BY KYLEE MESSNER It’s hard to pinpoint just when BMX riding began, though there are stories of southern California teens riding their bikes on dirt roads in the early 1970s. It wasn’t until 1981 that the International BMX Federation was formed. Following the evolution of most industries, BMX companies began very hands on and mom-and-pop, only to become more corporate in the pursuit of a wider audiences. FBM is one of the exceptions to the rule. Run by people who actually ride BMX, FBM has remained true to its DIY roots which stretch back to the ’80s. Director Joe Stakun follows the history of FBM in his new film, I Love My Bicycle: the Story of FBM Bikes, which screens tonight at 8pm at Moore College of Art & Design.
What sets ILMB apart is not the director’s use of interesting camera angles or lighting techniques, but rather Stakun’s unveiling of the secret to a successful indie BMX operation, and touching glimpses of the bonds shared by FBM’s founders. Only someone who has experienced the thrill of testing a bike’s limits could have gained such access, and Stakun is one of them. Plus, who can pass up a film score that includes music from both Fugazi and Jawbreaker?
The film opens up with a rather comical scene of Steve Crandall, the founder of FBM, cursing the many tasks he must complete that day for the filming of the documentary, and the including putting the final touches on FBM’s new headquarters. Still, he is eminently likable and his passion for all things BMX shines through. About three minutes into the film, it becomes apparent why FBM has had so much success over the years: Everything they sell is made by riders, as it has been since the company’s inception. Crandall’s mantra is: “Start from the ground up, and you will succeed.”
FBM began much like most organizations do—a bunch of neighborhood kids took their passion and made it their life word. With mutual interests in punk rock, DIY, T-shirt screen printing and magazine publishing, it was only a matter of time before the founders of FBM started making the product they loved the most. Success would come, through trial and error and sheer perserverence, but it took its sweet old time. In the meantime, there was a lot of drinking beer, raising hell, and riding bikes without a dime to their names. Stakun features testimonials from BMX pros David Mirra and Ryan Nyquit. The film seems to be saying that the fact that traditional business methods don’t work for FBM is almost comforting, that you can break all the rules and still make your way in this world.