This has been a hell of a week for BMX drama, shortly after the internet’s flame for the Brad Simms/Fit split fizzled, it was reignited via Instagram posts from legends Ruben Alcantara and Garrett Byrnes who were expressing their dismay and perceived disrespect from WeThePeople and their planned release of a full-suspension BMX bike, similar to the Fingers Crossed concept bikes that Garrett and Ruben have been steadily working towards bringing to market over the last few years. This sparked a frenzy of comments (Ruben’s had 500+) before both posts were ultimately deleted. There are a ton of polarizing opinions on the topic but it seems like the two parties involved have been in communication and are now trying to do right by each other, the original inflammatory posts have been removed and WeThePeople has issued a lengthy official statement on the matter:
“Out of respect for what Ruben Alcantara and Garrett Byrnes are creating with their ‘Fingers Crossed’ project we have decided to postpone the planned release of our own full suspension bike and let Ruben and Garrett gain headway with their project.
First of all, some context from our side; What you saw on Garrett and Ruben’s Instagram posts was in fact a photoshop rendering of a Wethepeople full suspension bike, one that is created for the sole purpose of collecting pre orders from bicycle distribution companies before plans will be put in place for final production. This bike is not currently in production and is not available in shops.
The image in question was taken from a ‘range preview PDF’, it is meant for distributions and shops to use to make their pre orders. This is common procedure in our industry and is not intended to be seen by the mass public since the bike is usually not finalised when we send this out, things almost always get tweaked a bit. Given the current extended lead times in production, we had to put this preview out earlier than planned to make sure the bike was even possible to take to final production for the order year.
We first began working on the concept of a full-suspension BMX bike in early 2018. As a rider owned and rider run BMX brand with a love for stepping outside the norm, we have always looking for ways to build upon BMX and create new niche bikes which appeal to a small but passionate BMX audience looking to ride something different. We have been creating special bikes like this since our inception in the late 1990s with our 24” Atlas cruiser, 12” Prime BMX bike, Audio 22” BMX, and more recently with our 27.5” Avenger Klunker. We make bikes and we love it, it’s that simple. Over the past decade we have expanded our sister brands and even developed and engineered a range of mountain bikes so the idea of ‘full-suspension frame building’ is nothing new to us. Taking this knowledge and applying it to a 20” BMX bike was a nice challenge for us, and a fun project that our design team felt very motivated to work on. As bike riders and bike designers we believed we could create something which was currently unavailable at the time and for the masses.
While we recognize that the idea of a full suspension BMX bike is exactly what Garrett and Ruben have been pursuing and pushing, it is not an original concept. Full suspension BMX bikes were created back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with many large corporate bike brands like Mongoose and GT building their own versions, but with little success. Further down the road Brooklyn Machine Works also designed a bike like this in the early 2000s. Smaller rider owned projects have also been building these bikes on a small scale in recent years. It was something we found interesting, just like all the others that came before us.
Wethepeople firmly stands behind what it does, and we take offence to the concept of “ripping off an idea” when it already exists, especially when the actual design and concept of our bike has not been properly shown and is very different and unique to us. In regard to the ‘Swamp Master’ being a “copycat”; our frame uses a purposely different linkage system out of respect to what Ruben and Garrett have created, and to avoid any remote similarity with the prototypes they have posted on their Instagram. Given a small ‘screenshot’ of a photoshop mock-up has been posted, and we have not been given the opportunity to present our bike in the way we had planned and it’s not accurate to assume on social media that our bike is a copy in any way shape or form – especially when the bike hasn’t even been produced at this time.
After a phone call today with Garrett we heard of their plan on producing their bike in Taiwan, rather than in the USA as we previously thought, we can understand how learning about our bike may have caused them to see direct rivalry and question why we did not reach out first. As an independently run BMX brand, and with a product still in the development stages, reaching out and discussing our product just wasn’t the right thing to do. BMX is a small industry which feels like a family and whilst we as a brand have a love for competition and seeing the hard work other brands put into it, when time and money is invested in a product it must be properly protected. That being said, the mission with this was purely to create a fun new bike and support a growing scene. With the time and development that goes into a bike like this, a “money grab” is not a realistic option here.
We have been in discussion with Garrett to try to clarify any misconceptions and to find a way that as BMX riders we can all work together to bring both our bikes to the market and give that select audience what they want, without creating any bad feelings for anyone.
Our decision to postpone the release at this time is purely down to respect for what Ruben and Garrett are trying to build up and giving them the time to bring their project to life.