News / mat hoffman

Nora Cup Awards Backstage September 17, 2011

Some of the cups backstage after the show, including the one I got to give away to Garrett Reynolds

Some of the cups backstage after the show, including the one I got to give away to Garrett Reynolds

It happened again. I thought I had escaped having to go to Interbike but a the last minute Ride BMX Magazine asked me to present an award at Nora Cup. It is a big honor and so even though it wrapped a lot of my biggest anxieties into one (flying, Interbike, Vegas, and public speaking) I couldn’t say no. I was real nervous about having to give a speech but it was also a kind of fun nervousness… it would be the kind of embarrassment I would be laughing about.

Nora Cup was held inside the Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort. The Pearl is really nice… I found it hard to believe a BMX event was going to happen inside there. Incredible sound system and really cool design inside. Backstage they prepped us for how the show would run and how the awards would be presented. I was then told I should give a 1 to 3 minute speech about street riding. I was pretty afraid of what I might say so I hid away in my hotel room to try and write something. I actually did manage to write what I thought was a decent speech but I never really got to say it.

When the awards show started I was really amazed at how positive the energy was in the building. I mean, I guess thats why you go to an awards show… to be positive, but I guess I’m just used to a little more jadedness from the world. It was awesome though! Everyone was cheering for everyone and it felt good. The first award up was ramp rider some of the very O.G. guys of freestyle Dizz Hicks and Ceppie May presented that one. I was a real treat to meet those guys. I didn’t really hear what they said from backstage but the crowd seemed stoked! Dennis Enerson who was nominated for everything this year won that one.

After that came Woody Itson Presenting Flat. Woody lives in Dallas TX now and it was really amazing talking with him about the origins of freestyle and his Porsche ad I was messing with in photoshop just the other day. Hollywood Mike Miranda presented racer of the year. Hmmm… I think I’m forgetting the order, but Todd “The Wildman” Lyons announced the Dirt jumper of the year. When I was 13 or 14 and still racing BMX Todd was always one of the my favorites. He would have photos in the mags doing tricks in races. It was rad in the truest definition of the word. Chris Doyle won dirt again and that was really cool. Chris is the dirt jumper’s dirt jumper and rides the way we all wish we could. Then I was up to present…

Aggroman partially dressed

Aggroman partially dressed

They started up by playing a video of some of my old video clips. I was real stoked see they put in a one handed tail whip from the end of my Fox Expendable Youth section from Palavas. That was a real memorable moment for me since I ended up winning that contest and really throwing caution into the wind on that particular trick (and survived). When I got on stage there was a lot of loud cheering, and then some more, and then some more. I couldn’t hear myself think and I totally couldn’t talk. Seemed like the more self conscious and embarrassed I got the louder it got inside my head. The truth is it was probably just the drunk dudes in the front row yelling the loudest, but even so it was overwhelming and really flattering. Kind of felt like I had won an award. My speech was supposed to say something about how street riding is unique in that its progression is not linked to the terrain. If you think about it dirt jumps and ramps keep getting bigger and better and that leads to new types of riding, but the streets we ride haven’t changed. Some of the guys who got nominated had filmed video clips on spots I had rode almost 20 years earlier and had come up with new ways to see riding those spots that I could have never dreamed of. Thats really the amazing part of street riding. Its all about how the rider sees the world and how they can apply their skills to ride it.

The envelope before I had opened it.

The envelope before I had opened it.

Anyway, I got out about one or two sentences of that before bursting out laughing because it was just SO loud and at least partially because Mark Losey kept yelling monkey boy. The less of you who get that joke the better!

I got to open the envelope and incase you were wondering the presenters really truly don’t know who wins. They gave me the envelope right before I walked on stage and I was as curious as anyone. This years group of street nominees were all very possible winners. Dennis Enerson, Sean Burns, Dakota, and Nathan Williams are all amazing riders. Garrett Reynolds ended up winning and I am in total agreement. Everything that kid does is amazing and he’s so full of original riding it blows me away.

Bit of a blur for me after my job was done. Mat Hoffman dressed up in the original Aggroman suit and ran around and gave away best video part. It was complete with Eddie Roman backstage doing the voice over for Aggroman just like the video. If you’ve never seen Aggroman and don’t know what I’m talking about I highly reccommend you give yourself a history lesson and get the HB Triolgy DVD here or here. There’s some riding in there that will blow you away when you think about how long ago it was, and, you owe to your BMX roots to watch Aggroman and with that confused look that we all had the first time we saw it. Its an amazing video and if anyone is a super hero its Mat Hoffman!

It was dark and blurry backstage but I thought this photo has some cool metaphorical significance. Eddie Roman showed us we could make our own video anyway we wanted, and here he is making the hand off to video maker Will Stroud.

It was dark and blurry backstage but I thought this photo has some cool metaphorical significance. Eddie Roman showed us we could make our own video anyway we wanted, and here he is making the hand off to video maker Will Stroud.

The awards wrapped up with Will Stroud presenting best video part. Will was real nervous but he made it through and really got to cap off the night by awarding Anthem 2 the best video of the year. I was so happy for my friend Stew Johnson and all the Anthem guys. I do wish I had been healthy enough to have filmed some for that video, but I can take some comfort with a having a spot in Anthem 1. Stew’s words about Aitken (who was injured during filming for Anthem 2) was inspiring and backstage it was really cool to see how stoked those dudes all were on the very hard work they had all put into filming that video. They hung out for a while back there and I had to think it felt really good to work that hard on something and then have it be recognized in such a big way.

Nice job Ride mag! I was really stoked and honored to get to be a part of it. Sorry again I didn’t deliver my speech!


1995 vs 2011 August 18, 2011

Before I started working at Odyssey or getting to work on Fairdale designs, and before my time as an owner of T-1 I got to design a bike for my then sponsor Hoffman Bikes. At the time the “Taj” frame represented everything I wanted in a bike. We got the geometry right and we made it STRONG. That was all that mattered… something that wasn’t going to break. I was looking at that old frame today and thinking about the differences between old school bikes (thats mid-school if you are legitimate “Old-school” collector) and modern BMX bikes.

To the untrained eye this old Taj frame doesn’t really look all that different from a modern bike. Considering that some of todays top riders weren’t even born when this frame was built what has 16 years of BMX technology brought us?

There was a new Sunday Aaron Ross frame laying around the office so I thought it would make a good baseline to compare to my old Hoffman. One of the most obvious differences is the weight. The Aaron frame is 2.6lbs lighter then the Taj yet its arguably stronger. Where we simply thickened tubing to make bikes stronger now we can use heat treating and custom butted and extruded tubing.

The beastly dropouts on the Taj account for a large part of the weight difference. The internally supported hollow dropouts on the Sunday are WAY stronger and much much lighter.

The precision of modern BMX bikes is light years beyond what we were able to do in yesteryear. Gone are the days of using a car jack to squish tubing into oval shapes. And gone are the days when your only tubing option was straight gauge tubing in a extremely limiting number of sizes and thicknesses. Now we can spec tubing to be thicker and thinner at precise points and extrude almost any shape.

The headtube on that Taj frame was NOT going to break off without a fight. This is a bit before Aheadsets were used in BMX and the answer to the dangerously weak quill stem was the Hoffman Bikes Superfork. The steer tube on that fork was virtually solid and you better believe it put some heavy stress on a frame.

Thank goodness we did away with those old pressed in headset cups and threaded headsets. Man that was a drag breaking the cups all the time, feeling them shift about, and having to devise ways to keep the damn thing tight.  Integrated headsets are so amazingly simple to install… drop them in and go.

What a design dilemma it was on rear ends of bikes in the old days. We were starting to figure out we wanted shorter backends, but the cassette style rear hub wasn’t in use. How do you shorten the backend but leave room for a fat tire, huge 7/8″ tubing and still fit cranks and a 46 tooth sprocket?

I rode the backend on this bike at about 14.5 inches. I remember it feeling amazing after riding bikes with 15 inch chainstays for so long. Not really all that different then some modern trails style bikes that can be run as long as 14.25″, but seems like even the smallest differences in the chainstay length makes a big difference in how a bike feels.


I am so grateful for all the refinements BMX bikes have gone through. Bottom brackets you don’t have to hammer into the frame, headsets you can install with perfection in minutes, geometry not limited by huge gearing, and frames that are extremely trustworthy and strong without being heavy.

Still, I don’t want anyone to think I’m bashing on these old bikes (and don’t worry, these old bikes can take a bashing!). The truth is, this old Hoffman is still here and still perfectly rideable. With very limited resources and technology Mat’s crew built bikes that were suited perfectly to the riding of the day… and able to stand up to almost anything!




The History of Bicycling part 3 May 5, 2010

All bikes from the previous 150 years were made of crap, looked like crap and were nothing but crap. It wasn’t until the true BMX bike was born that bicycles finally became something worth noticing. Few now know the true story of how BMX was born, but I will tell you.

Most know the story of how our dark lord Sauron was destroyed when the hobbit Frodo brought his ring of power into the cracks of Mt Doom. Although Sauron was destroyed the power of his ring was not completely lost. When the ring was melted into a vast molten sea of iron and steel its power was distributed throughout the liquid metal.

Centuries later, when the metal finally cooled and hardened, a new material was born. A metal that was harder and stronger and more metal then any metal ever before known to man. That metal was Chromoly. Bike builders tried to build bikes from this new indomitable metal but they could not shape the metal into any form of a bike they new. The metal seemed to want to become its own new type of bicycle… and through the hands of great craftsmen eventually it did. Carved from the very bones of the earth, from the ashes of the cold fires of Mt Doom itself BMX was born.

His eyes pierce through your soul with the power only BMX can give.

Any BMX bike fit to carry the name BMX is made from this one deposit of true chromoly. It is true that some other bikes made from inferior materials (like the bastard metal aluminum) try to call themselves BMX bikes, but of course, these are hardly worth noting in the history of bicycling and shall never last. In recent times some bike smiths have discovered ways to even further increase the greatness of Chromoly. For instance, it is rumored that Odyssey’s patented 41 Thermal metal is really just true Chromoly mixed with fingernail clippings from the dead god-man Hercules. Whatever the case, we know that BMX has been and always will be the child of metal’s metal: 4130 Chromoly.

In the beginning, sometime in the late 60’s, BMX was young and misguided. Often imitating the popular motocross bikes of the day. However, it was quickly understood by the new followers of BMX that motocrosses influence was not needed. Suspension systems and shock absorbers made you weaker. Large banana style motocross seats made you lazy and slow. There was no place for them in BMX.

Some examples of true metal. Mongoose and Webco bikes of the mid 70’s.

The late 70’s and early 80’s brought the birth of air.

The mid 80’s brought a lot of this.

And then the BMX warrior arrived from the wastelands. Mat Hoffman. Fully armored and ready to wield the Chromoly.

Mat Hoffman pedaled through snake infested waters to an amazing 65 MPH to achieve this 28 foot air.

As far as I know BMX history ended after that.

Purple helmet fax machine April 27, 2010

Oh man, blast from the past number 2. There was a time (Jan 22, 1997 to be exact according to the date on this fax) that I really was not a fan of the then new trend of riding motocross full face helmets visorless. Ha… seems hilarious to me that this was faxed. Didn’t have the internet then… but I could still send stupid drawings electronically. Faxes and pagers…. 1990s!!

Anyway, Mat responded to my previous post about the stunt-doubling in the comments. He also emailed me this old drawing I sent him when I heard the terrible news that he had stopped riding with a helmet visor. Can’t believe he saved this… love that guy!

I was Mat Hoffman’s Stunt Double April 27, 2010

In honor of Mat Hoffman’s new documentary I was remembering some stories.

I don’t think many people can claim this, but its true that I was once (twice actually) Mat Hoffman’s stunt double. Back in the 90’s when I rode for Hoffman Bikes Mat got a few offers to do some TV commercials. Around that time was more or less the peak of my vert riding career and it also just so happened that I wore the same size clothes and shoes as Mat. That made me a perfect stand in for Mat… but stunt double? Well, that’s what the commercial people called me.

TV commercials are usually shot in a hurry. It takes so much money to have all that film equipment, lighting and crew on hand, so they try to get all the filming done as fast as possible. There’s so much pressure on those 2 or 3 days of shooting they can’t risk something happening to Mat and then having to shut down the shoot. So, they need a stunt double just in case.

Hollywood is f-in weird. I don’t know how people could be into acting… even that little bit of being in that world that I had turned my stomach. Well… I’ll keep my opinions to myself I guess but it seemed like I ran into every stereotypical Hollywood character you could imagine. Smoozers, losers, druggies, hanger’s on, and crazy ego douche bag directors.

I actually watched the hip young director (straight from MTV) meltdown and scream at his assistant, ” I don’t pay you to think, I pay you to do!!). It was nuts… Maybe, lets hope, on films with higher artistic value then TV commercials people aren’t so shitty to each other.

On set it was mostly sitting around for Mat and I. Even more so for me since I was never the main talent. We would just wait and wait and then someone would come running for us needing us to ride right away. On one commercial I was really bored. Sitting around for almost an entire 12 hour day. I was itching to do something. Also they had me set up on a pay schedule where I got paid a base rate to be there, another rate if they asked me to ride, and and even higher rate (and residuals) if they used footage of me in the commercial. When they finally called me out I was charged to ride. Mat had just landed a 7 or 8 foot high tailwhip on vert and they asked me if I could do that. I kind of could, or, I could only do downside whips and I had never really tried them quite that high. They threw me on the ramp and off I went. Trying downside whips the highest I had ever done and eating shit!!! I pulled maybe 4 out of 20 and was getting my ass kicked. I was exhausted and beat quick but I kept getting up and trying more and more. On a particularly hard crash I knocked my head and slid across the flat bottom on my stomach. I laid there catching my breath with my head ringing when I heard the director say, “Ok, we got the lights set, bring out Mat.”

Ha! All they had needed me to do was normal airs so they could focus and set the lighting.

On another commercial shoot they filmed Mat for what seemed like hours. They just kept asking him to do the same thing over and over. He was finally so exhausted he had to stop riding. The director was clearly frustrated but we couldn’t understand why. In typical Mat fashion he was going way higher and riding way better then he could have ever needed to. Finally the director came over to us and explained that he had been waiting for Mat to crash. It was part of his plan to have an amazing slow motion shot of Mat slamming. Mat was shocked. “Look, if I crash you can film it, but I’ve spent my life trying not to crash. I’m not going to do it on purpose and I don’t want you to make it look like bike riding is all about crashing.” The director argued with him for a bit, but Mat wasn’t budging. There was going to be no on purpose crashes. They asked me too, but if Mat wouldn’t do it I sure as hell wasn’t going to. We took our break and went to lunch.

When we walked back into the studio what we saw was fantastically comical. There was a “real” stuntman (who had never ridden a bike) wearing Mat’s clothes standing on the top of a 12 foot ladder on top of a vert ramp. He had Mat’s bike in his hands and he was preparing to jump into the ramp to his doom. He was visibly shaking.

Mat shut that down quick and the stuntman was understandably relieved to not have done that stunt. I think later on Mat finally did crash and so everyone was happy. I don’t believe that they ever used the crash footage anyway.

I think I’m going to put on a premier for Mat’s documentary here in Austin. I don’t quite have a date worked out, but stay tuned.