After a big day in BMX break up news yesterday, last night proved to be even more dramatic, with the addition of Chase Dehart and Trey Jones to the list of riders that have departed the Fit Bike Co. camp. All signs point to Dehart, Hawk, Roche and Jones riding for a new BMX company known as Cult under the direction of Robbie Morales, which may or may not be connected to the skateboarding world in some strange way. (We are awaiting confirmation, so that's not set in stone just yet.)
Rather than speculate on the future though, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the influence that Fit Bike Co. has had on BMX since its inception in 2000. I don't remember the exact details of the conversation, but I can recall being outside of the Skate Street Skatepark in Ventura, CA sometime in the summer of 2000. Robbie Morales was on the verge of leaving Terrible One, and mentioned an idea he had about a new brand he wanted to work on, which included some of the most influential riders of our time. He called it "Fit," and mentioned that it was a project he would be working on with Chris Moeller and S&M Bikes. At the time, Robbie's signature frame with T-1, the Progression, was high in demand, but also difficult to manufacture and produce in a timely fashion. He needed a change, and saw an opportunity in Fit Bike Co.
After leaving T-1 on good terms, Morales and Moeller got to work on Fit. They developed Robbie's frame design in-house, dubbed it the Series 1, and assembled an all-star team that included Robbie, Nate Hanson, Brian Foster, Mike Aitken and Van Homan. The Series 1 line went on to include handlebars and forks, and the flow team went on to include riders such as a then unknown Edwin Delarosa and Justin Inman, along with Aaron Bostrom, Dave King and more. Eventually, in an effort to tease Morales, the brand name "Fit" morphed into "F-it." But rather than run away from the re-tooled name, Robbie and company embraced it, producing trucker hats that read "F-it" and naming their first video F-it. Produced in an extremely short period of time by Anthony Moreschi of 411, F-it aptly demonstrated Fit's momentum as both a brand and a progressive BMX team, from street to trails to skateparks. According to Morales at the time, "Although each team member has their own unique style, they all share the same passion for riding; a common bond strong enough to shape Fit into more than just a traditional company."
The ball was rolling. Fit's frames, forks, bars and accessories were gaining popularity worldwide, the team was second to none, and the company continued to grow at an alarming rate under Morales' direction. At the time, no one really expected another brand created in-house at S&M to work very well, but the differences between the two brands were fairly dramatic. According to Robbie, when applied to skateboarding terms, Fit was the Element to S&M's Black Label, and though the two brands produced similar products, the difference in brands was substantial.
But to speak of Fit simply in terms of product would be a disservice to Robbie Morales' direction. As a brand manager, team manager and rider, Robbie Morales shaped Fit from the very beginning, producing a slew of influential team and trip videos and introducing amazing riders to the BMX world, including Chase Hawk, Dakota Roche, Chase Dehart, Eddie Cleveland, Edwin Delarosa and Tom White. But Robbie wasn't only concerned with new blood. He helped push Brian Foster's newfound career as a pro BMXer outside of the race realm, developed a maturing Van Homan into one of the most influential riders of our time, and even flew across the country to be at Mike Aitken's bedside after a crash put Aitken in a coma last year.
More simply, Fit would never have been Fit without the efforts of Robbie Morales. Robbie has an eye for spotting the very best of the best, the ability to maintain and direct successful and enduring BMX careers, and the drive to push things as much as he can. I know that some people might have their personal gripes with Robbie's methodology from time to time, but you can't deny the influence he's had on BMX through Fit Bike Co.
Yesterday, following Robbie's departure from the brand along with key team riders, things changed drastically. Fit will undoubtedly endure as a brand for many years to come, and wherever Robbie and the new crew end up, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be great. But I think it's important to reflect on the Morales years of Fit Bike Co. and not forget the influence that both had on BMX as a whole: progressive bikes and components, one of the best teams in BMX and a legacy of pushing the envelope.
Yesterday truly was the end of an era. F-it.