Friday, September 16, 2011


My first bicycle helmet was a Giro. After wearing it one time it ended up on a shelf and collected cobwebs. It looked like this: a styrofoam beer cooler with a lycra cover. I remember trying to figure out which direction was the front. Of course my mom got it for me, but that wasn't the kind of helmet that Cru Jones wore at Hell Track so I ditched it. I'm sure a lot of people have a similar story. Maybe they actually wore theirs.

Lots of people think they look like a mushroom in a bicycle helmet. (Though we all know you'd look hotter in a helmet. I'd like to see a new ad campaign featuring two pictures side-by-side. First picture of a busted-up face, second picture done-up all proper with a helmet.) Some don't like the aerodynamic look and crucial ventilation of modern helmets, opting instead for a skate-style helmet. Over the years the options in that style of helmet have increased considerably. Companies like Bern, Nutcase and even Giro themselves have had a skate dome-style design in multiple color and graphic choices, some of which have a built-in visor. One problem I've seen with several of these helmets is that they are rather large and some don't have the adjustability of modern helmets. Not to mention the weight!

I'm sure Giro had gotten much of the same feedback so they produced a new helmet for 2012: the Reverb.

From Giro:
Smooth, simple style with the comfort and convenience riders need for life on the roll. The Reverb’s light, cool feel is matched with a tough In-mold shell that resists dents and dings, and a self-adjusting Auto Loc™ fit system allows you to slip into the helmet quickly and securely without extra adjustments – even when wearing a cycling cap. A wide range of colors are available to fit any style, and the removable cap-style cotton visor offers a bit of shade without compromising the cooling flow of air through the helmet on warm, sunny days.

Pretty cool, eh? It uses the same retention strap as the Prolight. It's essentially a piece of elastic attached to the chin-straps which have just enough adjustment. This means that not only is it a sleeker, better ventilated dome-style helmet but it's also light weight. And several of the colors take cues from those first Giro helmets; the same way that fashion often reverberates (yeah, I said that.) through the decades.

And speaking of the other colors, as I was checking out the catalog I noticed that two of the helmets have a very familiar name associated with them: Sasha Barr. Maybe you know him? You've probably seen some of his work at Sub Pop or Chocolate Skateboards. You've almost definitely seen the Revolutions logo. His portfolio can be seen at He's been sending graphics to Giro who put them on the Reverb. From the catalog and website you can't really see his designs so I bothered the crap out of him and he sent me these photos. Remember, exclusive content:

2012 reverb Gray Sasha Barr Ghosts (3)2012 reverb Matte BlackTeal Sasha Barr Dov (3)
2012 reverb Gray Sasha Barr Ghosts (2)2012 reverb Matte BlackTeal Sasha Barr Dov (2)

Sasha was kind enough to give a history lesson and let us know his thoughts on Memphis:

-You were part of the original thursday night ride crew, correct?
Correct. OG Thursday Night Ride

-When did that start and what was the catalyst?
Geez, I don't know if I can pinpoint the exact year, but I'd guess between 2002-2003. We'd have to confer with Jon Driskell and Anthony Siracusa. The three of us have been friends and riding buds since we met around 2000/2001, and somewhere early on we all got too busy with either relationships or work to find the time to ride our bikes together. I believe the Thursday night ride started as a Tuesday night thing, just one night a week where the three of us would devote time to hang out. We'd ride around town or just sit on a porch and catch up. Eventually Matt Cole and I started living together and he'd start coming on the rides, then folks from Outdoors started joining, then folks from Revolutions, and it just grew from there. I guess sometime it became Thursday nights, but I can't remember when. 2006-2007 were the "glory" years for me(I moved in 2007), where it really took off. That's when it really picked up momentum as a community thing and lots of people were hearing about it and joining in. Adventurous crews of 20-30+ people just down to hang out and ride around any time of the year. Good people and good memories for sure. I hear there's some people still doing the Thursday night thing, and I'm glad someone's out there holding the torch. Hopefully it will remain a Memphis tradition for a while.

-Do you still have your "faggots night out" spoke card?
Of course. I took if off my bike not too long after moving out here, I didn't want to come find my bike all beat to hell on the sidewalk somewhere. For those of us who were around for it, we know it's not about anything hateful, but to the random passer by I could see it stirring up some anger. That spoke card, to me at least, really represents a fairly normal part of Southern America. "Faggots Night Out" came from the Thursday night rides, when some random dude in a giant pickup truck yelled at us when were rolling down Front street, "What is it, faggots night out?" And then someone else yelled it at us again a week or so later. Might of been the same dude, I don't know. Either way, that's the South for you. Of course, a bunch of people riding bikes, it's totally Faggots Night Out. To me, it's hilarious. Thanks to Josh Gorman for putting that on a spoke card.

-You visited memphis a few weeks ago. How has the bike scene changed since you moved away?
Since I was staying with Anthony, our only mode of transportation was via bike. The one thing that stood out to me was how much I enjoyed riding a bike in Memphis. The streets are big and wide, there's hardly anyone on them, and everything is so flat. I know everyone is working super hard in Memphis to get bike lanes and awareness, but I gotta say, there's nothing better than riding around Memphis through the neighborhoods. It's a rad place to ride. Once you get all the neighborhoods figured out you almost never have to commute on the busy streets. The one thing that stands out most in my mind about Memphis is how much I truly miss riding my bike there. All the old routes through Chickasaw Gardens or Evergreen or Linden to downtown or midnight ride through Overton Park or just cruising down Harbert.... Good stuff.

-Does the black hole theory apply to you; do you think you'll ever move back?
I honestly have no idea. I've found I'm the kind of guy who really likes having a job, and to be honest there's just not many options for me in Memphis. I really like my job here, so until I get fired or they go out of business, I'm sticking around Seattle. Plus Seattle and the Northwest is an incredible place to be. It's taken me about 4 years to get settled here, so I gotta stay the course! The main lame thing is I'll never be able to buy a home here, but I actually have a pretty incredible rental home with a whole street full of amazing neighbors and a rad landlord, so I'm not really concerned with owning any time soon. Seattle also has like 20 incredible skateparks, which the South can't really shake a stick at(Although I'm stoked on Tobey Park). I didn't leave Memphis because I hated it, I just wanted to try something different. I feel incredibly lucky to have found the things I've found here in Seattle, so for now I'm just doing Seattle. I think about Memphis/ TN stuff all the time. Even though I grew up outside of Nashville, I initially tell most people I meet that I'm from Memphis. Memphis is a big part of who I am.

-Do you use a bike as your main transportation in seattle?
When I was still living in Memphis, I'd say I went most places every day by bike. Upon moving to Seattle, a place when compared to the South is very bike friendly, I find I ride my bike rarely. Here I just walk or take the bus, both things you can't really do comfortably in Memphis. My commute from home to work is only about 4 miles and I ride to work on occasion, but to be honest it's not a fun ride. Even with bike lanes it's nerve wracking- tons of traffic, parked cars, skinny streets, spandex warriors racing you... someone actually got hit and died on my work route while I was visiting TN. Even with all the bikes lanes and bike awareness, there's still plenty of people driving cars that will run you over either maliciously or because they're not paying attention. The last time I rode to work a guy in an SUV literally almost ran me over as he swerved in to the bike lane to go around another car. I punched the back of his car, but he had no idea I was there. If I hadn't of been paying attention, I would of been under that dude's tires. I'm just trying to have a good time and get to work, I'm not trying to stress out at 8 am. I'll ride my Bennotto(my fixed gear) around our neighborhood for little errands, or to a park, or on any of the really amazing paved bike trails, I just don't like commuting here. I typically just take the bus to work. Lame, I know.
My girlfriend Meagan actually commutes by bike everyday, though. She works a couple miles from the house and can use this amazing paved bike path along the water as her commute to work. I got Mike Crum to build her a frame earlier this year, it turned out to be a really nice bike. Thanks, Mike.

-What does memphis lack in its bike scene, like what would entice you or creative professionals like you to move back (besides a helmet law)?
I can't really say about the bike scene, it seems to me to be the same as it's always been. But I'm not totally in touch. Seems like there's always been people on bikes in Memphis, maybe in the last number of years the people are finally starting to get together and communicate, which is a good thing. I remember back in 2000 or 2001 when people from Decleyre and wherever tried a few Critical Mass rides down Union. People have been trying to get noticed on bikes for as long as I can remember. Folks like Anthony and Kyle are obviously fighting super hard for more awareness, and that's amazing. It seems like in that regard things are changing for the better. They're getting the attention it needs.
I think I would just have to be done with the Northwest to consider moving back. I got no hard feelings about the South, I'm just doing my thing up here for a while. That's great. Thanks to Sasha Barr and Giro!


Anonymous said...

"I'd like to see a new ad campaign featuring two pictures side-by-side. First picture of a busted-up face, second picture done-up all proper with a helmet."

How would a bicycle helmet protect your face? Or are you suggesting bicyclists wear full face motorcycle helmets?

Suzanne Allen said...

Great interview! I love his insight: "I've found I'm the kind of guy who really likes having a job."

Cort said...

Great question. I'm not suggesting that bicyclists should wear full face helmets. I would even prefer a cycling culture where helmets were not warranted. You'll note that Memphis does not even have a mandatory helmet law for adult cyclists. Also, out of the several incidents I've seen where people were wearing helmets it was the glasses they were wearing that cut their faces. But those same crashes could have potentially been a lot worse or even fatal had they not been wearing helmets. With an ad campaign such as the one I've described the crucial part is appealing to peoples ego and associating helmets with beauty. Perhaps it would be better to make helmet hair de riguer.

adamhite said...

good interview! and yes, we are still doing the thursday night rides.

we may have to have a 10yr anniversary ride next year!

Anonymous said...

Dude, move to Portland.....waaaaay more bike friendly than Seattle. I know where you are coming from , I grew up one south of Little Rock. Portland makes Seattle look like Dallas(or Memphis even) when it comes to bike awareness. I had a middle aged pedestrian woman apoligize for getting in my way (I locked my brakes for just a split second coming around a corner).......AND I WAS ON THE SIDEWALK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Check
out Portland, you will not be disappointed.