Braydon Bringhurst just came out with a tribute to the 1986 RAD film
that stars Bill Allen as Cru Jones, a young BMX racer. We caught up with Bringhurst to find out where the idea came from, learn more about his BMX racing past, and find out more about how he progressed so quickly as a mountain biker.
Do you remember the first time you watched Rad?
The first time?! Haha I was around 7-8 years old. Right around the time I started getting into BMX racing.
How many times do you think you've watched it?
If I had to guess I would watch the movie weekly or every other week when growing up. Me and my friends would rent it and watch it over and over. Now, I would say I watch it a couple times a year. The epic montages with the tricks, the music, the trials and triumph are inspiring every time.
Where did the idea to do a Rad tribute come from?
I had been thinking about it for years. I didn’t necessarily have to do the riding in it but I wanted to do something eventually. I saw the BMX bandits tribute Redbull put out a couple of years ago and just had it in my mind that I wanted to do one for Rad one day. After my first couple videos for Canyon I proved to them that I could make content that people enjoyed and so I pitched the idea and they were on board.
What was the hardest part about filming this tribute video?
I sometimes get caught up in things needing to be exactly how I trained and imagined them but this film caused me to switch things up. It rained hard for 3 ½ days of our 5 day shoot in Bentonville. I had a big 8 footish step up planned, a cool flip to power wheelie, and some really technical climbs that were all pushed because of the weather and conditions of the dirt. Most of this was filmed on grass, asphalt, or concrete because of the slimy trails. Pretty wild they have paved flow trails in Bentonville. The one extended climbing shot was the most slippery rocks I have ever tried to climb. No traction makes climbing hard.
Did you learn anything new for the video?
I did actually. I watched the movie over and over again taking notes on specific tricks they did. I learned the old school one-footer turn-bar, most of the flatland tricks, and then the off axis 360 for the intro. I also learned a back flip to power wheelie but I was unable with the circumstances. I’ll probably never do those tricks again but it was fun to learn that stuff for this edit.
Tell me about the replica bike that Canyon made you. Where did the idea come for that?
I couldn’t believe the bike they made for me. I just said I would like to make a tribute and was stoked on the red alloy spectral they had on their website. They said something like, “If we’re going to do this, let’s go full in and make this a custom bike.” Devin Riley at Canyon linked me up with Christian Hellman over in Germany and he made the thing come to reality. I thought it was pretty insane that a company would go that far to support some crazy idea just for one of their local US ambassadors. Definitely undeserving, but I think it really set the bar that they believed in me to make something special.
How long did it take to create this video? Who is the team behind it?
I proposed this video in January of 2020. I went out and scouted Bentonville in March. I trained so that I could do all the jibs and tricks. We shot it in October. Spent till mid December editing and finalizing.
As far as the production team shooting the video it was my wife Nicole. She is amazing and is able to do both photo and video.
Scott Hart, who is a legend and also the brand manager at Canyon, told me that the movie Rad is something he is an avid fan of and historian on. When I proposed the project in January he had just started working there. I asked him if he would be interested in helping and he said it would be a honor and a highlight in his career to be involved. I knew he was legit coming from Decline magazine and Red Bull so I asked him if he would want to co-direct it with me, he was game and I was stoked! He went to work getting Bill Allen there and put a lot of the extra details together to make it next level. I focused on the riding, sequence of shots, editing, and Scott helped guide and direct the details that made the video extra special. Taylor Sage also helped a lot. He came up with the shirt idea for Bill Allen to wear and was always a resource for me, which was huge.
Do you look back on your BMX racing days fondly?
I raced BMX from when I was around 8 years old to when I was 18. I definitely look back with appreciation for the sport and all I learned. The bike handling skills was an obvious part but the self belief and confidence I gained doing it as a kid was even bigger.
What do you think your 18 year old BMX racing self would think of this tribute video?
I probably would watch it and think…. “Holy smokes. That was cool, I don’t really care about the rider but I wish I could get Cru’s autograph!” hahah
How rad is Bill Allen aka Cru Jones? What is he up to?
Bill was extremely cool. He was so stoked on the efforts made to tribute this film. Before we shot the footage we went to breakfast and chatted for a couple hours. He said how after the Rad film he really went through a lot. He lost one of his best friends in an accident and went through some serious lows. He is so happy when people show excitement and appreciation for him. Knowing the impact that the spirit of Cru has had on many people really gives him fire and drive to keep going. It was so awesome to launch up there and get his autograph. We had to catch it on the first attempt because that is when it would be most sincere and authentic. I enjoy watching that part when I land and pull out the sharpie for him to sign my jersey. It was real and it was sincere when he was smiling and signing that jersey. Very cool experience and I am glad it was captured. I know how much this project means to me but I think it really means a lot to him.
He is at a point in life where he just wants to be involved with people who are passionate. He said he’s done with corporate hollywood and wants to go after his passions. He wrote a book called “My Rad Career” and then engages with a loyal fanbase on facebook called “Rad Army.” Check it out!
Do you still ride BMX these days?
I don’t unfortunately. I broke my wrist back in 2017 and the bolt holding it together makes the rigid fork not even possible. I’ll sometimes go to the bmx track on my trail bike and look like a complete doofus but it’s still fun.
What do you think the most important things are that BMX taught you that you bring over to mountain biking?
Probably the bike handling skills. Manualing. Precision. Jumping. I broke 5 aluminum BMX frames in one year when I was learning all this stuff. Lol
Casting a wider net, what do you think mountain biking can learn from BMX?
BMX is about having fun and making more happen with less. Mountain biking doesn’t need to have the gnarliest jumps or features…. finding ways to have fun right in your driveway or local, more mundane trails is something I think mountain bikers can learn. Flat corners, nothing buffed out, rocks, loose gravel, and ruts are all an awesome part of trail riding.
Can you tell us why so many BMX riders still don't wear helmets?
Um…. no. I don’t get it. Maybe to look cool!? I do not understand.
You've only been riding mountain bikes for four years, how do you think you progressed so quickly?
I think doing track and field in college I learned how to break down different aspects of my event. I spent 5 years developing myself to be the best athlete and pole vaulter that I could be. I competed against myself and even worked with a mental strength coach. First, I learned that in order to do your best work you have to love what you do. Second, you have to learn from your strengths and what you can do better. What you focus on grows. I committed to a “Can do” mindset with no tolerance for negativity.
I didn’t have a love for pole vaulting but I loved what I was learning about high performance. Once I got my first full suspension bike after graduation I developed a real love for riding again. I broke down different aspects of the trail ride. Cornering, climbing, jumping, pumping, line choice… the list goes on. Basically what I do is pick out areas I want to improve and then work on them when I am out riding each week. I just really enjoy the whole process.
You have a degree in filmmaking, what skills did you learn in college that you bring to your videos?
Yeah! A couple of the best things I learned was that it’s more important to develop the story and content before worrying purely about capturing cinematic shots. Some of the most beautiful content I have seen was shot on an old camcorder. And also, I always remind myself that cliches kill. I try to keep the vibe and energy new and show stuff that hasn't been done before… even if it’s simple.
You say that the spirit of Cru Jones has inspired you most of your life, what do you mean by that?
Cru was an underdog and outsider and ends up transcending his circumstances to be successful. Most of my life I have considered myself an underdog or outsider and I have used that as motivation throughout my life.
Cru rode his bike and pursued his dream because he felt like it was one of the best talents he had. I sometimes feel like riding my bike is one of the best talents I have.
The spirit of Cru Jones is about getting out and living your best life. Overcoming hardship and setbacks and doing the best you can… and then pulling a 360 across the finish line. Haha It’s so sick.
Thank you so much for the interview Pinkbike!