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.Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth
In my previous post, I shared some cool reader art from the Dirt Rag Time Machine. It turns out that Uncle Karl was holding out on you. I also have a sweet stash of vintage advertisements.
As I’ve said before, time travel is notoriously rough on paper, so forgive the less-than-pristine quality of some of the following images.
If you think composite handlebars are a recent development, think again. Polycycle offered these little gems, way back in 1990. That’s little, in the literal sense. Their 560mm bar width is laughable by today’s standards. Sadly, it took a while for everybody to figure out that wider was better, with respect to bars.
And how about chain guides? Sure, they’ve seen recent gains in popularity, especially with the gravity gang. But chain guides have been around for quite a while, and they started out as a plain old XC product. The Bullseye Chain Tamer was about as simple as it gets.
The Kore Chain Reactor came a bit later and was more eye-catching. It featured the “CNC-machined and anodized” motif of the period.
Speaking of CNC machining, I can’t think of a more elegant example than the Paul Powerglide rear derailleur. Made in America. It was in production, really! "Unless you’re fully-loaded" indeed—these things are fetching crazy prices on eBay these days.
Speaking of made in America, Durango-built Yeti hardtails were objects of considerable lust and desire back in the day (present company included). Yeti has come a long way, with a present-day lineup that includes all sorts of whiz-bang suspension bikes (still lust-worthy).
Santa Cruz Bikes is another company that has come a long way. This vintage Heckler ad ran in the Classifieds section, way in the back of the Dirt Rag. That’s a far cry from the stunning two-page-spreads that SCB runs nowadays. Movin’ on up! Speaking of, keep an eye out for Dirt Rag Issue #169, where Santa Cruz will unveil a whole-new bike.
And finally… you know it’s a “vintage” advertisement when it’s pitching a “trials” bike. Are there still trials competitions anymore? The other tip-off is the oh-so-young-looking money shot of Jason “Monkey Boy” McLean on the rear wheel.
Until next time, don’t forget the old-school trials mantra: Fear is death. Hesitate and die.Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth
Over the years, “reader contributions” have had a major influence on Dirt Rag‘s unique flavor. I thought it would be fun to fire up the Dirt Rag Time Machine and make a trip back to the days when black-and-white reader art graced the pages of The Rag. Jump in and fasten your seat belts. If you have a spare flux capacitor, it wouldn’t hurt to pack it.
Forgive the less-than-pristine quality of some of the following items. Time travel is notoriously rough on paper.
First up, some roller-cam brakes that the old-timers should appreciate:
Next up, a bit of vintage humor, courtesy of Beth Covington (who holds the distinction of creating Dirt Rag’s first color cover on Issue #28).
Whoa, I think I spotted this dude on my last swing by Betelgeuse:
Keep an eye out for this character at the Bar at the End of the World:
Frankly, I’m not quite sure about this freak…
Comics have always been a favorite form of self-expression for Dirt Rag contributors. In addition to contributing a number of Dirt Rag covers, Pittsburgh illustrator/artist John Hinderliter contributed a series of Dirt Pilot comics. John’s humor frequently hit a little too close to home for comfort.
“Lenny The Mountain Bike” made several appearances over the years. Rubber side down…
That about does it for this trip back in time. Got some art or illustrations you’d like to share? Send ‘em to email@example.com.
Here’s wishing you a great 2013.Tweet
Editor’s note: I dragged out this post from our old forums about our founder and publisher’s legendary singlespeed, the Stutterin’ Prick. Note, this was written a decade ago, in 2002. The bike remains virtually unchanged to this day.
By Maurice Tierney
The real story of my one speed, named after a Joe Peshi line in what movie?
Here’s the deal: The story from 24 hours of Canaan this year (2002) is the story of a ten-year-old bike that has not passed its prime: Stutterin’ Prick.
Stutterin’ Prick is a 1989 Team Stumpjumper, Specialized’s top of the line steel bike for that year. Just like Ned and Lisa rode. Came with Tange Prestige tubing, full XT group, Biopace rings. The works. And fortunately, most bike companies, like Specialized, had by 1989 given up on the under-the-chainstay U-brake.
My second mountain bike, it was. Served me well. But over the years, it fell by the wayside. For purposes of spiritual revival and megatrend research, I had some track dropouts installed by Ted Wojcik for a one-speed conversion. Ted was then asked to paint it whatever color he had laying around. Make it ugly, I said. Maroon it was. What a maroon.
The full XT group is long gone, replaced by a minimum of parts, namely Paul Hubs, brakes and levers, Salsa 1″ quill stem, WTB Ti bar in 24″ width, an old Ground Control Umma Gumma 2.5″ tire for the pneumatic suspension up front, a skinnier, knobby Geax tire in back for traction, WTB Powerbeam rims (Laced three cross by Scotty at Dirty Harry’s), stainless steel King cages, and Bullseye 190mm cranks. The Bullseyes are a key feature of this bike as the 190mm length allows me to put down a load of torque when I need to. I ordered the Bullseyes with a 34-tooth chainring, and put a 20 on the back. This choice may be slow for flat sections, but it’s great on hills.
Screw the trendiness. Ten years later, and this machine has raised my consciousness, my self-esteem, and the level of my riding skill. We just got back from 24 hours of Canaan, where Stutterin’ and me rode 2 laps with an open team from NYC that I found in the lodge looking for a rider. My 1:37 day lap was comparable to what I’m usually capable of on a geared bike, suspended or not. It’s amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it. Prick was able to ride probably 90 percent of the course, especially the long grind up the road. A couple of really steep uphills were conquered on foot. This offered relief for my back and legs. Downhills were handled amazingly well, the precision of the rigid fork offered total control. And the rigid-fork beating was not that bad.
I don’t know why, but this baby rides like a dream. Uphill or down. Could be that the geometry chosen in 1989 is still valid today. 71/71 angles, 16.9″ chainstays, 11.6″ bottom bracket, 23.75″ top tube and 1.65″ fork rake.
Maintenance? Well the low-end model Ritchey 1″ headset did come loose a little, but that was easily cured once I was able to find a pair of 32mm headset wrenches. That wasn’t easy. The only other requirement was chain lube.