Kim Boyle has successfully navigated the tempest waters of BMX for over four decades. Relocating from the East Coast to Southern California in the late 80s, working for GT and later Woodward, Airwalk, Vans, DC and Hoffman Bikes, Boyle has amassed an impressive resume, a list of friends a mile long, and some pretty fascinating stories. Vic Murphy and I drove up to Carlsbad, CA last week where we spoke with Kim about his extensive experiences inside the BMX, Snow, and Moto industries and his current creative project: Boyle Custom Moto.
Interview by Paul Covey
With additional questions by Vic Murphy
Photos by Paul Covey unless otherwise noted
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Where did you grow up?
Oil City, Pennsylvania.
How did you discover BMX?
The back of Boys’ Life magazine in like 1975.
Was it an ad for a bicycle?
It was a CYC mail order catalogue. I sent away for it immediately.
We didn’t get real bicycles for a long time after that, but I always lusted after them. I think my first real bicycle was a Yamaha shock bike.
Vic: Those were sick!
I had other bikes before, but that was my first real BMX style bike.
Did you ever have a favorite bike?
Ya, I had a Team Mongoose frame that I traded some neighborhood kids parts for. I built it up with Tuff Wheels, aluminum bars, and a Tuff Neck stem. That was when the geometry just kind of felt right, and I started learning on it. I was like, “This is alright!”
So, you moved out to California in 1988?
What prompted the move out to California?
Just small town life. I was over it.
Did you know anyone out here already?
You just picked up and moved?
One of my roommates at home was like, “I’ll go with you.” So, we came out here and tried to make a go of it. It really wasn’t working together. So, he went his way, and I went my way. Actually, I had a distant uncle that I didn’t know at all, and my mom called and asked him if I could stay for a couple of weeks. After two weeks, he was like, “You guys gotta go.” So we went our separate ways. Then my mom called up an old neighbor, that I didn’t know either, who happened to live out here, and I stayed with them. They ended up living around the corner from GT.
Is that how your involvement in the BMX industry began?
Well, to back up a little bit, when I graduated from high school I only lasted at my parents house for a couple of months, because all I was doing was riding. My parents couldn’t grasp the concept of making anything out of bicycle riding; so I got thrown out of the house. Eventually it was like, “Let’s get out of here.” When I came here I really had no intention of doing anything in BMX. I just wanted a change of pace and to see the sights. But, because I wasn’t making any money, I needed a job. I discovered, just by accident, that GT was two blocks from the house I was staying at. I just went down and filled out a resume, and seriously bugged them everyday, three times a day, until they finally said, “Look, come in and stop bugging us!” (laughter) So I went in there and Bill Galloway took me in the back and said, “Here, assemble a Gyro. Put these cranks on.” Basically, they ran me through the test, and finally Bill said, “Ok, you start on Monday.” Alright. So I started in the customer service department. That was the beginning of actually getting into the BMX industry. I had no intentions of doing that at all, ever.
How long did you work for GT?
Two years, maybe two and a half years. I started riding a lot. That was cool because you just had unlimited bike parts at that point, so it was fun just riding a ton. I went from the customer service department to managing the freestyle team. They built this death-trap of a half-pipe and made us drag it around the country. Then they started building a second portable half-pipe, and I was like, “I’m not doing this again. Somebody’s going to get hurt!” And I think somebody did. Somebody ended up rear-ending a car – hauling that second one going down to Glamis. Dave Voelker would know that story. I was gone by then.
I’ve heard you say that you graduated from the McGoo School of Team Management?
I did, ya.
Can you elaborate on what that means?
He kind of took me under his wing immediately, because we shared the customer service space a lot – when he would build up team bikes or do whatever. So, he started introducing me to the magazines, taking me to events, just going on little tours and trips to Tijuana. Just the local stuff, you know. So, I just kind of learned from being there and meeting all the guys. And when he left, he went to Mongoose, and the riders . . . they were tough on me for a while. They ran me through the ringer, you know, just acting like little kids . . . F*ing around constantly. It sucked. (laughter) But, I eventually earned their respect, and it changed, you know.
Do you remember some of the guys that were on the team back then?
Oh, ya. All of them. At that point, BMX, and especially freestyle, you know, was completely dead, for lack of a better term. Rich Long had us doing school tours all fall, and everybody hated it.
Vic: Red Ribbon week.
You know, just coming back from summer tour, and then starting right back into this. Going into schools . . . all they really cared about was to see you crash. No one really gave a sh*t about the talent or anything. So, it just kind of sucked and wore on you. For those school tours it was always Voelker. He’d come up to Huntington from San Diego. I’d bring out Gary Pollack for three or four months at a time and he’d stay at the Holiday Inn. He’d go on this tour, just living at Holiday Inn. (laughter) I felt so bad for him. Brett Hernandez would come in. His brother Trevor would do shows for us sometimes. Robert and Ruben Castillo. Jess Dyrenforth joined the team and he’d do that. Then Joe Johnson was here for a while, and he got sick of it and was like: “Well, I’ve got to move back home.” So he got out of doing that, and then he just quit riding anyway. And Dino Deluca was still a huge part of it. Martin Aparijo did shows, and once in a while we’d take Hans Rey if we needed somebody. But, it was just show, after show, after show, after show . . .
Tell me about your sample Dyno Slammer and how is it different from the production models?
The GT Aggressor was doing very well, so in typical Rich Long fashion he was like, “Well, let’s do a Dyno one.” You know, always sell, sell. So we did that longer than the Dyno freestyle frame at the time. The back-end and the front-end are both longer. I had Gary Turner weld that up. I was kind of riding S&Ms whenever I was at home. (laughter) I wanted double-thick dropouts, so we’d weld two together. We did that. We stole the bashguard off of the Aggressor and then just did the whole geometry for basically how I wanted the bike. And, I don’t know why I kept that one. I didn’t keep anything from that era, really. Those two frames are almost from the same exact time. That’s a first generation S&M Dirt Bike too. So, ya, I don’t know why I kept that, but it’s cool. I’m glad I have it.
Did you know that frame has a legendary status among BMX collector types?
Really? No, I didn’t know that. (laughter) Wow.
Did you know Chris Moeller at that time?
Ya. So, that was what was awesome. Right around the time we started getting settled in at GT, McGoo had the magazines come down. Stonehenge was still in the back. We would put that thing together once or twice a week. Moeller would come down with like Spike and Lew and Andy. And Chris…I think he was eighteen. We just talked about this recently. He was eighteen and driving this beat up Toyota Celica, and he was gnarly man. I remember meeting him, and I was like, “wow, that kid is like way too much for me to handle right now.” (laughter) But we ended up spending a lot of time with him. At that same kind of time was when all the pros from the East Coast, the racers, started moving into Huntington. And they were in what turned into the POW house, which was originally the 13th Street house in Huntington. They lived a couple of blocks from us, so we always rode with all these race guys.
So the freestylers and the racers all just mixed together?
All the time. Ya, we rode all the time.
Vic: Ya, it was super-sweet.
It was fun. I was thinking last night about one of the last times I rode with you Vic. I remember one Sunday going to the Tijuana skatepark, and I think Moeller forgot his bicycle.
Vic: Ya, and he had a skateboard.
Ya, he had his skateboard. (laughter)
Vic: Gosh. That was so sweet. I wish that place was still there.
How did your time at GT end?
The portable half pipe deal. I mean, we were well along on the construction of the second one. It was huge. Like this drop-belly thing, and we were basically going to pull it with the front end of a school bus. It was called a C60 or something – just this big giant truck. I just remember looking at it all like, “f*k, this is nuts.” So, what I started doing was looking into taking the summer to go do something. I loved Woodward, so I went to see if I could get a job there. So, I got in to be something at Woodward. Woodward is actually about 2 hours from where I grew up. On the way back I stopped to go to my best friend’s wedding, and I didn’t leave for 2 years.
You just stayed?
I just stayed back in Oil City for 2 years, and had a blast with all my friends from high school. I kind of assimilated back into that life. I still was riding. After 2 years, I was like, “I can’t do this anymore.” So, (I moved) back out here (to California) almost 2 years to the day.
Is that when you started working with Airwalk?
Nah, I started working with Chris and McGoo at Mental Jimmy’s. Mental Jimmy’s and S&M shared a warehouse in Anaheim, and shortly after that is when I started working at Airwalk.
How did you end up at Airwalk?
They were kind of trying to regroup and ramp up the whole thing. They had taken their skate team manager, SIN, and he had taken on the design role and was being pretty successful with it. That’s when The One shoe had taken off. (Airwalk sold well over 7 million pairs of the ONE shoe in the 90s -Paul) SIN was kind of like a freight train rolling. So they needed someone to promote it. They brought in three team managers: skate, surf, snow, and me to do two-wheeled stuff.
Where you working with motocross as well?
Not yet. As that started to go I met some BMX guys that were into moto. They introduced me to Randy Lawerence, who’s super into BMX, and was a mechanic at the time for Doug Dubach at Factory Yamaha. Randy introduced me to so many people. Within a month I’m in Jeremy McGrath’s box van giving him shoes, and Ricky Carmichael is like, seven, calling me up, “You mean all I’ve got to do is call you for shoes?” (laughter) And I’m like, “Ya, man!” So, you know we started a whole motocross thing back then, and that kind of blossomed. It was super-fun. I was only at Airwalk for a year, but what we did in that year was just huge.
Your roll there was team manager?
Ya, team manger. And then, the snow team guy really didn’t work out. He was a great guy, but it wasn’t really what he was good at, so they moved him into production. Then the skate team guy and myself took over the whole snow program too. That got me into snowboarding.
Who was in charge of Airwalk at the time?
The two owners were still battling it out. Bill Mann and George Yohn were the owners and a guy named Lee Smith was the president. Liz Kiley was the marketing manager. Jaimie Muehlhausen was the art director. He’s at Tony Hawk’s now. He’s been there forever.
Do you remember what kind of budget you were working with?
Ya. Airwalk was crazy. As far as giving out shoes – no budget. Travel – no budget. The only parameters were that if we were going to leave the country, or go to Hawaii, we had to get permission. Other than that, they wanted you on the road three weeks a month. It was just carte blanche. At that point, I think we gave the ABA a hundred and fifty grand for the race series. I can’t remember what we gave Mat (Hoffman) and Steve (Swope) to do the B.S. series, but that was the shot in the arm that freestyle needed right then. It was so fun doing that, you know. Working with Mat and Steve back then, and even in the future, but back then we had so much fun.
Can you talk about SIN (Sinisa Egelaja – Airwalk shoe designer – RIP)
I could never pronounce it. It was just always, SIN. Ya, he was one of the funniest people I ever met. He’d pretty much do anything to make you laugh or for a joke. He was the design process. I didn’t work with him when he was in team management at all. He gave me a couple pairs of shoes, and I’d met him a couple of times. After that, when I started working with him, he was completely the designer.
Tell us about those Shimano DX pedals on the wall.
We were at Airwalk and SIN wanted to do the most ridiculous ad campaign or it might have been a catalogue shoot. He wanted the most outlandish, ridiculous stunts that couldn’t possibly be done. But he wanted good photos of it. His roommate at the time was Dan Sturt, who was a famous skate photographer, and probably still is. I haven’t seen him in years. But SIN said, “I need a pair of pedals.” So he took these, drilled holes in them, bolted a pair of shoes onto them, and said, “Come to the office on Saturday.” So when I get there, he has a crane and a launch ramp on one roof, and like . . . there was a parking lot between these two buildings – absolutely not possible. So he harnesses me up, and strings me up on the crane with these pedals. The only thing holding my bike on is my shoes bolted to the pedals. (laughter) So he’s like, “Do a tabletop! We’re gonna photoshop out the rope!” I’m like . . . this is ridiculous. And once he got me up there I was scared to death! So, I did a couple of things and got down. And then he actually had me do one other thing. I don’t remember, some sort of flip looking thing. It ended up in the catalogue, and people were bummed. I mean, it was ridiculous. But, that’s why these DX pedals have holes in them. (laughter)
What were your favorite shoes during that period?
The Jim shoes.
Were they named that because most people’s first sport was gym class, or all the name combinations possible?
Nah, it was like, “Jim Nasium.” (laughter)
How did you end up hooking up almost all top riders in bmx with shoes?
For freestyle, it was relatively easy. I’d been going to events, knew quite a few people, and had a good relationship with the magazines. The racers…it was like, man, they were brainwashed. “No. The only shoes we can ride in are Vans. No other shoe in the world will work.” Man, pulling teeth. But, it worked, and then the racers turned out to just love it. I had racers that memorized every catalogue, every shoe, and every color-way.
Did you put the Foster brothers on Airwalk?
Were you involved with their shoe at all or was that after your time?
That was after my time.
Do you remember the NTS series at all?
Not The Same. Oh ya.
Those were some of my favorites along with the NTS 2 series. I think those were some of the best BMX shoes ever made.
Joe Rich and Taj . . . that crew, and Luc-E. Those guys, that’s pretty much all they wore.
You mentioned the B.S. contest series sponsorship before. How did that all come about?
Well, that was my passion, the freestyle side of it.
Did you already know Mat?
Ya, but not very well. After all that, we became really good friends.
Kim’s BS Contest Champion Belt. Airwalk’s sponsorship helped keep the BS Series alive in the early 90s.
(Vic’s phone rings.)
Vic: It’s Eddie Roman, the freestyle showman.
That’s crazy! I was gonna say, where did we meet?
It was 1993 at the OKC B.S. comp. The first one in OKC.
Ya, you helped build the park there? I was there like 3 weeks helping out too.
I’d gone up from Texas to help work on ramps. You were the first person I know that had one of those Caesar haircuts.
Getting back to Airwalk, what was your favorite part of the job?
Just working with everybody; we had great riders. I think when I left we had 94 or 96 riders, and that’s a lot. And, every single one of them were friends, you know? I don’t remember anyone that took advantage of anything. They were just super grateful. Going onto snowboarding, there were other people that would really take advantage, who felt entitled. That kind of sh*t. But from the sport (of freestyle) just being kind of downtrodden, and people just sticking with it; it was their passion, and they were really grateful for anything and everything they got.
What happened with the brand? How did Airwalk lose its way?
Well, that’s why I got fired. If I had to sum it up, it would be. . . you know, we took that year, maybe a little over a year, and it wasn’t just me. I had John Paul (Rogers) with me a lot, and he helped me a ton. And, we changed the face of shoes in BMX in that year. And that guy, the owner, George Yohn at the time, got a taste of success. He used to say, “Action sports are a pimple on a whale’s ass.” That was his quote. And, I’d be like . . . not just me, but I think everybody else there somewhat agreed, that we should just keep the momentum going the way we were. But, he just wanted to go after Nike. That was his thing – Nike, Nike, Nike. We were all just like, “no way.” I mean, you can grow and probably be a pretty big business and still have the integrity, and still have action sports. But he just kind of went off (in that direction). I didn’t agree with it at all, and made that well known, so me being disgruntled, it didn’t work out.
Did you leave or were you let go?
I was let go. I think, that was the other thing. With him wanting to go into other markets, he’d take the three team managers . . . First off, he’s like, “OK, do your job. You’ve got to be out of the office three weeks out of the month.” And then, he’d come at us like, “Ok for the next two weeks you guys are going to be in separate rental cars, driving around the state of Pennsylvania, going to every shoe store filling out weird surveys, and then come back and tell me where and how we can go after the Reeboks and Nikes.” And I was like, wait a minute, I don’t want to do this. I want to be doing my job. That is why I was hired, and that is what I love doing. I don’t want to go to shoe stores in central Pennsylvania, you know? I left there.
It seemed like it was blowing up, and then it went from being one of the most beloved brands in skating and BMX, to almost universally despised by everyone.
So what happened after Airwalk? Did you go to Vans?
After Airwalk, I didn’t have anything to do. I was living down here in Carlsbad, and another friend was getting married in Pennsylvania. So, I drove back there. I wasn’t there for very long. Then, the second partner in Airwalk . . . there was a big, giant lawsuit going on and they had split up. I don’t really know the details, or the where or why of how any of this happened, but he ended up at Vans. And he calls me in Pennsylvania. Somehow he tracks down my parent’s phone number, and says: “I’ve got a job for you at Vans. We’re going to do a snow boot program. Are you interested?” And I said, “Ya!” So I drove all the way back. And at the time, nobody at Vans really knew what was going on. It’s really high-level stuff, but they wanted me on board. I got hired by Steve Van Doren, and he’s like, “I don’t know why we are hiring you, but you’re hired.” I seriously just sat in an office for like 3 months. (laughter) I taught myself Word on a PC, and how to send faxes, and just weird stuff there, you know? The skate team manager quit, so I ended up shipping shoes just left and right to a bunch of skaters that I didn’t ever meet or know. It was miserable.
You didn’t like it?
No. It sucked. It was horrible. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t know what else to do. Then the first round of snow boots show up and it’s just a bunch of old Burton rip-offs that were in a back-stock somewhere in Korea that they put Vans logos on. That was the start of something to work on with the snow team. I hired a skateboard team manager, RP Bess – a great kid, who hadn’t even graduated high school yet. He comes in and does the skate team. Everette (Rosecrans) is kind of still doing BMX as a consultant once in a while. I’m trying to take some of the Airwalk guys from the freestyle end. (laughter) You know, it’s super difficult. Everything that I worked for, I was trying to take back in the BMX side of things. But, then the snowboard thing started blossoming. I created a team and I started the following year’s design process, which was all new to me but super-fun. I designed a whole line of boots. If I remember correctly, we took Vans from nothing to number two, and we beat out Airwalk by the second year of the whole program.
That’s Rad! How long were you at Vans?
Do you remember what year you left?
I went to a snowboard clothing company and part of my signing bonus was that they bought me a 96 RM 125. So I think it was 1996. (laughter) I was at a snowboard clothing brand for a couple of years. Actually, snowboarding was starting to die off, and I was over it. I started riding dirt bikes a ton. I think one year we did 80 days of snowboarding, and the next year I didn’t snowboard at all because we were just riding moto every weekend. That’s when Mat and Steve said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Nothing really.” And they said, “Come work with us!”
That’s cool. Can we talk about working with Mat and Steve?
That’s a big one. It started as a pretty grey area. I lived here, and obviously they were all in Oklahoma. But Mat was starting to get the idea rolling for the CFB series. ESPN wanted to do the B3 stuff plus the X-Games. Mat was having trouble with Exhibit, and which direction to take that. That was the clothing brand he had. So he was like, “Well, why don’t you just come and help with this.” I can’t even remember how it worked. I think I got some money from them, and I got some money from ESPN. Then it turned into just getting paid by ESPN, and I was basically . . . “Sport Coordinator” was on my checks. (laughter) I don’t remember. But we just did all the events, you know? I think one year, in 2000, we did 23 events. Then McGoo came up with the downhill series, so we did the 3 Vans downhill events, and ESPN picked it up for the X-Games. I learned how to run a bull dozer real quick, and we built those tracks with a great crew: Nate Wessel, Psycho, Mark Rainha, and Mark Hildebrand. Those guys, we traveled all over, pushing dirt around on ski slopes, you know? Man, it was a crazy time.
X-Games Downhill – Photo by Kim Boyle
In your eyes, did you think that it was a successful series?
I thought it was awesome. I think, even right up to the last one we thought somebody might pick up the whole idea and run with it. I think Eric Carter did something similar out at Glen Helen, and nowadays even some of the BMX tracks are pretty big, but not like that.
Do you feel like it did have that influence to make the tracks more interesting and better?
Ya. Well, you know, McGoo would always come into these meetings, and the best way to explain it was: these pros are racing on the same track as the 5 year old beginners. Pop Warner and NFL don’t have anything to do with each other, you know? Supercross tracks don’t have the 6 year old beginners racing them. These guys are supposed to be pros, let’s elevate them to a pro-level. Let’s pay them what a pro should be paid and make a good show.
What do you remember from that day? Do you remember people eating it, or who won, or any gnarly slams?
Oh ya, there were tons of gnarly slams. Everybody probably went down at some point or another. But we worked well with the riders. We said, “OK, if this is going to work, what do we need to do to make it safe for you guys to jump 65 feet and go at this speed?” You know? So, it was really smoothing out the track. We worked really hard with that, trying different techniques, renting all these different types of equipment to smooth everything out. Getting different types of dirt hauled in. And you know, working at Woodward, they just – whatever we needed – if we needed a certain type of dirt, Gary Ream would be on the phone, “I know a guy!” And pretty soon, like 16 truck-loads of dirt would show up. It was pretty cool. In typical Woodward fashion, and Gary himself, he did whatever it took, because he thought it would elevate the sport, and be good for the sport. Woodward was just always super helpful like that. That made it a lot easier to work on the track there.
Do you remember the first person to go down the track?
Well, we did a lot of testing before. Psycho and Wessel were jumping stuff, and being at Woodward, the freestyle guys would come up. Colin (Winkleman RIP) and Dave (Mirra RIP) was there too. And they’d come up and do stuff. But Robbie Miranda was huge as like a consultant. Brian Foster would come in, and not just to ride. Those guys would get in tractors too. Those guys were passionate about trying to elevate the sport as well, so they were there to help. Keith Mulligan’s family came in and did all the scoring and timing. His dad ran the gate because they grew up with racing. And they became like family. You know? Kind of like our parents on the road. It was just a really cool vibe.
Who do you respect or admire?
There are tons of people. I’ve always kind of not had heros, but just the people that do inspire me. If you want me to nail down specifics, my father is a huge influence. I wouldn’t have any of the love for two wheels if it wasn’t for him. He got me into all this stuff at a very early age.
Do you want to talk about influences?
You know what we kind of did miss out on is Dave (Mirra). I was his first team manager, and that was pretty gnarly a couple of weeks ago. But, you know, he was . . . he was a cool little kid. As I was transitioning from the customer service department to freestyle team manager, Todd Huffman was the marketing director at that time at GT. He went to – I guess it was a 2-Hip contest in New York and the Plywood Hood guys were like, “You have to see this kid!” You know? So, Huffman came back and was like, “We have to get this kid.” I knew of him from the Hoods, because we gave them stuff, and those guys were awesome.
I just went . . . I remember just taking a pallet jack through the GT warehouse and just stacking it full of everything this kid’s going to need. You know, probably like 3 bikes, and tons of forks. People always needed tons of forks. Tons of clothes . . . I wasn’t even thinking twice about it. This is what we would do to set up a new rider, kind of thing. And to this day, if he was still around, he would come in and say, “The boxes of stuff that showed up at my house were INSANE!” (laughter) When he introduced me to his dad at the X-Games, it was the first time I met his dad and he was like, “This is the guy that sent all that stuff that time!” (laughter) He still freaked out about that.
I’d have to arrange all the travel with his mom. And, this kind of came up on social media the other day: John Paul was living at the POW house, and Dave was staying with us. He was 14 or something. And he was just a million miles an hour. He wouldn’t stop. He was up at like 6 in the morning, “Let’s ride, let’s go, let’s go!” We all had to work, conduct our lives, and pay bills. And he was just non-stop. So, reluctantly, I dropped him off at the POW house. I’m like, “If his mom knew what I was doing.” (laughter) He didn’t last too long there. They got him to do a bunch of chores and he rode. (laughter) But they were all, “You’ve got to get him out of here!” (laughter) He was just so amped on riding. He was so little. He wasn’t even strong enough to spin 180s or 360s, and he was so frustrated with that. “I can’t wait ‘til I get bigger!” You know? But, man he could blast airs, at that age even.
How did you hear about his passing?
I was sitting in a restaurant for lunch, and it came up on social media. I immediately texted Tony D, “Is this for real?” And he was like, “Ya.”
What was your reaction?
Any more I tend not to react too much until I get the details, especially with that kind of thing. So I was hoping for the best. But, I don’t know. I think we should . . . a lot of us should start looking at head injuries.
Let’s move on a little bit. Tell me about Boyle Custom Moto. You started up in 2008?
Ya, I don’t know, somewhere around there. That’s when we started making somewhat legit . . . what happened was I got really hurt riding dirt bikes. That was my passion, even before I got into BMX. It was the reason I got into BMX because my parents either thought it was too dangerous or too expensive. That’s why I didn’t ever get any dirt bikes. When I was finally making enough money to do it on my own, I think I was 28. I bought a bike and just started riding; it was just full-on. I fell in love with it. I started working in that industry some, met tons of people, started going to races, learning how to work on bikes from pro mechanics. You know? Just all that stuff. I shattered my hip, and spent three months in bed. I couldn’t walk or do anything.
Riding dirt bikes. I was probably in the best shape of my life; I think I was 40, nah I was 38. I was riding twice a week and just having fun with it. But, ya it bit me in the ass, literally. So after that, it was like, “What am I going to do? I can’t keep doing this.” You can love bikes, but they’re not going to love you back. They’ll hurt you.
Bill Bryant, who was partners with McGoo, was overseas in the military, and he was coming back. He wanted to start this street bike ride thing to Mexico, and that’s about all I knew about it at the time. That turned into the El Diablo Run, which they still do annually. And Bill said, “You’ve got to come on this!” I’m like, “Nah, I don’t care about street bikes.” So Bill was all, “Come on it’ll be fun. Mexico is good.” All that. So he kind of talked me into it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I’d always wanted a Ducati Monster. So I found a cheap one, took it apart, and just basically bolted it back together. I cut some things off, and it was kind of fun. But, when we got to Mexico, these guy’s rolled up on these handmade bikes and I was just like, “You made this?! You did that?!” I was just blown away by the craftsmanship and the art aspect of it.
That was the next thing?
That was it!
How long after that did you start doing your own thing?
I came right home and started. It was never meant to be anything, you know? It was just having fun building bikes with my friends to go ride around here. To this day, I’m not interested in giant long rides. I just want to go up and down the coast or to the bar and get a taco. You know? I really don’t care about riding across the country or anything.
Vic: Your not a BMW guy?
No. I’m not going on any adventures. (laughter) That’s why I have a van. People are going to hate me for saying that, but . . . I don’t care. (laughter) I met a machinist guy and asked him to help me do some things for that grey bike. As that relationship developed, we started making some things that we needed for our bikes, and I finally said, “Why don’t you make ten of these and I’ll put up an online store or something.” And we created a brand called BenchMark. We ended up having a falling out, and I don’t know where they are at with that. So, I kind of walked away from that. I was actually not going to do anything with moto. I was so bitter and over it. I wasn’t going to do anything, and all my friends kind of talked me into it, like, “you can’t walk away from this.” That’s how I started my own little brand. The BCM thing was left over from a little blog I had. It never really meant anything; it just kind of blossomed into what it is today.
That’s cool. How would you compare the BMX world to the moto world?
Well, there are many different aspects. We’d have to nail down more of the moto world. The racing side of things is very sterile, very quick paced, and you get things done. The chopper world you’re walking through six inches of cigarette butts and sunflower seeds polishing dust. It’s a little bit of both, you know? (laughter)
There’re some similarities and some differences.
Ya. BMX racing is a little bit like motocross racing in a sense, and then, you know, there is the good party aspect of freestyle. There’s a certain kind of fun doing that kind of thing, or living your life in a different culture, I guess.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s very difficult for me to live by. But, all this stuff is supposed to be fun, so don’t take it so seriously, you know? I’ve lost a bunch of friends over this stuff, and you think back and you’re like, “We did this for fun, all of it.” You know, riding bicycles, riding motorcycles, building motorcycles, all of it was supposed to . . . It’s not a medical device, you know? (laughter) It’s fun. So ya, and I struggle with it, daily, just not to take things seriously. I like to be kind of a perfectionist with things. I don’t ever want anything to go out the door that isn’t perfect to my standards. So in that sense, that kind of takes the fun out of it at times, because you’ve got to have a standard of excellence if you care about it.
But, even doing your best job kind of has its own reward.
Ya, Absolutely. I have that innate need to create, and then also that need for people accept it and like it. You can make the best thing ever, and if people don’t like it, it just doesn’t really work.
What would you say you’ve taken from your time in BMX?
I don’t think that’s over. I don’t think that will ever really be over either. You’ve got a family there, you still talk to people, you still . . . man, I go to websites, I still follow a whole bunch of BMX stuff on the social media avenues. That’s it. I don’t suspect that will end.
Vic: Sometimes you wish it would. (laughter)
Are there any projects or parts that you are especially proud of here in the shop?
I’m proud of all my bikes. There isn’t one of them that wasn’t . . . I mean, they’re never done like, “Aw that’s done.” That never happens. But, everything I’m pretty proud of.
What have you gotten the best reaction to?
I haven’t changed parts much. I mean, you just keep adding on. I’m really slow about it. It’s how I want to keep it boutique and high-end. It’s still the same as it was in the beginning as it is today, so I guess it’s still pretty well respected. We’re still selling stuff, so . . . it’s weird. Like we touched on a minute ago, there are different facets of the moto thing. I think the Harley guys, you know, they like the panhead, that grey bike. The café guys, obviously, they like the Norton. I built a BMW for my friend, and I’m very proud of that, because I hated the bike, and it came out good, I think. I’m proud of it, you know? That was definitely a challenge, to build something you aren’t as in to. I’ve tried very hard not to pigeon-hole myself into a brand. I’m not (just) a Harley builder, I’m not (just) a chopper builder. I get bored too easily. That’s why I’ve worked in snow, skate, bmx, and you know, this stuff now.
You’ve got to mix it up.
Ya. That was great about footwear.
Something different every season. Something different all the time.
Everybody wears shoes.
Talk about the Norton Commando. Tell me about that bike.
I wanted to do a café bike at that point. It was years ago. In 2006 I think I bought that. I really just liked the way the engine was angled, and the shocks and all that. So I was just, “Alright, let’s do a Norton Commando.” I knew nothing about it; I just kind of went by the aesthetics of it. I got on Craigslist, found one in Orange County, and just started from there. I started working with an aluminum guy named Evan Wilcox in Northern California. It took a long time with that bike.
How long did you work on it?
Well, not steady. I’d work on it for a while, and then I’d hate it. Or I’d run out of skill, and I’d put it in the corner, and figure out how I wanted to change things. I went back and forth with the guy that did the tins a few times with Photoshop renderings . . . cutting stuff off and sending it back and forth. I think I finished that bike for a show in Brooklyn, so it was about six years from start to finish. But it sat for a long time in between then. It wasn’t constant.
Did you have multiple variations of it?
Nope. When it was done, that’s how it is right now. But, that panhead over there has kind of metamorphosed as we went.
How can people follow you now? I know you’ve got an instagram.
@boylecustommoto and www.BoyleCustomMoto.com or www.BCMmoto.bigcartel.com
From there you can link to the store, and there’s also a blog. There’s a Facebook page that I don’t do a whole lot with. I just started the Snapchat thing and I’m horrible at it. (laughter)
You keep your blog pretty updated.
I try to do something with the blog once a week, and it kind of over laps with some of the same stuff in the new section of the website. But, Mondays I try and do something. I try to remember why I got into all this stuff so, Sundays, I try and at least go for a ride around here, or you know, go to Ramona. Just to ride for a little bit and remember why I hole up in the garage.
That’s good. Do you have any advice for any industry dudes or team managers that might be reading this or watching this?
Vic: Good luck! (laughter)
(long pause) I don’t know. Be open-minded. I don’t know.
Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you think would be important to discuss or mention here?
Vic: I don’t know, it doesn’t matter because you can delete anything, but for me, I had multiple things happen, and Dave Voelker was a huge part of a lot of those things. I remember we were riding in these little banks about this big. It was a hip, and it wasn’t supposed to be like this seven foot hip. It was just this little thing. And he was BLASTING, I mean, you know, Dave Voelker, just, BOOM. Just doing these turndowns. And we’re talking like 8 feet. I mean, in my mind. Maybe it was 6 feet, but it was . . . to me, he probably was 8 feet. You know? And he was just, “CRAAAANK.” Cranking these turndowns and coming down. I mean, I have a lot of stories like that.
Ya, I’ve got tons of Dave stories.
Vic: Do you remember something that you saw those dudes doing? I mean, we’re talking Dino Deluca. That dude . . . It’s physically impossible, what that guy was doing, even by today’s standard, you can’t wrap yourself up around a bike (like that.)
Dino Deluca – Photo BMXPLUS!
The cool thing experiencing with Dino was, you know, we talked him into getting off the coaster brake. He was just destroying wheels. I was just, “We can’t keep lacing up wheels.” (laughter) And so, he lost a couple of tricks, but he got most of it back. But, he was always so cranked with high airs. Smooth.
Vic: Is there one thing, or one particular time or trick or something where you were like, “That is ridiculous?”
I remember seeing Mat fire off that rail when we did that bashguard article. That was the first time I saw anybody do a handrail.
Mat Hoffman – Photo by BMXPLUS!
Vic: Down in San Diego?
I drove by that rail the other day.
It had that pipe fitting on the end of it. He had to pull off it early too.
What was the bashguard bike shoot-out session like? Did you just go down to the Home Ave ditch?
It was great. I think we met at Qualcomm (Chargers Stadium) super-early. It was just everybody. We started going from place to place. That was a fun day. I was tired at the end of it.
Y’all shot all day long?
Ya, from place to place.
Boyle on the Bully – Photo by BMXPLUS!
Which bike were you on? The Bully?
I wasn’t working at GT; it was just when I’d left. So I was on the Bully. Which was fine, that was kind of my favorite bike to slide with that plastic bashguard. Like what we did with that (Dyno Slammer). That thing just broke the other day. I came out here and noticed that thing had snapped.
Vic: Just by sitting there?
Ya. (laughter) but we were always messing around with that. See, it had a skate riser under it, just trying to protect the chain a little bit more. And then like, I don’t know, we just kind of got over it and went back to sprockets.
Vic: Ya, it’s so crazy.
Did you get a lot of those frames back broken? Do you remember?
Nah, there was a pretty liberal warranty policy on those things I think.
Vic: What is that stem on there?
Um, . . . it is a Pro Neck.
Vic: Dude, that stem right there, that is the stem that I couldn’t figure out. We need to take a photo of that thing.
Ya, it’s pretty cool. They were a co-sponsor when I was riding for Chris. We got Pro Neck and Vans I think.
Vic: That was the stem that was on my old bike that Shad (Johnson) bought. My old Dirt Bros Skyway, he was trying to rebuild it and I was like, “the stem was like a Pro Neck.” And he didn’t know what it was, and this is it.
And see, I forgot. I found the stem bolt the other day. See we always did this. I don’t know if you did too, Vic. The original GT mallet stem, this was the best stem bolt. And this piece, from those Epoch headsets that GT would make. We’d put it together like this.
Vic: I’ve want to take a picture of that and send it to Shad. He’ll be hyped. You don’t know Shad do you?
Vic: That dude, he’s got –
Oh Ya, he wants that bike so bad. (laughter)
Vic: He’s got so much stuff.
When I asked if he had any questions for you, the first thing he popped off was about that Dyno Slammer.
I didn’t go this year because I’ve been hurt, but I do a motorcycle show in Portland every year, and he always comes and sees me.
Vic: He’s awesome. That’s a sick stem right?
Ya, I mean, that one has been through a ton. I had that on so many bikes.
Vic: Ya, I had it all polished up. That’s it.
I just have a couple of more questions.
Ya, we can keep going; I’m in no hurry. I wish I would have thought more on some of these.
Nah, you’re doing great. It’s awesome. Do you have any people you want to say thanks to?
Oh ya. I mean, again, I wish I would have thought more about that. I don’t know what to tell you. I mean, thanks on the BMX side of things. McGoo definitely. Andy, Spike, and Lew, right off the bat, were super-good to me. Moeller. John Paul. Mat and Steve. Chuck D. Geez. I could just keep going on through the years. Bob Haro . . . to this day, still a great, great guy. You know, I tell people that with the X-Games, I had to escort, and you could call it “baby-sit” Eminem one time. I went and partied with Perry Farrell the night after that. I just kind of had all these star experiences with all this stuff. But the first time I met Bob Haro was the first time that I was ever star-struck. I mean in the 70s when he was doing illustrations, this was kind of my first, maybe, taste of design, and I loved it. And then I met him. I think that same night we hung out in a hotel bar for like 6 hours. So ya, he turned into a friend. He lives nearby, and I see him every now and again.
Do you and Bob Haro ever ride motorcycles together?
Nah, we don’t. I don’t think he has a bike anymore. I think he said, “It’s too crazy for me now.”