Monday, November 11, 2013

bhsk rants: why FGFS isn't working.

i've had this post queued up for a while and every time i want to post it, something comes up in the FGFS world... then i erase it. i cant tell you how many time's i've edited and erased and debated internally over this topic but i think i'm at a point where no one will care what i say anyway. i've been in this for 5 years or so, and i'm not going to say i'm an expert or complaining at all, but these are just things i have seen.

(photocred: jasonsellers)

let's start with a statement that's bold as fuck: FGFS is dead. well at least it's declining EXTREMELY QUICKLY. there are definitely way too many issues when it comes to sector of (i really hate saying this) "extreme sports" and in turn, FGFS is hemorrhaging both talent and money.

(the hessian by volume is probably the last remnant of FGFS in that company. they changed their rear spacing to standard BMX)

the equipment is the cornerstone of this industry, but there really hasnt been any technical innovations to FGFS in years. not only that, parts can be sourced from BMX or MTB companies when it comes to the seats, seatposts, bottom brackets, headsets, rims, chainwheels, cranks, pedals, handlebars (sometimes), forks (sometimes) hubs (fronts, mostly), and tires. what you have left that's truly FGFS only is the rear hub, straps, and frame.

(the bombtrack dash, yet to make a big appearance in the states. photocred: kris"lockedcog"fay)

now, focusing on the frame.... back in 2009 there were tons of options. now we're left with only a handful. i know i'm leaving out the smaller companies but the promentent suppliers for frames are BB17 (charmer, sepent), specialized (pfix), TURF (ed wonka's new project post grime era), SKYLMT (the jensen, SL1, dew), destroy (masochist, unicorn killer, custom work), all city (airwolf, defwish), leader (hurricane), bombtrack (dash, divide), SE (primetime), holdfast (agitator,converter, subverter) and.... well that's about it. that's not a lot.

(the remnants of the once dominant charge scissor)

what happened to all these companies. the riders happened. since all these machines are pretty specialized, they're expensive to produce. so riders take to craigslist to find stuff. when that happens, that money doesnt go to the companies. in turn, companies die off or turn away from FGFS. i won't put out these companies by name, but you can figure that out. i know i've said it jokingly over the internet, but there really is "no money in fixie".

your average rider doesnt want to pay to participate in a competition or contest or whatever. that fucking needs to stop. this money goes back into more events and also goes back to the companies.  companies just cant give shit away for free, riders got to earn it. on that topic, there's a false belief that these riders who are sponsored are living it up. no dude, these dudes are just like me and you. they're not getting money or stacks of parts on a whim. there are times where i've spoken to riders on how they cant ride because they don't have parts and shit.

(photocred: mattreyes)

so let's do a quick recap of this vicious cycle: riders are cheap so they turn to alternative ways to get parts, companies dont get money this way, without money there's no sew stuff. what needs to change? SUPPORT FGFS. quit buying that shit secondhand, support the organizers of events (money or volunteering), don't expect anything for free goddamnit. FGFS is GOING TO FAIL if we don't do anything about it.

sidenote: this post was actually supposed to be longer and more detail oriented, but for the sake of saving your eyes from being bored to death, i condensed it.



SheaDPH said...

Post the full version. I'm interested in reading more peoples opinions on what happened or is happening to FGFS. It used to be an integral part of my life and now I look back on it as nothing but fond memories. Such a bizarre sport that most certainly will die out, but how strange a thing to have grown so quickly out of almost nothing.

bhsk said...

It's a bummer that I have to go out and post this stuff, especially about a sport that I helped promote so much. I left out a big part about the mindset of the riders in association with these fgfs companies. I want to take this a piece at a time and not freak people out into thinking I'm anti fgfs so I'll probably take it all out on another post. Good to hear you're still alive too man. Hahaha

Jackson Bradshaw said...

very insightful article. It is this huge feedback cycle, that stunts growth. I think there are a few other factors to expand on.

1. SHIT IS TOO EXPENSIVE MANUFACTURE. This is not to say that companies are greedy or overpriced, it is just really expensive and not very profitable to manufacture this equipment in such small quantities. I totally agree with your point about kids buying shit off craigslist and what not, it does not give back to the companies who are dying trying to support this sport.

2.SHIT IS TOO EXPENSIVE TO GET INVOLVED. Expensive gear limits a lot of people from entering the sport. If you are interested in throwing yourself off concrete stairs why would you purchase a fixed freestyle bike that can cost anywhere from $700-$2,000 versus a skateboard for $100 or even a BMX at around $200? The talent pool is limited to affluent individuals. This also limits young talent, what self-respecting parent is willing to drop a G on their kids new interest that could be different in a week's time?

3.SHIT IS TOO EXPENSIVE TO MAINTAIN. If I wasn't extremely motivate to continue riding I would have dropped this shit years ago. A few years back there was so much rapid evolution in equipment: from changes in tire size, 650c's, to big MTB forks, 26", negative bb, and so on. I think a lot of riders were lost at this point in time. It was simply too hard to keep up with the times. In addition there was so much debate about what was cool and what wasn't that your new investment was either uncool or outdated by the time it shipped to your house.

4.NEGATIVE SHIT FEEDS OFF NEGATIVE SHIT. Negativity and positivity feed off each other respectively. When more people ride, more people think its cool, and more people get into the sport. When less people care about it, less people are aware of it, and the less people want to keep riding. We have seen so many good people drop out and that does not motivate other people to stay in the sport. 90% of this sport is supported through the internet, especially for those of us that don't live in Southern California. I've been keeping TTv alive for the past several months because of this. In all honesty I could give a fuck about half the videos I post, but I do it because I want all the riders out there producing content to know that they are being seen because that builds more positivity within the sport and eventually leads to better content and riding. It is frustrating to know that less and less people who have played such important roles are dropping like flys. I also think it is important to note that not enough people outside of the sport get a chance to see what fixed gear freestyle. Some blogs (cough cough PROLLY) who once brought a lot of outside views completely stopped circulating our content when they found better psuedo-sports to cover. John if you ever read this, you're a gangster, and you helped build this sport to what it is today. You are not unappreciated for your efforts. I just wish you'd post a FGFS edit every once in a while! We need it.


Big ups to Matt Reyes, Matt Spencer, Kris Fay, J-Ball, Colby Elrick, Thieth, Zane Meyers, and all the other motherfuckers I am forgetting right now for staying strong and supporting the sport we love by producing quality content and coverage.

Thanks to all the companies who continue to support this sport for the love of it, because we all know this shit ain't that profitable.

Above all thanks to all the riders out there for doing their thing and having fun. This is the most important part of the sport, actually doing it.

VVV said...

everything IS too damn expensive, anywhere outside of america a frame will cost upwards of $600 after tax and shipping. contrary to popular belief, frames are not that expensive to manufacture, especially in taiwan. sure FGFS is in decline but this post is doing nothing to help that. we all know FGFS is in a recession. as long as I can get parts for my bike I will ride my bike. btw the bombtrack does exist, its just not in america because no distros would pick it up.

cranklaclothing said...





The Volcano Club said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

bhsk said...

yoooooo jackson! first of all, thank you so much for keeping ttv alive. blogging is fucking hard and keeping shit consistent is even harder. shit, i almost want to take this comment and post it on it's own (i probably will in a bit). there's so much i want to expand when it comes to this little essay, but again, i dont want people's heads to explode. BHSK has gone through a ton of changes and i'm going to go back to writing a little more under the skin on FGFS and the fixed community in general soon. thanks for the response brother!

Morgan Fisher said...

I think FGFS is gonna return to the way it started. Just simple underground roots.

The very small communities of extremely passionate people that just love bikes in general.

I remember about 5 years ago, every time a new edit dropped you had to watch it cause there was >500 people nationwide and very few were killing it.

Around mid-way through a major change came with the switch to 26" and all the major riders dropping bigger tricks.

The boom happened when you had high availability of bikes and companies along with consistent media coverage showing people progressing. After the 360s and handrails happened, I haven't seen any progression in months if not years. Same people doing the same shit and it's still not clean.

You can say the scene is dying, but regardless I'm not really disappointed.

Sorry for the ramble, but fgfs has been something I've really loved for the last 7-8 years and I don't intend to abandon it soon.

The beauty and simplicity of riding a fixed drive train allows for some really awesome things if you develop it. Fakie riding, and skid variations are still unbeatable.

Great White North said...

I don't think economics are main reason for the decline of FGFS. Allot of riders started living a little too large for the scene and were pretending this was bmx. People labeling themselves pros was one of the lamest cocky things to happen and it goes against what FGFS was to begin with. That and the severe lack of quality and content in the last few years really put a damper on things. In the end it doesn't matter where people are getting their parts, if they're riding that's a positive thing the fact that fixed gear related companies are struggling is a sign of a bigger problem.

bhsk said...

Thanks for your response Morgan! I definitely can see that happening-all that's left is a core group of riders. I'm sure once the smaller companies get their footing down (heh, theres a pun), we'll see another spike in riders. Until then, we need to keep what momentum we have moving forward in fgfs.

velopusher said...

trends tr

Purps said...

After ninja cats have sort of dispersed... There's nothing here in London, England thats really supporting it aside from a few riders here and there...

Sean Eagleton said...

just one thing to say. wheni sarted riding fixed\fixedfreetyle you couldent find a good frame under 600 i used to spend shit tons of money on my track bike and tark bikes. i thinkthat these kds are just lazy i spent half of every paycheck on new bike parts. theres notmuch love left kids come and go in this sport so quick. turn it into your love suport it start a company not with investors but with people who care about the sport make cool shit have fun doing it.
i think people sayng theres no future wont help, see it as a oportunity to become a part of it help make it thrive. if you look at it as if it is your future it can be, find your part and do it.
im typing on a iphone so fuck gramer im not going throuh and fixxing the mess above.

Fred Garvin said...

I didn't even know that such a thing existed until TODAY! Fixed gear, 26" x 1.75"ish wheels, BMXish geometry...WOW! I rode my neighbor's ("FGFS") and now must have one. Not so much into tricks anymore but what a perfect setup ffor commuting on the destroyed streets of the San Fernado Valley!