A Deft move into industry career

Andy Bakken whips it flat off a prime cliff jump during the winter freeriding season in the hills of Temecula, Calif. Courtesy of Andy Bakken

For most of us who grew up racing motocross, we never wanted to think we'd be doing anything except riding motocross for the rest of our lives. In reality, though, a very select few have the opportunity to retire off motocross.

For Andy Bakken retiring off racing was looking bleak. But having to get a real job? Let's face it, after riding motocross for so long it's going to be a whole lot of no fun so what you do for a living becomes a big question.

Well, the next best thing to getting paid to ride for a living is getting paid to be involved with the industry. This allows you to stay close to what you love doing the most and gives you a lot of opportunities to ride for fun.

With a chance to work as a team manager for the Answer, Pro Taper and MSR brands Bakken gained experience on the marketing side of the industry. He later took that experience with him when he left to become the team manager at Deft Family, Nate Adams' signature glove company.

Bakken recently got back in the saddle from a short break caused by having no bike. When he cut some fast laps with friends Jeremy Stenberg, Brian Foster and others at Cahuilla Creek MX Park, everyone watching quickly realized he still has it in him. He was in good form in October at the Transworld Motocross Industry Cup race, where in Moto 1 he jumped out to an early lead but was passed by AMA multi-time champion Jeff Emig and finished second. Moto 2 saw Emig crash early with Bakken taking the win. The 2-1 finish secured the Deft Family team with fourth place overall.

Furthermore after getting done riding I spoke with Bakken to dive a little deeper into his story, the Deft Family operations and freeriding.

ESPN.com: Who is Andy Bakken?
Well, I grew up racing all of the major amateur nationals and moved through the ranks and up into the pros for a couple years trying to make a name for myself in Supercross and the outdoor nationals.

After many years of injuries and hard luck I decided that racing wasn't for me anymore. I have always loved going out in the hills after a good rain to shovel jumps and throughout my racing career I guess you could say I made a name for myself as a good freerider. I became good friends with Jeremy Stenberg during this time and would always go on freeride trips with him.

I knew I couldn't make a living on being a freerider but wanted to stay in the industry I loved, so fortunately Tucker Rocky gave me a shot at being team manager for their brands Answer, MSR and Pro Taper. I learned a lot from those guys over there, and I really appreciate the opportunity they gave me.

Now I'm at Deft Family as their team manager and wouldn't want to be anywhere else at this point in my life.

When did you start at Deft Family?
They hired me on full time in late April 2012. But I've been helping them out from the very beginning. I met Logan [Darien] back when I was an amateur through racing and became good friends with him, then met Nate and Brian [Foster] a few years later. We always talked about doing something cool and different in the industry so that when we were done racing or competing we would have something to do. Then Nate Hawley actually came up with the idea of starting a glove company and proposed it to Logan and it just took off from there.

What do your day-to-day operations look like?
First off, [it] is to make sure all of our athletes are dialed with fresh product. Our athlete list keeps growing as we get bigger, which is good. We have guys in BMX dirt, street, park and racing as well as our moto guys in Supercross and outdoors, freestyle and amateur racing.

I manage all of our social media sites. I process all of the orders we get by making invoices and putting them in our system. And just help Bubbs [Foster] out with whatever we have on our plate at the time, whether it's sourcing out products to be made or whatever it is.

How many medals did Deft take home this year at X Games?
X Games is big for us every year. We usually are dropping new gloves around that time and we get such good coverage with so many of our top athletes competing. This year didn't disappoint.

Taka Higashino came out swinging this year taking gold in Freestyle and silver in Best Trick. Mike Mason put his racing background to the test and came out with a gold in Speed & Style. Jeremy Stenberg used his flawless style to dominate Best Whip taking home gold. Nate Adams fought through his shoulder injury to take the silver medal in Speed & Style. Ryan Nyquist rode solid in BMX Park and took home the silver medal. And Todd Potter threw down in Best Whip to take the bronze medal.

So I believe that's seven medals total with three being gold, three silver and one bronze. I'd say it was a success.

Speaking of premier events, Deft had a BMX rider competing in this summer's Olympics, tell me about Nic Long.
Yeah, Nic had a chance to compete in this year's Summer Olympics, which was huge for Deft.

Nic rides for Haro bicycles. Haro's team manager is Derek Betcher, who's been a part of the Fam from the beginning and Nic asked Derek about being a part of Deft. After researching what Nic was all about, we thought he would fit in great and got him on the program.

How did he do?
Nic ended up missing the finals by one spot, he was so close! He was riding well but had a little bad luck, going down in a huge pile-up in one of his qualifying rounds.

Switching back to two wheels and a moto, you kill it in the hills as well as on the track. You recently just got a new ride, where will you be spending your time? The track? The hills?
Yes, I just picked up a new bike and I'm stoked! I'll probably hit up tracks for the next couple months until it starts raining and then head for the hills.

Transworld Motocross holds an industry race every year called the Industry Cup in October, so I'll just be getting ready for that. It's set up like the Motocross Des Nations where each company picks three riders to compete. It's always a lot of fun and I've been on the winning team two years in a row now, so I gotta go for the three-peat right? [Laughs]

Anything else going on with Deft coming up in the future everyone should stay tuned to?
Yes, our DC Shoes collab. We have a shoe, two T's and a hat dropping with them. We are really excited about this collab and the relationship we've built with DC. The tees are available now, the shoe and hat will be available Jan. 1, 2013.

Where can you get Deft Family gloves and the shoes?
The gloves you can get at deftfamily.com or at your local motorcycle shop. All of the DC collab stuff will be available on their website at dcshoes.com or at select DC retail stores.