Decade of Flatland: 2010/2020 / Part 2

Intro/Questions: Effraim.
Photos: Pierre Gauthier, Matti Hemmings & Mizo.

Part 1 of my Decade on Flatland piece caused quite a stir amongst the flatland community. It is healthy to hear the opinions of how are art form/sport progressed over the last ten years. In my mind, it’s thought provoking, and gets you thinking about your own personal riding. In Part 2, I fire the same questions as Part 1 to X-foot pivot master Bruno Zebu, Mr Same Thing Daily himself, Dane Beardsley, and Sam Foakes, who has discarded the traditional pumping mid-trick technique for pretty much the last decade. The opinions contrast from Part 1, once again grab a cuppa and treat yourself. I am really enjoying putting these articles together, hope you enjoy reading them.

A decade on technically what’s different about your riding style? The tricks are obviously different but has your approach changed?

Bruno Zebu: I´ve been riding BMX since 1999 and it has been a long road…I think the last 3 years were decisive to me because i started to deeply learn pivot/turbine technique, and these are now allowing me to create some stuff.

Dane Beardsley: My style has not changed all that much. I’ve always tried to have learning new tricks as the focal point of riding. The motivation to go out and ride is the search for something different. The approach nowadays is a lot more playful than it used to be.

Sam Foakes: The main thing is stopping the pumping of individual tricks to stabilise combos, and then in turn letting the combos stack together as one continued line. Even small back to back switches challenge me to refine technique all the time. I’d say it’s pretty subtle, and other than better flow, it is not always obvious how much progression has gone into this refinement process. But I feel when you pull something it’s a lot more satisfying to have not compromised on what you have aimed to do, and I love the fact this is developing my riding all the time, and really enjoy the challenge.

Describe your riding ten years ago?

Bruno Zebu: 10 years ago? Hmm…I was in the phase of multiples turbines and starting to get into cross-footed tricks.

Dane Beardsley: Go out and get to work and see what happens.

Sam Foakes: Better than right now, 2010 was the year I got married.

Describe your riding in 2020?

Bruno Zebu: I Always loved x-foot tricks, they are my favorite ones! Perhaps because it is naturally a bigger challenge sometimes because you are in a position that your brain is not used to dealing with. But now i have tried several tricks in almost a single movement, it is usually resumed in a x-foot transition with turbine and pivot (not necessarily in that order). The learning is detailed and you often have to keep trying to find out what is missing. It can be the moment of a transition, location of the foot, etc…

Dane Beardsley: Go out and get to work and see what happens.

Sam Foakes: Enjoyable.

Are there any tricks or lines you still do ten years on and are still fun for you?

Bruno Zebu: Hello Blender?

Dane Beardsley: I probably don’t do an exact line from ten years ago. Bits and pieces of links get shuffled around a lot. Something old but mixed with something new is always fun.

Sam Foakes: Variations on what I previously was doing.

What do you see the trend being for this year and perhaps beyond?

Bruno Zebu: I think Flatland is now more technical than ever. The transitions and pivots changed it a lot. I also see backwheel tricks in a whole new level (super japanese kids WTF).

Dane Beardsley: I don’t see a trend away from spinning, pumping, and turbines anytime soon. There will always be people in flatland pushing for something different than the norm, but the norm is pushed as well. Think all the spinning tricks have been done? Wait till tomorrow and you’ll see something new. Flatland riders are unique people with imaginations and extreme dedication to the sport so you will always see new stuff as long as there are riders.

Sam Foakes: Bike flips.

If you could describe modern day flatland in one paragraph, what would you say?

Bruno Zebu: Hummm…& complexity? Also now we are seeing some young kids becoming super pros and this is amazing for the sport.

Dane Beardsley: Beginners all the way to the top riders put in a lot of work to do this shit! How many normal people can peg wheelie? Nobody! Anyone you meet who riders flatland (doesn’t matter the era) will be amazingly hard working. It’s true today. Everyone agrees that the level of todays riding is incredible. You can’t go to a jam, contest, or watch a new video and not be blown away at what people are doing.

Sam Foakes: More dialled.

What do you think has progressed about riding other than tricks learnt in the last decade?

Bruno Zebu: I think Flatland is now more technical than ever. The transitions and pivots changed it a lot. I also see backwheel tricks in a whole new level (super japanese kids WTF).

Dane Beardsley: Flatland has more respect now than it had 10 years ago that’s a big positive change in the last decade. Flat has always been the runt of the litter in the world of BMX. It’s not as dangerous as racing, street, or ramp so it’s always been a tough battle for flatland to gain attention from thrill seeking audiences. Even with this the level that flatland is at now has lifted it more into the public eye. When people see flatland they are amazed.

Sam Foakes: Consistency in comps.

Have you gone back over old tricks and thought of them in a new way perhaps with a modern day technique?

Bruno Zebu: Yeah, for sure. Some of the combos that I created, were exactly using this strategy. I like to watch some vídeos searching something that i can execute different or with something added to it. The hang10 xfoot to crackpacker and halfhiker xfoot to halfpacker were originally created by MK. Then I added a pivot with a turbine in these transitions and besides being something different in execution, subsequently, it also opened space to link other things.

Dane Beardsley: Always playing around with different stuff; New and old. I’ll revisit stuff sometimes and try and put a new spin on it.

Sam Foakes: Frequently.

How do you see your riding developing in the future?

Bruno Zebu: Wanna keep mixing tricks together and trying to create movements with that.

Dane Beardsley: I’ve been riding BMX a long time and it’s rad that there is still so much to learn. The deeper I get into it the more complex it all gets, especially with flatland. There are tricks I want to get done but there is an even longer list of stuff I’ll discover along the way to those goals.

Sam Foakes: Hopefully lots.

How much do you think bike technology has advanced the progression of modern day flatland?

Bruno Zebu: This made all the difference because we have lighter bicycles (when i started to ride i had setups weighing like 18kg. Good for the muscles but not for the riding haha). We now have 300g freecoaster, kevlar tyres, buttered tubes, titanium parts and all of this allow us to make the tricks/transitions with the proper speed, faster and with much less effort.

Dane Beardsley: For a while flatland thought their bikes had to be unique with bent tubes and extra welds. Now we seem to be at a point where simple designs are proving stronger and better. Technology and progression go hand in hand. Bikes are so much easier to work on now and which is awesome. I don’t miss seat guts or unsealed freecoasters.

Sam Foakes: Nothing I’m aware of.

If you had to pick one bike part you can’t ride without what would it be and why?

Bruno Zebu: IGI pegs because it just works really well for pivot tricks (Thanks Dub lol)..

Dane Beardsley: Tires are real important. Good, hard, and fast rubber is awesome. We are working on a tire in 2020. DUO/Same Thing Daily Tire

Sam Foakes: Big grip tape pegs.

Are you particular with tyre pressure?

Bruno Zebu: I ride with 100lbs, but I don’t check it before every session. Maybe once a week?

Dane Beardsley: 100-110 ish.

Sam Foakes: If it feels particularly bouncy, I pump it up a bit.

What’s your preferred riding surface?

Bruno Zebu: Grippy ones!

Dane Beardsley: Blacktop all day

Sam Foakes: Polished concrete. I ride on asphalt though.

Has the invention of trick positions become stagnant? If not, what was the last trick position you recall?

Bruno Zebu: A little yeah, after all, riders from all over the world explored that over the years so there will be a moment where it will be harder to get new positions on the bike but still not impossible. Look Sietse Van Berkel spinning no hands with a foot on the pedal and the other over the frame! That one is nuts!

Dane Beardsley: Flatland will never be stagnant. A big part of flatland is throwing your own spin on things. That idea is at the core of a lot of rider’s mindset and that’s what makes this shit awesome. Last trick position learned? Maybe this front yard variation thing the other day…

Sam Foakes: I think in terms of positions, largely yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the classic positions look good and have loads of ways to do them and also to link them differently if you want to.

Hope you all enjoyed reading Part 2 of the Decade of Flatland, Part 3 drops next Friday!

14 thoughts on “Decade of Flatland: 2010/2020 / Part 2

  1. DOPE ! Was eagerly waiting for part 2 , it ll be cool going through this later , after work ! Id love to hear just what Terry Adams , Jorge Viki Gomez , Brandon Derbowka , and Kevin Jacob… name a few , haha…….Im curious what their answers would be to all these topics ! Thanks Big- E !

  2. Awesome to see what three of the world’s best had to say here. Great lil article to read with tea this morning. Thank you gentlemen for doing this and of course the man Big E. Looking forward to reading part3!

  3. I love Dane’s attitude about going out and just “playing”. It really shows in his riding. I can’t think of any signature trick he does, but every time I watch him ride I’m floored by how he has taken relatively basic tricks to the next level with some novel approach to a switch everyone else has overlooked. I never get the sense he learned some massive banging trick for a video part, but his level of riding is so incredibly high that even the smallest variation he does is super difficult and creative. Lots of forehead slapping “how has nobody thought of that”.

  4. Yes, love Dane’s comments, It’s not the same thing daily hehe, it never gets old, at least for us riders, that have a big bag & the fact we are unique. People who don’t ride will probably never see what & how, where,that much work, imagination goes into it. The fact we’re unique proves that riders from other disciplines haven’t got the patience,determination & commitment we have, doing it for the love of it.

  5. Think It’s so advanced, that unfortunately l find it hard to see younger people taking it up. If someone did just a framestand wheelie, bitd, it would’ve freaked out many. I recall doing a track stand, no pegs days &, people just looked in amazement.

  6. I just wanted to say that Dane’s paragraph on modern flatland sums up things very nicely. Also, he mentioned a tire collab with Duo. A 20×1.75 model of their stunner tire would be ideal.

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