I realize the premise of this entire entry is probably off-base—and possibly completely offensive—but fuck it. Hasn't stopped me before. (Please go back and re-read my first paragraph from two days ago.)
To the best of my and virtually everyone else's knowledge, BMX got its start in the United States when a bunch of kids on Stingrays decided to emulate their motocross heroes in the California dirt. And much like many other brilliant American innovations, like jazz, fast food and Friends, it spread rapidly across the globe. Time passed, freestyle happened. Then, in the late '80s and early '90s, a variety of European (mostly British) riders came over to taste the American culture—guys like Lee Reynolds, Craig Campbell, and Nick Philip. They endured our weak beer, wore Life's a Beach and Jimmy'Z, and rode our bikes. Skyways and Dynos, Haros and GTs.
Jump ahead. Until as recently as a few years back, the dollar was quite strong. Gas cost way less than $2 a gallon, and Americans could afford to vacation in Europe without selling any major organs first. At that time, from what I understand, American BMX parts were quite expensive overseas. So a whole mess of new European companies popped up to supply the locals. Proper, Simple, WTP, Mankind, Federal, Fly, United, KHE. In no particular order. Oh yeah, Pashley, too, although they'd been manufacturing bikes since 1926.
At first, very few of these companies distributed their products in the United States. KHE is the first that I remember, with the Jason Davies (below) designed Beater. What was the point? American companies were perfectly capable of supplying home-built frames for the same price as a Taiwanese-made frame from a German company. Who in Cali would have bought a We The People over an S&M?
Then came the flood. European companies started sponsoring American riders as the dollar started to go belly-up. Companies like Fly and Federal could not only afford to market their bikes in the US, in most cases they could actually undercut the traditional American companies and still make a profit. Ten years ago, 90 percent of New York City riders were on Standards. A few years later, there were swarms of Flys.
Don't worry, I do have a point, and I'm getting to it right now.
My point, or perhaps question, is this: Shouldn't we, as American consumers, make it a priority to purchase frames from American companies? I understand that Federal sponsors Steven Hamilton, and Simple sponsors Oba Stanley, and Fly—well, they used to sponsor Biz. Some of that money comes back. But shouldn't we be spending our increasingly harder-earned dollars on supporting companies like Metal, Hoffman, Kink, Volume, Sunday, Fit, S&M and Subrosa (and even more so, Standard, FBM and Terrible One)? Not to be a xenophobe or anything, but if the prices are equal, and the specs are ident—I mean similar, shouldn't it be America first? As far as I know, no one is getting rich from owning a BMX company. Shouldn't we be supporting the people who live where we do, pay the same taxes we do, the ones who are part of our own floundering economy?
(Let it be known that I don't feel this way about everything. I fully support buying Toyotas and Hondas over anything made by Ford or GM, because American automakers are idiots. And I'd buy a PS3 over an XBox if I actually cared about video games.)
But why stop there? Perhaps we should focus even tighter, and primarily support those American companies that were there FIRST. Companies like Hoffman, Standard (provided they stop machining holes in everything), and S&M, who all helped jumpstart the evolution of the modern BMX frame. And ones like FBM and Terrible One, who started when BMX was—if not smaller, at least poorer—and have stayed true to having their frames built in the good ol' US of A. Don't they (once again, provided the product and pricepoint are comparable) deserve more of our support than the latecomers and imitators? I think so.
What say you? I'd be curious to hear what people outside the US think as well, if you're out there.
P.S. In closing, and perhaps in contrast to my entire opinion, I'd just like to add the following: