THE BIRTH OF THE BMX FREESTYLE MOVEMENT
THE 1st EDITION - 2016 / 17
What started as a creative diversion for a group of reluctant BMX racers - the kids at the track who were more creatively inclined, than competitively driven - emerged in the late 1970s and was first referred to as "Trick Riding." The mid-70s BMX racing scene had evolved from its raw and unrefined breakout era to become a national youth-sport, and the mountainous terrain that dissected the coast from the sprawling inland deserts became the ultimate bike racing environment. A network of local tracks, situated in both the north, and the south, enabled mass participation and drew the region’s young families to the track for long weekends, as the local heroes battled for honors in a haze of dust and through the din of baying crowds.
And as these frenetic race weekends played out, this small groups of creative misfits tuned-out and created an environment of their own design. They were immersed in the challenge of pulling wheelies, rolling backward, balancing - jumping anything that stood in their way - and showing off. They may not have known it at the time, but this group was inspiring a new movement, one that would burn so brightly, and spread so quickly in the decade that followed, that the world could barely keep up.
Following a period of innovation at the hands of riders like Bob Haro, RL Osborn, and Mike Buff, the BMX media began to present sidebar coverage of Trick Riding with motor-frame photographic sequences breaking down the art form for others to attempt. The term "Freestyle" was coined in 1982 by D.David Morin - a veteran Skate journalist and the editor-in-chief of Action Now; a reinvention of Skateboarder Magazine that had diversified to include a broader group of alternative sports in the wake of the sudden death of vertical skating. Morin had recognized the similarities between this new breed of bike riders, and the skater grommets that held him in contempt for hijacking their magazine and diluting its culture. But, in the early 1980s, Freestyle found its groove and erupted out of the melting pot of SoCal culture to become a global, youth-phenomenon. In the decade that followed, this new "Thing" - this "Red-headed-step-child" born of BMX racing, and Skateboarding, burned brighter than the sun and swept a generation of kids away from the mediocrity of their adolescence.
In 2016, with the help of Xavier Mendez, I delivered the 'Wall To Wall' BMX Freestyle history project. The centerpiece of the effort was the creation of a culturally inspired, 244-Page, hard-cover, history book, Titled; The Birth of the Freestyle Movement. The format of the book is that of an oral history with editorial content that centers on the spoken-word recollections of a group of over sixty individual contributors. This iconic community of ex-professional athletes, industry leaders, journalists, and photographers, was identified and assembled based on thorough research. Nine chronological chapters navigate the critical leaves-on-the-vine of Freestyle's early growth and development in the late 1970s and 80s. In short, the book had a simple reason for being; to record and project this forty-year-old story of youthful innovation back onto the agenda.
Who were the leaders of thE FREESTYLE movement?
The neighborhood kids that rose to international fame and reinvented the creative and technical limits of Freestyle riding on a daily basis. They inspired a generation of like-minded kids around the world to pick up their bikes and embrace a creative lifestyle.
The young contest promoters that facilitated a competitive infrastructure for the new sport in the skateparks and parking lots of the Inland Empire, and at cultural epicenters within the Californian beach cities.
The entrepreneurs that designed and produced dedicated hardware and equipment in the name of progress. They created an economy around the sport that gave rise to a thriving new category within the bicycle industry.
The teenage journalists and photographers that became the cultural story-tellers of the new movement. They created a compelling reportage for Freestyle through magazines, xerox'ed newsletters, inspired narrative, and spectacular imagery, while developing a cult following of advocates and fans around the world.
FOREWORD - BOB OSBORN // OUT OF THE ETHER - THE ORIGINS OF TRICK RIDING // THE UNBEATEN PATH - THE BMX ACTION TRICK TEAM // GOING GRASS ROOTS - THE 1981 HARO TOUR // REPORTAGE - BMX ACTION MAGAZINE AND FREESTYLIN' // NO CONTEST - THE AFA, THE KING OF THE SKATEPARKS AND THE MASTERS SERIES // ROCKVILLE - THE MOST ICONIC BMX SHOP/COMMUNITY OF ALL TIME // A MEETING OF THE TRIBES - THE PIVOT TO HALFPIPE CONTESTS AND THE 2HIP KING OF VERT // NO PERMIT REQUIRED - STREET RIDING PREVAILS // A NEW BRAND COMMUNITY - THE INDUSTRY BRANDS.
Content, and insight-rich.
With sixty-two individual contributors, including BMX Action Magazine founder and publisher; Bob Osborn (foreword), pioneering Freestyle innovators; Bob Haro, RL Osborn, Mike Buff, and Fred Becker, "Birth" is the cultural "ground zero" for the grassroots era of Freestyle BMX. Read personal recollections from the engine-room at Wizard Publications, with a narrative from Mark Lewman, Andy Jenkins, Spike Jonze, Windy Osborn, and Jeff Tremaine. The King of the Skateparks champions; Mike Dominguez, and Eddie Fiola, reconnect to the energy they felt at contests as they put everything on the line in the name of progress. Read personal insights from these, and many other, preeminent vert-riding pioneers. They existed on the finite limit in their efforts to deliver the-next-big-trick, while remaining acutely aware of the catastrophic consequences of a failure while rising ten feet above the coping of a giant concrete bowl. Illustrated with previously unpublished imagery from the archives of a celebrated community of action sports photographers, reconnect to the era through spectacular scenes and iconic imagery from a period when every day presented an opportunity to create something new.
THE FIRST EDITION CONTRIBUTORS.
BOB OSBORN (FOREWORD) // DEAN BRADLEY // STU THOMSEN // MIKE BUFF // BOB HARO // HUGO GONZALEZ // JOHN SWANGUEN // RON HARO // TED EMMER // MATT RAWDON // JAMES CASSIMUS // D. DAVID MORIN // R.L. OSBORN // MAT HOFFMAN // DANA DUKE // BOB MORALES // WINDY OSBORN // GARY TURNER // RON WILKERSON // ANDY JENKINS // MARK LEWMAN // SPIKE JONZE // STEVE GIBERSON // BRETT DOWNS // JAY METZLER // CRAIG BARRETTE // JEFF TREMAINE // MIKE DAILY // EDDIE FIOLA // FRED BECKER // RICH SIGUR // MIKE DOMINGUEZ // PAUL NOLAN // STEVE ALBA // BRIAN BLYTHER // MARC MCGLYNN // TONY MURRAY // STEVE PERALTA // CRAIG CAMPBELL // TODD ANDERSON // ROBERT PETERSON // JOHN "DIZZ" HICKS // OSCAR GONZALEZ // DENNIS "DMC" MCCOY // SCOTT FREEMAN // EDDIE ROMAN // CEPPIE MAES // PETE AUGUSTIN // JOSH WHITE // TODD HUFFMAN // JOE JOHNSON // DAVE VOELKER // CORY METZLER // CHRIS POTTS // KEVIN MARTIN // LEE REYNOLDS // VIC MURPHY // NICK PHILIP // EVERETT ROSECRANS // BILL HAWKINS // GARY TURNER // PERRY KRAMER // MIKE DEVITT // FRED BLOOD // KEN COSTER // PERRY CREMEANS // REIN STOLTZ.
The rise of a new industry.
The "Brand Community" section delivers individual chapters that celebrate the role of six iconic Action Sports brands on their journey as “start-ups” in the early BMX scene. Original staff members, including Oakley’s inspirational Factory Pilot Program Manager; Dana Duke, and Vans first Skate and BMX Team Manager; Everett Rosecrans, recall the energy at the contests, call-out the stand-out riders, and recall the impact of their most iconic product’s. GT Bicycles founder, Gary Turner, looks back on his earliest memories of designing and building a bicycle frame for his son Craig in the garage of his home in Orange County in the early 1970s. Turner also speaks to the prolific growth of GT on its path to becoming a force, and leader, in the bicycle industry. The management team, and athletes, behind the iconic Skyway Recreation wheel company provide background on the design and product development of their iconic, mag-spoked, urethane wheel. Members of the celebrated 80's Haro Freestyle Team, including Bob Haro, Ron Wilkerson, Mike Dominguez, and Brian Blyther, provide personal insights into an era when teenagers on bikes commanded six-figure salaries and became the leaders, and icons, of Generation F.
THE FIRST EDITION DEDICATED BMX BRAND CHAPTERS; VANS // OAKLEY // HARO BMX // GT BICYCLES // SKYWAY RECREATION // SE BIKES
This is the young community that moved the needle of progress forward - fueled only by their passion and unconditional love for the culture and lifestyle that Freestyle inspired. The vision and commitment of this community laid the foundations for the inception of a modern action sport, and The Birth of the Freestyle Movement exists to record and celebrate their achievements.
The first edition of this book is sold-out. But fear not, the second edition is in development, and available now for pre-order. Read more about the expanded, updated, and evolved, version of this book by clicking the button below.