Interview: Rob Roskopp on Skateboarding, the Syndicate, & Leaving Santa Cruz

Jan 13, 2023 at 10:42
by Mike Levy  

Rob Roskopp and Rich Novak co-founded Santa Cruz Bicycles in 1993, with the three-inch-travel Tazmon full-suspension bike being their first model in a time when the hardtail was still most riders' go-to choice. Since then there have been countless new bikes, a wildly successful and consistent World Cup team, a growing company, and even a few mistakes. We sat down with Rob to talk about all that and more, including how Pon Holdings came into the picture and his departure from Santa Cruz, which you can listen to on the Pinkbike podcast.

For those who'd rather read than listen, we're double-dipping on this one and an edited version of the full interview is below.

Mike Levy: Today we're talking to Rob Roskopp who co-founded Santa Cruz Bicycles back in 1994. That's nearly 30 years ago now. Rob, where in the world are you?

Rob Roskopp: I'm almost 60. So, yeah, now you're making me really old. I appreciate that. Thank you.

Levy: Oh, man. Well, you've done a lot of crazy shit in that time, though, including co-founding Santa Cruz Bicycles, which is pretty amazing.

Rob: Yeah, thanks. No, it's been a good ride for sure. I've always said it's always about the journey and it's been quite an incredible journey. So no complaints here.

Levy: Before we get into this, where are you right now and how are you doing?

Rob: I'm in a place in Aptos. Below me is where all the devastation has hit in Seacliff Beach. And like we were talking about earlier, Capitola, the pier got split in half or a big chunk of it was taken out from the storms, and then just down the way here, Seacliff pier, half of it's gone, and the parking lot is basically decimated. So it's been tragic for a lot of people here and we wish them all the best, and hopefully the weather will back off a bit but doesn't look like it, at least for the next week.

Levy: Yeah, Mother Nature is taking a charge right now it looks like down there.

Rob: Yeah, she's ferocious. She's pissed off.

Levy: Well, Rob, the reason that we're talking today is because you dropped a bit of a bomb on Instagram, on your personal social media account, about riding an Unno Mith e-bike that sure made it look like you are not at Santa Cruz anymore. So I just want to jump right into this. Are you at Santa Cruz? What's going on?

Rob: So my contract came up in mid-October and that was pretty much it. We tried to renew it, but they weren't interested. For me, personally, there are a lot of good people at the company and I obviously have got a long relationship with the company. I'm still very tied in with the skateboard part of it because my partner, Rich Novak, he's the owner of that and, what are we at, thirty-five, almost forty years later, or thirty-five years since I stopped skating, I still get royalties from all the skateboards they sell. So that's pretty cool. And we tried to present that when we were negotiating and they didn't see anything to it apparently and I don't think they get it basically. So wiped my hands and moved on to the next thing. I've always been that way. It's about moving to what I want to do and what I'm passionate about. So from skateboarding, I went to the bikes, we did the Santa Cruz Bike Company and did a lot of fun, and great things; put a great team of people together and it was an incredible journey. So no complaints there.

Brian Park: Let's do that. Let's jump back to that sort of the start of Santa Cruz Bicycles and even before with the skate company, just for the folks that are listening that maybe don't know the origin story, can you give a quick sort of Coles Notes of how we got here?

 Left to right Rob Roskopp Mariano Gon Mike Marquez Hans Heim and Charlie Wu - Ibis archives
Rob Roskopp (far left), Mariano Gon, Mike Marquez, Hans Heim, and Charlie Wu. Photo from Ibis' archives

Rob: I came out here in '82 from Cincinnati. I went to high school there. I was born in Detroit, Michigan. Within three months I turned professional skating and then basically did that, toured the world, and competed a little bit but found it was more about lifestyle and having a good time. And the way we promoted ourselves was by doing demos all over the world. And that's what I found for me, personally, the most fulfilling skating with other kids all over the world and introducing skateboarding to kids that had just gotten into it. So I did that up until about '90. In '91, I went back to work at Santa Cruz Skateboards. I managed a division of SIMS Skateboards for a little bit and at that time I fell in love with mountain biking, and I started racing.

So I started riding mountain bikes around '87 and then started racing around '90. So Novak asked me one day, and I got him into it too, which was pretty cool because at that time I think he was in his late forties and I got him to compete a little bit. So he brought it up one day, "What do you think about doing bikes?" And I'm like, "Yeah, okay, let me do some research." I did that and got together with Mike Marquez and a friend of mine, and he wanted to work at RockShox and Fox and now he's got his own company. So that's been really cool to do that. And built Santa Cruz, did the Tazmon, and then over the years introduced all these different models, put together the Syndicate race team, and the rest is history.

Brian: The Tazmon was the first model, yeah?

Rob: Yes it was.

Brian: When did the focus on downhill racing and the Syndicate come about? That was later?

Rob: Yeah, so we sponsored a number of athletes in cross-country, and downhill over the years, but we didn't have the budget to field a World Cup team. And our first big sponsorship was the Luna Chix team in 2001, I think it was, and we did that for four years. As the business grew then we had the money, downhill was declining a bit, just the sport for a period. And that was the opportunity I saw to jump in and build up the team. And at that point I wanted to, I didn't want to do anything half-ass, I wanted to bring the best guys in. Derin Stockton was doing the intense-Santa Cruz team and I got him to manage it in the beginning. And we brought on Nathan Rennie and built that out, and Johnny Waddell.

And then in '06 we brought on Steve Peat and Kathy Sessler. Kathy was helping us in the beginning a little bit, but then when Derin decided to go some different path, I brought Kathy on as team manager full-time. Brought on Peaty, Rennie was there, and then Mark Hendershot, and Jamie Goldman. Johnny Waddell had that big accident at Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2000, shit, what was that? '03 I think it was. And then we've always supported him for the last almost twenty years now. And he's more of an endurance rider, and he's doing a bunch of enduros now too. Yeah, so then brought on Greg and we built the syndicate to what really was an extension of our family. All my kids grew up traveling to all the World Cups. It was a fun ride for sure.

Brian: How did Greg pop up on your radar?

Rob: I think it was Worlds at Fort William in '07 and he finished fourth crashing and with a broken scapula and I'm like, "Hmm, if the guy can f*cking finish fourth with a broken scapula, he's a winner."

Brian: Can't believe you just glossed over the history of the superheroes like that, Rob. Come on!

Rob: Oh, okay. Well, you were talking about the syndicate. Jesus. Well, all the superheroes, that was fun too. I mean that was the late '90s...

Levy: Randy Spangler!

Rob: Oh yes, Spangler. Yeah, for sure. All those guys. I mean, yeah, that was a cool time too.

Santa Cruz Tazmon
The three-inch-travel Tazmon, designed by Tom Morris, was Santa Cruz's first mountain bike.

Levy: I was just going to jump forward to 2015. There's a lot that happens between the Syndicate and when PON shows up. But how did Pon show up?

Rob: I think it was around 2012. We had just moved into the new building where we're now. Their former CEO just cold-called me and said, "Hey, I'm in town, I'd love to come by and meet you." And he came by and we had a nice conversation. He was telling me what they were planning to do and at that time they had bought Cervelo and Derby, I think, and Gazelle, I think they had already owned too. So those were the three brands that I'm aware of at that point. But shortly after he left around 2014 or the end of 2013, we decided for us, Novak and I, it was going to be a huge investment to expand our distribution in Europe. We didn't really want to put out the money. And I was getting to a point where, personally, my kids were teenagers, but there wasn't really any interest for any of them to carry on a legacy.

And I'm not going to push it down their throats, because I want them to go out and be themselves. So we decided to put a book together and sell, and we did that. And then in, I think it was the end of 2014, we just finished it and I kept that relationship with Pon and I just gave them a call and I said, "Hey, we're looking at doing this. We'll give you the first write of refusal." And they were all about it and we made a deal and told the company at, what was it? Beginning of July 2015.

Levy: It all sounds pretty straightforward and makes sense, but I want to ask you, from your perspective, you created this thing, Rob, and it's obvious it's one of the best-known brands in the history of mountain biking. You and your team made this thing, you co-founded it.

Rob: Yep. Thank you.

Levy: Was it hard to let go of that? There's got to be some difficulty letting go of that a bit.

Rob: Yeah, it's your baby. But it was like when I was skating; it's like I got into the next thing, I always look forward, I just go on to the next thing. I don't look back. I always look forward.

Luca Shaw and Rob Roskopp watch trackside.
Rob and Luca Shaw during a track walk.

Brian: There's the trope of founders struggling after a sale. And I think maybe people assumed that you and some of the other OGs would, after the sale, take a quiet exit sooner than later, but then A, you stuck around for another eight years, and B, this isn't a quiet exit when the exit did come.

Rob: Well, so there was nothing done on their part which seemed odd, right? No announcement, nothing. And then what I did with that yesterday was it wasn't about that. I haven't posted anything in over, shit, almost two years I think. I'm not really big into the social media thing, to be honest. So I just really like what Cesar was doing at Unno. We'd been talking a bit back and forth over the last, what? Eight months or so. And I got a lot of time on the bike. I've ridden a bunch of other e-bikes out there. Not all of them obviously, but the ones I've ridden, this thing impresses me a lot. So yeah.

Brian: This is all sort of an elaborate angle to become Pinkbike's e-bike tester, right?

Rob: You caught me. Yeah, you got me. That's it. Perfect. No, but for me, that's what brings enjoyment back a bit to riding my bike, is I can do it more and I can descend a lot more. So I have a great time. It's just a lot of fun.

Brian: So yeah, you mentioned that there were some frustrations in the lead-up to not renewing your contract where things weren't being listened to or things weren't going the direction you wanted. What were you pushing that fell on deaf ears or what were you hoping to get done?

Rob: It's just there's a number of things. I don't really want to get into that other than, basically, I felt I was wasting my time, wasting my breath. And if it falls on deaf ears, so be it. That's their issue. That's their problem. There were some really cool things that could have been, but no one followed up on them even after three times trying to present something and get it going and it just falls on deaf ears. f*ck it. Move on.

Levy: Rob, it sounds very much like you still have things that you want to make. Sounds like you have plans.

Rob: Yeah, I'm working on some shit. My wife's got me really busy. We've taken on this project, the Breakers F.C. Soccer Academy. All of our kids played club soccer from five until high school. And along with a friend from Montenegro, who is an ex-footballer. He played for Bordeaux professionally, he played in the World Cup and everything. He's the director of the club and we're bought a twenty-acre parcel for the club just between Monterey and, well, just really just out of Watsonville. So we're trying to build a stadium, get that going and dorms and really just build up this club and hopefully become a member of the MLS Next Pro, which is a new level.

You've got MLS and then you got MLS Next. It's like a farm team kind of thing. So we're trying to get that going and that's a huge project in itself. Massive. As far as bike-related things, yeah, there are a few projects I'm working on. I can't say anything at this point but if we get what we need to get done in the next few months, it'll be a few years, or it should be a little less than that before it would come out but it's a game changer. I'll leave it at that.

Levy: From your post, people are assuming that you have maybe some tie-in with Unno. Can you clarify?

Rob: Oh, yeah, no, I just respect what Cesar's building and what he is doing. I think it's the best-looking bike on the market, it's a piece of art, but better. It rides incredibly well. It's always about the ride and how well it is. It's a great product.

Brian: It does look quite sick. So before we try and find other ways to get you to divulge what's next, let's make it...

Rob: Yeah, that ain't going to happen.

Brian: Let's jump back. Let's talk about...

Rob: Patents are involved.

Brian: We're relentless, but thinking back to Santa Cruz and your time, what are some of the things you're most proud of?

Rob: As far as bicycles?

Brian: Everything.

Rob: Everything. Skateboards, just the whole graphic series. We were the first guys to do a series of graphics. I had the bullseye with an arm coming out. Then more of the creature came out. No one had done that ever in skateboarding. So graphics-wise, yeah, that's probably the biggest thing for skateboarding that I think, I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I probably sold more skateboards than any other person in the world, or close to a top two, top three, even more than Tony Hawk because they've been selling these reissues for thirty-five years.

Brian: Wild.

Rob: Yeah. So I'm really proud of that.

Brian: Fair. And on the bike side?

Rob: Bike side, a number of things, and just the accomplishments of the Syndicate and the attitude we brought, I think. That was fun, memories that, as I said, my kids growing up with the riders, they saw a lot of shit, like crazy shit. But in a way, I thought it was really a good life lesson of what to do and what not to do. There was a lot of what not to do.

Brian: Oh man. And what about the flip side? Are there key moments in Santa Cruz's history when you think you made a mistake or predicted something incorrectly?

Rob: Oh, yeah. I mean you only learn from your mistakes, right? So...

Brian: That's why Levy doesn't learn anything. No mistakes.

Rob: This Swobo thing, when we did that, it failed. That was probably the first sizable failure. And everything is about timing. We were there time-wise, we were there in the beginning but then everybody knocked it off and got into it and jumped on the bandwagon, and we didn't move fast enough there, unfortunately. We had to license it to somebody else and then it basically just disappeared, unfortunately. Sky Yaeger, who was the bike designer, and Tim Par, they're good people and it just didn't work out, unfortunately. That was probably a failure I learned a lot from. But I think, moving forward, if you're not failing at something, you're not learning anything. And if you don't pay attention, I mean, you don't forward, I don't think. You have to fail to succeed, period.

Greg Minnaar at the 2010 Val di Sole World Cup.

Brian: In terms of failing and succeeding, the industry today is in a super weird place. I'd be really curious to hear your predictions for both short-term 2023 stuff and maybe ten years down the road. Where are things going?

Rob: This year will be a glut of inventory. And the last two and a half years, no one could have predicted what COVID brought to the sporting industry in general. I mean, you were an idiot if you failed in the last two years. If you weren't making a lot of money, you shouldn't be in the business you're in, in the sporting area because everybody was killing it because everybody wanted to get outside because they were, depending on what country you're in, you were limited to doing certain things and that was an escape. Get on your bike, go out and ride, go run, mountain climb, whatever, just to get outdoors because everyone was relegated to being indoors and wearing a mask. There were lead times, eighteen months for certain products, and then you had the shipping issue where container ships were sitting out, waiting to unload for months at a time.

We're going to see all that take effect this year, probably through the next couple of years, to be honest. Down the road as far as suspension, there are a lot of really good bikes out there now. Everybody's coming to common ground. So I think, to be honest, your guys' job is really hard. I mean, you're picking apart little pieces here and there and it's not easy, for sure. I think electronics, obviously. They starting to play a bigger role and they'll continue to play an even greater role in the bikes.

Levy: One place where things could jump forward a lot is e-bikes. Right now, a lot of those e-bikes are pretty rough, with cables everywhere and rattling and stuff like that.

Brian: I saw Kazimer a few days ago and he has an e-bike where the battery door is just this absolutely floppy thing. It's out the side and it's the floppiest battery door ever. It just shovels loam and water directly into the motor and battery. It's crazy. These products aren't very well resolved yet.

Rob: Yeah, well, I mean they're hugely ahead of where they were five years ago. Five years ago I was like, "No, we're never going to make one." And then as the motors got better... I will say this thing, one of the biggest advantages to e-bikes, other than being able to go on longer rides, go further, is that the weight of the bikes actually helps improve the performance of the suspension.

They have more traction, the suspension's working better, I believe. That's my personal opinion. And I don't think you want to go too much lighter. I mean, there's this big push now with the lighter bikes. I want a battery that is 750Wh, whatever, the weight doesn't matter. I mean, 45 pounds, 48, 50. I think it's going to settle around 40, low 40s, or something that you can go more than you can put up with. It's a five, six-hour ride, and the battery technology that's coming out in the next few years I think will offer that. It'll be half the weight, but be able to go that same distance.

Brian: Interesting. Everybody seems to suggest that battery tech will hit cars first, so we'll see it coming, and that it's still quite a ways out. Do you think it's sooner than that?

Rob: It's really, I don't know how to say this without... It's there if you want it, I'll leave it at that. If you're willing to do the work, it's there. You can do it. I don't think electric cars are the future. It's going to be a hybrid. There are new synthetic fuels that have zero emissions. I think the core of the automobile, if we get on that subject real quick, will be a hydrogen-powered car. Tesla is changing all of theirs to hydrogen with electric motors. That's the future.

Brian: And what's the patent number you have again that you're working on right now, real quick?

Rob: Yeah, if we get this, when you see it on the bike and you play with it, you'll be like, "Holy shit, why hasn't someone done that?" Right? It's one of those odd moments, I call it, or holy shit moments. Not to build it up too big, other than that's why I'm very interested in working on this project with a few others.

Levy: That definitely sounds like it's going to be interesting. I'm picturing motors mounted in hubs and whatnot.

Rob: Something simpler. The goal of life is to make things as simple as you can be. Granted life and a human being is very complex and the more you can simplify things, the better off you are. I believe that's my opinion.

Levy: I agree. So Rob, other bikes in the industry, aside from Unno, who do you like out there? Who's doing good stuff that you're interested in, that you're impressed with?

Rob: Well, Specialized. I mean, I'm a fairly fierce competitor but I always respected what Specialized has done, and oddly enough, I live across the street from Sinyard. So we've been talking a lot in the last, well, not a lot, but we've talked a lot, more than we have in the last twenty years and I've always respected what he's built. I might not agree with everything he's done, but he's always there. I mean, back to that Vital survey, he's number one still. Very commendable, they started in '74 I think, and they've been top dog now, between us and them, for twenty years. That's a huge accomplishment.

Brian: What is crazy, though, is that Santa Cruz got there too, into that one-two spot.

Rob: Yeah, and there's a mutual respect there from Mike. It's been nice getting to know him a bit better.

Brian: I just remember back in my bike shop days, Specialized has always been big as far as I've been in the bike industry. And it has been interesting to see Santa Cruz go from an upstart brand to really battling for the top spot in a lot of the categories.

Rob: Specialized is, I'm guessing and I don't know the exact numbers, a multi-billion dollar company. That's probably my proudest accomplishment, is to be part of the team we created to build Santa Cruz up to that, to compete at that level. That's pretty cool.

Brian: Is there anybody else that's impressing you these days?

Rob: A lot of momentum right now, I'd say, from Orbea. They seem to have nailed it with that lighter e-bike.

Brian: The Rise is super interesting, for sure.

Rob: When you start noticing if you don't see competitor's bikes around on the trails, that doesn't mean they don't exist, but they're not doing well because this area is one of the biggest mountain bike areas in the world. There's a lot of energy from Northern California in the mountain bike market. And if you don't see a brand, it's not that they don't exist, but I'm seeing a lot of Orbeas all of a sudden. So they're doing really well.

Brian: They're a cool company, too. Really different structure.

Rob: Yeah, no, I'd say Orbea has got it going on. Transition, they've done a great job, too. Those are the ones that come off the top of my head at this point.

The Orbea Rise LTD model has a claimed weight of under 16 kg, or around 35 lb.

Levy: You mentioned something just a few minutes earlier about keeping it simple, and then on the other hand we have Specialized who has seen incredible success and has grown into this massive thing. So I'm just wondering, for your next project, is your goal to create something small, or do you want to grow something that big, as big as Santa Cruz has become? Or is there a line, and you don't want a company to become that big?

Rob: That's a good question. When I left, Santa Cruz was a pretty big company and now it's much bigger. The hardest thing in any business is managing people. So in a way, I don't really want to grow the company that big, but there are other ways to do things. Licensing your patents or your ideas to other companies that get all the work or have to do all the work, I should say. We have to do the work upfront, obviously. You got to get the patents and do all that. But yeah, managing people is probably the hardest part of any business there is. And you can talk to any business owner and I'm sure they'll all agree, that's a pretty common thing.

Levy: I imagine you're riding some bikes these days. Are you riding that Unno? Is that your bike of choice?

Rob: Yeah, the Unno is what I'm riding currently. Obviously, I want to keep trying out other bikes and seeing what's out there and see how things are progressing because that's what interests me. For me, the whole premise of Santa Cruz was to build the best product we could build and let the product speak for itself. That's always been how my thought pattern works, and the team we built and the support we had around the company to build the best product we could. And personally, it always came down to what we wanted to ride it. It's a selfish interest, so I want to continue that way and not everyone's going to like it. Everyone's got an opinion more so than ever in this world. Yeah, it's like the news. Yeah, it's kind of news, but it's more somebody's opinion of what's going on. There's an event and then there are all these opinions of the event right or wrong or whatever. So, there's a lot of minutiae out there.

Brian: We do love our lukewarm takes over here for sure.

Levy: Yes. That's what we're known for. All right, Rob, thanks so much for your time. Both of us are looking forward to seeing what you've got cooking. Let us know when we could see whatever it is that you're working on. We'll be keeping an eye open for it.

Rob: Yeah, we'll definitely be in touch. It's going to be some time yet, but we'll reach out to you guys for sure. Well, thanks again.

Levy: Thanks again.

Rob: Appreciate it. Have a good one.

Jan 12th, 2022

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 102 3
 I was friends with Roskopp on Suicide Girls back in the 2000s when he messaged me about a sketchy line illustration I did of a figure with outstretched arms and wings for SCMTB. I told him my price which was peanuts and he refused saying they'd do it in-house. I didn't mtb back then so I never would've known but 2 years later I saw he stole my drawing and had it plastered all over their components packaging and website. I grew up in the 80s skating and was a fan. F*ck that guy. B*tch.
  • 1 0
 great business man, great brand, but somehow I did not like his cold and business driven talk much... No past memory...that's why we didn't pay you and used your design... Smile
  • 1 0
 Wow, that really sucks! Would have expected better from him...
  • 1 0
 what drawing? do you have a link to the art? Would love to see the two side by side
  • 42 1
 I also am a bit disappointed that PON doesn‘t pay me royalties. But then, I didn‘t sell them my company for a lot of $$$ either.

Would be a nice plot for Ted Lasso Season 3:

Slightly socially detached, wealthy e-biker wants to build a football stadium to get back at greedy investment company who turned out to care more about $$$ than fun. He forms a temporary alliance in spirit with his once hated rich neighbor, because he‘s less devilish than the investor company. But in the end Spesh sues everyone.
  • 40 7
 Was ready to say this is a big loss, but how many people really care that he left. How many bikes did he really sell? Does some guy with a Model X really buy a CC X01 Hightower because the former ceo use to be a famous skateboarder and all around cool dude? They probably get more ROI on giving Reggie Miller free bikes than paying Roskopp at this point.

It’s laughable he wants royalties. And he went from “core” to full ebike evangelist very fast.

Appreciate what he’s done, but times have changed. He got his check. He has a supportive wife who comments on all his social media. Fade away gracefully.

I’m more concerned about the engineering people that have left.
  • 4 1
 Not much to engineer with all the shared triangles now.
  • 6 12
flag burt-reynolds (Jan 13, 2023 at 22:04) (Below Threshold)
 Laughable he wants royalties?!?! He built the brand, and should certainly be entitled to royalties.
  • 14 1
 @dualsuspensiondave: Didn't he give up all rights to royalties when he sold his brand? I am willing to bet lawyers extensively talk to him about what will happen when he sells his company.
  • 1 0
 @KingPooPing: Not necessarily. Generally when companies are bought and sold, it’s buying the majority of stock essentially.
  • 1 0
 "And he went from “core” to full ebike evangelist very fast."

Well, he also swore he'd never do 650b or a road bike again, but here we are... Its all money, less innovation.
  • 28 1
  • 6 0
 Ghosted by his wife and all he wanted was some tool. No cool man.
  • 22 0
 Looking at that Tazmon pic, it's terrifying we used to ride bikes with the bars either direrctly over or in FRONT of the axle. (yes I am in my late 40's). Scary!
  • 4 0
 In my 60’s, born and raised in Santa Cruz and was part of a regular riding crew with Rob before he started SC bikes. Most of us came from a moto background. Compared to what we were riding, we thought the Tazmon was amazing. It had full suspension that actually worked! I can’t imagine having to ride that thing now.
  • 13 0
 “There are new synthetic fuels that have zero emissions. I think the core of the automobile, if we get on that subject real quick, will be a hydrogen-powered car. Tesla is changing all of theirs to hydrogen with electric motors.”

This is an interesting paragraph. The last sentence is completely BS, unless it was mid-phrased and meant to be a prediction? And what synthetic fuels have zero emissions, or was he referring to hydrogen itself? Which is not true once you factor the difficulty of production and storage. Anyway…..perhaps not wrong from an ultimate end-state projection, but not anytime soon……
  • 3 1
 I was in Paris last year, they already have it there at dedicated fuel stations and it’s now appearing in London too. It will happen but probably not this decade
  • 4 1
 Look up what Porsche and VAG in general is doing to keep ICE racing alive. Cool stuff
  • 6 0
 The first sentence is also complete BS. Synthetic fuels (biobutanol, etc) reduce emissions but definitely not to zero. And hydrogen requires expensive infrastructure that isn't wide spread.
  • 2 0
 @jrbrandon: yeah, that’s what I was alluding to. Either he knows something that has not been publicly announced, or else it was a half-truth that also deliberately ignores the difficultly of implementing alternate fuels as compared to electricity, which already has an existing delivery mechanism. (Not that any of this is perfect or even great…but to paraphrase some fat old dead guy, it’s the worst method except for all the other available methods…).
  • 4 0
 I don’t know too much about Rob so I don’t have an opinion on him either way. But Tesla has no plans implementing hydrogen power into their cars as a primary power source.
  • 2 0
 @Riddler7: exactly — in fact Musk chose BEV at least partially because of the various existing difficulties with hydrogen as a fuel source. So again, I was wondering if Rob knew some secret or super new technology that I did not….but as is it kind of feels like a personal agenda or snake oil sell-job to be honest.
  • 3 0
 Porsche and Siemens has a factory in Chile producing a synthetic fuel called e-fuel. Making hydrogen by electrolycis (help from windpower). They then combine the H with CO2 collected from the atmosphere the two creates methanol which can be made into different types of fuel.
  • 1 0
 @shortcuttomoncton: Has an existing delivery mechanism? In the best parts of the world the infrastructure would have trouble keeping up if over 10% of vehicles on the road were currently electric. The power to be generated by wind or hydro is a fraction of that, most of it would need be nuclear or coal. We do not currently have a way to create enough electricity for all cars to be electric that is environmental. Recovering C02 from the atmosphere and converting it to fuel while no where near perfect would do a lot less damage then Fossil fuels or electric cars.
  • 1 0
 @hilldescentcontrol: I wonder if that’s what he was referring to? Synthetic e-fuels seem like a possible specialized solution for certain performance vehicles, but it is still super experimental, production is nowhere near potential supply, it is mind-boggling expensive, and it still doesn’t address the issue of how energy inefficient it is compared to BEV. I’m not aware that anyone is actually proposing Porsche’s synthetic fuels as a mass-market gasoline alternative….
  • 1 0
 @cooldudethatate: It's 20% in Norway, it's 6% in Canada. It's 9% in all the EU. It depends what you mean by environmental? Because even if we have to build more gas fired or even coal fired plants to generate the electricity and of course, it wouldn't be all gas/coal... but even if.. EV's are startlingly more efficient and don't need nearly the same fuel amounts to generate the same energy. Also, generating electricity via huge industrial sized generation plants is orders of magnitude more efficient than burning gas in 100's of millions of teeny tiny little ICE's. And once those giant plants have generated that electricity, that's it, it sent along transmission lines mostly to our homes. Compared with drilling for oil, transporting that oil across oceans or country, then refining it into gas (hugely energy intensive), and then you have to deliver it across the country in tiny trucks burning more fuel to thousands upon thousands of gas stations that we all have to drive to in order to fill up.

The transition doesn't have to be all from a green source at once... because simply transitioning nets a HUGE reduction of carbon emissions. And it's a myth or misnomer that we can't generate or don't have the capacity to generate enough electricity for most to transition to EV's. It's happening relatively slowly and the grid is ever changing/expanding while also getting smarter. Sure, could be switch tomorrow and have enough, no. Can we switch over 10 or 15 or 20 years to most new sales and then slowly over 100+ years to all? Yes.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: If you look at a company like Carbon Engineering. It’s not perfect like I said but if it makes fuel that can be ran in regular cars and trucks and is pulling carbon out of the air, while not negative it gives nature time to take its course and recover a bit. If you make the fuel in places where renewable energy is readily available (as it also does take a large amount of electricity) it doesn’t require the absolutely insane amount of mining required to get all the minerals needed to produce batteries, copper and everything else needed for electric cars. Then your also left with all the waste of the used batteries and byproducts of mining. If you make a fuel that can be sold and used in the gas stations, transportation system and engines we already have in place it seems a lot better, maybe even until we have better electric car technology. Either way I readily admit I don’t think there is any perfect solution. You have a point that generating electricity with fossil fuels is much more efficient than all the car engines burning it, it’s just I think the transition to electric cars will also leave a huge dent in the environment. Maybe there is no solution? Maybe we all just ride bikes and start making human bike powered 18 wheelers
  • 1 0
 @shortcuttomoncton: Correction in my previous comment, H is obviously supposed to be H2.

I’d guess that’s what’s he’s referring to. We got to start somewhere I suppose, hopefully they’ll learn and the process will develop as time passes, I have no clue what the cost is, but read somewhere that they running everything by Siemens own wind turbines. Which is the reason they’re located in Chile (trees go woosh there). The factory has a capacity to produce 130 000 liters a year right now, in the pilot phace. Once in full production they expect 55M liters annually by mid- decade and 550M liters by 2027, and that’s from one factory (seems like huge step if you ask me). They obviously believe in something as they have invested 100M USD for the development of e-fuel as of recently and much more money in decarbonisation. But I believe you are correct it will probably coexist with other types of energy sources. However Porsche hopes and believes they’ll see enthusiast and sport cars run this stuff. I just think it’s cool and super interesting
  • 2 0
 @cooldudethatate: Yep, good points, but most of the problems with batteries are being solved as we speak. Again the tech is improving very quickly. Many of the precious/harmful metals are being transitioned to better ones and once we have batteries in the cycle, they will be recycled to a large degree to reuse many of those same metals. Those programs are already ramping up and there are already programs that take used EV batteries and repurpose them for industrial uses for many years before they are recycled. Anyway... who knows what will be the ultimate path forward... will be interesting to see!
  • 1 0
 @hilldescentcontrol: yeah it’s super interesting for sure. But the media hype ignores the energy inefficiency of making this fuel. Last I checked hydrogen fuel cells were something like twice as inefficient as BEV, so I’m sure that having to make synthetic fuel is likely much worse than that. Having little-to-no tailpipe emissions is fantastic, but it’s only half the story.

Based on my limited research it feels like synthetic fuel will end up being some sort of high-performance, super expensive solution unless there’s some production breakthrough...
  • 15 0
 Brian Onofrichuk's yellow Super 8 from the Superheros days was so sick, loved that bike
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  • 16 1
 If he think that Unno is the best looking bike in the market right now he's clearly blind.. admiration plummets
  • 11 0
 End of an era. Thanks Rob! I never had money to buy santa... but the DH team you had builted will remain forever in history.
  • 10 0
 Great interview. Very direct with lots of gold nuggets and subtle highlights. This was a funny one: " not to toot my own horn, but I probably sold more skateboards than any other person in the world"
  • 25 0
 roskopp is cool, but let's be honest: jim phillips sold a lot of those haha
  • 4 0
 @owl-X: damn straight.
  • 7 1
 The best part, after the last couple of the years is:

Rob: This year will be a glut of inventory. And the last two and a half years, no one could have predicted what COVID brought to the sporting industry in general. I mean, you were an idiot if you failed in the last two years. If you weren't making a lot of money, you shouldn't be in the business you're in, in the sporting area because everybody was killing it because everybody wanted to get outside because they were, depending on what country you're in, you were limited to doing certain things and that was an escape. Get on your bike, go out and ride, go run, mountain climb, whatever, just to get outdoors because everyone was relegated to being indoors and wearing a mask. There were lead times, eighteen months for certain products, and then you had the shipping issue where container ships were sitting out, waiting to unload for months at a time.

We're going to see all that take effect this year, probably through the next couple of years, to be honest. Down the road as far as suspension, there are a lot of really good bikes out there now. Everybody's coming to common ground. So I think, to be honest, your guys' job is really hard. I mean, you're picking apart little pieces here and there and it's not easy, for sure. I think electronics, obviously. They starting to play a bigger role and they'll continue to play an even greater role in the bikes.

Exciting, cheap and the buyer has the upper hand if as assuming they still have a job and are not so STUPID as to take on debt for recreation activity on a rapidly depreciating asset, its going to be exciting.

Oh, and recreation racing and team support about to be decimated, so lock in those deals boys and girls as you will be racing for second hand tyres again.
  • 4 1
 Legend. Rob is one of the pros who go me into skateboarding in the mid 80's. I was on MTB's shortly thereafter and during my first stint working in a shop, the Tazmon was my dream bike. Was sold through Bell Sports in Canada back then.
  • 5 0
 I read that whole dang things when I could have been listening? Put the play button at the top! Little blue text link, com'on! Great interview, BTW.
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  • 5 0
 Anyone else get agita from seeing that Orbea being hung by a sagged dropper?
  • 1 0
 Santa Cruz had been always very present in Spain,LTM was back then distributor in Spain and many other countries I think. Never liked to much SC bikes,but big respect for the brand and what they achieved in the last 10 years.
  • 3 0
 What was SC worth when he sold compared to now… not sure that would have happened without PONs big investment and global logistics.
  • 4 0
 I like the fact that he prefers to ride a bike he didnt make rather than one he did.
  • 5 1
 Santacruz Bikes used to be cool, but I think they have lost their personality. They all look the same for so long now.
  • 9 6
 When an AI transcript of a telephone conversation is published as an "interview"...
  • 2 0
 Damn Rob in his early Skating Days reminds me a lot of He-Man with his blonde Hair! Legend!
  • 3 1
 Hopefully he’s working on an ebike with a battery powered gearbox transmission
  • 1 0
  • 4 1
 Real talk, I like it.
  • 2 1
 So basically Pon is leaving the brand as it is instead of trying new stuff, Lame.
  • 10 1
 or they are just the new owners and they lead the company as they like.
  • 6 0
 Santa Cruz seems to be doing just fine doing what they're doing. If I bought a Santa Cruz it wouldn't be because of this guy.
  • 7 6
 Big loss for SC.
  • 16 7
 Sounds like SC don’t actually give a nats arse that he isn’t involved anymore….. which is quite disrespectful
but sounds like he’s glad to be out….
I rode a SC for 4 years , wouldn’t ever buy another……
  • 14 1
 @pedro46: sounds like a Pon-zi scheme.
  • 7 0
 @pedro46: When I see these stories about brands, I think about AirWalk shoes and how they had a really core following, but lost touch after being sold to a bigger out-of-touch holding company. Its happened so many times.
  • 4 0
 @alwaysOTB: I wore Airwalks for years. Vans never fit me, but Airwalks were super comfy. Shame that company disappeared.
  • 3 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: head on fown to JC Penney, Airwalks are alive. And we’ll, they’re alive.
  • 2 0
 @alwaysOTB: good analogy, i'm remember being ultraloyal to airwalks with snowboarding and skate stuff. Sad to see how that brand fell off a cliff
  • 1 0
 @pedro46: I don’t think he’s particularly glad about it. Just looking at the bright side/what’s he gonna do.
  • 1 1
 Team 2024 0r 2025 GM-on -UNNO
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