PERSONALITY: STREET BMX VETERAN JOHN CHAN
Street BMX riders are a youthful lot. This doesn't come as a surprise, we know. BMX bikes are inexpensive to build as compared to other performance-oriented cycling disciplines (eg road and mountain bikes). They pack a helluva challenges, are a blissful bag of fun, effective for impressing friends with, makes one strong & fit, helps open up a whole new world of street culture and allows entry into a niched like-minded social circle. It's definitely a good avenue for the young to pick up some impressive technical skills that they can apply to other cycling disciplines should they decide to shift in the future. And it is quite common to see former BMX riders performing well in other cycling disciplines. [Ed: BMX is not a compulsory stepping stone to good bike skills, we only say it is one good way to acquire strong cycling technical skills]. Over the years, we are seeing more and more BMX riders that had remained true to this said discipline and had not switched to other types of cycling. These folks simply love the extreme challenges BMX embodies. Bikezilla spoke to John Chan – one of the notable veterans of street/park BMX riding.
With 15 years of street and park BMX riding under his belt (or lace), John was local bike shop Rayxtreme's BMX Team Manager since 2012. The team has 10 riders aged between 15 to 20 years old currently. During this time, he helped spearhead the Support Local Riders (SLR) program which saw him and his team visiting the skate/bike parks around Singapore to outreach to the young homies in each neighborhood. The neighborhood riders were given informal cycling clinics whenever the chance arose. In 2014, John took duo-role and became Rayxtreme's business development manager on top of his team manager position. Earlier this year, John and Rayxtreme decide that John should focus more on his riding and converted him to Pro BMX rider status. This is a great career move for John as a rider – he has always been a rider first, salesperson second, and converting him to professional status gives him the chance to focus on the riding.
Both Rayxtreme and John Chan believed that dreams can come through if the sponsor and the rider share a common vision. John added that every rider who wants to be a part of the bike industry family should be 100% committed in realizing their dreams. Good things come to those who are focused.
Bikezilla took the opportunity to corner John Chan and got him to share some of his stories with us.
ALL ABOUT UNCLE JOHN
Name: Chan Sing Kong (John)
Aliases: Uncle John…
Years riding: 15
Riding discipline: BMX dirt, street, park
AND THEN SOME OF UNCLE JOHN'S OPINION
Current bike and what part stands out.
Custom built bike with Haro Lineage frame 20.5, Haro Lineage fork, Haro Lineage bar 8.5” (w/ KHE shola grips and odyssey Par-ends), Haro Lineage topload stem, Premium headset, Premium 1948 cranks (w/ sprocket w/ HARO pedals), Premium Samsara complete front and rear wheelsets w/ Demolition Momentum tires 2.35 front, 2.2 back, Demolition Markit tripod seat and post, Demolition dumbchucks pegs
How many bikes have you used so far?
Too many! I've lost count!
Any dream "machine"?
Nissan S15 Silvia with a roof bike rack and my BMX on it.
Who inspire you when it comes to riding?
At the top of my list would be the guys who got me into BMX (Rahman and the old Evergreen crew) My Team (Team RayX) and daily riding buddies for sure. Danny Hickerson, Dennis Enarson, Scotty Cranmer, Chad Kerley and many more…
How did you get into cycling. Tell us how you got started.
I have always been into 2 wheel cycling since young, riding bicycles around my neighborhood. I got into BMX when I was near 18 years old. I saw one of my friends doing small little tricks on his mountain bike and I was fascinated by how he could hop up curbs and ledges and that got me started.
What is your advise for new riders on how to learn foundation tricks?
Understanding the basic fundamentals of BMX before actually getting into the action helps greatly. "How-tos" video or asking tips from guys who has been riding for some time helps too. It is important that a new rider not jump into anything that he/she isn't sure. Whenever possible, get a senior to watch out for you.
What are your views of the cycling community in Singapore? In South East Asia?
I would say that we could be more unified, be it as a rider or as a local business supporting BMX. Having different opinions isn't bad, but when it is our time to speak up, we need to speak as one voice.
What are your views on the difference between Asian street riding community vs western street riding community?
I have to say that we are easily behind the Western riders by 10-20 years in terms of experience and style. Although many factors are beyond our control (eg lack of proper training facilities and official support), I believe that with hard work and a proper direction for the riders, we can eventually close that gap and put our little island on the radar.
In your opinion, how are street/park BMX riders different from riders of other cycling disciplines?
We simply couldn't care less of what the world thinks of us. Not that we are rebels, but I would say that we do not live by the rules. We are individualists.
Is there a certain "look" to a typical street/park BMX rider?
BMX is freestyle so every street rider would probably have their own unique sense when it comes music, the bike and the dressing. For music, we like Rap Hip-hop, Alternative, EDM … just to name a few genres. For our bikes, it is common for us to go brakeless, use fatter tires which absorbs impact better. when it comes to pegs, riders' style and preference varies greatly. Some go pegless, some 2 pegs, 3 pegs or even 4 pegs. Another currently hot trend is the use of freecoasters. With regards to dressing for the street/park BMX rider, it varies for every rider … try mixing the following: skinnys, one size up tees, caps, beanies, chinos … you get the idea …
Any shoutout to the boys?
Be yourself, know what you want and work towards it. Ride hard, but ride smarter.
All photos provided by John Chan / Mettle Games 2011 photo of John Chan by Jefri Miswari