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Sunday, December 16, 2012
Top 10 sponsor changes of 2012

By Brian Tunney
ESPN.com

The new Ipath BMX team. From left to right, Alex Magallan, Van Homan, Seth Kimbrough and Shane Weston.

It's mid-December already, and with that comes the chance to take a long hard look back at developments within BMX in the past year. To kick off the series, we've decided to touch upon some of the major sponsor changes of the past 12 months. Some are good, some are bad, and some remain baffling months after they went down.

Van Homan leaves Orchid for Ipath
In early January of 2012, Van Homan parted ways with longtime shoe sponsor Orchid Footwear for a spot on the newly formed Ipath Footwear BMX program. Homan joined Orchid at the brand's inception almost 10 years ago, and remained a loyal team member through several versions of his signature shoe. "For the first time in 14 years, we won't be working together in some form or fashion," said Orchid's Derek Adams. Orchid attempted to rebound later in the year with a new line of shoes, but the line has not yet surfaced.

Primo's decision to drop Foster is discussed in Fit Bike Co.'s new documentary "BF-It."

Brian Foster let go from Primo
In March of 2012, longtime team member Brian Foster was removed from the Primo BMX roster, along with Kurtis Elwell and John Heaton. "Some new guy got a job at Primo and he made the decision to cut the old dudes. At first I wasn't bummed because I thought they weren't doing well, but then they picked up a bunch of new dudes. I kind of just got replaced, so that stung a little bit," said Foster in Dig BMX Magazine. The issue is further discussed in the new documentary from Fit Bike Co., "BF-It." In October, John Richard of Primo said via Twitter, "The unfortunate part is that it was one person who made a very bad call," adding "Wish we could make things right with Foster."

Merritt BMX stickers (left) and Mike Brennan while still on Animal (right).

Mike Brennan leaves Animal to start Merritt
Few riders have ever left the Animal team since the brand's inception in 2000, unless it was for a higher paying salary at another sponsor. (Corey Martinez left Animal to ride for Primo many years ago). In September, Mike Brennan left a job and position on the team roster to form Merritt with former Animal designer Sean Curran. "It was great and everyone at Animal is still family," said Brennan. Merritt immediately added Brad Simms, Brian Foster and Charlie Crumlish to the team, with plans to release a line of components in the coming months.

Fit team rider Shawn Mcintosh joined a revamped Primo team in March, 2012.

Primo adds Shawn McIntosh, Ty Morrow, JJ Palmere, Sean Ricany
After slimming the Primo team down in March, Primo added a host of new riders, including Fit's Shawn McIntosh, Fiend duo Ty Morrow and JJ Palmere, and Premium pro Sean Ricany. In further Tip Plus news, the Cardinal Bikes program was phased out, prompting Primo to move Jackson Ratima from Cardinal to the Primo pro team. According to Cardinal's Nate Moroshan, "We got killed by the owner of Primo who owned us and shut us down -- it sucks for everyone involved." Meanwhile, the revamped Primo team has started taking team trips with Tip Plus and releasing more videos online.

Daniel Dhers joins Specialized
In April, X Games BMX Park gold medalist Daniel Dhers left longtime bike sponsor KHE. He floated around for a month, before announcing via Twitter that he was riding for Specialized in late May. Following in the esteemed footsteps of T.J. Lavin, Kenan Harkin, Allan Cooke, Tom Stober, Josh Heino and Chad Kagy, Dhers released spy shots of his new custom-made Specialized BMX frame. Aside from select U.S. amateur riders flowed Specialized product through bike shop programs, Dhers remains the sole member of the team.

Dennis McCoy in a 1988 Haro ad (left) and in Freestylin's Generation F book (right).

Dennis McCoy re-joins Haro
In mid-June, after nearly three years of discussion, Dennis McCoy became the inaugural member of the Haro "Legends" team, a newly created role that includes not only sponsorship but also an ambassadorship role and helping Haro with brand shaping projects for the future. McCoy first rode for Haro in the '80s, but walked away from the brand while on the verge of a high profile deal that fell through in 1988. McCoy had been without a bike sponsor since the mid '00s, and had ridden a custom FBM.

Steven Hamilton let go from Federal
Steven Hamilton joined Federal Bikes in the early '00s, and produced breakout video parts in videos such as "Can I Eat?" Federal's "Trafaelio" and follow-up Federal videos. He was given several versions of a signature frame known as the Hamilton, and traveled extensively with the teams throughout the years. This fall, Federal decided to part ways with Hamilton. Hamilton took to Facebook and announced the news. He had been riding for Federal for nine years. He remains a member of the Animal Bikes and Empire BMX pro teams.

Stevie Churchill, Federal and Primo mounted.

Stevie Churchill off Volume/Demolition, joins Federal/Primo
In early October, Volume and Demolition announced that team rider Stevie Churchill was leaving behind a signature frame, but did not allude to future plans. "We've done a lot for/with this lil guy and it's never easy building a seemingly good relationship with a rider, only to see him suddenly go," said Volume. A few weeks later, Churchill appeared on Facebook riding a Federal, introducing him to the team.

Nigel Sylvester leaves Mirraco
In early January, Mirraco announced that Nigel Sylvester was leaving the brand with plans to build his own brand. "His new role will give him full control over all of those areas of the business and that's something Mirraco just couldn't offer him," said Mirraco in a statement. In the time since, Nigel has released spy shots of new U.S. made frames he's built up, but has made no announcements about the new brand or when bikes would be available. He continues to ride for Animal and Nike.

Clint Reynolds joins S&M
After running Credence Bikes for years out of his dad's garage and not making any money off of it, Clint Reynolds decided to partner up with S&M Bikes for a unique arrangement in June. Instead of simply being a pro team rider, Reynolds would be riding a signature S&M Credence frame and traveling to S&M headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. to help oversee the production of anything with the Credence name on it. "I came to the realization that this was an awesome opportunity to get the bikes out more and work with Chris on some cool stuff. It seems like such a waste to not try and do something with it," said Reynolds. Reynolds recently finished up welding the first frame of the first production run of S&M Credence frames.