• About: Matt Reyes

    When you think of San Francisco, what do you think of? All of the hilly streets with trolleys running along? The Painted Ladies (and Full Hour park across the street)? The Golden Gate Bridge? Tech startups and self-driving Google cars? 

    What probably doesn't spring to mind is the revival of BMX—but it's there. SF might not be at the heart of the resurgence, as flat terrain cities like LA and NYC are a bit easier on the hammies, but somewhere between the near-vertical street inclines young dudes (and dudettes) are bunny-hopping and tail-spinning the foundation for the extreme sport's revival. And we wanted a firsthand account of it before it blows up again.

    Graphic designer by day, urban bicyclist by night, San Francisco creative Matt Reyes expresses himself in a variety of ways. We spent a day with Matt on the west coast to get a small glimpse of how he uses these outlets for creative expression and get the low down on the bike sport's rapid comeback.
    Photos by Daniel Dent

    So who is Matt Reyes?
    The most difficult question of them all. I've yet to come up with a decent answer for this one, but I guess the short version would be "I ride bikes.” If you're looking for something more we'll cover the basics by saying "I'm 25 years old, I live in San Francisco, and I roam the streets when i'm not working in front of a computer."

    You’re a graphic designer, bike rider (is there a more appropriate term for this?), and you also run a Fixed Gear website. Which one comes first? And how do you find the time for everything?
    I try to keep the balance even by juggling all three at once, but I'm lucky enough that most of the work I do is a marriage of all three anyways. A more appropriate term for bike rider would be cyclist, but that sounds too booshie and I'm not entirely certain I fit the mold. A wizard on wheels sounds more accurate. Yeah, let’s go with that. If I could find more time in the day I would, but unfortunately we're all kind of locked into this whole 24 hours in a day dilemma. Let me know if we ever stumble across more time.

    What’s a normal day like for you?
    Wake up, grab a six pack of donut holes, ride across town, slam a quick cup of coffee, work, eat a burrito, ride some more, work some more, and go back to sleep. That sounds about right.

    San Francisco is a notoriously hilly city, which one would think makes it more difficult for pulling off bike tricks. Is there an advantage to doing this in SF?
    Constantly fighting against the grain comes with the territory. But on the bright side, it opens up a whole new realm of spots because of the drastic changes in elevation. There are some cities that hardly have a single stair set because of how flat the geography is. San Francisco is the mecca when it comes to riding Fixed Gear, and there are few places in the world that have the kind of terrain we do. It's one of my favorite parts about living here.

    BMX culture, much like skate culture, is one of those things that has always been around yet somewhat under the radar. Do you think there’s a current resurgence happening or about to happen like skating has seen in the past few years?
    It's funny the amount of parallels that can be drawn between most action sports. The typical formula is it starts off cool with a small number of dudes doing it, then companies buy in, quickly sell out, and it falls back into the riders hands who make it cool all over again. Fixed Gear Freestyle has been through most of those phases and ownership has now landed back into the lap of the community that made it rad all those years ago. I'm not sure what's going to happen next, but it's up to us to make the next move and decide where we want to take it. I don't think it'll ever be as big as it was when it first started, but that's fine because if it was easy everybody would do it.

    In your personal opinion, what differences are there in fixed culture vs. skate culture?
    it's basically comprised of the same kind of people. Wait, I take that back. Fixed Gear is comprised of a bunch of weirdos. All jokes aside, I suppose the main difference is the connection and strength we feel as a community. So many people skate now a days that you're probably not going to say "what's up" to every person you see with a skateboard. Fixed Gear is different in that the moment I see somebody else riding the same kind of bike, I immediately run up and start drilling them with questions. "Hey! What's up? Where are you from? Can we be friends?" Something along those lines.

    You run a website called WheelTalk. Can you tell us more about that? What exactly do you oversee on the site?
    I create the content, and I oversee all aspects of it. It gives me a reason to combine both my graphic design background and the friends I've made through riding over the years. People don't have blogs/websites like they used to. It seems like everyone just invests in social media where content lives and dies in a matter of days. It's great having a platform that you can call your own.

    Besides San Francisco, what other cities/places are great for riding?
    Everywhere is different but if I could name a top 3. I'd say: New York, Fukuoka, and Beijing.

    What's the best trick you’ve ever pulled off?
    I'm terrible at coming up with these things on the spot. I guess anything where there's a kid standing by ready to sound off and applaud in approval. That always makes me more hyped than any level of difficulty.

    Talk to us about being in graphic design. Do you create personal work?
    Everything I do is geared towards something else, but the work I create for myself is endless. I'm constantly starting new projects before I finish old ones, and I’m always pursuing what's next. Most days I go to work at Chrome Industries and come home to work on more personal stuff. Usually it's editing footage for whatever video we're working on at that time, and whenever I try to kick back I just feel guilty for all the things I'm not doing. It's a vicious cycle of never feeling productive enough.

    You’re also into photography, what kinds of things do you like shooting?
    Not things really, but people. I always keep a 35mm camera on me and try to shoot at least one photo a day. Having printed photographs is one of the biggest reasons why I started shooting film. I never had a lot of family photos growing up which is probably why I'm making up for lost time now. Every time you press that button it costs a dollar and the thought of that adds value to the photos you choose to take. I feel like a kid on Christmas every time I go by Photo Plus to get a new roll developed, and the anticipation of the surprise is what keeps me coming back.

    If I'm not shooting bikes I'm wandering up and down the alleys in search of someone interesting to photograph. Mostly it's people I see as I'm riding by, but sometimes I'll notice something too good to be true and will backtrack to get the shot. My favorite neighborhoods are the ones most people try to avoid. They hold the most character, personality, and are the most authentic when it comes to the people who live in them. My favorite photos are always untouched moments in life that most people don't have access to. Those are the ones that hit home and evoke the most feels.

    Have anything fun planned for the near future?
    At the moment I'm really looking forward to meeting up with the homies this weekend so we can film another Super Bowl Sunday video. Should be a blast. Outside of that we have a full length video coming out this year so keep your ear to the ground for that one. Thanks for taking the time to read through this. I'm honored to be a part of it.

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