Last weekend saw the Bikestormz rideout take place in London, with in excess of 2,500 young people (and some of their parents) taking part. The rideout started and ended at Southwark park with a 15 mile ride around London city doing stunts and having fun on two wheels. Part of the #BikeLife inspired scene, the Bikestormz event invites people from across the city to ride together, reclaiming the streets and setting aside differences in the name of having fun on bikes.
A look at the hashtag #BikeLife will show you a mix of motorbike, scooter and pedal bike action, but the Bikestormz event is focussed on pedal bikes. The founder of Bikestormz, Mac Ferrari-Guy wanted to encourage children into what he sees as a safer activity than the petrol powered version, and a more accessible one too.
Mac’s vision came about as a result of investing his life working with young people in varying capacities, from youth worker to community mentor. As a result of being committed and consistent Mac became a well-respected role model for many young people, his influence and reach spanning across many of the London Boroughs, particularly in North and West London.
Having a passion for pedal bikes, Mac wanted to see how many young people he could inspire to ride alongside each other in unity and harmony, simply to have fun and display their passion and talents. Mac soon realised that this was the beginning of something special, a family of riders was being created and a culture was being formed…Bikestormz
BikeStormz is sponsored by brands with urban fashion cred rather than bike race results to their name. Nicce, Merky and Sprayground fashion brands sit alongside more bike familiar brands Stance socks and Adidas. Nutrition support is by Nandos, not a gel brand or energy drink. These sponsors are buying into the Bikestormz aim of showing the youth in urban areas that there are positive opportunities and activities available to them. The hashtag #KnivesDownBikesUp is part of the message, and riders are told to leave any gang affiliations at home if they’re joining the rideout. It’s a space for safely enjoying bikes.
For the vast majority of these kids, it’s more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle, a family and sense of belonging. We have had testimonials from parents of how much getting into BIKESTORMZ has changed or even saved their child’s lives.
Our future plans is to continue to get bigger and better, Our ultimate goal is turn BIKESTORMZ into a sport, much to the likeliness of DMXing or Mountain Biking. Helping these talent young people to earn a living off of something they love.Bikestormz
Miles Carter aka @DaddyMilo is a London based stunt rider who was along for the rideout. We asked him to capture the atmosphere and show us this urban world of mountain bikes.
I’m @daddymilo, 26 years old Bikestormz stunt rider. I have two boys aged 7 and 5. I started stunt riding to get away from the gang lifestyle. I love riding, it’s something I love and riding helps me get away from street life. Now that I have two kids I’m their provider so I ride and make my life based around riding. One day I hope to be a in movie stunt riding or in the MX racing dirt bikes. So far I have been in music videos for ASAP Rocky, Skepta, Craig David, and got a sponsorship from Stance Europe and Adidas / Footlocker.@DaddyMilo
Inevitably, some might see the rideout and think “helmets/wheelies/traffic/pavements/no reflective clothing/some other preconception about riding ‘properly'”:. Here’s what people have to say about that:
These young people are quickly becoming urban athletes, learning and aspiring to make a name and living from themselves for their talents, attracting the eyes and sponsorships of well respected brands such as Adidas & Footlocker (whom we have recently worked with).Bikestormz
The people love seeing so many riders in one place doing tricks you would see in the X-games on TV. You do get some people who just hate everything about it, some cheer you on, and some swear at you – but that’s ok we’re all riding, just expressing our freedom.@DaddyMilo
As these images show, any bike can be part of the Bikestormz rideout, but there’s definitely an emphasis on ‘wheelie bikes’. These are bikes set up with doing wheelies in mind – think cruiser style BMX bikes, hardtails with street slicks, pegs, and hard worked rear brakes. You’ll also notice a proliferation of chest bags – some like the tactical look and some use side bags, back packs and chest bags to avoid losing things in their pockets while riding.
While there are bike brands in there that we will recognise from the trails, there are others that will likely be new to you, unless you ride BMX too. One of the brands with a big presence at the event was Collective Bikes, a UK brand specialising in affordable BMX and urban mountain bikes. The C1 BMX bike starts at £225, while the C100 mountain bike is £600. The top spec C100 Pro comes with the familiar RockShox Solo Air fork, at £845 – all prices aimed at making these attainable for the teen market. These urban mountain bikes, designed to wheelie, have short chainstays, a short seat tube, low standover, and crucial QR seatpost (because you don’t want your saddle slammed the whole way home after a wheelie session), plus tyres that might make even the bravest of XC riders wish for knobs. It’s mountain biking, but not as we know it.