The Most Influential BMX Videos of All Time
Under your influence
In advance of the 2017 edition of the Real BMX series, which premieres on XGames.com on Wed., June 14, XGames.com took a long, hard look at BMX's collective past and compiled 12 of the most influential BMX videos of all time. Take a stroll down memory lane, dig out those old VHS tapes to relive the highlights and don't forget that opinions may vary from person to person. Here's what we came up with.
12. Square One "Wide Awake Nightmare"
In terms of street influence these days, people seem to forget about Bensalem, Pennsylvania's own Brian Wizmerski (pictured right), who created more than a handful of signature combinations that have only gotten their due well after Wizmerski had moved on from the sponsored spotlight, including smith to nose wheelie, polejams and icepick grinds to 180. But before BMX riders were labeled as "technical street" or anything of the like, Brian Wizmerski was road tripping the U.S. and Europe to ride skateparks, long lost pools or spots he had located in skate magazines. Square One Clothing Company, fronted by fellow BMX legend Kris Bennett, was not Wizmerski's venture, but he was a team rider alongside luminaries that included Corey Martinez, Ryan 'Biz' Jordan, Mike Aitken, Chris Doyle and more. Square One went all in on "Wide Awake Nightmare", and although the resulting video took longer than expected to complete, the wait was well worth it. This is among the first videos to combine creative pool riding and manual-centric skatepark lines with riders that were equally as talented at technical street riding, and the result stands the test of time 13 years beyond the video's 2003 release date. "Wide Awake Nightmare" is largely responsible for the tech onslaught currently being pursued in street riding, and it was also one of the first videos to introduce the uprail-grind phenomenon. Respect is due to this classic.
Nobody beats the Wiz
Not long after Brian Wizmerski appeared in the now classic Square One video, he produced a newer section for S&M Bikes that emphasized tech even more while still exhibiting his ability to take on big rails, ledges and pools.
11. Dave Vanderspek 'Curb Dogs 1'
Originally released on VHS tape in 1986, "Curb Dogs" was one of, if not the first skate/BMX videos to feature street riding in its own element, despite the BMX race-influenced culture of the time (which pushed BMX flatland and ramp riding in a competitive format.) Featuring San Francisco, California based BMX pro Dave Vanderspek alongside a cast of skateboarders that included Per Welinder and the original Embarcadero crew, "Curb Dogs" emphasized footplants, jam circles, a street jam and more. It also showcased Vanderspek's ability to skateboard, which in turn influenced his desires to adapt his BMX riding to the streets surrounding him. The resulting bunnyhops over gaps, up ledges and in between pedestrians is some of if not the first documented aspects of a loose movement that would go to become street riding. It also didn't hurt that Vanderspek paired with a production house to get the video into every Blockbuster Video across the U.S., essentially giving every suburban kid across America their first glimpses into what was possible on a BMX bike in their neighborhood. "[Dave] knew there was a bigger audience out there," said fellow Curb Dog member Maurice Meyer, and he was definitely right.
Long live Vander
Just as street riding was coming into its own in BMX, Vanderspek unexpectedly passed away in October of 1988. "If anyone ever knew how to have fun, it was Dave," recalls friend Maurice Meyer. "He was the ultimate Curb Dog."
10. Anthem 'Home of The Brave'
Anthem "Home of the Brave" came out December 28, 1997. At the time, Stew Johnson was living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Johnson was well versed with the BMX lifestyle, producing clothing under the "Scum" name along with influential videos "1201" and "Lights Out." Bethlehem, home to a healthy trails scene and progressive street scene, became the focal point for Anthem "Home of the Brave," featuring riding from then locals Taj Mihelich, Joe Rich and Chris Stauffer, as well as riding from the Pittsburgh area, including Isaac McCrea and Brandon Pundai, Jason Stieg. From a stylistic viewpoint, "Home of the Brave" was unlike anything previously seen in BMX. Filmed in black and white, the video focused on stylish and fast riding, with a soundtrack that veered between the melodic hardcore of Farside and classic rock from The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed. And in retrospect, the first Anthem video seemed to usher in a new age of BMX, from video production to riding to the lifestyle. Mihelich and Rich would go on to start Terrible One soon after, and young upstarts including Van Homan, Chris Doyle and Garrett Byrnes would often name "Home of the Brave" as the video that influenced them to take the next step in their riding. Everyone in the BMX scene started dressing exactly like Chris Stauffer and Joe Rich. And if that ever happens, the impact is clear as day.
Chris Stauffer in the spotlight
Chris Stauffer's iconic tabletop/invert appeared on the cover of the "Home of The Brave" video -- feet barely connected to the pedals, front tire mere inches from his baseball hat, oozing pure trails style. It was this video that plunged Stauffer into the media limelight, earning him a spot first on the Hoffman Bikes team, and later on Federal.
9. The Deadline Video
Once upon a time, X Games BMX Street gold medalist Garrett Reynolds lived in Toms River, New Jersey, slept under zebra-striped blankets and rode for Premium Bicycles. Many thing have changed since the release of "The Deadline Video" in 2013, but because it took so long to release, the maturation of Garrett Reynolds as a loose teenager to straight up boss can be traced the world over on YouTube. Garrett Reynolds, and the Deadline crew for that matter, have always been a few steps ahead of the curve, but his section in "The Deadline Video" documented the many stages of Reynolds' riding, from growing up in suburban New Jersey to living on his own in San Diego, California. It also allowed Reynolds the space and time to grow into a rider that not only knew how to go big, but could also adapt to technical situations AND apply those to the already-bigger setups he was accustomed to riding. Featuring a 12-minute section and multiple Pink Floyd songs, Garrett Reynolds took the bravery of "Nowhere Fast" era Dave Young and mixed it with the technical wizardry of the Animal team to create something all his own, and still untouched.
Reynolds in China
Long before the Real BMX series was a reality, Garrett Reynolds was traveling to China to film for projects ranging from Nike BMX to "The Deadline Video."
8. Trash Films 'Nowhere Fast'
In 2000, producer/BMXer Dave Parrick followed up his 1994 film "Dirty Deeds" with a video that took years in the making and transformed the likes of Dave Young and Josh Heino into instant celebrities within the realm of BMX. By the time "Nowhere Fast" was released, Parrick had moved from Austin, Texas to Long Beach, California, and was continuing to ride and film alongside an extended cast of riders that Brian Castillo, Dave Young, Josh Heino, Jason Enns, Mike Ardelean, Nate Hanson, Mike Escamilla, Byron Anderson and more. Essentially, Parrick was perfecting his craft, and in the process of filming the riders he chose to be in "Nowhere Fast," he was also identifying and portraying their personalities while also expanding his capabilities as a film maker. Dave Young was a loose cannon, but his gutsy ideas came together on occasion, and when the right downhill curb jump presented itself, Parrick knew all too well to capture it on film and pair it alongside Slayer. It still works beautifully.
Introducing Dave Young
Dave Young was a test rider for Ride BMX Magazine before making his video debut in "Nowhere Fast." After opening the video, the entire BMX world knew who Dave Young was.
7. Animal Bikes 'Can I Eat?'
Animal Bikes arrived in 2002 with one of the most incredible introductory videos to have ever appeared since 1993's Homeless "Trash," but it was their follow-up video "Can I Eat?" that really drew attention to the brand and cemented the East Coast street movement as a force to be reckoned with. The beauty of filmer/editor Bob Scerbo's original vision of "Can I Eat?" is that he knew Animal's reach extended beyond the Northeast. He knew how to pick an Animal rider not based in the tri-state area, and how to capture them properly in a way that related to the brand and the remainder of the team. Case in point: Steven Hamilton and Corey Martinez. Hamilton rode to The Violent Femmes; Martinez to Eric Clapton's "Layla." From an East Coast brand that was giving their ender section to Brooklyn-based Edwin De La Rosa riding to 50-Cent, it almost didn't make sense, but it worked perfectly and showed that Animal wasn't just going to fall into a certain paradigm. (Scerbo even rode to a Blondie song.) They were bigger than that, and Scerbo's many follow-ups to that video are a testament to that ethos.
Poached from Animal
Almost immediately after the release of Animal's "Can I Eat?", Corey Martinez was poached away by a bigger paycheck at Primo BMX. That is how influential his section was.
6. Etnies 'Forward'
Producer Dave Parrick strikes again. There are rumors surrounding the creation of the first Etnies BMX video dubbed "Forward" in which team rider Taj Mihelich locked producer/editor Dave Parrick in a hotel room, free of distraction, to get the video done on time. But again, that's just hearsay. What did become of the video was an epic journey documented in the magazines at the time and speculated on by many as to when it would be released. That date finally arrived in 2002, and the resulting video is a testament to the diversity of the very-influential Etnies team of the time. It's often mentioned as Ruben Alcantara's breakthrough section (and yes, it's still amazing), but what stands out in retrospect is the well-roundedness of the team and how appropriately captured it is by filmer Dave Parrick. From curb tricks to small ledge tricks to epic wallrides and huge skatepark transfers, Parrick went the distance to frame everything perfectly while also allowing a glimpse into each rider's persona throughout the video. And then there is Mike Escamilla, who took the opportunity, lit himself on fire (literally) and backflipped a helicopter while the rotors were spinning.
The Etnies influence
Taj Mihelich (left) and Ruben Alcantara (right) were already established names by the time the first Etnies video was released, but both of their sections in the video still stand the test of time today.
5. Homeless 'Trash'
In 1993, a new bike company from Austin, Texas released a video before the majority of the team had even received their first frames from the bike company known as Homeless. The video, titled "Trash," was, according to the brand, "loosely based on the handrail," and helped to usher in a wave of street influence that was unfounded before producers Dave Parrick and James Shepherd had touched a camera or set their sights on the streets surrounding them. The video, featuring the riding of Ed Koenning, John Yull, Chase Gouin, Eben Krackau, Dave Parrick Ruben Castillo, Lee Sultemeier, James Shepherd, Steve Orneales and Kevin Gutierrez, blew the doors off what was possible on the streets if an axle peg was to connect to a handrail or ledge. Mat Hoffman may have been the first rider to figure out how to grind a handrail, but it was the Homeless crew that opened up BMX's collective eyes to the possibility of what could be done on a handrail -- something that is still being explored over twenty years later. Homeless "Trash" might also be the first rider-created BMX video to decide on rider sequencing throughout the video. From Ed Koenning's opening montage to The Gute's closer, it was all well thought out and as perfect as could be.
The first section
The Homeless "Trash" video kicked off with one of the all-time best first sections in a video, featuring the handrail prowess of Ed Koenning, seen here wallriding a few years later.
4. Little Devil 'Seek and Destroy/Criminal Mischief'
In the late 1990s, Van Homan and Garrett Byrnes were two kids from the sticks of Southern New Jersey who happened to meet each other through their mutual love of BMX. By some odd circumstance, both were also full-on lunatics when it came to bike riding. And so it was, the two struck up a friendship that ultimately led to both of them joining a small, Pennsylvania-based clothing company dubbed Little Devil, created by another BMXer named Derek Adams and originally done out of his grandfather's basement. It's hard to really pinpoint why, but both Byrnes and Homan had an inability to gauge how high they could go or how far they could grind (or manual) a handrail, and the two quickly became equated with Little Devil, gaining momentum as a brand and pushing their influence across the U.S. and Europe at a time when VHS tapes were only mailed or shipped.
The Little Devil legacy
And then "Criminal Mischief" arrived in 2001, and to this day, scores of influential riders list it as their favorite video to date. Comprised of "Jackass" influenced stunts, groundbreaking riding from Homan, Byrnes and the remainder of the very respected Little Devil team, along with one of the world's most insane rail manuals, "Criminal Mischief" has become legendary in the small canon of past BMX videos. Or as Van Homan is prone to say, "I did the best I could."
3. Props 'Road Fools 1'
In early 1998, Props BMX Video Magazine's content plan for their upcoming issue (#23) was coming up empty, so the creators of Props (Chris Rye and Marco Massei) decided to instead bring several pro riders on a road trip through the Midwest that culminated in Austin, Texas. The video that developed, Props "Road Fools 1," created a revolution in BMX that included 18 additional volumes and a Blu-Ray boxset. It also lit a spark inside every BMXers head to hit the road, explore the world and create inspirational BMX riding along the way. The formula worked beautifully, and when paired alongside the most progressive riding of the time, Road Fools offered a glimpse into the pro lifestyle that showed the ins, the outs and the not-so-glamorous sides of being a pro BMXer. It was one 1/4 respectful reality TV and 3/4 cutting edge BMX, paired with the best production, best editing and best story telling within BMX. And it changed the focal point of BMX videos for the better.
The original Road Fools crew
The original Road Fools crew poses for a photo outside of the original Props Visual RV.
2. Plywood Hoods 'Dorkin' in York'
At the time when the York, Pennsylvania-based Plywood Hoods were just starting to get noticed (mid to late 1980s), BMX Freestyle was in its first heyday. There were a handful of magazines documenting the scene, the very rare occasional TV special and one Hollywood movie that bombed. And since the magazines were largely based in Southern California, the only way to get outside exposure was to travel to the national contest series (AFA) and compete. In 1987, Kevin Jones, one of the original Hoods, traveled to an AFA comp in Texas and unleashed original flatland tricks that no one had ever seen before at an AFA competition, and all of the magazines took notice. But, his riding partner Mark Eaton was progressing just as fast alongside Jones in both riding and a concept new to BMX Freestyle -- independent video production. While this tight knit group of BMX riders was unknowingly pushing the realm of possibility forward, Eaton was conceptualizing a home made video project which documented their BMX progression. It was released in May of 1988 and became the first independent BMX video ever. Together, Jones and Eaton changed BMX forever with the release of the "Dorkin' In York" series. It was the perfect combination of "what if" in BMX progression and independent video production, and it became a revolution that altered the trajectory of becoming a pro in BMX Freestyle, getting coverage as a BMX Freestyle rider and networking with other BMX Freestyle riders.
Introducing Dave Mirra
The "Dorkin' In York" video series also introduced the BMX world to a 14-year-old BMX rider named Dave Mirra, who would go on to conquer the world of BMX. End of story.
1. Eddie Roman 'Aggroman/Head First/Ride On'
In 1989, rider/producer Eddie Roman released a video ("Aggroman") combining the most cutting edge street, dirt, ramp and flatland of the time, with a story line that depicted Mat Hoffman, Dave Voelker and Roman himself dressed as a mythical superhero fighting against evil ninjas across random parking lots in Edmond, Oklahoma. It was a bad 1-hour joke, a running gag, and it was the start of a legacy for film maker Roman and the documentation of BMX rider Mat Hoffman's exploits. Roman shot with the best riders across the U.S., and waxed philosophical about the meaning of riding. He then returned two years later with "Head First," focusing largely on Hoffman's overall exploits across street, dirt, mini ramp and vert. But the video was also a testament to a new era evolving before Roman's camera, from street-based Dirt Brothers inspired-grinds to the first handrail grinds from Hoffman.
Hoffman and Roman break through
Eddie Roman (right) returned one year later to document the progression of Hoffman (left) and the greater BMX riding scene while also gauging the decline of the first wave of the BMX freestyle industry. Many credit "Ride On" with being a lifeline to BMX when the magazines stopped circulation and the relevant brands of the time stopped manufacturing parts. It was the first wave of a newer school that would steer the course of BMX through the 1990s (that included never-before-seen 900 airs and double tailwhip airs), and it was also the first glimpse of a 15-year-old Dave Mirra just coming into his own. In many ways, Roman's videos saved BMX when the outside world stopped looking. The Real BMX presented by Hot Pockets videos debut on XGames.com on Wed., Sept. 14.