Stuck On The 20

QBMX, QBP’s BMX division, is composed of first bikes, neighborhood jumps, double dares, huge tabletops, won races, and full-contact high-fives. These guys love helping kids get into BMX, and understand from experience why people stick with it.

Twenty inches. That’s the wheel size that often represents a turning point in our life with bikes. We tested our mettle and survived on that hand-me-down, 20-inch-wheel, “little kid” bike. Then our elders decided we’d earned something bigger, flashier, and capable of longer-range travel. More often than not, though, this first bike—20-inch wheels and all—is where our personal attachment to bicycles, and the feeling we get from them, began. We all remember our first bike, which was likely made in the classic BMX style.

The team at QBMX is loyal to the 20-inch wheel, and has been as long as they can remember. While some cyclists that started with that wheel size kept moving on to bigger diameters, this crew always comes back to the “20” for their favorite type of riding. Being around and staying actively involved with BMX has led to interesting travel and lifelong friends for these guys, and allowed them to witness the developments, and know the people, that have made BMX what it is today.That wheel size devotion has led them to jobs they love, which comes through in how QBMX fosters the scene and the shops that support it.

“It all started for me on my seventh birthday, when I got my first BMX bike” says Jay Schlie, who’s now 38 and in charge of marketing. For Dan Maier, product manager, the inspiration came from the big screen: “When the movie Rad! came out, I watched it hundreds of times,” he says. “I tried to copy all of the tricks in the opening sequence, although I never wore leathers riding on the street.”

Ben Austin, QBMX’s category manager, has been involved in BMX since he got his first bike. “I bought my first bike in 1996, 18 years ago, for riding trails, then street and park.” Andy Fuchs, inventory planner, has also been involved with BMX for most of his life. Purchaser Brian O’Neil, 36, is a relative newcomer to BMX, having gotten into it within the last five years. “The first time I saw a clip of Josh Stricker doing a 360 over a tall wooden fence, I basically gave up skateboarding and got a bike,” he says. He certainly appreciates the culture too. “It’s all about riding with friends and having fun.”

When you ask any of these guys what they love about BMX, “fun” is the unanimous answer. “BMX has always meant freedom and friends to me,” says Austin. “Growing up, BMX was a taste of getting out of the house, getting to know new and interesting people, and riding without rules or restrictions. I think the element of free expression is a common thread within the culture, and allows riders to more easily connect regardless of age, location, or status.”

“BMX is a way for a person of any age to let loose and experience a different kind of freedom that you don’t get on a baseball diamond or a football field,” explains Fuchs. “Whether you are riding or watching from afar, the BMX lifestyle draws people in. These committed riders create and try new things, travel as much as they can, and meet interesting and memorable people. And many of them will turn these experiences into related jobs or careers like I have done. I believe anyone can get into BMX at any age, but the lifestyle is ingrained at an early age.”

It’s because of these things that everyone on the QBMX team can say with conviction that BMX isn’t going anywhere any time soon. “BMX still has a fire and spirit that it did when I first started, just so many more know about it now,” says Schlie. “BMX is everywhere,” adds Austin, “from dense urban areas to small towns. I’m always surprised by how global the sport is too—there are huge BMX communities in Japan, Australia, and all across Europe and the Americas. It’s also something you can do as a family. I often see parents and siblings participating in or providing support at both skateparks and racetracks.”

Making the case to carry BMX in a bike shop is easy for Austin. “BMX provides a point of connection—and sustainable sales—within a key youth-oriented demographic,” he says. “Give younger people a great in-shop experience, and they will keep coming back over the course of their riding lifecycle, be it for BMX, mountain, or road. That’s just good business for a dealer who wants to be competitive over the long term. Plus, the products and brands have huge crossover potential for other riding categories.”

“BMX is the gateway into a life of cycling,” says Schlie. Maier agrees. “If someone gets involved with riding BMX as a kid, they will probably keep riding some type of bike throughout their life,” he says. “If they have kids, they will likely get their kids interested in riding as well, probably starting them out on a BMX bike and following a similar path.” Fuchs asks the tough questions: “Do you see many kids having a total blast on a road bike? Okay maybe some, but BMX is much cheaper, easier to maintain, and highly inclusive.”

QBMX looks forward to continuing to be a big part of the growth of the sport, and doing what it can to keep riders of all ages and shops excited. “We have new brands, new products from existing brands, and exclusive products in the works for 2014 that we are really excited about,” says Austin. “Keep your eyes on qbpbmx.com or our Facebook page for the latest announcements.”

Schlie adds, “We will be out around the U.S. this summer with a bunch of teams set for great times, riding, and stopping into shops.” And most importantly, O’Neil gives a heads up for “more QBMX eating challenges!” Regardless of what the future holds, QBMX will be there, ready to keep feeding the flame.

For any and all questions regarding QBMX, check out the website at qbpbmx.com.

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