When I’m not wasting time and money on shoes and clothes, I like to take time off by wasting money on building BMX bikes. As you can tell, consumer culture has no impact on me… Regardless, like with most hobbies; I need a hobby to get away from my hobby. At some point everything becomes a bit too full-on and when that happens with the footwear bikes are a nice escape. The upside is that bikes are actually quite nice to ride around (once they’re built) and you can even convince yourself that it helps to keep fit. With the sneaker world getting a bit all too much I feel it might be time to build a bike that’s been sitting around for a while now, but there’s still a bit of time and money to be spent.
Footwear and bikes are interesting when considering both (for young men anyway) seemed to be the easiest way to judge how cool or indeed uncool you were. Unlike shoes though bikes have the innate ability to level the playing field; if you’re the rich kid you can sport those new adidas Attitudes no worries save for maybe getting rolled by some thugs. With bikes the rich kid rolling around on their brand new Hutch or Haro wasn’t all too well received especially if they were lacking the skills to back up the flash, much like the guy who turns up at the skate park with all top shelf bits but can’t even clear a gutter.*
During the early 80s BMX was going off the charts; everyone was spending their pocket money, doing paper runs and various other cliche young entrepreneurial things to get the next trick thing for their bike. At the time the racing guns and later into the decade freestyle masters were getting paid that Porsche-level money to travel around the world showing off their skills. At some point though the idea was getting lost, instead of it being about building a jump out the back of your house it was all gold plated frames and matching dayglo outfits. As with most things though there was a subculture bubbling under…
Much like the exit of money in skating; times were due to get less fruitful in BMX but in these tougher times some of the best things can come from it. Brands like S&M, Homeless, Wilkerson Airlines and Hoffman were founded by young upstarts looking to build bikes focussed on street riding, dirt jumping and all ’round badass-ery. Meanwhile in the early-mid 90’s CNC machines were pumping out some of the most insane pieces for BMX and the just-emerging movement of Mountain Bikes (BMX money was moving there) and as a result Aerospace firms that were looking for anything to make use of their CNCs created some absolute masterpieces or two-wheeled engineering.
In the tougher times is often when you see the greatest innovation and the early 90s (for me anyway) are the most intriguing in BMX and indeed much of the world’s subcultures. Think of skateboarding, sneakers, rap, indeed everything (dare I say) youth-orientated and you see a decent impact in that rough decade of growth. The excess of the 80s had left a myriad of young, confident and driven men and women determined to do it their way. Something about what is going on currently has a similar vibe to it, what happens in the next decade will be interesting. Will this literal clusterfuck of excessive ever-increasing trendhopping and fanboyism lead to an undercurrent and eventual triumph of the anti-aesthetic? The opportunity is there, brand like Palace, Bronze and Cav. Empt. have exploited it well so far (there’s more I know don’t get in a tiff), don’t even mention fucking normcore that shit only exists because people allow it to.
To bring everything full circle, I finally managed to track down the pair of IRAK adidas EQTs. Working out how long I’ve been chasing these was pretty easy with the toe embellishment that almost shut the whole project down. Luckily the New Yorkers stood their ground on the issue and it made the cut. Alife had similar issues with the 1300’s tongue tag sporting their signature stripes, something that didn’t jive well with NB’s stance on “no branding” stance which seems to have been given leniency in recent years. The colour blocking, palette and vast use of reflective panels can go seriously underrated on these. The EQT Support in it’s original guise is one of the greatest shoes ever created and the re-issue that came a year before is one of the best retro’s of the last decade (the later retro lacked the heavyweight foams and built quality but came in a 1/3 of the 205eu retail price). Reworking this shoe is no mean feat and to come up with something that both complements the shape and heritage of the shoe but still remains identifiably New York shows how good this oddball partnership really was. At a time where collabs were still special and would actually require some effort to obtain these are a standout. I’m glad to finally have them in my possession so thanks to all the helped make it happen.