Category Archive: Exclusives

Repo: 30 Years of BMX Cologne

Intro/Text: Effraim.
Photos: Peter Steffen.

This year marked 30 years of BMX events in Cologne, so for this years repo why not have 30 points about the contest I thought. I hope you enjoy this break down of what went on this year in Cologne.


Dominik Nekolny, xft juggler combo. Photo: Peter Steffen.

1) Cologne – one of the best cities in the world to visit with a huge tradition in BMX. 30 years of contests is an amazing achievement, moving with the times the whole way along the way trying to new things each year to keep the event fresh is a tough task. The beautiful architecture of the city is something to be experienced, whether the iconic Cathedral just across the river. Or the laid-back culture, the art in the city (parking lot on building -see photo is one of my favourites.) The bridge with padlocks all the way along is a must see if you ever in this city. So much to see, and despite being there so many times, always new things to see and experience.

2) Jugendpark – you really would be hard pushed to find a venue as suitable for such a big contest. The ride down the spiralled walkway still gives me goosebumps as all the memories come flooding back as you approach the park. Argueably the biggest contest of the year, there is something about the atmosphere there that cannot be explained unless you are there. The Wimbledon of BMX.

3) BMX- flatland right in the mix with the BMX family is a beautiful thing and a huge part of why this contest is so well respected. BMX is so much stronger, when we are altogether.

4)Bumper Cars- I am sure everyone was curious, will the bumper car flatland area work? If you weren’t there, I will tell you now it was the best floor yet in Cologne. Solid foundation for the wooden floor + really good size floor, room for spectators without losing contest area space, tight dj set up, this was as dialled as I have seen in Cologne!

5)Judging – As always judging can be tough, especially with 54 riders to look at in the prelims. Stretching over 5 hours, of course not everyone can be happy with judging decisions that is the nature of the subjective beast. Scott O’Brien to his credit did make it well known in his press release the judges were looking for originality, difficulty, and progression, so the philosophy was clear.

6)New format- Scott and Alex Jumelin set about a new format to try and push more progressive riding in contests. Linking the traditional 3 minute run that Cologne is known for with a bonus round to determine your final score. It was interesting to see how this format unfolded, with a lil’ tweaking this format can work a lot better I am sure. Perhaps holding the 1 minute bonus round right after each riders run, so that it is directly obvious for the audience?

7) Rayk Hahne is a beast. Qualifying first with an amazing no touch run switching front to back wheel and vice versa with so much power in the Am class, right before his finals run he suffered a flat tyre which knocked him off tune a lil’ bit, regardless of that he managed to take the third place spot. Congratulations Rayk.

8- Wow! Michele Maiolani!!!! Qualifying second in the Am class, Michele had an amazing flawless final run to take the win! He dropped one of the tricks of the contest in his run, a bar grab pedal one handed 5 coasted across the contest floor with ease, jaw dropping! Search his name on the sidebar of the site if you are unsure who he is. This guy is the real deal, such a calm rolling style! This guy could make the jump to Pro Class with ease. Check his run above.

9) Pro Qualifying was stacked with 54 riders, Alex Jumelin taking the top spot with one of the best runs of his life touching once. Starting out with his spinning scuffing pedal picker was a brave mood, and that worked from him! Qualifying lasted 5 hours, it was so great to see so many pro riders in attendance and also considering quite a few heavy hitters not in attendance (Adam Kun, Matthias Dandois, Viki Gomez, Yohei Uchino, Hiroya Morizaki, I could go on…) Some said it was the easiest year to win in Cologne, but first you had to get past 53 others, great turnout!

10) The spanish army were in full effect this year! If there were an award for a nation dominating the event, this years would have gone to the Spanish. Five riders making into the Am final, Mario Garcia Correas had the run of his life to take a well deserved second place and send all his friends into a frenzy, it was a beautiful moment. Alberto Moya and Guelo Monzon both killed it in prelims to earn a well deserved spot in the pro finals. The spanish army made so much noise, giving a lot of support to all the riders. Much respect to these guys and the energy they bring to flatland!

11) The ritual premiere on friday night documented 30 years of BMX Cologne contests was an amazing touch to the contest. So much history, so many faces in attendance from all generations of BMX. If you can get hold of a copy, I suggest you do so, it is a great story. Definitely one for the collection.


Amazing crowds every year in Cologne!

12) Raphael Chiquet – Raph had an awesome qualifying run stomping an awesome spinning caboose body varial directly into xft gerator body varial with so much style. Great to see the former world champion back on his bike and having so much fun too.

13) James White – Had the run of his life to take a well earned fourth place, James came out to the “Don’t call it a comeback” and it really set the tone of his run jamming to LL Cool J “Mama said knock you out” and brought the house down when he rode out of his flawless routine in his legendary slow controlled style. The man is a total legend, and did it all with a smile on his face. What an amazing advert James is for flatland! Performance of the weekend? James really brought the heat up in the final.

14) George Manos – It seems everyone loves to talk about George, I lost count how many times people asked me what do you think about George? Well, when you are so different than everyone else you stand out so much more, whether it was it his choice of music, or the short hard links. The xft foot ride to front and back no footed crackpacker during the finals was a beautiful moment. I respect George for being brave enough, to say “here is MY riding”. How many people can say its there riding?

15) Alex Jumelin – Qualifying first at the last two big contests, it didn’t quite happen for Alex during the finals. he did finish strong with rollback boomerang to pedals keeping the rollback going to stem boomerang to pedals. He also dropped a double brakeless pinky right on the buzzer in the bonus round to earn him a 5th place spot.

16) Dominik Nekolny – I said this many times over the last two years, you beat Dominik and win the contest. Dom threw down an amazing 3 minute run and nailed his bonus round combo to a well deserved win that I am sure he has been dreaming about for a long time! Congratulations Dom!


Moya, all tweaked out! So stylish!

17) Moto Sasaki arrived Friday for the contest, and like all the top riders threw it down when it mattered. Moto is so dialled, it has been quite a year for him already. Getting on Monster, three amazing video parts, and a second place finish at BMX Cologne to add to his contest resume.

18) I met Shintaro Misawa right as I got off the plane at Koln airport on Thursday. I wondered if he could translate his incredible videos this year to the contest floor, the answer this time was no. It wasn’t to be his day, the around the world halfpacker he nailed in qualifying was absolutely beautiful, one of my favourite tricks from the whole contest, for now he got 14th place. But he will be back!

19) Scott O’Brien worked his ass off to make sure everything ran on time, and killing it on the mic throughout the three days in such hot weather is not an easy job! During the finals Scott’s energy somehow went up a gear despite all the partying and his voice beginning to go. When the bonus round was threatening to be cancelled due to an electrical storm on its way, Scott continued on and got the job done! And helped make this one of the best contests I have ever been to! Thank you Scott!


Moto Sasaki, spinning hang 10 during qualifying warm up.

20) Bumping into old/new faces is one of my favourite things about the Cologne event, from all walks of BMX throughout the four days of being there. You see people you might not see for another year, great this year to see OG Marton, Frank Lucas, Mike S very briefly (he was helping organise a street event in Munich), Bram Verhallen, great to see the japanese contingent,

21) Lajos Sinko has like a cult status in Cologne. Every year he brings his carpet to be signed by all the riders, he has 15 years worth of these to his collection. This year he drove to the contest with James McGraw and Dave Szabo, the 2013 expert world champion to compete in the expert class, and add to his collection.

22) Ah yes, James McGraw as always was a barrel of laughs. Whether its pointing at me as he was about to do a backwards grip ride mid run, or his fake hungarian hollering at Lajos Sinko, it’s always a good time hanging out with this guy. And I didn’t get snaked once! And he almost lost his hair to James Whites scissors. (Check that photo)

23) The tension at this contest is nothing like I have experienced, I think its the reason this contest has so much draw to it. Many a rider have crumbled around the pressure, its something you really have to experience to know truly what I am talking about.

24) Phil Dolan made his comeback to the contest scene and it wasn’t quite the return he was hoping for. But it was great for all to see Phil back in the contest arena where he belongs, I hope we see Phil sooner rather than later back out there. And of course the non stop banter that goes with that.


Your host for the event, Scott O’Brien.

25) Vapianos was the place to go and hang out for food and drinks most of the nights, any time you get together with your flatland friends you don’t see everyday is a good day!

26) Hector Garcia helped a ton behind the scenes with the contest, and we had non stop laughs with this guy especially when he mistook Shintaro for Moto. But all the work behind the scenes tabulating scores, bringing food and drink for the judges was greatly appreciated. Thank you Hector.

27) The two small bikes crew were in full effect once again in Cologne, Aleksi Ritsilla narrowly missing the cut with a nice ET nose manual combo, Aapo Airas went for some of the hardest tricks in the Am class, it wasn’t the best run but he did hit a hang 10 360 flip to halfpacker pivot to opposite xft hitch right at the end of his run. The finnish guys always have a blast!


This shot captures the feel of practise, Martin Drazil busting out.

28) Tanja Michelinchen deserves a hefty pat on the back, this lady for me is part of the main reason the BMX Cologne contests work so well. Working tirelessly behind the scenes, whether it’s booking flights, hotels, food and drinks, shuttles to and from the airport, liasing back and forth with riders, judges, this lady does it so well! Thank you Tanja for everything once again!

29) The weather this year was perfect, it was so hot everyday! The event almost got shutdown during the dramatic bonus round of Pro Flat finals which is why the livestream went off. But Scott pulled through and kept going to get it done. And even then the weather changed and came out nice again, we left to pouring rain on the Monday so I think we timed it well this time.

30) 30 years more of BMX Cologne events would be great, but one thing is for sure these guys who are involved year to year running the contest have made their mark on BMX and flatland forever. Thank you to everyone who is involved with the event, from Stephan at the top to bottom. Hope to be back next year for another amazing time in the Jugendpark.

Maybe you were at the contest, what was your highlight? Let us know in the comments.

Effraim.

Repo: Flatland Fracas by Todd Carter

Text: Todd Carter.

Photos: Tony Long of Tablesandfables.com


Todd Carter, pedal death truck on his way to 5th in the Bad Ass class.

Sunday July 20th was a great day for the flatland scene.
The 5th annual Flatland Fracas went down just outside of Boston Massachusetts. I have been a fan of the New England flatland scene for decades, so I was honored to be a small part of it for a day.
The location was a super smooth street hockey rink in East Bridgewater.
Some really nice basketball courts directly next to the rink, made it a great location for families to come and hang out. It was great to see some New England flatland legends in attendance like Tommy Simpson.
We dodged some light raindrops first thing in the morning, but made it through the whole day with a dry surface!


FF Groupshot.

First up was the “Pretty Good Class” (beginner). It was encouraging to see 8 riders from three different states battling it out. Colin Carter pulled a whiplash rebate on his way to first place. Camden Carter brought out his Miami Hopper spin variation and locked down a solid second place. Massachusetts’ own Ian Hicks has mega-spins dialed! He took third place.
Special shout out to Mike Reynolds, who went down hard in his first run. Mike ended up with a broken ankle. Heal up quickly Mike!


Jim Cavanaugh killed it at Fracas 2014, 7th place in Bad Ass.

Next up was the “Real Good Class” (intermediate). 13 riders took the floor with a ton of trick diversity and style. New Hampshire’s Scott Denocourt took home the win, with a smooth style. Scott Duszlak of Massachusetts rolled into second place, and Freddy Brown also of Massachusetts spun his way to a well earned third place, while also celebrating his 30th birthday! One highlight for me, was seeing Mike Nogueira riding in this class, while watching his son Mannie getting ready to ride in the next class. Mannie was all smiles during his Dad’s run, and it was a joy to see them celebrate together, after his Dad rolled off the contest floor.

After the intermediate class finished, the event organizers brought in 28 large pizzas for lunch! Wow!

The “Bad Ass Class” (expert / pro) got underway shortly after lunch, and as the temperature began to increase, so did the level of riding. Quest BMX’s Danny Sirkin set the tone for the class of 13, with a nearly perfect run. New York’s Masashi Itani has some incredible back wheel pivot flow. He took first place. Massachusetts’ Rich Upjohn brought back some impressive undertaker combos, with a snappy, effortless style. Rich got second place. California’s Gabe Kadmiri is such a joy to watch. His aggressive, and original style blends power and technical flow. Gabe got a solid third place. Some other highlights for me included, Brian Chapman pulling a hitchhiker kickflip in his run! Jim Cavanaugh having so much back wheel style and flow, he just keeps going! Sunny Singh and his insane time machine variations.

The Best Trick contest followed quickly after the third class, and it was uniquely judged by the crowd reaction. Pretty cool! Riders pooled together the cash, and in the end Masashi Itani rode away with the $130 US Dollars.

It’s important to note that Flatland Fracas 5 was a completely free event. No entry fees, free lunch, free water and other drinks, and some of the best prize packs that I have seen at contests in recent memory. It is clear that Rick MacDonald (and others) puts in an amazing amount of time on this contest each year. At last count, I noticed more than 40 sponsors! That is incredibly generous and encouraging to me. So please let me speak from a riders perspective, thank you sponsors for all each of you have done. It truly makes a difference in our lives, and the lives of the next generation of riders. I am humbled and grateful for your generosity. Thank you Flatland Fracas for a great experience. See you next year. :)

Pretty Good
1. Colin Carter (OH)
2. Camden Carter (OH)
3. Ian Hicks (MA)
4. Mike Fink (MA)
5. Luke Hammerquist (MA)
6. Max Bowes (MA)
7. Stephen Toomey (MA)
8. Mike Reynolds (ME)

Real Good
1. Scott Denoncourt (NH)
2. Scott Duszlak (MA)
3. Freddy Brown (MA)
4. Rick MacDonald (MA)
5. David Alden (MA)
6. Shane Reed (MA)
7. Trent Chavez (CT)
8. Andrew Duszlak (MA)
9. Andrew Parrish (CT)
10. Tommy Williams (MA)
11. Jesse Hicks (MA)
12. Jim Bowes (MA)
13. Mike Nogueira (MA)

Bad Ass
1. Masashi Itani (Japan/NY)
2. Rich Upjohn (MA)
3. Gabe Kadmiri (VT/CA)
4. Brian Chapman (RI)
5. Todd Carter (CA)
6. Danny Sirkin (OH)
7. Jim Cavanaugh (MA)
8. Seongtaek Kwon (MA)
9. Mannie Nogueira (MA)
9. Sunny Singh (MA)
11. Steve Jordan (MA)
12. John Simmons (GA/NY)

Best Trick: Masashi Itani (Japan/NY)

Thanks to all the sponsors for their support!

QuestBMX, PorkchopBMX, DK, Freegun, Flatlandfuel, St Martin, Bizhouse, Cheap goods BMX, Bhoodwear, Deco, Animal, Planet Airin, Boston Bikeguy, Profile,, Vita Coco, EC BMX, G-form, Colony, Tables and fables, Port Jeff Bike Dr, Primo, FBM, Remorse, Skizz, Reklamation Bikes, Daily Grind, Southbridge, east Coast Threads, DMBS, Odyssey, S&M, Tyrant, Etnies and Joe Cicman!

BMX Cologne – Day 1

It’s already been a long day for me, leaving Southsea at 3am this morning to catch the 7:05 flight from London Gatwick to Cologne. I am currently chilling in the hotel, building the bikes up and waiting to check in with Sebastian Grubinger and Hector Garcia. Right off the plane I met Shintaro Misawa and a ton of other bmxers at the airport. It already has the feeling of a huge event, and I haven’t even made down to the contest yet. More updates later…

Review: Moto Bicycles Pedal

Review: Effraim.

Like you reading this review, I was curious about the Moto Bicycles pedal. Made out of wood? Totally flat? Grip tape, would the wood last? What would a totally flat pedal feel like? Up until now, interms of a flatland pedal, I don’t think a great deal of thought has been put into the design, certainly in terms of thinking outside the box.

Ali B over at Moto Bicycles asked me if I would like to review the pedal, of course due to my curiosity I was down to test the pedal. Like everything I test, I wanted to give it a few months so I could write as accurate review as possible for you the rider reading Flatmatters.

So I am the first to admit I was sceptical over the design, my first impressions were good when the pedals arrived, the packaging and attention to detail to begin with were way and beyond what I have seen from a pedal before, even down to small details like having the allen key with the pedal + spare grip tape. Sometimes the little things make such a big difference. Not to mention the weight of the pedal, 150g for a pair.

I used an Odyssey pedal before using the Moto pedal, right away the feeling on the pedals was like being on a skateboard but on your bike obviously. Due to the grip tape, moving around and adjusting your foot on pedal was easier and what I didn’t consider at all, was safety and trick options opening up. The pedal is the flattest pedal on the market, at a total profile of 15mm. You can lean on the pedal and not cut your leg open, plus it opened up moves I haven’t done for years as well. (two footed dump truck ala Pete Brandt springs to mind immediately) as well as thinking of new ideas that I could do using the leaning on pedal/shin trick concept.

I am three months into testing the pedal, and so far the wood has held up perfectly (see photos above). I am still on my first sheet of grip tape, honestly right now couldn’t be more happier with the performance of the pedal. The design of the pedal like everything designed and made in Germany is genius and so stylish and even more so now they are available in colours as well, and like all things simple it makes me wonder how has this not been done before. I guess from a consumer standout it’s only negative is the price, if Ali and Moto Bicycles can find a way to cut the price down (maybe a plastic pedal?) this will be universally on every riders flatland bikes.

Contact: http://www.motobicycles.com/home-en.html

Scott O’Brien – Voodoo 10 Interview

Intro/Interview: Effraim
Photography: Fat Tony.

August 2nd and 10 years of the Voodoo Jam is fast approaching, what better time to catch up with MC Scott O’Brien to talk to history, personal highlights, judging, formats, after parties and all things that make the roof blow off at the Generations Hall!

10 years of Voodoo Jam is coming up, firstly congratulations on this milestone.Anyone who organised a contest knows the amount of work it takes. I know you are looking to raise the bar with your events, what are your plans for blowing the roof off Generation Halls in 2014?
We will let the riders blow that roof off this year as we always do. I will do my best to create the atmosphere for the riders to go off. New DJ for the finals, he’s got an amazing reputation and we will also have a few new things to restructure the way I run the contest. Most of all the after party will be a great time. Pretty excited about the Baco premier on Friday night and the pre jam will be amazing. Possibly going to add a pre pre jam on Thursday as well. Working out some details for that now.

I know it takes a hell of a lot of work behind the scenes to make an event the size of Voodoo jam happen, who is helping you Scott? What sponsors have stepped up this year?
Terry Adams as always is my partner in this. Hector Garcia helping out with the website. Mike Meza designed our shirt. Matt St Gelais is doing the sticker design.
Flatark is our newest sponsor. Ucchie had hooked this sponsorship up and its amazing that he helped to support Voodoo jam like this. Red Bull, FlatlandFuel, Freegun, Dans Comp, Purple Monkey, Monolithic, Reklamation Bikes, Atl Clothing, G-Shock, Neue Creative, Bike Project, Tiger Balm, Canes, Sequence Fab, Deco, The Terradome, TDA, and St Martin.

More than any other event I can think of, you embrace the culture of where you are from with the vibe of the event. Do you feel thats an important part of contest organisation?
I do, its always important for people to experience culture at any event. I’m a New Orleans guy, just grew up with so much culture and feeling for life living here. I love to have the riders experience that.
A lot of contests can be about riding too much and we miss out on important life experiences. To understand culture and live life thats the best thing, no matter what place you get at Voodoo Jam you still have fun with your experience. It’s a positive great vibe and I love that.
For my experience and outlook on Flatland its always been about culture. I’ve always enjoyed meeting riders, checking out their styles and how it comes out in their riding. I’m literally watching who and what kind of person you are when I watch you ride. It’s kinda crazy the way I look at flatland. I can tell you so much about a person 10 min after I watch them ride hahaha.

You helped bring the 3 man final battle to flatland at the Voodoo Jam. What format are you rolling with this year?
As of now we gonna go with the original Voodoo Jam format from 2004 with the 3 man battle at the end. Riders seem to enjoy having a traditional run rather than head to head battles. The 3 man battle at the end is the best of both worlds I guess. I am considering a few other options like the progression session we are doing in Cologne. I am going to see how that goes before I make a decision.
I always stay in touch with riders and see what they like. I want to be progressive and always work in a proper direction for flatland.

For all of those who want to be involved but can’t make the trip to New Orleans, will there be a live feed this year?
Yes we will. Bobby Carter will be taking care of that once again with Diversion Media. It was a big hit last year. We are going to make some adjustments and hopefully make it even better this year.

Over the ten years, if you had to pick your top 5 memories, what would what they be?
WOW, Um so many I will try to recall one from each year.
2004 – 3 man battle with Alex, Justin and Terry. French guys came Alex and Raph.
2006 – Dickie Sanders progression. Tyler Gilliard winning AM. Mickey G proposal to his now wife Nicole. York Uno and Hiro came to open the door for the Japan riders.
2007 – Matthias just killed it! He arrived!
2008 – Ucchie’s win and his riding was just next level that year. Swamp tour with the japanese riders.
2009 – The Matthias vs Ucchie battle was insane!
2012 – Dom killed it. Terry and Wilhelm made the podium that was dope.
2013 – The Tsutomu vs Hiro battle was just crazy stuff. The look on Tsutomu’s face when he won, priceless! Every year the after party has been amazing, great times with awesome people!

Who is judging Voodoo, and what are the judges looking for this year?
As of now its for sure Chad Degroot, Todd Carter and Claude Hickman. I have a lot of confidence in these guys and their experience. We can put the contest in their hands and trust them to make the right call.
As to what they will be looking for I will of course rely on their professionalism and experiences in Flatland to make the proper calls. We will reward riders for taking risks and originality, while sticking to the normal things that make up judging a contest. I do however communicate with the riders through email before the contest to let them know what to expect. It’s not a simple process thats why we always do our best in choosing judges that we can depend on with their experiences and knowledge of tricks.

There’s a young kids class this year right Scott?, I know yourself & Alex Jumelin have been doing a lot of work with kids & the development of grassroots flatland in the schools in NOLA. Can you tell us something more about it, & what this might bring to Voodoo 10?
Actually thats all Alex, I was just honoured he asked me to be a guest at his school. But that motivated me to start a Novice class. No age restrictions just an entry level class. I’m hoping younger riders are in this. If theres enough of them that show up we will have a break down with maybe a youth group.
I’m very concerned with the state of flatland and the age of the average rider. I really want to move some focus towards youth groups and getting younger riders involved.
Terry, Alex and I are discussing ways to make things happen.
Voodoo Jam is a bit limited and maybe not the best platform for this. It’s certainly great to expose them to flatland, but then they will need a platform for progression and ways to be with a group of kids to push each other. I love what York Uno is doing in Japan, and it didn’t happen over night. He worked at it for years. I’m thinking I may move into this direction, maybe flatland youth schools a few times a year. Alex and Terry can be instructors. I’m not totally sure but its going on in my head right now and I will have to sort it all out! Grow Flatland!

Where can be people find out more information on the event?
http://www.voodoojam.com
FB – Flatland Voodoo Jam
Twitter – @thevoodoojam.com
Insta – Voodoojam

Any final shoutouts Scott?
It’s impossible for me to thank all the people through these 10 years.
All the riders that have ever come to Voodoo Jam, thank you guys its your contest and I’m so stoked you do your best to get here. You know who you are!
Mickey Gaidos, Hector Garcia, Pat Schoolen, Texas Flatlanders, Fat Tony, Japanese Flatlanders, Erik Otto, Matthias Dandois, Brian Mattle, Green G, Hiroshi 430. Sorry if I forgot your name you know I love you haha.
Generations Hall for the venue and helping us make flatland history.
Every company that has ever sponsored Voodoo Jam at some point thanks so much for your support.
Red Bull and everything you have done to help create and stand behind us is amazing. I love this company and all that it has done for BMX.
Alex Jumelin and his belief in me as an MC. His drive for flatland and being an artist on his bike is amazing.
My wonderful family and their love for Voodoo Jam is one of the driving factors for many years. Kristi, Mia, Brooke and Cam. Mom and Dad!
Terry Adams my partner in this whole deal, its impossible without him. He is the man that deals with sponsorships and gathering funds to run this event. This guy does so much for Flatland in many ways and not many people know that. Love this guy!

Thank you Scott! That was great to catch up! August 2nd, Generation Hall, New Orelans! Get there if you can!

Sietse van Berkel: The Flatmatters Interview!

Intro/Interview: Effraim
Photos: Maxime Cassagne.

Over the past two years Sietse Van Berkel has become one of my favourite riders to watch! Energetic flow and just that lil’ something extra I can’t quite put my finger on, at a push maybe its the way he appears to float around the bike.
Running FM and watching so many edits on a daily basis, when I see riders like Sietse come through the ranks and standout. It is a great feeling, I was curious as a result to know more about Sietse. It has been a while since a full FM interview, so why not squash that! Here is the Sietse Van Berkel Flatmatters Interview + Amazing Edit! Watch it right below!

Sietse van Berkel – The Flatmatters Interview Edit from Act BMX on Vimeo.

Sietse let’s kick this off with some background information about yourself. How old are you, how long have you been riding, and where exactly are you from? many might not know…
Hi Effraim! 25 years old, started riding BMX since the age of 15, since the age of 16 flatland specific. Originally from a small village named Nieuwendijk, in the south of Holland. A few years ago I moved to Utrecht, an old beautiful city in the centre of Holland.

How did you get into flatland? I’d imagine in Holland, the Flatground was highly influential for you and your scene?
YES! Back in the days, I was in a local skate crew (total of 2 skateboarders and me…) There was no skatepark in our village, so we build our own wooden skateramp. However, my BMX destroyed the ramp, so I couldn’t ride it for a long time. After seeing some flatland video’s on the internet, I knew I wanted to ride a bike like that. I got my first flatland BMX for my 16th birthday; a WeThePeople pony. Hooked on riding since then!

Braun Flatground 2005 was the first contest I visited as a spectator. I was so overwhelmed seeing real life flatland for the first time ever in my life, deeply impressed by all the riders / styles / tricks! The vibe of the finals was amazing; Viki Gomez vs. York Uno and Scott O’ Brien on the mic. Epic!

Around that time there was a pretty big scene in Holland, good riders (Bram, Sytse Winkel, James Alberto) a lot of jams with a lot of people, Renato van Bloemenhuis with FlatTV flatland video magazine. Good times!!

It seems to me that you have really found your way in riding, have you always rode brakeless?
For now I like the idea to have a bike that is as simple as possible. I did make the classic mistake to take of my back brake right after I got my first flatland BMX, I thought it was ‘oldskool’ of not cool to have a back brake. After a few months I took off my front brake, because I could do all the tricks I learned brakeless, and tricks I wanted to learn also were rolling tricks.

A few weeks ago I was curious about some brake tricks, so I put on a front brake again. But it didn’t felt good / natural for me at all, and I got some new ideas for other brakeless tricks. After two hours I took the brake off. So yes, I think I have found my way in riding brakeless. We will see what future brings.

More recently I have been asking interviewees to produce an edit to showcase their riding, whats your concept for your edit?
Well, not really a concept, just riding from the last 2 months. The video I made is a selection of mobile phone clips, some new, some older, different styles and different weather conditions. I try to be original, as well you can see tricks which I think there just cool or fun to do. Some of the clips are pulled first try on cam. I think it’s time to buy a good camera.

How’s the Dutch scene going? Many new riders/faces?
The Dutch scene used to be much bigger. The scene nowadays is based on a small group of dedicated riders. At the moment there are in a few cities small groups of riders, like Groningen, Amsterdam, Haarlem and Eindhoven. There not really many new faces. I hope there a lot more riders in smaller villages who just ride by themselves.

Do you ride on your own, or have a crew to ride with?
99% of the time I ride on my own, which I like. Sometimes I go to another city to ride with other people.

What are your plans this year, contest wise, travelling etc?
I like to go with other riders to jams or contests, because a road trip is always fun! At the end of may I go to Berlin to chill at the 55DSL jam in Mellowpark. In July I go to BMX Cologne, every year good party! After BMX Cologne I’m going to chill with my girlfriend somewhere in Europe for some weeks. Hopefully we will cross some jams.

After summer I hope to go to FlatArk or Toronto, but depends on the money and holiday time…

In June (weekend of 28th – 29th, same weekend as Barcelona Xtreme) I’m organising a jam as part of Fusion Jam, a funsport-festival in Tilburg, Holland. This is part of Festival Mundial, a really big music festival. Got some camping arranged for the riders, a good floor, for some good chilling and riding together! If you want to come, please contact me!

As part of the new generation of pros coming through, how do you feel the internet has effected your riding, is it a daily motivation for you?
Yes. Internet is an easy way to showcase my own riding. In September 2012 I dropped a small video online of a daily session. I got some goodfeedback about my riding, which motivated me to showcase my riding more.

Sometimes it is a good motivation to watch other riders video’s. Just so nice to see so many good riders from all over the world!!

You have a really unique style, really light footed, almost like Chase Gouin would say “floatland” is this something you worked on, or natural style?

Haha, thanks! I used to work on riding smooth. A friend of me said, when I showed her a link on video, that I got the same movement in normal life, without the bike. So I also I think it’s natural style evolving.

Whats your view of contests? Do you train for them, or are you much more concerned with progression?
I don’t really have priority to train hard for contests. It stops progression for me. Everybody knows the feeling of pulling a new trick, it’s such a good feeling! This feeling is the main motivation for me to ride. But it’s always fun to go to a contest and meet all the riders. That’s a good motivation too for me, I for other riders as well. Contests and demo’s seems a good way to show people what BMX is, so I think it’s a good aspect of riding.

When I know I go to a contest I check in some days before the contest, which tricks I have dialled. So I know on which hopefully kind of unique tricks I have a chance to pull in my run.

Most of the contest floors feel difficult for me to ride, because I’m used to a grippy asphalt floor instead of a slippery wooden or concrete floor. Sometimes I’m lucky when the contest floor is also grippy, like at the ABC flatland contest. I felt way more confident so I was able to pull some links in the contest.
I think it’s just a good thing to see company’s sponsor riders who are just cool or nice riders with own styles, not only contest machines. It’s stimulates young guns to do their own thing riding wise!

How do you think flatland has changed since you began riding?
Really difficult question. Don’t know the changes has been positive or negative.
I feel like I started riding during the beginning of ‘newschool’ period. I’ve seen trends, some contra-trends, and so on, and I still feel like a rookie in BMX-world. How people deal with internet has definitely a big influence on all the trends.

What sticks in my mind is the steamroller-based period as a trend (a trick I still use a lot), now you see people go more and more for diverse tricks and unique styles. It’s way more fun to see people doing their own thing. I think it’s a good ‘trend’ again. We all just have to follow our ownpath.
For myself, flatland hasn’t change much. It’s still my sport and creative outlet from my daily activity, which I like to do a lot.

What is your vision for the future with regard to your personal riding?
I hope I can ride as long as possible with fun. It’s so good to see older guys still being a teenager while riding, no matter the level of riding. I hope I will never get ‘old’ in a bitter way. In another way, I hope I can still continue to progress. This is for me the main motivation to ride BMX. Maybe when I’m older progression won’t be my main motivation to ride, I don’t know.
I got some short term goals riding wise. I hope to learn some techniques I haven’t mastered yet and evolve my own style and tricks more and more.

On a personal note: do you just ride, or do you hold down a job, college, university or something like that?
I have a job for 3,5 days a week. The rest of the week I ride my bike, and try ride some BMX shows with the ActBMX team.
My job is counsellor in a middle school, try to help teenagers with social-emotional problems. I work as well in a innovate school program in Holland, based on personal education and giving kids the chance to evolve their own talents. I’ve got enough time to totally focus on my job, go for it with fun and passion, and also have enough time to ride, have a social life and doing other stuff I like

I noticed on your Facebook that you kill bikes, what are you riding now and how is that bike holding up?
Haha, I try my best to keep the bike safe when I bail.
I only want to change a part when it’s broken, try to care a bit about the environment.
The hardware on my bike is holding up pretty good so far. I want strong parts, which will not break after some months of riding. I think it’s also important to support the small amount of companies that support flatland.

My personal ride now is as followed:
Frame: Junglerider indamix 19.5 frame from Navid.

Bar: Tempered, don’t know which one, swapped it with Sytse Winkel.
Barends: St. Martin
Gripstops: Modified St. Martin barend and Autum barend.

Stem:Flatware with homemade knee protection.

Fork: Flatware 0 degrees.

Headset: United

Front rim: Sun, pinned 48h.

Front hub:Proper 48 holes, no broken spokes since 2 years!

Rear rim: Sun, pinned 36h.

Freecoaster: KHE geisha first version, 36h.

Front tires: Odyssey frequency 1.75 .
Rear tire: Suelo 1.75.

Crank: KHE erlkoenig, modified to fit a 20t sprocket.

BB: Mankind

Sprocket: St. Martin

Chain: KMC

Front pegs:Suelo, old version, with skateboard griptape. Grippy when it´s wet, good enough for pivoting.

Rear pegs: KHE jessup and Sequence plastic.

Seat: MacNeil Travis Collier, modified the back for easier grab.

Seatpost: Primo long one.

Pedals: Odyssey

Grips: Proper, but I want to go back to Odi Longnecks. Does someone knows a something to make sure the grips won’t slip? *Editors note: You could try Tennis grip.

With that talk of bike breaking, I know just got a JR frame. I guess if you could talk to a manufacturer what would your advise be into frame design to last?
Haha, I did a social study. Really don’t know much about the technical aspects of BMX-manufacturing. Although, I would like to help a company out and try how long their BMX parts will last my riding

Something we don’t discuss is surfaces whilst riding, whats your preferred surface to ride flatland Sietse?
With A LOT of grip. My homespots are always made of asphalt. I don’t like it when a floor is slippery, and I get the feeling I don’t have control.

We talked about your style evolving a lil’ bit, what riders are inspiring you?
Every rider with own style or tricks!
I really enjoy when I see a photo or video of a rider where you rarely see a thing from.
You’re doing a fantastic job give those riders attention on flatmatters with interviews of Naoki Watanabe, Shuichi Osada, Eiji Kataoka, Peter Olsen, Sebastian Grubinger. Felt the same with all the Ground Tactics entries and older DVD’s. So good to see so many difference.
On big contests like BMX Masters / worlds / cologne I like to watch qualification of riders I rarely see, even if they don’t pull full links. I just need to travel more and visit more places and riders.

Thanks Sietse, dope to hear that! What kind of music are you into?
Depends on my mood or daytime.
For now mostly classic music for waking up, soul / funk / punk in mycar, to see live; every kind of music.
Love to go to music festivals sometimes.

For riding everything: from singer-songwriter (Jose Gonzales, Emil Landman) beats (L’Orange, Perquisite), easy D’nB (High Contrast), band (The Mars Volta, The Bronx, Buena Vista Social Club, Jamiroquai, Happy Camper). Besides that I like to ride without music. Just silence.

You do a lot of shows Sietse right? Tell me something about this?
Together with Bram Verhallen I have a show agency named ActBMX. This used to be the company from Bram and Sytse Winkel. Sometimes they asked me to ride a show with them. In the last years they almost quit riding, so I continued ActBMX. We still ride shows together. Bram even started riding again, and Navid Saleki is also involved. It’s for us fun to do, and good to catch up again!
I like to perform with or without the bike. From time to time I do a project with friend in a theme band (nineties party or zeroes heroes party) where I sing, and I play the bass guitar with friends in a band.
It’s most fun to do BMX shows of demo’s for kids. They are always impressed, and it’s an good and for my easy way to bring a good message to them.


Photo: Omar.

Any final words to wrap up this interview Sietse, it has been great catching up with you and learning more about you and your story.
You’re welcome! Thank you so much Effraim for this opportunity. Thanks to photographers Maxime Cassagne, and Omar Lammers for the great pics. Thank you reader / rider for taking the time to read this interview, (or just scroll down and only read this sentence)! Ride on!

Go watch that edit again….

Keith King – 9th place Trans Jam Raleigh NC

Keith King placed 9th at the Trans jam that he is a huge part of, the Trans jam was also round 2 of the 2014 AM Flat Circuit!

Tyler Gilliard – 8th place Trans Jam Raleigh NC

Tyler Gilliard placed 8th at the Trans jam in Raleigh, NC. The Trans Jam was also Round 2 of the 2014 AM Flat Circuit.

Isaiah Jordan – 7th Place Trans Jam Raleigh NC

Isaiah Jordan placed 7th at the Trans jam in Raleigh, North Carolina. Which was also Round 2 of the AM Flat Circuit Series.
Film credit and commentary: Joe Cicman.

James McGraw – 6th place Trans Jam Raleigh NC

We continue on with best runs from the top ten at the Trans jam! Check out James’ flawless run that earned him 6th place.