So Hardcore Hobbies have a new print, with a blog to accompany it!....... What's that all about? Well, it's about a number of things all rolled into one, it's about shops, distributors, brands and the way our sports fit into the world around us, a world that's constantly changing on many levels.
We are the 'Underdogs', you, me and everyone involved in what we do. I'm 42 years old as I write this, if you'd of told a 9 year old me that all major towns and cities in the UK would have concrete skateparks, and the indoor facilities we enjoy today dotted about, I would of thought you were mental........ But we're here! We've done it! The country is no longer just a blanket of Football pitches! The days of the youth spending a whole summer holiday pissing about with a sheet of plywood up against a wall are long gone, what we now have is unreal, and as long as user groups at these locations keep themselves united and organised, these wonderlands are here to stay!
So we've arrived, but how? History lesson time!.... Yes I'm old, but not old enough to have caught the 70's skateboard boom. Around this time a number of concrete parks we're set up, mainly in large towns, often private 'pay to skate' enterprises. But by the end of the decade many were filled in or flattened. Skating was no longer flavour of the month, and with no BMXers, Inliners, or Scooter riders around at the time to pick up the slack these facilities were closed.
In the early 80's BMX became a 'thing' here in the UK, the movie E.T came along and captured the imaginations of youngsters (including myself) up and down the country.
At this point it was kids on the bikes, bicycle companies making the product, and any organisation behind pushing the sport forwards was for the most part taken care of by the parents...... So youths jumping off curbs, parents aiming to make what we were doing mirror Motocross, and cycle companies selling a 'different style of bicycle'. For the most part around this time BMX was something only youngsters did.... Riding a 20" in your 20's was something that basically didn't happen.
The late 80's into the early 90's was a major time of positive change, BMX riders had now grown older, the 'sport' was now the race side of things, and the word 'freestyle' was thrown to the side.... BMX was now just BMX. Skateboarding had a second wind and the U.K. Magazines (remember those) featured BMX and Skateboarding in the same publications. With strength in numbers mini ramps started popping up through the 90's in the corner of sports fields, the odd town managed to twist the arm of their local council to provide a small park, and if St Neots had a park, why shouldn't Bury St Edmunds? Newspapers up and down the country filled with groups of kids with spiky hair and baggy jeans demanding skateparks! It worked, wooden ramps were appearing everywhere!
So what was happening industry wise around this time? Skateboarders had evolved skateboarding.... when in it's 'lull period' big business had no interest, skateboarders were older and in a position to start small cottage industries, these exploded into successful companies as skateboarding grew. With the magazines, brands, distribution, and now the video side of things being taken care of by folk directly involved in the scene, the only way that external business could make it's stamp on the marketplace was with entry level skateboards (toy companies with contacts at factories in the East), through computer games and the like, and the huge footwear market, but that's a blog in itself for another time!
On the BMX side of things it was still the traditional bike companies that had the biggest share of the market, But things were changing, we now had Hoffman Bikes, S&M, Standard etc..... The product from these brands were on point, paying extra for parts that were going to last, designed and often built by BMXers made perfect sense, this was very much an 'after market' parts movement, as these rider owned outfits still lacked the buying power to make any real dent on the complete bike market.
Inline skating was happening too, the boom didn't last for long, but it still helped to get more people using skateparks, increasing demand for bigger better facilities.
So BMX distribution was now, much like skateboarding, being driven by riders, if these outlets were not owned by riders, then they certainly had employees on the payroll that were. Rider owned distribution company 'Seventies' were bringing in most of the rider owned product in the late 90's and their 'Backyard Jams' pushed BMX in the UK to a whole new level. Pros from all over the world hitting up Hastings for the annual jam, this was the real deal, a true celebration of all that is BMX. As These rider owned brands grew they were now in a position to stand shoulder to shoulder with the corporate bike brands, rider owned complete bike brands now a reality!
What's happened in the last 10 years or so is both good and bad! First the positive.... All that we do has continued to grow, the new sport of 'stunt scootering' has increased the amount of people using skateparks, this teamed with the fact that the 90s wooden ramps were rotting into the ground has given birth to concrete facilities up and down the country. Shops and distributors have helped push these projects forward alongside the local communities, with councils happy in the knowledge these parks are almost maintenance free and will last for years.
But now the negative and back to the subject at hand, are we now once again the underdogs? With popularity comes demand, jams are not what they once were. The grass roots side of things has been lost along the way, the real thing still happens, but huge events set up to make money much like music festivals seem to be what we accept as standard these days. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the top names creaming a bunch of money off of an energy drink company or whoever for a weekend's riding, but trying to push the latest 'signed' music act on the main stage is just lame. The whole corporate feel kind of kills the integrity of the whole thing. The trouble is if this is all you've been exposed to then you have no idea how you're missing out.
We are now seeing (in the BMX world) companies being bought out by bigger companies, much like in the real world 'money breeds money' and we now, once again have a swing towards Cycle distributors supplying BMX product to shops...... It remains to be seen if they'll do a good job of it. I expect to see a number of rider owned brands doing their best to move away from these organisations in the coming months.
The Internet has changed everything. Magazines were the glue that held everything together, if a shit brand wanted to advertise in The Albion, Dig or Ride UK, those guys (quite rightly) would tell them to do one! These magazines kept everyone on the same page (excuse the pun) Unfortunately in the digital age these magazines were unable to survive. Now we have the Internet spewing out images and information by the second, we have lost our filter! How would a 12 year old know the difference between a company with the interests of BMX at their heart, and a bread head out to make a quick buck by passing off substandard products as the real deal? Distribution and Shops that come from a genuine background are super important. Distributors bringing in the very best product, then shops buying in the best of the best to sell on to the the customer is the only way to ensure that young Fred gets what he needs, and puts in place the framework that is needed for these businesses to then support the scene by putting on jams, working on edits, keeping the local skateparks moving forward and even helping out the odd super talented skater or rider.
Also the 'Add To Cart' culture has made everything more difficult, it's just as common for a consumers to purchase certain products direct online as it is from their local store, chances are the item won't work out any cheaper, the importance of supporting a shop that helps the local community has been lost it seems.
So with a shabby economy and e-commerce outlets carving themselves a huge slice of the pie, we arrive at a point where shops up and down the country are closing their doors, it's true some were dead wood, but too many have now gone that have been important parts of local alternative sports communities. Where you spend your money has never been more important, Instagram 'likes' don't keep shops open, it takes a little more than that!..... It appears we've come full circle, our industry is once again going head to head with powers that (for the most part) have no real interest in what we do.
But much like David defeating Goliath on our new print we will win the battle., it'll just take a little 'outside of the box' thinking. We are once again the Underdogs, but it's okay, we're used to it!
Massive shout out to any industry bods reading this that we deal with.... If we stock your product then in our eyes your doing it right! - Props!
-Support the good guys and the good guys will support you!-
-Rock the Underdog print to show you're down!-
Click here to view Underdog Tees & Hoods!
Our Hardcore Hobbies prints are always band inspired..... This time a nod to Orange Goblin!
One of our long time customers (Alex Holder) has put together a HH shop promo for his college work. We think it's come out pretty sick!
Thanks boss 👍 Check it out below...
We're very lucky to have local riders that are so passionate about promoting BMX.... Our Team Rider Joe Embrey put together this year's Area25 Jam, and our store wheel builder made this edit of highlights from the day. Getting better year on year! Good work to all involved!
Under 16 -
3rd Harvey Mouser
2nd jonty Cherryman
1st Tristan Shearer
5th Ross Domanski
4th Jonnie Hicks
3rd Jordan cutts
2nd Jack Mould
1st Brandon Harrison
Highest air - Jack Hobson
Best line - Rich Coe
Riders rider - Charlie Ash
Most twisted - Ian Brook
FBM Bike Co.
Just dropped! The brand new team edit from Muckefuck Skateboards and Urethane...... This is what it's all about, pure skateboarding, no bullshit, the real thing! 50 team riders absolutely killing it, crammed into just 5 minutes.
Expect big things from Muckefuck in 2016.... Hit the Muckefuck tab on our web store to see wheels and soft goods available NOW! Wood and other products available late 2015. Too rad!
BMX..... The gift that keeps giving! So rad to wake up to this new Sergio Layos edit that features cheeky clips from Hardcore Hobbies team riders Joe Embrey and James Reynolds on their recent trip to Copenhagen...... Big up Niels at Simple Bike Co for making it happen!
All about the indoor parks at this time of year........ Robin Bolian keeping out of the wet in his 'Welcome To Muckefuck' edit. Phat/rad.
Simple Bike Co team rider Adrian Malmberg smashing the shit out of everything in his path in this recent edit for Fox! Ballsy banger to finish, booossshhhh!