Friday, February 5, 2010
Updated: June 21, 11:03 AM ET
The Many Sides of Animal
By Brian Tunney (words), Joe Stakun (video)
ESPN Action Sports
I think it goes without saying: Animal Bikes isn't like any other parts company out there. Since the company's inception, they have done things differently from the ground up, including videos, parts and even the specifics of running the company. But as is the case with most BMX companies, you don't really get a feel of what goes on behind the scenes unless you're working for them, riding with them or live nearby. Luckily, Animal isn't like that. And as a testament to that, we present a three-fold look into the world of Animal Bikes. First up is a video from Joe Stakun detailing the process behind the making of Animal's extensive softgoods collection, followed by an exclusive gallery from Matt Brown, featuring a day of riding at the now infamous Animal warehouse. And if that wasn't enough, I've assembled ten everyday facts about Animal Bikes' history
• On the name: "Animal was a word that was used by some of the crew we rode with to describe anything crazy." -Ralph Sinisi
• Animal's first ad featured Bob Scerbo smithing a rail in Philadelphia, PA. The logo from the first ad has not changed much in ten years. New Jersey locals might also spot Animal ads in Weird NJ, a bi-annual magazine that Ralph sometimes contributes to.
• Animal gives their riders health insurance. There are not too many other brands out there that take care of an extensive team to this degree. Yes, you'd think that something as simple as making sure a team rider can walk would be a top priority for any bike company out there, but the truth is, most bike companies don't pay for health insurance for team riders.
• Animal's first products were OG pegs, a sprocket, t-shirts and stickers.
• Animal introduced the BMX world to the likes of Edwin Delarosa, Vic Ayala, Vinnie Sammon, Nigel Sylvester and many other now-household names in BMX.
• No one has ever been "let go" from the Animal team. Sure, some riders have since moved on to other avenues in life, such as George Dossantos, or went to sponsors that paid more, such as Corey Martinez, but if they ever called up Animal looking for parts, Ralph would be hand-delivering a new bike to them quicker than you could say, "Can I Eat?"
• At the time Animal started, ten years ago in 2000, the idea of a rider-owned component company wasn't something that BMX had fully embraced. Sure, there were (and still are) great component companies in BMX that do awesome things for BMX, but none are owned and operated by the same guy that's outside testing the products on the streets. To this day, Animal is one of the few (if only) parts and accessory companies in BMX that is rider-owned and operated from the ground up, from packing boxes to designing winter coats to signing the checks.
• The name 'Animal' cannot be used in the U.K. since that name is already in use by another brand. To get around this problem, Animal is marketed as "A Bike Co." in the U.K., and special runs of product bearing the A Bike Co. name are made for the U.K. market.
• The tire name "GLH" comes from a term used on a run of Dodge Omni and Dodge Charger cars in the '80s that were built with specific engine tweaks allowing them to go faster. "GLH" stands for "Goes Like Hell."
• On starting the company: "I never wanted to start a company. I was on a road trip with Tag, Crandall, Scerbo, and Dossantos. We all got arrested in Georgia for riding at some college. We were all flea bathed and put in orange suits and thrown in county jail. It was a real dehumanizing experience. When we finally got someone to bail us out we decided to get the hell out of Georgia. We got to South Carolina and went camping. I bugged out all night about doing something new and different. Crandall fell asleep early as usual and Bob, George, Tag, and I walked around these crazy woods all night under a full moon. It was some battleground from the Civil War and was real crazy. We reached some old fort thing and I was so psyched, I decided to start a company. I realized that I could help out others, but nothing would be the way I saw bike riding unless I did it myself. I just wanted to do something all about the riding with no BS or image to sell stuff. Just good riding and good parts. The rest is history." -Ralph Sinisi