By Karl Rosengarth
If a rider hucks the gnar and nobody is there to film it, did it really happen? Thanks to folks like Bjørn Enga, that question is pretty much a moot point.
After striking a deal in 1996 with Surfer Publications to produce a show called "Bike TV" for the Outdoor Life Network, Enga formed Radical Films with business partner Christian Begin, and sallied forth in a purple bus to make history.
The business deal permitted Enga to keep the footage and use it for whatever purposes he desired. In April of 1998 Enga released "Kranked—Live to Ride", which exposed the biking community to freeriding—the likes of which, most folks had never seen before. It’s fair to say that the Kranked film series ushered in a new era in bicycle-related filmmaking.
I recently caught up with Enga via email and learned more about the man behind the lens, and what he’s been up to lately.
Name: Bjørn Enga
Occupation: Filmmaker / Kranked brand
Hometown: Granthams Landing, British Columbia
Current location: Kranked Studios, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia
Number of years mountain biking: Since 1982. Super into it since 1986 when I graduated from high school.
First mountain bike: My sisters Japanese made Asahi.
Current main bike: Kranked Viper electric-assist DH freeride rig!
Riding style: Electrified.
Favorite trail: Pressure Drop loop from my front doorstep and back, 14.5 km singletrack climb/descend in 1 hour flat.
How did you get into mountain biking?
Grew up on Fromme Road in Lynn Valley on the North Shore of Vancouver. The forest was my back yard. A huge playground to explore, and the mountain bike was the vehicle!
How did you get started in the bike industry?
Ski bum turned publishing entrepreneur (SkiFreak Radical / Bikefreak Radical / Freak Radical) to Bike TV freeride TV shows, to making the "Kranked—Live to Ride" freeride movie, and then seven other freeride movies.
What was the inspiration and motivation for your first Kranked film: "Kranked—Live to Ride"?
The inspiration and motivation in late 1996 and early 1997 to make "Kranked—Live to Ride" was essentially to show the world what "freeriding" really was. Both Christian Begin, the Director, and myself came from the ski/mountain culture of BC. We grew up with and were involved in ski and snowboard films. We were also avid mountain bikers and wanted to bring the excitement of riding to the big screen. We felt that we had something to give and were excited to give it a shot!
What role do you feel that your films played in the growth of freeriding and the gravity side of mountain biking in general?
I think it is fair to say that we were the first film to really capture and spread the awesome, exciting riding, building and scene as it was just beginning. Our goal was to spread the awareness of what was happening in BC and inspire and stoke other people to follow our lead. I would also like to think that we raised the bar a bit with our filmmaking too!
What are you up to these days?
I am growing ‘Kranked" as a brand right now so that I can create my own film budgets! I am really into kids bikes and have a campaign under way, "Every Kid Deserves a Wicked Bike". This is a marketing initiative I am trying to launch that basically encourages adults to get their kids great bikes! I have been putting together cool bikes with this in mind starting with some 20-inch hardtails! I am also really into high performance electric assist mountain bikes and am putting together amazingly fun bikes. We are launching Kranked RiDES eco tours on these this summer in Whistler to spread the awareness and spread the fun!
What’s your favorite thing about working in the bike industry?
Getting brand new bikes that every year that get radder and radder! Meeting people from all over the world that share the passion and love to ride. Being able to call wicked adventures work! Hahaaa!
Tell me something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.
I grew up listening to ABBA
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a shout out to Dirt Rag! Great publication, great vibe and a great stoke!
The video clip below is from Kranked Kracked (Juniper Ridge, Kamloops, July 15, 1997). Old school is in session, with Wade Simmons and Aaron Knowles showing the class how it was done, back in the day.