There are few things in life I wish were still around today in BMX -- one of them being Faction BMX Magazine. I loved its raw appeal, the photos and design, and the way the editorial was pieced together: it was gritty and somewhat haphazard in places, but was a breath of fresh air, and it was something the BMX scene really needed, but probably didn't know at the time. This mag was all John Paul Rogers' doing and it unfortunately passed away in 2004. But thankfully John Paul is still around, and deeply involved in the BMX. John Paul now works for FBM and The Take, mainly on their complete line of bikes. And it should go without saying that FBM is nothing short of biblically awesome. Guess what -- their 2010 bikes have just landed, so it's time for our Completes Disclosure with FBM.
How long have you guys been making complete bikes for?
We are on the second model year, but it's been less than a year since we launched the initial bikes.
Do you still have any of the original range still around your office?
A few skeletons of bikes we picked through for warranty parts.
What are your thoughts about those old original bikes, now?
I think we made a quality and competent attempt right out of the gate.
So when it comes to your completes, who does what at your company?
I get input from as many sources as possible, but at the end of the day I sign off on most of it starting from the ground up. Colors, graphics, price points, spec, basically all facets of the development process, even sales.
Does the team get involved along the way?
Not specifically, but they have input on the high-end stuff which trickles into the line. They're busy jumping over giant nacho pits, travelling and having a good time. A lot of this [working on completes] is going over and over tedious details.
And how many bikes have you got in your range this year?
Five, plus different color options.
Do you have more or less bikes compared to 2009?
One more than last year.
Can you run us through your range, starting out at the base through to the pricier stuff?
Guillotine is a new model at a modest price point, tricky action staying below 300 bones. It has what is called a freewheel instead of a driver. Executioner was our best selling model last year, so it stays relatively the same and it's only five bucks more at retail. Heathen has been upgraded with removable brake mounts making it easier for bike shops to stock. Marauder also has been upgraded with removable mounts enabling us to eliminate the brakeless version from last year. Warlord frame this year is post-weld heat-treated and also has removable mounts, it's an aftermarket quality frame.
Which single bike took the longest to figure out?
They all start and then go into production at the same time. Each bike at any time during the process can take up more time than the other models.
Even on models where the spec doesn't change much, it's like starting from scratch. It's like that with any product developed overseas.
--John Paul Rogers/FBM
Which was the toughest detail this year?
Even on models where the spec doesn't change much, it's like starting from scratch. It's like that with any product developed overseas, never ending how you have to stay on top of every detail at all times. You can't take for granted just because something was done correctly once, it'll automatically happen again and again.
Which is your favorite bike, which one are you most proud of?
I look at the line as a whole at the end of the day.
When did you start working this year's range -- how long does it take?
End of last yearish -- eight months to a year I guess.
Which of the whole line would you ride straight out of the box?
Any one of them can take the abuse I can dish out, skids, wheelies and curb cut launching. The lower end bikes are too short for me, and the Warlord is too low slung for my knees. Tricks are for kids, so I leave the out-of-the-box shredding up to them and stick with my personal rig built up around my custom American made frame.
Have you got anything else in there -- fixies? Cruisers? Kids' bikes?
Under The Take name, I've been working on adult and commuter 700c bikes. A lot of time and effort has been put into that project. It'll be about a year and half of development before they hit the shops next spring. Aren't BMX bikes for kids?
Have you already started work on next year's 2011 bikes? Anything you can tell us about those yet?
Some thoughts and notes, nothing concrete at all. I'll have a better idea after talking to shops at Interbike where we'll be heading, and then jump right into after that.
Finally, what about bikes coming from other companies -- which other complete bike ranges do you rate? Which one would you ride yourself?
I don't know, I'm more immersed in what we are trying to do. There are plenty of good choices these days, though. I'll say Fit because none of these smaller companies like FBM would more than likely have the chance to get into completes if it wasn't for their success. I've had the same bike for at least five years, and haven no reason to get a new one, so I wouldn't even be able to make a guess at what I would ride.
For more information on FBM, check out the FBM site.