front brakes to work well?
Fly brake shoes to start, and Tri-flow in the cable helps.
Why three pegs?
I had to remove one at a comp because my axle nut was stripping. When I got home, a certain bowl transfer line was less scary—lots of close calls with the right rear peg. I'm starting to miss oppo feeble 270s though, so it might go back on.
What tire pressure do you run?
Anywhere from 75-100 psi. Close to 100 if I am really trying to blast, but it probably doesn’t matter as much as we think.
How do you like your chain tension and crank tightness?
I like them both a little snug, but have been known to slack on upkeep. My chain has derailed from being loose before.
When we were shooting photos you had a friend of yours work on your headset. Do you normally have other people work on your bike? What about new builds?
Not normally, but if anyone is volunteering I'm all for it. I build and dial in my own bikes, but I'd much rather ride them. My friend Kenny is always willing to lend a hand and he somehow made it functional with half of the top bearing missing.
Are you concerned with bike weight? How much does this bike weigh?
I wouldn't say concerned, but lighter rides better to a point. I haven't weighed it, but probably just over 24 pounds.