From the Top: Rob Roskopp

Dec 20, 2013
by Richard Cunningham  
Rob Roskopp
bigquotesLoyalty is everything for me. People I work with understand that and respect it. It's a big part of success - without it, you have nothing.

Rob Roskopp is the founder and president of Santa Cruz Bicycles and a damn good bike rider. The man doesn't mince words, especially when the subject is about his bikes. Roskopp has never dealt me a sales pitch in the two decades I've known him and he expects the same in return. The same can be said of the entire crew, from the factory in its namesake city, to the Syndicate pits at the World Cups. Half man, half beast, Roskopp is the best of both - devoted to family, fiercely competitive, loyal to those who earn his trust, calculating when it comes to risk, and courageous when called to decision. While there is no question who is boss, the respect is mutual. The vibe from top to bottom at Santa Cruz is all about making great bikes. It must be, for there is no other way to explain how, against formidable odds, the brand grew from a one-room bike building operation to become a World Cup dominating global business in less than two decades. - RC



- Santa Cruz photo
You were a pro skateboarder with Santa Cruz when it was the most wanted skateboard brand on the planet. What motivated you to jump from the gravy train into a risky proposition like making mountain bikes?

Towards the end of my skating career I found the bicycle again. I bought my first mountain bike in 1987 and starting riding with friends. By the end of the ‘eighties, I started riding much more and then entered my first race in 1990. I really caught the mountain biking bug and began competing more and more. At that time in my life, I had to figure out what I was going to do. I went back to school at night and worked at Santa Cruz Skateboards during the day. My partner Rich Novak had become my mentor over the years, so I had learned almost every aspect of the business. I got Rich into mountain biking too, and he asked me one day if I thought making Santa Cruz Bicycles would be of any interest for me. It seemed like a good idea, so I did a bunch of research. Full suspension bikes were in the beginning stages at that time, so it seemed like the best way to enter the market. From there, I brought Mike Marquez into the project and we found a local bike designer by the name of Tom Morris (creator of the Tazmon, our first model). We had Control Tech make the first 100 bikes and we were off. Right as we received the first bikes, Hans Heim came on board (Keith Bontrager’s former partner) and as they say, "The rest is history."


Your first design, the Tazmon, was a three-inch-travel dual-suspension trailbike at a time when the hardtail was king and the emergence of rear suspension was spawning cycling’s first generation of haters. If we were a fly on the wall, how would the discussion go when you decided to go with a dual-suspension bike?

To be honest it seemed like the most logical move. Most of us came from some sort of motorcycle background. Mike was a former pro motocross racer, Tom had a lot of motocross experience, as did I. We all agreed it was going in the full-suspension direction. At that time, a lot of bike companies were experimenting with different suspension designs - some worked, most didn't. We went after and developed something straight forward, easy to understand, and something that worked very efficiently. The single-pivot design is still on a number of our bikes today. Pivot placement is key and we found that from the beginning, where others didn't, and that was one of our advantages - the bike worked extremely well for the time and still does today.

Santa Cruz Tazmon
  The Tazmon was a convincing first effort for the fledgling bike maker. - Santa Cruz photo


bigquotesI remember taking the first production bikes into local shops and seeing the look on some of the dealers' faces when they saw the name 'Santa Cruz' on the down tube. They would comment, "Don't you guys make skateboards?"


Beginning with a name like ‘Santa Cruz Bikes’ was probably helpful, but anyone who has tried to break into the bike biz with a new design will bear witness that it is a wickedly hard stunt to manage. When was your first break that put Santa Cruz on the map? Tell us about the moment when you could look back and say: "OK, we are a real bike company now."

Yes, and no. At that time, people knew of Santa Cruz from skateboards. I remember taking the first production bikes into local shops and seeing the look on some of the dealers’ faces when they saw the name 'Santa Cruz' on the down tube. They would comment, "Don't you guys make skateboards?" And we would reply, "Yes, we do, but that is our sister company." They doubted us from the beginning, thinking that we made toys and had no clue of how to make a bicycle, let alone a full suspension one. But once they rode the bike, their minds changed quickly. We started sending out demo bikes to the key dealers that we wanted to be with. And that's how it all started - one at a time - word would spread. Then we received some really good magazine reviews and we were off.

I don't think I can honestly look back and say we were a bike company until this past April, when we moved into our new location. When that happened, then it seemed real - almost 20 years later. The whole journey was based on our passion to build the best product we could and live the lifestyle we wanted, not for any other reason. We have an incredible team at Santa Cruz now. Yes, it’s a business, but most of all, it is our passion. We love to make incredible bikes.


Which model was the breakthrough bike for Santa Cruz?

I would have to say almost all of them have been in one way or another. We've never made a model that we ourselves wouldn't ride, except one, the Roadster…..I personally will never ride road bikes again. For me they're just no fun, dangerous due to cars, but most of all boring. I need challenging terrain, rock strewn singletrack to get off on.

Some of my personal favorites and milestones for SCB were the Tazmon, Heckler, Superlight, Bullit, Chameleon, Super 8, Blur, V-10, VP-Free, Blur XC carbon, Nomad carbon, Bronson and I'm excited about the Juliana line of bikes.

Santa Cruz original factory
  Santa Cruz operated from this modest industrial complex next door to the skate company for nearly two decades. - Santa Cruz photo



Santa Cruz milestones: The Bullit (top)
was one of the first long-travel trailbikes -
later to become 'all-mountain.' The original
Blur LTc used carbon for superior strength
rather than solely for its weight advantage -
the V10 would mirror that philosophy. The
carbon Tallboy was SC's first 29er, followed
by the longer travel LTc - both were
successes from the get-go. The Bronson was
the brand's first 27.5" wheel bike. The all
carbon V10c was long-awaited by DH racers.

Santa Cruz has become famous for only producing certain bike models and ignoring huge segments of the market that it could easily exploit for profit. How do you explain this?

It always comes down to what we personally want to ride, period. We have our niche and we don't stray from it.


I remember you telling me emphatically that you were not going to make 29ers. Later that year, when your workers started showing up on big-wheel bikes, you reluctantly changed your story.

Yes, at that time I did say that. Problem was, at that time any of the 29'ers I had ridden were terrible - so much so, that after we had ridden a big variety of what was considered good at the time, that in my opinion, were not, I almost cancelled the entire project. We spent a long time developing the Tallboy to make sure it was a great bike. The suspension kinematics are very different on a 29'er compared to a 26-inch bike. But we did figure it out and I think the rest of the story speaks for itself. Again, it comes down to making a great product, regardless of wheel size. Wheel size doesn't matter. Now there is a choice for the customers to ride what suits them best. It’s all about the performance of the product.


When Santa Cruz first developed into a business, you and the employees seemed very much like an extended family. Later, as Santa Cruz grew into a global corporation, you had to make the inevitable transition from leader of the pack to CEO. Can you tell us about some of the challenges you and SC faced during that transition?

This is true, it was inevitable …has to be, but I think we still have a family style feeling at SCB. We tend to do things a bit differently, which is good. There have been many challenges along the way……managing growth is a big one, don't want to grow too fast, or too slow, need to find balance. I think that finding balance is the hardest thing, along with managing people. The key is having a solid management group, and we have that in place, we have for some time. The other biggest challenge is delivery, probably the hardest thing in our industry to be good at. Over the last three years we've gotten much better at it, but this year it's slipped away somewhat due to the demand on new product that we didn't expect. But we are getting a handle on it, we have to.

I think our biggest challenges are yet to come.


Santa Cruz decided to maintain its local assembly and shipping system for its complete bikes at its new factory headquarters. Why did you decide to keep the final frame checks and assembly in house, instead of moving those steps off-shore like almost every other bike brand?

We have done this for a number of reasons, flexibility, quality control and customization. Most bikes we ship out are custom due to all the various options we have, so it made sense to keep everything in house. We make the highest end product and at that level the customer needs choices, they want options, more customization.


Santa Cruz purchased the rights to the VPP patent in September of 2000, during mountain biking’s dark period, when every bike maker was mired in some form of patent litigation related to suspension design. Care to make a comment about those issues?

We had been in business for six years at the time. I felt we needed something better. I've always wanted to make the best product, so I began testing various suspension designs. I asked Neal Saiki, our engineer at the time what he thought was the best design in his opinion, he mentioned the Outland VPP design. So not really knowing what had happened with the company I began searching them out. I finally made contact with them and got a few bikes to try out. At that time I had narrowed it down to two systems, the other was Maverick. Obviously, we bought the VPP patents in the end, but the decision came down to overall performance and scale. We could design a whole range of bikes with VPP, but the Maverick was limited in that way, with the shock-strut design. It was going to be very hard to make a DH bike with it. I think the Maverick rode incredibly well, but the VPP was a better performing system/application overall.


New Santa Cruz Factory 2013
  Santa Cruz moved into its new factory across town in 2013. The move allowed SC to improve the flow of the assembly and shipping tasks and to bring all of its operation under one roof. - Santa Cruz photo


Unlike most suspension patent holders, Santa Cruz chose Intense Cycles - a competitor - as a partner to share the VPP patent and to co-develop the technology. Why would SC do that?

We chose Intense because of their reputation. VPP needed to make an impact when we brought it back. Our engineers plot out the pivot points, then we give those to Intense and Jeff does his artistic touch, that's how it works. We've always been in the background, but our guys design the brain of the bike. The system had so much potential, but Outland fell short in that department with poorly designed pivot systems. We spent years developing this system now, it works incredibly well. Our pivot system today is the best in the industry, bar none, ask any shop mechanic.


Your sponsorship programs have been ‘creative’ enterprises so put it lightly. Blind Bobby, Cedric Gracia, the original All Ride clinic – just to name a few. The Santa Cruz Syndicate began as a sort of developmental and demonstration team – and now it is one of the most formidable monsters on the World Cup DH circuit. It seems to work, but do you have a plan, or is Santa Cruz a sort of pirate ship, seeking sponsorships of opportunity?

I have never liked putting all my eggs in one basket. I like to work with personalities, Bobby is an incredible person - to go through what he has in life is simply incredible. Bobby always has a smile on his face, despite going through extreme medical conditions. I've never met someone so positive in my whole life. I can't say how incredible a person he is.

Then there's CG - pure Rock Star. Pure adrenalin. Incredible rider - on every discipline. Crazy, but at the end of the day, a very humble person. His fans love him!

I started the Syndicate because racing is my passion. I've competed throughout my life, be it hockey, BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding or mountain biking. I've always disliked calling an individual sport, a team sport, it isn't. Originally we started out with riders from different disciplines, downhill, freeride, marathon. But the Syndicate has evolved and I've focused primarily on my passion, downhill. Today we are evolving again, and taking on enduro. I've been fortunate to work with some of the greatest riders of all time, Nathan Rennie, Kirt Voreis, Cameron Zink, Jaime Goldman. And today our roster includes the greatest riders of all time: Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar. Then there's Ratboy, Josh Bryceland, incredible talent with great things to come.

The Syndicate is a family. I always treated it that way - it works. I take my family to many of the races. We are a close-knit group. We enjoy each others’ company on and off the race circuit. I have to thank a few people for making this possible: my wife Lepa, Kathy, Doug, Jason, Ricky Bobby, Tom and the whole crew at Santa Cruz, thanks for sharing - one life!

  Rob Roskopp and Cedric Gracia. - Matt Wragg photo


Loyalty seems to be a theme throughout Santa Cruz. Many employees have been there since day one and SC seems to keep both its workers and its athletes for life. How did that philosophy take root?

Loyalty is everything for me. People I work with understand that and respect it. It’s a big part of success - without it, you have nothing.


You are a pretty good bike-handler. What is it like to ride with the likes of Peaty, Greg and Rat Boy? Do they push you hard or do they cut you some slack?

Ha! I'm an old man now, so I have to watch it. It's taken me a while, but when riding with the boys, I don't let them get the best of me. I've had enough injuries in the past. I've learned my lesson.

Steve Peat Greg Minnaar and unidentified chillun
  Two World Champions take some time to wrench for a pair of future champs. - Kathy Sessler photo

bigquotesThe Syndicate is a family. I always treated it that way - it works.


How does your family fit into the bike adventure called Santa Cruz? Do they share your passion?

They have from day one. Lepa and I ride often. Mountain biking is her release, her passion too. My kids ride once in a while, but they love traveling with all the racers. It’s always entertaining for them. Like they say: "Behind every good man, there is a great woman"


Tell us about the nearly overnight redesign of your 26-inch models to 27.5. What motivated SC to make the switch in such a convincing manner?

It really comes down to building the best product. 27.5-inch wheels are slightly better than 26-inch wheels, so it allowed us to design a better product. It’s really that simple. Whatever it takes to make the product better. It’s another tool in the toolbox - use it.


Santa Cruz was heavily invested in cutting-edge aluminum designs since day one, yet SC has been pushing carbon fiber as the material of choice since its Blur XC. What did you learn from the Blur XC that caused your focus to switch from aluminum to carbon?

Like I said: “Use the best tools to make the best product.” It’s all about performance, and building the highest quality bike possible! Carbon is the best material now, that can make the lightest and strongest bike.


Santa Cruz has been known for testing left-of-center ideas in secret to gain a future performance advantage. The carbon DH wheel program with Enve was one. Tell us a few stories, if possible, about pre-production moments that have gone good and bad.



You can't move forward without making mistakes, that's how you learn. You have to take risk. Enve was risk that worked out well, for everyone. It’s one of the biggest performance gains you can add to your bike. Never show your hand (as they say). Ha!


Looking back at Santa Cruz’s past, do you have any misgivings about throwing into the bike biz? Were there any turning points where you wish you had struck another course?

Not at all. It’s been an incredible journey. I feel I've been very fortunate throughout my entire life - great family, friends, and businesses. Never look back at what could have, would have, or should have been - it isn't healthy. No regrets!


Looking forward, what are the greatest challenges that Santa Cruz may face?

Growth is always the hardest to manage. Everything comes down to execution - period!


What accomplishments are you most proud of?

My family, marriage, children - and the little side project; Santa Cruz Bicycles.





159 Comments

  • 81 0
 Just gained a lot more respect for Rob. Family is always first and it is good to see a man be so humble and true. Also the mission of the company to make only bikes they want to ride is a great mindset for any company. RESPECT.
  • 19 1
 Here's the video of Roskopp skating you should water. 1987 Raging Waters in San Jose. Christian Hosoi is also on there. Soundtrack is by Claus Grabke? If I remember right?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p8fXhWBMlU&sns=em
  • 9 0
 I was (and still) skating at the time when he was pro. I remember when he switched to mtb. I picked it up a few years later as a way to strengthen my ankles from too many sprains. I still skate and ride bikes.
  • 3 0
 my favourite skater from that era was Rob Roskopp I started skating in 1979 through the 1980s I owned four of his decks and tried my best to emulate his style on the skateboard awesome to see what he has managed to do after his skateboard career, with Santa Cruz bicycles!
  • 1 0
 WOW! I remember being there! (damn, I'm old!)
  • 19 2
 My god, what a giant of a man... And not because of his success, but because no matter what, he remains true to himself and those he loves. THAT is worthy of respect alone, but combined with his all-out style of doing things, he's become a huge inspiration. Thanks for this interview, RC and PB. It just made my week. Smile
  • 24 34
flag ulis (Dec 20, 2013 at 4:36) (Below Threshold)
 Easy there... Isn't this a bit naive approach..? Do you know him personally? I wouldn't judge the man by few written words of interview - it might as well be another marketing jibba-jabba. Not sayin it is, but I might be...
  • 7 0
 Do I 'know' him? No. Have I met him? Yes, once... Before I had any idea who he was or what he did. Even then, he left a tangible sense of awesome with me. So is it naive? No. Do I respect him? Absolutely. Do you have any sort of right to assume I'm making a judgement based upon one single article? Not even a little bit. But thank you for allowing me the opportunity to elaborate further on why this guy is rad. Because he is.
  • 3 5
 You guys should get married
  • 7 2
 Because that's the appropriate answer to any comment of respect from everyone...

"I love soda pop so much."

"If you love it so much, why don't you MARRY IT?!?" *uncontrollable giggling*

Welcome back to first grade.
  • 2 6
flag ulis (Dec 23, 2013 at 14:42) (Below Threshold)
 OK, based on several articles unless this guy is your life passion or you're some kind of a stalker... I've seen quite a few films with Morgan Freeman and I think he is a good actor. Look what Bill Gates accomplished so far in his life - I can assume he is a good boss and businessman. But oh my god, is any of them a giant of a man??? Ain't got a clue because, from what we all know, public media (that includes internet) gives us a bit of a good stuff and a bit more of a bulls*it. Do you get my point now?
  • 8 2
 No, I'm still failing to understand your immediate assumptions, condescending comment and overt rudeness about my comment. Many people feel the same way about him, and although you seem determined to force an admission or retraction, that's not what you're going to get. I stand by my original comment. If you have a problem with that, I don't really GAF. Do YOU understand MY point?

He is neither my life passion, not a stalker. However, he is a giant of a man as he has built multiple successful companies and yet still acts like a human being. In this day and age of companies who bully to get what they want and leaders who leave those companies helm-empty to walk away with profits, Mr. Roskopp has maintained consistent performance from a company that never skimped to meet cost demands of a fluctuating, fickle public, nor has he avoided publicity about himself or said company, and he has personally helped to bring multiple successful technological advances to market, or even to daylight. That's a big deal. So yes. In my opinion, he is a giant of a man. He's an athlete, a businessman, an honest guy and someone I would want my brothers looking up to.

Now go ahead and tell me I'm wrong. Or rather, tell me what YOU have done to earn the respect of millions of people across multiple sports? I'm guessing you haven't done shit, quite frankly, or else you wouldn't be on here bashing a comment that was posted out of respect and gratitude.
  • 3 1
 Better than Nelson Mandela?
  • 3 1
 Ha ha. Depends who you ask. Wink
  • 3 0
 Talk about overanalysing
  • 3 1
 That's my middle name.
  • 3 6
 Well... Based on your SEVERAL posts I'd need to assume you're dumb. But I'm not gonna do that. You're telling me I'm rude then you showing all that ignorance in few sentences. I think you have some proper anger issues. I don't know why but what comes to my mind right now is a little blond girl with no top on yelling and shaking her head and arms (and other body parts) like she completely lost it... And all these fancy words.. Learn how to use them or don't use them at all. I'm out.
  • 2 0
 I don't perceive any anger there Ulis. Think you might be projecting. He was just defending his opinion while someone attacked it needlessly. I have a massive amount of respect for RR too. Nothing wrong with that. Lets all just get along.
  • 18 0
 Jason Statham's dad!
  • 3 2
 ^^f*cking funny comment^^
  • 2 6
flag TheDude88 (Dec 20, 2013 at 16:13) (Below Threshold)
 I dont get it.
  • 17 5
 Great read, but my god look at that melon. It's not a forehead, it's an eight head. I wonder if he can send signals to dolphins with that thing.
  • 3 2
 I know! It's like a fleshy lightbulb perched atop his shoulders.
  • 3 2
 right? its like he came out of the womb chin first and squeezed everything up into his brain. good brain though, makes shit hot bikes that's for sure. must be hell fitting helmets....
  • 12 2
 VPP is really the best suspension system when you factor in how easy it is to design a frame around it. Basically two triangles with two linkages holding them together. Plus Santa Cruz's pivot hardware is super durable and high performing. Take another bike’s pivot hardware(Specialized) apart and you’ll see that SC’s pivot hardware and collet axles are so much better designed and easier to work on.
  • 4 1
 Compared to other designs or a few "outdated" designs (Fsr hah), VPP is no means an easy suspension platform vs. DW-Link, S-Pivot, Split-Pivot, Horst, etc. And the reason that SC's pivots are good is cause SC learned that VPP absolutely depends on the quality of it's bearings or VPP as a suspension design is severely undermined. Lots of torque, movement, and bearing-stress/loads. To get VPP right it took lots and lots of generations, trial and errors, etc to get it where it is now. So when you say it's the best suspension just cause it's 'that' easy, I have to disagree. You don't just bolt 2 triangles and except to perform as well as the V-10, Blur, Nomad, Bronson.

VPP is the best cause a very special company called Santa Cruz works extremely hard on it and have put their whole effort and commitment into the design.
  • 9 1
 Santa Cruz, never grow to be a Specialized or a Cannondale... you're just fine the way you are!!! You are better... Just gain another level of respect for these guys, especially for Rob himself. Incredible man, wirth an incredible journey...
  • 9 2
 "I personally will never ride road bikes again. For me they're just no fun, dangerous due to cars, but most of all boring. I need challenging terrain, rock strewn singletrack to get off on." QFT !!!!!!!!!!!
  • 6 1
 He's right about the cars now. It is so much more dangerous now with distracted drivers. If I get banged up on the dirt, it's my own fault, and the risk I chose to take, to a teenage girl responding to her bff's text message.
  • 6 1
 Not one hour ago I was talking to my LBS and they were trying to convince me to buy a roadie. I said "I've never been hit by a car riding singletrack."
  • 20 14
 "27.5-inch wheels are slightly better than 26-inch wheels"

what he really means is

"26 inch wheels are a mature segment and it's better for me if people think 26 inch wheels are old and crappy and buy the shiny new 27.5"

I hate the bike industry sometimes and the lame people that buy bikes.
  • 1 1
 v10 is still 26"....................that should say something, Also it states he wants to make a bike for everyone with choices. But be high end not walmart shit. so.........
  • 18 9
 Joe Graney, the SC engineer said it all right here at 3m33s www.bikemag.com/gear/exclusive-video-bronson-santa-cruzs-new-650b-trail-bike

And I quote: "It's not quite as playful as the 26". And I'm guessing that was on California singletrack, rather than steep, tight and technical trails.

So tell me, Robb and Joe, how is it that they are slightly better for people that value handling and playfulness over being 1% faster, if it even is at all. Aren't you painting the whole world with a pretty wide brush here?

My experience with the Bronson is the same as 2 of my friends that owned them. And that is "no thanks - back to 26".

After 14 SC frames in the last 13 years, I'm afraid it sounds like it's over for me. Choosing straight line speed over handling and playfulness is a choice I would like to make on my own. I'm in the minority it seems, but I'm far from alone. But I guess Joe will just call us trolls and say good riddance.
  • 5 6
 yup... strictly marketing to exploit the 650b. No shown benefit of 650b (not 27.5"). Rob is just pushing product here. It's not about making bikes but about making $ which is fine but buyer beware.
  • 3 1
 FWIW, trails in Santa Cruz can be real steep and pretty technical.
  • 2 2
 Airmiller- Your comment is incorrect. Figure that one out. Hint, hint, it's your first statement....
  • 3 1
 Ive got a v10.5 right here and its 26" wheel so enlighten me. Havent seen spy shots of a v10.5 or newer with 27.5 rear wheel
  • 1 1
 He basically told you about it, you used his words, and now you need enlightened?
  • 2 0
 You must be super high and thinking way too deep into one sentence. Enduro is different than a downhill v10. The syndicate team would be testing it already like they do every product before its released, so once again. Enlighten me into some actual facts if you say my facts are incorrect.
  • 1 0
 Except SC doesn't roll like that.Tell me how high I am in Spring. Wink BTW, sick v10.
  • 4 2
 The only ones who feel the benefits ($$$$$$$$$) of 27.5" wheels are the bike companies. when you point your bike downhill and have a decent skill level 26" is still king!.
  • 2 0
 Thanks Dave, it's possible syndicates may be on it next year for world cup but consumers wouldn't see it for another year. SC has to make some cash off the current molds first I would think.
  • 2 3
 Yep, they killed it for me with a sudden switch to 27.5. Greed.
  • 3 1
 guys need to stop bitching... really though. saying that just wait a while and see whats in store.
  • 1 0
 ride and smile and give no f*cks untill your smile goes away... then get it back.
  • 8 0
 I can't see myself riding any other bike in the near future. Love the bikes.
  • 5 0
 I've been on a Santa Cruz Bike of some type for the past 10 years and just ordered a carbon bronson frame. I have head their xc bikes, all mountain bikes, dh bikes, dj bikes and even the road bike. Missed out on the cx bike though. Stick with what works and SCB works for me.
  • 7 0
 I always preferred Jason Jesse !
  • 6 4
 Santa Cruz has become famous for only producing certain bike models and ignoring huge segments of the market that it could easily exploit for profit. How do you explain this?


Hmm , really ? from what I can tell they have every single section of the market wrapped up apart from fat bikes and road bikes?
  • 18 0
 They are talking about poor people bikes.... you know, shitters
  • 2 0
 As RC said, there's no sales pitch in there... sure there's always a bit or a lot. Here it's only a bit, and the interview felt really honest and personal. My first real skateboard was an SC Rob Roskopp Black Top (alreay some carbon stuff!) so I found it funny to discover some years ago who was behind SCB. A cool guy.
  • 2 0
 @bigburd: I only got in MTB 2.5 years ago and am floored at how epic DH is! But one of the coolest things I found when getting in to the sport is that Santa Cruz is making top line shit and Rob is behind it. I grew up Skateboarding in California from the late 70's (Yeah, I'm that old! :-)) all the way through the 90's where I lived in Santa Cruz. Back then, SC had killer skate AND motorcycle scenes, but by that time I was just starting to hear about mountain bikes.

Rob was always a cool dude. When you're a kid looking up to some of the older guys, Rob was among the gods like Hosoi, Caballero, Phillips, and Hawk.

Santa Cruz Syndicate it seems has done a great job of being what the Bone Brigade is/was for Powell/Peralta.
  • 2 0
 No 'cross bike, no road bike (crit, comfort, TT, triathalon), no fat bike, no slope style bike, no steel street bike (though the Jackal is quite competent for an alu bike), no cruisers, no BMX bikes...there's quite a few large parts of the market that SC doesn't invest in. Granted they had a road bike and a 'cross bike, and also a BMX bike in the late 90s.
  • 4 0
 Go watch him skate Raging Waters with Christian Hosoi. Pop that into youtube, sit back and relax for 4 minutes, bonus note the soundtrack is bad ass.
  • 6 0
 Sooooo is there a support group for Roadster owners? who do I contact?
  • 1 0
 Contact me.
  • 2 0
 I've owned a Bullit, Nomad, VP-Free, and a V-10. Still ride a Roadster almost daily. (Yes, the Roadster is FUN to ride, Rob!)
No current VPP VP-Free model in the lineup, so I originally got a Socom to replace it.
Now I own a 951. Love the big travel VPP bikes combined with the artistry of Steber's Intense models.
  • 4 3
 SCB's products are that good and their commitment to developing the best products is sincere, but Rob's comments about "any shop mechanic's" opinion may be a little off-base. SCB has a terrible rep in the immediate area for giving their dealers ZERO support. The company does back door deals all day long to avoid the middle man and the local shops suffer as a result. At the end of the day it's all about the margins for these guys. Fortunately for us, the best profits come from offering the market the best goods....and for the record Rob is VERY fast on two wheels.
  • 3 1
 As it reads that statement was in regards to vpp system and SC's pivot designs. Which I'd agree is pretty accurate in truth. Vpp stands the test of time. As for their dealings, it a sad reality of the changing economy. Bike shops are sadly a dying breed and will likely disappear over time in favor of online and direct sales. In coming decades we may only see small service shops mixed with other business models in popular riding areas. But the ride will continue.
  • 1 0
 cthorpe-- agreed. I should have clarified. I would speculate that as employees of those shops they have good things to say about the products and less praise for the company at large. As for bike shops in general I can see it going either way. Any time I'm in one it seems to be patronized by commuters and parents with kids who have legitimate questions about what they need and what offers the most value, unlike this audience who knows what they want and is searching for the best price.
  • 4 0
 Just bought my first Santa Cruz model a few months back. Got one of the new Heckler 650b's, never gonna ride anything else!
  • 5 2
 Interesting:


When talking 29ers, Rob claims wheel size doesn't matter.

But then when referring to 26" vs 27.5 , 27.5 is slightly better.

I
  • 1 1
 I was going to buy a carbon Blur LT2. But they don't make them any more. I have tried the larger wheels. I'm 6 feet and I'm not feeling the love I get with my 26"ers. I have four SC frames and It looks like I done with this brand. Greedy and have forgotten their roots.
  • 3 0
 Looking forward to a 650b Jackal and Nomad...one of which is an actual future product...one of which is not...you figure it out.
  • 1 1
 a 650B Jackal, Gross!
  • 1 0
 I was in 7th grade and I saw my first adds for Santa Cruz skateboards. I owned the Santa Cruz Down Hill board. Road rider six's, Goldwing Trucks. Great board; That was the middle early 70's. I think.... Santa Cruz boards were around when half pipes started up, and emptying the pool in your friends backyard and riding that pool, and the search for old cistern drainage pools out in the country. We found a few and road them, Graffitied our names on them. They are gone now! And those were the days of famous skaters; this is before skate parks; the first was just starting up.

When I first heard of santa Cruz bikes, I thought: same company? I knew it was! And I thought " This is really cool"

My biggest thrill was my first experience riding a Bullit with a Zok free ride on front! I finally got to ride the legend. And the rest is history!
  • 1 0
 I bought my Nomad over 4 years ago and everytime I see it my heart races almost as much as when I'm on it. From boards, bikes and a team, SC as defined what it means to be the best. Yeah I'm loyal. Rob it must be intense. Props for knowing your family is the most important empire.
  • 2 1
 I own a SC Nomad. couldn't be happier with it. After reading this article and just seeing what Rob has done, I trust him enough that if he says there are benefits to a 27.5, then there are benefits to a 27.5. I don't believe that someone so dedicated to making the best bikes on earth would try to peddle a crappy bike. He just said he builds the kinda bikes he enjoys riding.
  • 1 0
 This was a good read, i never tought that Santa Cruz skateboards and Santa Cruz bikes were even sister companies i thought they were two totally different companies.
Thing that does reading this article even more better, is that i got my SC Tallboy LT just two and half weeks ago.
I´m totally enjoying it!
  • 1 0
 Seriously, watch the footage of him and Hosoi sk8ing the Booma Rampp...He had the right idea at the right time...To me that is called winning ...Much respect to him...Merry X-Mas to all...One love. p.s. that footy is on a Santa Cruz video form the 80's....bitchin...
  • 2 1
 "We've never made a model that we ourselves wouldn't ride, except two, the Roadster and the SOLO.. oh I mean the 5010…..I personally will never ride road bikes again as I'm only interested in playing in hero dirt and wearing TLD kits to impress the fellas. For me they're just no fun cause I'm slow, dangerous due to parked cars, but most of all Santa Cruz is boring. I need challenging terrain, rock strewn single track it gets me off"
  • 1 0
 Proud to ride my Roadster 3-4 times a week! Love riding something rare! www.pinkbike.com/photo/3082157
  • 4 0
 He reminds me of Mike from Breaking Bad.
  • 1 0
 Same head shape
  • 3 1
 Proud to be riding SC bikes since 1999. And I very much agree about the road biking comment. Gave it up this year after the 16 year old died on the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
  • 2 0
 Sorry about your friend satn. I know mountain bikers who died on the trail as well. When it's your time to go, it's your time to go.
  • 3 0
 I am a Santa Cruz rider for life and reading this article just confirms it for me!
  • 3 0
 The stem on that Tazmon has got to be at least 10 inches long. I bet the handlebars are only about 14 inches wide, too.
  • 2 0
 It was a different time.
  • 1 0
 I just scrolled to the bottom here to brag that I have a awesome condition, complete Roskopp Target I, rare red. Skated it for awhile a few years back before I knew the value of it...
  • 2 0
 I'd rather ride an Ibis (another Santa Cruz company) or a Pivot. Santa Cruz bikes just don't do it for me. Rob is cool though.
  • 1 0
 I'm with you I have ridden the large wheeled bikes and nothing in the 29" 27" are as much fun as a Ibis HD or the Pivot Mach 5.7
Santa Cruz like many bike manufactures has become victims of their own success. A Giant of a company. Pun intended.
  • 2 0
 Bicycle shops service high performance bikes. Competent shops are not gonna go away. Real cyclists that are smart have a relationship with a shop that they trust.
  • 1 0
 Right place, right time. And a terrible amount of dedication plus some luck. Roskopp is a boss and according to the interview a good one.
  • 3 1
 Luck is damn hard work combined with bits of huge courage and excellent observational skills.
  • 2 0
 Good job pb and Santa Cruz I am stoked on the article and Roskop is the man being loyal is great keep up the good work!!
  • 3 0
 Rob Roskopp pukes a slimeball! my fave 80s skate advert.
  • 3 0
 Size of his noggin! Legend
  • 1 0
 The Great Gazoo!
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gazoo

(fwiw - I have 3 SC bikes in the garage at the moment...)
  • 2 0
 Oh shit... that halfpipe is a fucking nightmare. And riding it with hardly any protection... glad to know he survived.
  • 1 0
 Kneepads are all you need on a half-pipe. Very easy to bail. A helmet is a good addition for big mistakes.
  • 1 0
 Respect. 4th Santa Cruz bike for me in the last 12 years. No BS, pure execution...
  • 1 0
 My first deck was a Roskopp Street. Wish I still had it (that and my McGill).
  • 2 0
 Ride a Santa. Tiz the season.
  • 1 0
 Great interview. Rob's dedication to the line up explains why my quiver of bikes is heavily weighted towards Santa Cruz.
  • 1 0
 Growing up as a skate rat, buying my 1st real mountain bike from Santa Cruz was an easy decision! Rock on fellas
  • 1 1
 @jaydawg69 - so SpecialEd is making him ride the 29er instead of the 26", even though, according to you, he'd have better results on the 26"? Interesting...
  • 1 0
 I suspect they are. He had better results in 2012 on 26". Top dogs are on 26".
  • 1 0
 There was no EWS in 2012. The top dogs did not have the option of riding a 650b bike in 2013...we'll see next year.
  • 2 0
 they still had Enduros in 2012. I suspect the top dogs will be on whatever the manufacturers are dishing out. Hopefully some 26" hold outs in the industry. Keep drinking the koolaid if you think 650b is any faster and certainly not as fun/playful.
  • 2 0
 I've been riding 650b since Kirk Pacenti released the Neo-Moto…I bought a Blur LT in '10 specifically so I could run 650b front and rear, so, not Kool-aid here…quite the opposite until recently.
I've ridden them 26" and 650b back to back on the same bike. The 650b was clearly better. Not V-brake to disc brake better, but significant. Maybe where you ride is smooth and buff, and it does't matter, but in roots and rocks, it does.
  • 1 0
 I would easily go out and buy a Santa Cruz bike right now just due to this interview, truly inspiring, what a stand up dude!
  • 1 0
 Rob Roskopp's the man! He has everything in perfect perspective. Awesome interview.
  • 1 0
 Did anyone notice that Ventana had a purpose built 650B FS frame back in 2008?
  • 1 0
 Awesome, love my Heckler and Nomad Smile
  • 1 1
 Lol! I got myself below threshold for not following ' I'd blow Rob ' trend...
  • 2 1
 Hahaha!! I'd help u bl0w him!!!
  • 1 0
 great santa cruz riders? lets not forget Johnny Waddell
  • 1 0
 Or Mark Weir!
  • 1 0
 Such a brilliant read! Much love! Smile
  • 1 0
 So what about Jamie Goldman? Sickest dude ever
  • 1 0
 I'm on my 4th Santa Cruz in 10 years. Santa Cruz for life!
  • 1 0
 Such a great article! Santa Cruz bikes are amazing!
  • 7 8
 "27.5-inch wheels are slightly better than 26-inch wheels"

really rob? Let's have a race.
  • 11 6
 I'm afraid you'd loose it. Physics.
  • 5 2
 lol you'd think someone with the name "EnduroManiac" would be keen enough to realize that the EWS was dominated by 26 inch wheels... apparently defying physics!!!!!!!
  • 6 0
 Until next season when most all the enduro models will be 27.5", you know what will happen then? ...the best rider will win, again. ;-)
  • 8 2
 purely marketing. It's a shame that the top racers will be forced to ride 650b to sell more product. Look! I won a race on a new wheel size, it must be better. You should buy it as well so you'll win races and beat all your friends. Person buys new bike and still sucks and doesn't have much fun. F*ck you bike manufacturers for phasing out a perfectly good wheel size to sell more bikes.
  • 2 0
 Morpheous is right on...
Dominated by 26"? Did the bikes ride themselves? Look beyond the top two. Clementz would have won on a 29er, or a 24 " bike.
  • 4 0
 @reformedroadie,

Bikes don't ride themselves, but top level racers are all talented riders, not just Clementz.

The bike makes a difference, just ask Aaron Gwin...
  • 3 1
 Clementz wouldn't have won a 29er and certainly not on a 24er. Keene should go back to 26" Enduro and he'll do better like he did in 2012.
  • 7 1
 Funny how the truth gets neg repped. Looks like some people drank the 650b koolaid and telling themselves how good it is.
  • 4 2
 Funny how some people are so attached to a wheel size that was arbitrarily picked due to availability of tires and rims and not for it's merits.
  • 2 3
 @shredjekyll: it was meant to be provocative, just like the post i was replying to. Obviously the bigger wheel will win all other parameters equal (physics, science...). So showing up with Clementz and Graves... They would have won on 650b as well.
Just bought a 26" this year cause i wanted a new bike and found way too little choice in forks rims and tyres in 650b. I'll be happy with it till I renew my bike which will most likely be a 650b cause that's all what there'll be in development. I'm afraid dev of 26" is dead. Future will tell us.
  • 2 0
 @jaydawg69 : people who have bought 650b bikes ,and spent their hard earned cash on it because they were told how great and magical it is ,are just bitter (butthurt) when they find out that it isn't that great and certainly not magical.
  • 8 3
 There is mass confusion about the 27.5" wheelsize and its origins, this was not an industry driven emergence, this started back in 2008 with a single person, facilitated by Kirk Pacenti having Knobby tires made by Panaracer for him(us). Since many people are on the tail end of a 5 yr emergence of 27.5(650b), and dont really ever experiment or look deeper than a magazine ad, I could see how it may appear that the Manufacturers had driven the wheel size. All the manufacturers have done this time around is position themselves not to miss out on a shift in the market (the riders experimenting and converting many of their own 26" bikes in 2009/10/11) like they did on the 29er emergence. Santa cruz smartly jumped on it as many of thier bikes were being utilized for these very conversions, starting with the Heckler. 650b/27.5 wheelsize has been totally rider driven, the tail wagging the dog as they say, from a small pocket of riders experimenting, not evil manufacturers forcing consumers to buy a new bike or wheelsize. Wake up and educate your selves before making ignorant comments, Did anyone even notice that Jamis was making 27.5 FS bikes back in 2010?. I bet not, because for some people until it hits them in the face from a marketing source, they dont even know it exists. These are the ones bitching, the uninitiated.(Jaydawg69)
  • 3 1
 ^^ well said, consumer hype more than industry hype
  • 2 2
 I watched the first photo and he definitely reminds me to Paul Alien.
  • 1 3
 It would have been nice to see this interview address the environmental and ethical isues around carbon fiber frame production.
  • 2 1
 That would be a more appropriate issue for the INDUSTRY to discuss, not one manufacturer.
  • 1 0
 My comment was based on the Pinkbike love-letter approach to the interview, and the heavy emphasis on family and integrity. Santa Cruz wasn't the first to make a carbon fiber bike and not the first to have one made in China, but they are major players in creating and sustaining market acceptance at many levels, including making the carbon fiber DH bike.

The Commencal interview a while back addressed his thoughts on the subject, getting Robs' WOULD be part of the "industry discussion". I'm not saying I won't buy a carbon fiber bike, just that as consumers we owe it to ourselves to have an awareness of where the products we enjoy come from and what those products may have cost a family in Asia, same as the jeans made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh.
  • 2 0
 Or a computer manufacturing plant in China…. now get off your computer immediately…Oh, right, you see, its a silly discussion, welcome to the global marketplace.
  • 1 0
 You assume that because I think a discussion is relevant that I have an axe to grind against people who sell products manufactured under very different conditions than we would tolerate in our country. In plain fact, it is unavoidable. It doesn't mean that we should blithely go about our business without a thought towards the people who make our products. All decisions should be conscious decisions, especially when the conditions we accept are likely not sustainable in the long run. Sort of like ignoring global warming cause it's not too hot yet.
  • 1 0
 Im not sure why you are even bringing this aspect to light considering your statement: "I'm not saying I won't buy a carbon fiber bike" The whole world economy and the majority of your consumerism is built upon unconscious decisions that squander resources and exploit labor, there are much bigger and more unjust issues than this its the wrong place to focus IMO.
  • 1 0
 Ok. It's just a subject of interest to me because I love bikes-it is a way of localizing global issues when they apply to something that is important personally. It's one thing to read about 1100 people dying in a factory collapse in Bangladesh and another to realize they were sewing the shirt on your back when that happened.
  • 1 0
 Bronson= 27.5" Blur LT
  • 1 0
 5010 = 27.5" Blur TRC

Bantam = 27.5" Nickel (sans APP link)

What we need is a 27.5" NOMAD!!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 In reality what we need is to get rid of the Bronson and get the Nomad converted to a 650b platform. People who have ridden both the Bronson and the Solo side by side have commented on how the Bronson feels sluggish and the Solo can handle more than a 5" travel bike should be able to, which is a similar response to the ride quality of the TR and TRc bikes.
  • 3 0
 With a 27.5 Nomad you could rule the world. Really no other bike needed for anything…(I have been experimenting ;-) )
  • 3 0
 @morpheous: Has this comment stood the test of time?
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