Quite possibly the most recognizable face in the Fixed Gear scene, Andy Sparks is an outspoken man with vast amounts of fixed gear knowledge and skill. Being in the scene for almost 10 years now, Andy knows a thing or two about the “sport”. Here we gave him a chance to talk about himself and spread some fixie knowledge to the new generation of fixed gear kids. Buckle up, cause this just might be our best interview yet. Big thanks to Andy for being down to share his thoughts and thanks to Slumworm for providing essentially all the photos, we here at SMC are honored! If you aren’t already, follow Andy on IG @lolandysparks . The Andy Sparks interview is here, enjoy:
What got you into FGFS and how long have you been riding?
ANDY: I’ve been riding fixed gear for exactly 9.5 years now and I got my first track bike (Kilo TT) from BikesDirect in 2009. I was introduced to these weird bikes by my big homie Ferrer Sanders who would casually wheelie around everywhere, I instantly knew I had to get one and try to emulate his barspins, leg over skids, etc. I was aware that people were doing tricks but didn’t fully realize just how big the scene was & growing, it truly was a magical time for fixed gear. I would constantly lurk sites like TrickTrack.org, ProllyisnotProbably, VeloSpace & Trackosaurus to stay updated on everything, as well as peep the newest Tarck/FGFS frames that were coming out. Eventually I ended up meeting the other local riders (Shoutout Nick, Alan, Eugene, Snow, GP & Josh!), and we’d spend hours upon hours practicing tricks at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. I saved up my money and bought a 650c front wheel to finally have barspin clearance, I was beyond stoked to get them dialed at long last.
FGFS wasn’t quite established yet, or better yet standardized. There was a good mix of styles with riders like Wonka, Torey, MTS & LaMarche pushing the big trick aspect, then riders like Keo, Mike Chacon, Nasty, 84kick & Isaac Gibbs pushing the fixed-specific technical aspect of it. It felt like every day there was someone doing a NeverBeforeDone trick, or brilliant new edit that would hype me up to go and shred all day long haha, I’ve been genuinely hooked ever since.
Why the commitment to 700c with the domination of 26” riding within the scene?
ANDY: I think made a consious decision to stay as true to the roots that influenced me to ride in the very first place– basically lots of spins, sliders and fixed-specific tricks. I also absolutely love the aesthetic of 700c builds, they just look so burly and yet delicate at the same time, I think it’s a happy medium especially when you consider commuting around on them. I think 26″ is sick and the possibilities drastically open up, however I personally enjoy the challenge of tossing the big bike around. Ever since I tore my ACL/MCL and had surgery, I sadly lost a lot of range of motion within my right knee. So even if I wanted to ride 26″, I physically couldn’t handle sitting down with my legs squashed all the time. It just ain’t for me I guess ahaha, 700C DON’T LIMIT ME!!!
Photo | Slumworm
How’s the scene up in the bay area these days? Who you usually riding with?
ANDY: It’s pretty tight! There’s a good amount of riders here, mainly on track bikes but considering the tricktrack/tarck resurgence is coming back full circle, it’s still a blast to shred with the newer generation. I’m usually riding with the squad– Adam T Wells @a_t_w, Gus Molina @eyelurk, Matt Dizon @matt.bastard, David Todd (deeteethree) & Jake Lanich @brothalanich, it’s always a good time with them. It’s becoming increasingly unsatisfying to ride solo, so having homies to ride with really helps keep it fresh and fun. There’s also monthly group rides hosted by my boys Patrick & Ray (@patrickfixieking &@phixedbikes) which tends to bring all the track riders together for one long, constantly changing, fun expedition throughout the Bay Area. It’s sick to see the community slowly blossoming up here, I feel like everybody more or less knows each other and you’ll almost always see a familiar face when you’re commuting. It’s fucking dope!
Photo | Slumworm
What are your thoughts on the state of FGFS coming to the end of 2018?
ANDY: Let’s be real, it’s hanging on by life support right now. The scene is critically lacking content, a new FGFS video drops once every blue moon and despite technology making things more connected, I feel like the overall community is more disconnected than ever before. The vast majority of younger riders just getting into fixed gear now have no clue FGFS even existed. I think kids these days see Instagram as instant gratification (instagrat?), which is both good and bad. It’s good because it allows people to get exposure easier than ever before, but bad because it can inflate egos to dangerously big proportions.
We’re definitely moving back to our roots, tricks on actual track bikes which is sick. However what really disturbs me the most is the lack of knowledge, FGFS history getting brushed over and forgotten, kids doing wheelies and thinking they invented a ”new” trick thats literally been around for decades. The fact that Fish n Chips is the most popular fixed gear trick now, yet I bet not a single person doing them even knows the story behind who invented it, or why it’s even called Fish n Chips. I guess that’s how it goes though, the older generation fades away and the few remaining ones pass the torch onto the next generation. I might just be a bit jaded, but I feel very strongly about understanding the history of whatever it is that you’re passionate about. Whether it’s sports, comics, art, music, cars, whatever! Learn your fucking history, don’t say you’re about the lifestyle– BE ABOUT IT.
With that being said, I’m hoping it all comes back full circle. That’s also partially why I did the tutorial series on YouTube, I remember watching Tom Mosher & Swoo’s tutorials on Vimeo way back and appreciating them for helping pave the stepping stones for so many riders, myself included. I know FGFS will never die, there will always be at least one person out there shredding and making it happen! Master Bike Co & Ruff Bike Co are doing the fixie god’s work by providing frames, micro drive hubs and bars making it so much easier for people to get into FGFS. I hope to see more events pop up, more trick competitions & big name companies that aren’t afraid to invest a few dollars into the scene again. I’m lookin’ at you Volume Bikes! Haaaa sike! Maybe people will finally start using the ThroneCycles G29N bike for some actual tricks…?! I saw @LordxHelsingx build his up into a FGFS, it looked hella proper!
Andy doing the Fixie lord’s work providing tutorials for the youth
Pretty much everyone who does tricks on fixed gears knows who you are and draws inspiration from you. Where do you get your inspiration from though?
ANDY: Oh my that’s incredibly flattering! Well shit that’s tough one! I think I get a lot of inspiration from watching older edits. Like for example the Bootleg Sessions tetralogy, I’ll watch them on repeat and every single time I’ll spot something new that I never noticed before, maybe the way someone did a trick, or just something creative that stood out. I feel like fixed gear lost a lot of it’s allure over the years as the tricks became more BMX oriented versus a more unique ballet-ish style. So I constantly keep that in mind when thinking about learning a new trick or whatever, always try to think outside the box and be as creative as possible. I always try to make that top priority. I also watch a lot of BMX edits, specifically 80’s/90’s era. The riding was so elegant and free, they were still discovering all the possibilities and pushing the boundaries of what could be done on a 20″ bicycle. Another big inspiration is just riding with the homies, whether they’re on FGFS, track bikes, skateboards it doesn’t even matter. Having a crew of homies out to hype you up really makes a world of difference, even just to help film stupid iPhone clips. They keep me inspired and motivated.
Bootleg Sessions V3 Trailer, 2009
Curb Dogs, 1986
Do you enjoy tricks more on the FGFS side or the Tarck side these days?
ANDY: Oh damn that’s another tough one! I’ve definitely been having a lot of fun going back to the tarck bike and seeing what tricks easily translate over with the high seatpost and heavier gear ratio, but I think I’ll always prefer riding FGFS. I hate having to worry about breaking something on the tarck bike, or pinch-flatting (rarely happens but still), but I adore commuting on it more than my freestyle bike. Wheelie tricks are a bit more fun on the tarck bike tho, the high seatpost makes it a little too easy honestly.
Whats your favorite Full length video? Favorite web edit? (top 3 if thats too hard)
- No Cassettes
This was the very first full length ”trick” video I’d ever seen, so I think it holds a special place in my heart. The majority of it was filmed in the San Francisco Bay Area, so being familiar with a lot of the spots also made it feel that much more personal. Not to mention the all star cast of riders, so many memorable sections, it’s also insane to see how much San Francisco has changed in just a lil over a decade…
Revoooooked! I think again for similar reasons this is also top tier for me, it was pretty much like a sequel to No Cassettes but expanded on locations to include Southern California. It had so many noteworthy riders too, you can’t watch Congo’s part and not be hyped to go out and ride, really! It was also a pivotal moment in Fixed Gear right before anybody made the switch to ”Dual 26″, haha daaamn I haven’t said that term in years! Shout out to my boy Gus for showing that PK Ripper whose boss!
- Word is Bond
WheelTalk squad, spectacular filming and editing by legends Mike Schmitt & Matt Reyes, and a solid representation of what FGFS truly is. I spent a lot of time riding with the gang as they were stacking clips for this, cruising through Oakland, the Alameda tunnel (If you know you know) and the city. It was too much fun having everybody in the East Bay, it made filming, riding and productivity that much easier. Many of those spots either don’t exist anymore or got capped, so it’s always a treat to look back and see how much has changed already. I can’t believe that was over half a decade ago, fond memories I’ll cherish forever.
Web Edits in no particular order:
- Nick Koo For Deal With It
Shout out my boy Nick Koo! He put in so much hard work for this one and unfortunately felt like it went under the radar. In my opinion, Nick Koo is the best rider to ever touch a fixed gear bike plain and simple. He was doing fakie wheelies years before me and potentially even Joel Weston whose video garnered a lot of criticism because everybody thought they played the clip in reverse. I was definitely influenced by his riding and learned almost all the basics from him, thanks for always being down to ride Nick!
- WRAHW Welcomes Oscar Khan
Back when FGFS had the wildest characters, there was Oscar Khan! So much style yet grittiness that I feel only the Ninja Cats could ever deliver. I think this part really defines his riding, pegless 29er steez with an equally sick music track by Billy Idol. Seriously– give this one a watch, maybe like 10 times hahah.
- Keo Curry’s Section in Macaframa
Words can’t describe how this video alone is the manifestation of all things fixed gear. You got the man, the myth, the legend Keo crushing San Francisco on his Javelin with Profile Cranks and BMX bars & stem. His riding was and still is so far ahead of the game, he might as well be from the future hahah! Ohh and the track Send Me An Angel is a homage to one of the greatest BMX flicks of all time, RAD! If you’ve never seen Keo’s part, I dunno why you’re even still reading this fool click that link!
yung Andy (future legend) w/ the Legend Keo Curry
Which web edit of yours are you most proud of?
ANDY: Without a doubt my Neon Genesis edit, I must’ve been stacking clips for about 4 years prior to finally releasing it. I had a fun time editing itand chopping together as much fitting B-Roll as I could. Little backstory, 2015 was a really rough year for me, like the absolute worst. So I bought a one way ticket to Fukuoka, Japan and ended up living there for about 6 months. Best decision I ever made becuase it helped me figure out what was most truly important to me at the time, and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by my adoptive family Fish n Chips Crew to get some filming done. Seitaro Iki and I ended up going out to film almost every night, sadly in Japan it’s damn near impossible to film during the day. There’s an abundance of security and heroes (civilians who call police because they’re nosey as fuck) will be quick to get you booted from a spot. It was definitely more of a challenge riding in Japan which made it all the more exciting! New environments to shred, perfect spots to link lines together, it was a dream I swear! I even went back to in April of 2016 to finish the last bit of filming we planned, which ended up making the final video similar to a 2-Parter. My favorite trick in the whole edit has to be the skid to backlash 180 spin (1:58), I still get hyped seeing that line because at the time I had just learned how to connect those two together. Also the clip at (4:31) where I did the 180 slider 180 fakie footplant spin thing, that shit took sooooo many tries!!! I remember how exhausted Seitaro and Taishi were getting from filming, we were probably there for like 2 hours straight just doing it over and over. I was so stoked when I finally got it, even though it’s such a silly one haha.
The second I’m most proud of is my split edit with legend Mike Chacon, filmed by none other than Matt Reyes. It was always a dream of mine when I first started riding to have an edit with Chacon, he was essentially the Michael Jordan of Fixed Gear back in the day. He was a breakout success that transcended his riding into the mainstream, he was even in an iPod commercial doing a Big Spin! So having the opportunity to film an edit with him was almost too good to be true, especially with Matt behind the lens. I’m honored to have been a part of it!
Photo | Slumworm
Are you working on anything right now video wise?
ANDY: Nah not really unfortunately. I mean I’ve got a decent amount of clips stacked but haven’t had any real plans to use them for anything. I’ve kinda had this idea for more or less my ”last” real video, maybe use some old clips from when I began riding in 2009 and show the evolution of my riding throughout the years. More of a sentimental piece if anything haha, so make sure to get your rose tinted glasses ready! Aside from that though, Matt Reyes and I just filmed a commercial for Oakley this passed week which was quite the experience and I’m really looking forward to the finished video. I think it’ll be proper as hell, I mean they even shut down the Broadway Tunnel for us which is beyond crazy! Cheers to Matt Reyes and Mike Martin for including me in such an amazing project!
Andy’s latest web edit
I’ve seen a ton of people ask you about your Nem Pro build. What’s up with them? They still making stuff for you?
ANDY: Absolutely! Nemesis Project has been doing solid, the owner Brad has shifted his focus more on his newer brand WH Bradford Designs (@whbradforddesigns) and has been killing it! He’s been making some real strides in the cross/gravel bike scene and even created this dope ass custom tandem bike for Dylan Buffington that was featured on the Radavist! As for my frame, the curved seat tubes are extremely hard to find nowadays so the Galaxy Fighter is unfortunately very limited. We’ve briefly spoken about possibly upgrading the design in the future, maybe something more Tarckish? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what we can cook up!
Andy’s current build (Photo Slumworm)
What happened in the pocket clip video where AJ knocked that lady down? It’s been plaguing my mind since I saw it!
ANDY: Haaaaaaa! That was wild wasn’t it?! Basically the squad and I were doing the routine session through UC Berkeley’s campus when AJ saw this small wooden ledge that he wanted to tire-ride on. It had been raining earlier in the day so the ground was still fairly wet, a disaster just waiting to happen honestly. So we waited until the walkway was clear of students, and literally as soon as AJ picked up some momentum to hop onto the ledge this girl comes walking outta nowhere with her face buried deep in her phone plus headphones on. We all yelled to get her attention but she didn’t hear us and walked directly into AJ’s path and got taken down from behind. It didn’t even register to her what happened but we all immediately ran to help her up as she kinda laughed and brushed it off. I think everybody involved learned a valuable lesson that day hahah, you wouldn’t believe how many angry messages I got about it too! It was like people expected me to time travel back and push her outta the way or something, absolutely hilarious. (FULL CLIP HERE)
Whats going on in your life non bike wise?
ANDY: I’ve been making a bunch of music for a little side project, it’s been super rewarding and fun. I’ve also been getting my VHS collection up, recently got a copy of Memories imported from Japan, as well as the Pioneer dub of Akira. Who got Hackers on VHS tho?? Vintage games are my jam too, been tryna complete my Sega Saturn and N64 libraries slowly but goddamn some games have skyrocketed in value making it that much more difficult! Maybe one day I’ll complete them if I don’t go broke hahaha
Who are some of your favorite dudes to watch on a bike right now? (FGFS riders)
ANDY: Ooo that’s really tough! I’m gonna have to say– Jimmy Watcha, Gus Molina, Matt Dizon, Johnathan Ball, Matt Reyes, Truong Sang & Hoang Tom the Vietnamese killas, Jaoa Danaikrit, Kareem Shehab, Miguel Zendejas, Jacob Ruff, Teppei ”Nasty” Iwabuchi, Yasuo ”YSO” Tezuka, Ryoske “RSK” Kiyohara, Takashi Minami, Tadashi Nakamura, Yuhei “Marco” Hirose and anybody else who’s still out there shredding. Ya’ll keep the flame alive!
Photo | Slumworm
What music you into right now?
ANDY: I’ve been really into Night Tempo, George Clanton aka ESPRIT, The Rippingtons, Tatsuro Yamashita, マクロスMACROSS 82-99, Meiko Nakahara, Dan Mason, Archecture in Tokyo, The Deele, Tevin Campbell, Maitro, Viper & a bunch of Gucci Mane as of late haha. Also a lot of random SoundCloud beats I come across, especially songs that use samples from SNES/64 games– that’s my jam!
Any last words / shoutouts?
ANDY: Yeee shoutout to literally EVERYBODY I’ve ever met via riding, everybody who has helped me along my journey, all the friends I’ve met along the way and all the places I’ve been able to travel because of them! Aite… I wanna thank Jball, Watcha, Slumworm, Schmitt, Wonka, Gus, DT3, Dizon, AJ, Combs, Lawson, Kareem, Jake Lanich, Steve Blick, Marco, BSC, Daichi, Keichan, Masachan, Mike Jay, Jordan, Snow, Nick Koo, Chris Sims, Alan Go, Elby Taylor, Tyler Swanson, Chaz Jew, Brad Hodges, Tyler Johnson, Jacob Ruff, ZLOG, BHSK, THIETH, Deacon, Cole Ruffing, Steven Jensen, Adam T Wells, Tim, Mike Nelson, Ferrer Sanders, Kameron Boun, PVN, Valentin Racho, Taishi Okuma, Ian Walker, Elliot Milner, Alberto, Oscar, Sol Smith, Ritchie Van Pelt, AARON KEOKHAM, DYLAN HURST AKA FISH N CHIPS, LUIS AKA HEAD_TRAUMA, DeAaron, Vadim Karpow(RUSSIAN KILLA), MJ<3, Seitaro & FISH N CHIPS CREW, W-BASE BICYCLE GARAGE, FOAD GANG, MASH SF, 408FIXIEBOIZ, PHIXEDBIKES, OAKLEY, BUILD BICYCLE GARDEN, NEMESIS PROJECT CYCLES, WH BRADFORD DESIGNS, CHROME INDUSTRIES, SUZKID CHILDREN, UNO KIDS, NINJACATS LONDON, SUPER TED, TOM BRIGGS, TOM MOSHER, TTVBLOG, SUCKMYCOG, KRAY KREW, DEAL WITH IT SF, PROFILE RACING, ENCORE WHEELS, FYXATION (THX 4 THE STRAPS NICK), ALIENS WORLDWIDE, CSK CREW, MASTER BIKE CO, VELOCE BIKE CO, CENTRAL X DOGMA, OTAKUBOYS, RINNG COMPONENTS & ANYBODY ELSE I FORGOT TO MENTION!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU ALL & WITHOUT YOU I WOULDN’T BE ME. SO ETERNAL THANKS ❤
EXTRA SHOUT OUT: Seth Stevens, Ramon Antonio, Shane SHMOB, DeeRock, STILLPOUR, Seoul Fixed Gear, ALOHAFIXED, DESTROY Bikes, Brotures Osaka, HarmonyBike Lab, Pete Brandt & every single one of my fans who has taken time to watch my edits, ask questions and send me kind words of support– it truly means the world to me and keeps me motivated~!!!!