If there's a dictionary definition of 'hitting the ground running', then more than likely there's a large, bold, Mirraco logo underneath it to illustrate the point. Very, very, few companies started out in this bicycle business with the kind of team and support that Mirraco has.
How many companies have been started out by arguably the biggest name in the sport? (It also helps with sales into mom and pop stores if that same guy is also the most successful rider ever in the X Games.) From a behind-the-scenes business standpoint, from the off how many companies enjoyed the buying, distributing and dealer support of one of the largest cycle companies on the planet (namely, Trek).
Finally, how many companies can lay claim to assembling a staff with the kind of experience that they have at Mirraco? Suffice to say, the guys at Mirraco have decades of built-in experience and knowledge: it's like they've been doing this for decades.
Well, as it happens, the silverfox business guy behind the desk at Dave's company has been doing this for decades, previously over at Haro: Jim Ford is a BMX business legend, and Bob Haro's old bicycle motocross company simply wouldn't be where it is today without Jim steering it through the years. When Jim left Haro to work at Mirraco just over three years ago, a lot of industry eyebrows flew skywards. And to date, Mirraco has been forging ahead: you cannot argue with the team of riders, the set-up they have, or the new complete bikes.
And 2010 is no different -- the range this time is stellar, so I caught up with Jim Ford to talk more about it.
So, how long have you guys been making complete bikes for now?
We started in 2006, so that would be three years.
Do you still have any of the original range still around your office?
I think we kept number one and number two of the numbered Limited Series bikes we introduced in 2006. Not sure I know exactly where they are, but there's a Blend and a Black Pearl around somewhere.
What are your thoughts about those old original bikes, now?
Well, since they're only three years old, the bikes are still relevant.
So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?
I spec'd bikes a long time ago for another company, but now I leave that to our director of product development, Jean-Luc Ferre. The paint and graphics are done by our creative director, Sean Hargraves. I supervise the process, but they're both good at what they do, so except for some initial strategy meetings and maybe one trip to Asia to go through everything, not much of my time is required.
Does the team get involved along the way?
Absolutely. Virtually everyone on the team gets to chime in, even Dave [Mirra]. They want to be involved in frame geometry, specs, colors, and even model names.
And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?
It's right around twenty, all of them freestyle bikes. We don't do race bikes or mountain bikes.
Do you have more or less bikes compared to 2009?
We trimmed a few models, but the total is about the same because we added a model or two.
Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?
We offer three kids bikes, and when I say kids, I don't mean they have dinosaurs and kitties all over them. There's a 16" wheel model and two 20" models. One has a compact frame with a coaster brake and the other has a standard frame with a freewheel and forged 3-pc cranks. The rest of the line is broken into street, trail, and park bikes. One feature that distinguishes our base models in each of those three categories is the frame and fork. We use chromoly on the top tubes and down tubes as well as the fork legs. It's more expensive to do, but everyone knows you can make a bike stronger and lighter with chromoly. We think that's fairly important, even for riders who are just learning. Going up the line in each of those categories, you obviously get better frames and/or better specs. We try to make the jumps up in price somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 so that the benefits of stepping up to the next model are obvious. Our best models in each of the three categories are different than they have been in the past. It got to the point where the spec our riders wanted on the top-of-the-line bikes caused them to priced at about $2,000. They were great bikes, but for that kind of money riders want to customize their bikes. This year, we brought the price down with lesser specs, but kept the ultra-light heat-treated aftermarket frames on those models. So now, you get the killer frame and you can upgrade the components from there.
Which single bike took the longest to figure out?
The Canvas. It's basically Dave's model and he tends to change his mind fairly frequently during the development process.
Competition is good. It keeps you thinking and progressing and ultimately that means BMX riders keep getting better bikes.
Which was the toughest detail this year?
The toughest every year is probably frame dimensions. Riders have their personal preferences and they vary quite a bit. Even so, we still have to try and insure that the frame dimensions are relevant to the intended user. It's not easy. You may think the cheaper the bike the shorter the top tube, but there are plenty of big guys with small budgets, so you have to consider a lot of variables.
Which is your favourite bike, which one are you most proud of?
I think every rider and every person working at Mirraco would probably give you a different answer to that question. My personal favorite is whichever one sells the best. My next favorite one is the Luxstar in the silver/chrome color scheme. The forks, crank arms, and graphics are chrome. It's not overly flashy with the silver paint, but it's a very unique look.
When did you start working on this year's range -- how long does it take?
We basically start the day after Interbike in Vegas and finish around April or May when the samples are ready in Asia. We probably take a little longer than most BMX companies, because our internal testing and compliance requirements are exceptionally strict.
Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?
I personally wouldn't ride any of them, I mean, I ride a bike virtually every day, but not a BMX bike.
Have you got anything else in there -- fixies? Cruisers?
Nope. Mirraco is all about focusing on one thing -- BMX freestyle. It's why we're in business and it's all we do.
Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?
We've started thinking about 2011 bikes now that the 2010s are done and shipping to bike shops. Nothing to talk about though.
Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies -- which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?
Ah, tricky question. I respect most BMX companies, since we all share similar interests and some degree of passion for the sport. Haro deserves respect for sticking around from day one. They've outlasted quite a few big brands that overshadowed them back in the day. S&M, along with Fit, has done a good job. Internationally, Wethepeople has built a pretty good brand, especially in light of the fact that most BMX brands are US based. I hate to leave anyone out, but there are plenty of small brands that have good product even though the deck is stacked against them when it comes to sourcing and pricing. Competition is good. It keeps you thinking and progressing and ultimately that means BMX riders keep getting better bikes.
For more information on Mirraco, check out the Mirraco site.