From the age of about 13, I rode BMX in my home city Newcastle in the UK. I’m not from a big capital city, not from a quaint little village and so being part of the urban bike scene kinda defined me. Made me feel part of something or some place bigger. I mean yeah, your school friends are great, but being part of a scene that brings together a select group of people from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities – that was my school. This group taught me so much basic shit about life from paying your rent to how to claim benefits and most importantly how to roll a joint hahahah. Joking aside, riding with a group that are pushing so hard to ride better, to be as good as they can at some random sport like BMX, for no credit whatsoever, only to follow a passion… it teaches you a fuck load about yourself. To be honest, I was not ready to push at this point in my life. And had this fear living inside of me, both the fear of eating shit but also deeper than that, the fear of failing. I didn’t have the drive that some other riders had, the patience, the tenacity and more importantly, I didn’t have the balls. This changed for me when I visited Berlin in February 2020.
In my 20s, the obvious progression from BMX was to ride Fixed Gear. I mean fuck me, I could skid the shit out of it and ride so fast. And damn, the control you get once you’ve ridden fixed for a while. You are one with the bike. There is no freewheel and brakes. If you’re not in control, it controls you. There’s a huge synergy between you and the bike that I’d never felt from a BMX (at this point I have to say thank you to Olly Olsen for being such an amazing, positive human in my life, the first person to show me what a Fixie was, thanks man love ya x).
Skip forward 10 years and a life in London had consumed me. I’d not ridden a bike for years but would check out every fixe that went past. I’d have a fixe in the flat but with flat tyres, collecting dust. But knowing how good riding made me feel, the freedom you get from just getting on that bike and beasting it. Fuck me there’s nothing better. That feeling never really left me. Soon I just needed to ride whatever, wherever and it was time for a new bike. I’d been following the Fixie scene on insta, still kept my eye on developments, but I’d no idea really how it had changed. I mean, the only time I'd ever heard of a keo spin was when Macaframma came out and Keo Curry just blew my tiny mind. But shit, so many people were shredding Fixie and it had changed.
After 10 years of film making I wanted to try something new and Frame building called to me. So I set out to find a frame builder that I could learn from. I’d been visiting Berlin for a decade or so, even longer probably. I came here in 2007 on a BMX trip and fell in love then I think. I found a couple of frame builders based there but it was just before lockdown. Fuck it, I thought. Berlin’s always been good to me, so I trusted my instincts and got a flight in February with my fixe. It was the same week as Rad Race, y’all know Rad Race. I reached out to the FXD.BLN group after seeing on their website that they welcomed visiting riders. Perfect, two frame builders to meet and a crew I’d been following for the last year on insta to ride with. SICK :). At the time I didn’t know much about this crew other than what I’d seen on Insta but was super pumped to meet and ride with them. Someone got back to me saying they’d be riding that weekend and would be hitting up the Rad Race. What followed blew my mind.
The scene was mega from the start. Not only the bikes but the different styles of the people, matching their bikes. I’d never seen fixes like it and shit man the tricks, I was like what the fuck. I could literally only bunny hop my bike. These guys were an incredible display of what was possible. They were pushing so hard and smashing boundaries. One rider stuck out in particular. This was of course @deythos and the head of Fxd.bln. I’d never truly seen what was possible on a Fixie until I met @deythos aka Matthias. My mind was fully blown, an epic weekend. I took myself off home back to Newcastle and that week, lockdown started. But it didn’t matter. My focus was building a new Fixie. It had to have a carbon zip and be able to barspin Fuck I wasted so much money, building a bike that was pretty much useless but I loved it. I spent the first 3 months of lockdown riding like crazy, day in day out. I needed to learn these tricks and I was obsessed. After not really tricking for 10 years, I was progressing pretty fast. I learnt to fakie really well - it wasn’t so far away from BMX - plus some basic tricks. I was hooked but quickly realised the bike wasn’t right quite. The search for the perfect setup began.
After a while, lockdown got pretty grim in the UK and I needed out. I spoke with the frame builder I’d met in Berlin and he agreed if I could get a flight out, then yeah he was happy to spend a few weeks building my frame with me. The first 2 flights were cancelled but finally got one from London. I had to fake some document saying I could travel during Covid and finally I made it to Berlin 3 months after first leaving. I knew then I wasn’t coming back to the UK, hahahaha. I’d kept up contact with Matthias the whole time and he’d already made me feel part of something, part of the scene here. I got off the plane and went to the place I was staying to build up my bike. Soon Mati texted saying come over to his place and we could go riding. I was home. For the first time in years, I was home.
Fxd.bln has gone through a lot of change over the years from the original founders to when Mati took over. But the scene in Berlin has always been at the centre of Europe, for as long as I’ve known about it. From its rich heritage of messengers all the way to the fgfs scene going on now. It’s more than a scene, it’s a movement and freedom of expression. Riding bikes has always been that to me. I truly believe that Fxd.Bln is a group riding and living their lives based on raw passion for riding fixed gear. Inspiring people around the world to follow their passion, push and believe in their own abilities. That you can achieve what you want if you work hard towards it. That’s what I’ve learned from them anyway.
Written by Cairnsy.co
Photos taken by H.Man, Deythos, Mexican John and Unknown