We got a really good response from the first part of this article and we are excited to tell you all about some more of your favorite companies like S&M, Animal, Felt, FBM, Diamondback, and a few others. Read up as people behind each brand explain how the name of the company came to be.
My good friend Mike Smith and I cooked up the name S&M in early 1986 as Smith & Moeller before he went off to college. My friend Greg Swingrover and I actually formed the company in mid 1987 as Scott & Moeller. We used Scott because we thought Swingrover sounded funky. Looking back on it now, it was a weird coincidence that allowed the name S&M to work, and weird shit has been happening at S&M ever since.
– Chris Moeller
Animal was a word that was used by some of the crew we rode with to describe anything crazy. Grimaldo Durran and Rich Andreu would call any crazy steep rail an “animal rail” or some sick guy who would do the wildest stuff an “animal.” It is a real basic word that has a lot of meaning. I had never thought of even starting a company, then one day I realized there needed to be a company called Animal to represent what was going on over here. To me, Animal is taking things back to the basics of riding, and parts without any bullshit.
I told Whiteboy the idea and he drew up the Griffin Logo. There was never a doubt from day one that we would use that logo and name to represent us.
– Ralph Sinisi
Jim Felt was a MX mechanic on the pro circuit and started making road frames for some of his riders. Small projects in the garage eventually turned into bigger and better things. A few years later he partnered up with Bill Duehring (USA) and Michael Mullman (Germany) who wanted to start a company that made a full line of bikes (road, MTB, BMX, cruisers). That is the simple version of the Felt Bicycles story.
– Alan Foster
(Felt logo circa 2001.)
About six years ago, Profile decided to produce frames again. We were tossing around ideas of names and “Madera” popped up for me one day while driving to work: “Madeira Beach” is a semi-famous beach located a couple miles from Profile (the only beach in the area to allow open containers, which invites swarms of weirdos). However, the name didn’t stick with the frame produced. Instead, a couple years later in 2005, Profile decided to start another components line. We had a poll at work where everyone threw in names for the new brand…I pitched the name “Madera” and it stuck. So it goes…
– Matt Coplon
Time travel back to late 1992, early ’93…
In the beginning, FBM started out as an acronym for Fat Bald Men, poking fun at the typical businessmen in corporate America—the guys who made decisions in boardrooms, and hired marketing agencies to sell BMX bikes and dictate BMX culture…
My friends and I, in reaction to the cheap ploys and gimmicks aimed at our generation from every consumer-based marketing monster, decided to make some T-shirts and zines, expressing our creativity and involvement in BMX. It was pretty informal, but we were enthusiastic teenagers, printing T-shirts in a basement and selling them out of backpacks, paying for gas to get to more and more events, and further submerse ourselves into the mystical world of bicycle awesomeness…
Over the years, the acronym allotted different meanings, depending on our moods, or the times. Anything from Fire Beer and Mayhem, Full Breakfast Menu, Fifteen Burly Midgets, to Fidelity Built Machinery, and anything in between.
– Steve Crandall
FBM’s first logo/T-shirt.
FBM’s first catalog.
Hitman Bikes Inc. was started in 2003. After moving to the middle of Florida in 2000, I found myself constantly under police scrutiny. Every school, street spot, and even backs of stores had me explaining how BMX is my life and this is what I do. I met tons of locals riding just a curb or two, as there was truly no place to ride. They were all on the verge of life in jail and I decided to drive these kids to the closest skatepark (45 min each way) every weekend.
In 2001, the community announced it was building a free skatepark for a scooter rider who was run over. We went to fundraisers, gave over $2,000 out of my pocket, and gave speeches about a skatepark FOR ALL to share. Organizers said, “bless you” and all types or riders would be allowed. Two years later it was finished. Like X-mass morning, I rode over waiting to ride in the grand opening ceremony. Then they hit me with NO BIKES! I couldn’t believe it. I spoke my mind only to have the city counsel lady call for security as she felt threaten by me sitting on my bike explaining my point. We quickly got signs and riders and made an instant protest. We ruined their grand opening party by chanting “Where’s bikes?!” and having everyone sign a paper saying they wanted bikes in the park. All the skaters even signed it as they supported me as I support skaters, too.
The newspaper took our story, ran it, then asked city officials why bikes weren’t allowed. This made the city people so pissed that they said they would never allow bikes, and because of the protest, they decided to do everything they could to hurt us bikers. Suddenly street riding involved police car rides, and then the city park’s leader personally called my wife and threatened me with a felony trespassing arrest if I ever rode the city parks again. BMX kept me out of jail—all my old school friends are life-timers except me. Now the very sport that had kept me free is against the law!
So pissed, I had to either kill the city people (= less riding) or ride differently. I became a HITMAN. “Hit It and Go” became my motto. I decided to ride all the town’s statues and landmarks. Armed with my truck, a shady ramp, and one friend, I proceeded to do just that. Middle of the day, set up, hit it, and go! We bought a run down building and built our own ghetto skatepark. We made some Hitman T-shirts for my guys and all the other locals went crazy for them too—even the skaters. Some girls wouldn’t take their Hitman hoodies off. My guys would run into others they didn’t know wearing the Hitman T-shirt at major metal shows. We knew we had something. Now Hitman is in business to support its own free skateprark to keep kids out of jail and it gives the city of Spring Hill the finger daily. Come ride anytime at 9377 Lakefront Road, Weeki Wachee, FL 34613. (352) 238- 3450 (Just 60 miles west of Disney World.)
Now I’m living back in SoCal and my lil’ bro and a friend are running the Florida shop. It’s good to be home (I’m an OG Venice Beach local) where at least some of the cities here like and understand BMX.
– Christian Simmons
Since I've only been here for about a third of the brand's 31 years, I hit up one of the old-timers for the story on how the Diamondback name came to be. Fortunately there are still guys around here who were there in the beginning and remember how it all went down. The guy I hit up for some insight as to how the Diamondback (then Diamond Back) name came to be is the current Bay Area DB Territory Manager, Gary Letford. Gary never intended to become a historian, but he's been around here long enough that he inadvertently became one. To help me tell this story, Gary sent me a pretty lengthy e-mail (even by my standards) containing memories of those early days. Before I share Gary's account of where the name came from, I'll share another brief section from the e-mail he sent me that speaks to the brand's roots and introduces a couple of people who had a whole lot to do with making Diamondback what it became. Here goes:
I was the sales manager and had hired a 16-year-old kid named Dave Clinton (BMX Hall Of Fame) to ride a Diamond Back at the local races. We were picking up the tab and giving him a part-time job. He was very happy. Anyway, Dave and I boxed and shipped the first new DB frameset to the largest BMX dealer in SoCal., Sandy Finkleman's Bikes and Things in San Diego. From there it was adding models like Jr.'s and Pro's…
This is the section in which Gary tells how the name came to be:
The first choice was Cobra after the Ford Cobra. When they drew up a Cobra it looked pretty good. They wanted to use it as a head badge, so they put it on a diamond-shaped head badge with the snake in the middle of it. They made the decision to change the name to Diamond Back. If you look at the original head badge the snake in it does resemble a Cobra.
So to finally answer your question and sum all of this up; I guess it all started with a Ford and a head tube decal design (and probably the company's original location in Southern California) inspired our founding fathers to name the company after a snake called a Diamond Back.
– Trevor Knesal