Video: Why? Part 2 - Ryan Leech

Nov 7, 2012 at 9:31
by Dan Barham  


Ryan Leech has ridden mountain bikes professionally for over sixteen years now; over that time he has been responsible for creating a whole new style of trials mountain biking, performing live in front of tens of thousands of fans and pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible on a bike.

The second in the "Why?" series exploring questions within the bike industry, this short documentary was created as a companion piece to Ryan's article, "The Cons Of Being Pro", in which he discusses the pressures involved in performing at such a high level, how they can affect an athlete's perception of themselves and how they could change.

See "Why #1: Dan Gronross" here.
Read Ryan's original article here.

Dan Barham
Ryan Leech
Music licensed by The Music Bed
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59 Comments

  • + 74
 First, let's just say that Ryan is one of those rare breed of athletes that actually care about others. Not only is he a first rate rider, he is a first rate guy. Personable, honest, likable... But perhaps the most important, he is a guy with integrity and makes no reservation about it! We need more athletes like Ryan to provide a positive role model all of us can emulate and look to. Thanks Ryan for pushing through the tough stuff and staying true to yourself and your riding!!
  • + 1
 i agree my man. I believe whole heartedly that Gwin is following the same path. He is one of the most humble guys out there even when he is dominating the world cup circuit. Its exciting to see people with such talent have such integrity.
  • + 24
 Ryan has always been one of my favorite MTB athletes and it's great to hear about some of his battles as a professional - thanks for making this guys.
  • + 7
 Ryan Leech, if you can hear me, what sort of tubes do you run, and tire PSI do you use? What is the difference with trials wheel set ups on 26 and what do you do specifically?

Also, Ryan, in a way, did you just admit to being a man that cries basically? Cuz that's pretty manly and very respectable. The whole regretting doing the most insane stunts that you did, even though public wants the sport to "progress" is something that I have always pondered myself (considering that my whole family has said to me, "Those skiers who huck off 200 ft cliffs have IQ's equivalent to their shoe size," - roughly quoted from that Warren Miller movie.)

Thanks for this video.

Moderate hucking is obviously important though. Adrenaline is more healthy than people give credit to.
  • + 45
 I agree, moderate hucking and adrenaline is a good thing!

Regarding the regret, that's a tricky topic because hindsight is always 20/20...Some of the riskier moves I did when my motivation was pure I don't regret, but when other influences such as fame, money, and reputation come in to play in those risk decisions then it can be regrettable, making that distinction isn't a clean thing though, because as a pro your whole career is wrapped up in these pressures. This is why I'm calling for more introspection and why I became a coach for athletes in this domain. Check out that linked article for my further thoughts on this topic....and regarding tires, kenda stickies 2.35, approx 40psi, and 26" wheels are just so versatile for trials and street. Cheers!
  • + 8
 Thanks Mr. Leech, I'm honored both to be able to talk to you, and that you responded so quickly!

One last thing, do you use standard tubes? The guys at my Local Bike Shop said that trials riders use thorn resistant tubes, because of their durability... they also weigh more than my tire. It's been quite a noticeable sacrifice from the extra light tubes that I am used to.
  • - 3
 DOES ANYBODY KNOW THIS SONG?
  • + 2
 Rarely do you get an athlete (let alone human being) who is as articulate and aware as Ryan. The way he conducts himself shows me that humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive. Always pleased to see introspection combined with a strong physical lifestyle. It reinforces my belief that mind and body fitness can lead to good things. Take one away and you're missing an opportunity to grow. Keep on doing what you're doing Ryan.
  • + 4
 Thanks conv3rt. Take one away and not only you're missing an opportunity to grow, but there is likely some form of pain to go along with it, whether an unnecessary crash, lack of satisfaction and enjoyment from your ride and being in nature, burnout...etc etc. I appreciate the thoughtful comment!
  • + 1
 Very perceptive. This comment was repeating in my head today and turned out to be very relevant, timely, and a nudge in a better direction. Many thanks.
  • + 1
 Hey Ryan, just a quick question on about that trail you rode in the end. Did your gears get jammed on it? Wink
  • + 10
 Nice video, there was one important point I took and that was not to be held hostage by your results or goals. They're good to have, but I think too many people are trapped and watching their passion for the sport get chocked out by all the negative things that come with failing to receive those ever harder to obtain external validations or simply engaging in a narcissistic amusement problem by failing to control those successes and allowing them to dominate your views or even your life. It's far too simple nowadays to get taken off course with the invention of things like marketing, Strava, helmet cameras and an ever-ready pinkbike crowd looking for cool stuff. Keep it real!
  • + 4
 Thanks for picking up on that jcklondon, well said...
  • + 5
 Been following Ryan since his start years ago. Will continue to follow Ryan where ever he goes in our sport. Great role-model for groms, weekend warriors, die-hard bicycle geeks and pro's alike. Keep doing what you do Ryan. The world is better off place because of it.
  • + 3
 I think in a traditional sense, this is about the way of the warrior. No, I don't mean about winning wars or fights, but mastering one's inner self. Shaking off the chaff that society dumps on us and being pure creatures of enjoyment.
  • + 5
 I want to see a video of Ryan, Danny Mac and Chris Akrigg riding together. And maybe chuck Hans Rey in for good measure.
  • + 1
 I would actually pay for a decent production of this
  • + 3
 Macaskill always said that Martyn Ashton, Ryan Leech and Chris Akrigg were the persons who gave him all his inspiration. Jeff Lenosky is probably on this list too...
  • + 2
 Thanks Ryan for the inspiration and being one of the great athletes who represent the sport in a positive light. I'll never forget the time, about 16 years ago, when you did this tiny bike trials event in Milton, Ontario. I entered it, with a XC bike and fell off a 6 foot scaffolding and you gave me a pair of elbow pads after that. I was pretty young but I still remember the genuine energy you, and your team partner Robin (I forget his last name) had.
  • + 3
 Wow, I remember that event! My buddies name is Robin Coope....good memories! They must have been roach pads back then?!
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure they were Roach pads... Do you still ride with Robin?
  • + 2
 Ryan Leech you are so awesome!! I remember at a bike show in portland about a year ago I saw your trials demostration and got to talk to you. It was the coolset thing ever, I have the upmost respect for you for taking the time to talk to all of your fans. Have a good one, -Chance
  • + 1
 I've met Ryan a couple of times. He is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He would never try to hurry a conversation or try to avoid anyone. He's just a great down to earth person and obviously an incredible rider. Ryan, if you read this, do you remember competing with a guy named Alex Cubbage? It was probably around 2000 or so. Alex is a very good friend of mine and told me about the old days of competing with you. He's still an incredible trials rider! We do XC races together and I attempt to do some trials with him, but I can't hang, haha.
  • + 1
 I do remember Alex, tell him I say hi, glad you guys are still riding and having fun with the sport of trials!! Thanks KleinGuyGA.
  • + 1
 I'm a big fan of Ryan Leech's riding. I enjoyed the personal insight of this documentary. You don't get that in bike vids. What impresses me most, in trials, is the skinny. I'd seen Ryan in a video riding a wooden handrail made of 2x4s - on edge. An inch and a half is pretty darn skinny! And in another video (don't recall which) he rides railroad tracks. Then, in The Collective, Ryan rides a haindrail of three inch pipe - broken by span of chain. I thought he'd hop it in some way but he rode it. A chain! There's another vid with chain riding in it where he turns and hops off of it. Ryan, you smashed thru the ceiling of what's possible. It's easy to believe you're under pressure. Fifteen years ago, trials was (not entirely) rear wheel hopping up and over picnic tables. That chain blew me away. Keep bangin.
  • + 2
 Mister Ryan, you should write a book! Smile

Your words in this video were definitely pointing at the thing that should be the most important goal not just in our passion for riding bikes, but the essence in our whole lives.
  • + 1
 Hahaa, thanks Lehel-NS, and I agree on the whole life thing. I do actually have a project in mind, not exactly a book, but something like that...stay tuned;-)
  • + 1
 I had the chance to see Ryan perform at the montrĂ©al bike show about
10 years ago.He kindly autographed a poster and his movies "art of trials" and
"manifesto".
I remember telling my wife that not only was he one of the most amazing mtb rider
in the world but that he was one of the niciest person i ever met.
I could feel that he is true,honest and good from the bottom of is heart.
On our way back home i told my wife that i really tought that after his mtb bike
career will be over,Ryan should get into politic.
Ryan is the kind of man we need and he would be elected for sure.
Ryan would you please consider it?
Thanks for all you did for the kids and the sport,you are our best ambassador.
  • + 3
 Thank you dxfox for the kind comment...politics could be in my future, the thought has crossed my mind, but not anytime soon, there is a lot I want to contribute as a Professional Integral Coach working with other athletes and professionals around some of the issues I touched on in this video and explore deeper in the linked article. Thanks again!
  • + 1
 Ryan Leech what can i say other than what a motivational rider. he has been at the forefront of what the true meaning of loving to ride your bike is all about. As many have already said he is an amazing man and what he has done for the sport few have been able to replicate. i hope that the next breed of riders can bring back the true love of mountain biking and biking in general as the pioneers have done. love to ride, ride to live
  • + 3
 Right on Ryan, you are the most grounded person out there that I have met, besides the Dali Lama of course. Nice clip at Wreck beach I love that place
  • + 1
 I remember this dude came to my school a few years back and he seemed like a really chilled out laid back guy. I got to meet him and he was very friendly and nice to everyone.
  • + 1
 Ever since the first footage I ever saw of Ryan, I was blown away. He was riding railroad tracks and all kinds of narrow obstacles. I have total respect for anyone that can ride anything like that.
  • + 1
 Manifesto style is the way! No pogo, just flow! I hate watching trials riders hoping on the rear wheel for minutes before to go for the move...
  • + 2
 How can one not like Ryan? He has to be the most fun, friendly, likable pro riders ever!
  • + 1
 Ryan is very inspiring when first strating trials! Gives hope when you don't think you can suceed, and great tips when your moving on to bigger stuff. Thanks!
  • + 2
 I agree! Also, his tutorial video helped me out immensely Jailbreak
  • + 1
 May I just say that if they make anoher part, Matt Hunter should be interviewed.
  • + 1
 Ryan Leech is the fucking man, so chill and down to earth, you don't get many pro athletes like him.
  • + 2
 nice! he's ridin a Truax!
  • + 2
 Ryan sounds like my Yoga instructor! Does he still ride for Norco?
  • + 2
 so whens the edit with him and Danny M coming out
  • + 1
 How different is it riding trails after riding trials.. Easier? Boring?
Keep on bringing that special sh*t!
  • + 1
 rode my trial bike for 6 years. i just bought a trail bike because of a big trial bike crash. i tought it would be boring but i must admit, i freaking love trail biking ! its different yes, but so fun !
  • + 1
 Yeah! ..just as i imagined. I hope you fully recover from your injury and have a blast every time you hit the trails. And i guess that all the skills that you`ve gained on a trial bike can`t do no harm when you`re riding a nice singletrail.
  • + 1
 exactly. i would probably say that i have more balance than a normal trail rider
  • + 1
 why do some trials riders still use hyrdaulic rim brakes over discs?
  • + 3
 It's pretty easy to bend a disc riding trials.
  • + 1
 i rode 2 disc for my trial bike (for 6 years). never had any problem. its all about preferences
  • + 1
 A hydraulic rim brake essentially provides the stopping power of a 26" disc... but there is almost NO modulation; either brakes on or off - which is desired in trials.
  • + 1
 ^^^ That is not actually true, I run hydraulic rim brakes and I can achieve a feathering of my brake, it is just more difficult than with a disc brake.
  • + 3
 A couple of reasons:

* Discs on a 26 feel nasty, the amount of rim flex about the hub really doesn't feel positive at all( on the rear mainly). In comparison, when you are braking on the rim's surface this effect is negated.

* Discs tend to get quite easily contaminated... and on stock (26") trials bikes ( largely because of the above reason ) not many frames have disc mounts.

* Most natural / competition orientated mods ( 20" ) trials bike use front and rear disc though.

* In order to get comparable power to a magura hs or similar, a large rotor is needed ( relative to wheel size ) with a disc adding quite a lot of weight.

* maguras are a lot easier to set-up, and only recently have disc brakes become powerful enough for trials in my opinion ( Avid BB7, Hope mono trials and shimano saints -- to name a couple of popular choices )
  • + 1
 exactly. i had 2 bb7 on my trial bike and it was wonderful !
  • + 1
 Ryan Leech is such an inspirational person... Keep it up Smile
  • + 1
 1:20 IVE BEEN THER!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 oh man, I almost forgot about Ryan. Amazing rider. and all around nice guy
  • + 1
 Thank You.
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