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Rob Roskopp is the owner of Santa Cruz Bikes, loads of you will already know that.. To anyone over 27 who used to skate the name Roskopp is synomonous with skateboarding in the 80's. This before Playstation and the X Games were skaters were real people doing there own thing against all the adverse pressures from society. Being an outcast as society thought, we were really in the know, we knew where it was at.

The release of any new video saw 20 or so of us cramped in someone’s front room, open mouthed whilst watching. No exception as I first saw Rob Roskopp in Scott Dittrich's Wheels of Fire, somewhere around the summer of 87. Hang ten baby..

SF - Wheels of Fire, a classic! You had a great section in it hang tening it down a tarmac road at speed if I remember rightly! You then peeked through some fence to find a mellow pool with some dude with a wrist still in plaster

RR- That was Keith Meek in the cast. He runs our Art Dept. at Santa Cruz Bicycles now.

SF- What was your best section in that film and why?

RR – To be honest I was really upset how my whole section was edited on the big vert ramp. I spent all day filming 6 or 7 new tricks I had just learned and he didn’t put one of them in the video, just airs!

SF - Who's section did you rate the best?

RR- I personally didn’t like the video, so much so, that in the next video “Streets of Fire” I didn’t want to be in it. I ended up with a tiny part in that, which was more than I ended up wanting. I was pissed off that Deitrich wouldn’t put the best tricks in, just freakin airs!

SF - What other videos did you appear in?

RR – I did a “how to” video with Natas and some other video’s with Hosoi. Then I was in some of the contest video’s, but I never got into the contest part of skating too much anyway.

SF - Rumours were rife about some guy who could ollie a dust bin in that video, nobody believed it! Natas really stole the show and bumped up sales I guess. How did you get on with him?

RR – Natas was great to skate with. He’s a really good guy and one hell of an artist now!

SF - Do you ever bump into him or any others like Jeff "Method" Kendall, what are they doing now?

RR – Jeff Kendall runs all the marketing at Santa Cruz Skateboards. I see him all the time. Jeff was one of the best all-around skater’s ever.

Rob | Mike Redding | Shaun Palmer

SF - Is Christian Hosoi still in the clink?

RR – Hosoi got out of jail in the summer of ‘04 and is on the road promoting skating and Jesus Christ.

SF - Did you ever write to him when Thrasher gave out his prison number, cell and row address?

RR – No, I actually never did. Christian and I had a lot of fun back in the day, but I lost touch with him in the early 90’s.

SF - What's your opinion on Mark "Gator" Rogawski?

RR – Great Skater, fun to travel with back in the day. Then we were all taken back when he killed his ex-girlfriends best friend. I watched the movie “Stoked” on his life. Brought back a lot of good memories in the beginning, but in the end it was extremely depressing to watch. I was surprised he didn’t get the death penalty!

SF - Do you still skate?

RR – I take my son skating, but I don’t actually skate much at all. I like to spend most of my free time with the family and on my bike.

SF - Did my 'Cell block III' riser pad really stop my board from snapping?

RR – Yes, it displaced the load and took away the hot spot where your truck ends.

SF - Where was your favourite skate spot?

RR – It’s hard to pick a favourite, but one of them was the full pipes we skated in Arizona.

SF - Did you ever ride Raging Waters?

RR – I skated there a lot, at least a few times a week when I was in town. It was a great ramp.

SF - Ever skate the UK?

RR – Never got to skate in the UK unfortunately.

SF - When you look back from those humble beginnings, what does it feel like being a major part of such a big and successful company?

RR – Very thankful! But I don’t know about the big part. Specialized, Trek and Giant are big. Santa Cruz is tiny in comparison.

SF - Rich Novak owns Santa Cruz skateboards, what involvement has his company with SantaCruz Bikes?

RR – Rich Novak is my partner in Santa Cruz Bicycles. He plays the Mentor role.

Rob checking over his newest creation...the Nomad

SF - What's your all time favourite bike Santa Cruz have made and why?

RR – I really enjoy all of them, but there’s a few that really stand out to me. Probably the Heckler, Blur 4X and the V-10. The Nomad is the bike I’m currently spending most of my time on.

SF - What software do you use for frame design?

RR – We use Pro Engineer. It’s the best, most advance design software in the world and they’re a great company to work with.

SF - Who designs the frames at Santa Cruz Bikes?

RR – In Engineering we have Dave Earle and David Allen. In Research and Development we have Joe Graney and Gary Yokota. Our test lab is run by Eric Lindsley. Jon Forsberg is our Product Manager and him and I come up with ideas and things we want to experiment with. Then we get more feedback from the group. Then Joe and Gary work on it.

Then, when they think they have something we build up a test mule and try it out. If it seems like something great we give it over to engineering and build up prototypes for more ride evaluation. Then Eric in the test lab is given a batch of new frames to destroy, to make sure they meet all of our standards. By standards, I mean Santa Cruz standards, not the wimpy JIS standards. In the next year we hope to have a completely new set of standards for Mountain Bike Industry to aspire to.

SF - What’s your job title and role within the company?

RR – Owner

SF - What does you typical day consist of?

RR – Come into work around 9am, check email, talk with all of our department heads, check in with most everyone in the company or at least try to. Usually have a few meetings. I’m in charge of the marketing, so I work with Jon Forsberg our product manager a lot. On and off the phone constantly. Drop by the Art Dept. frequently. Try and get a ride in and get inspired on where to go and what to do with the business. See how things are coming along in R&D and testing. Put out any fires for the day and try and get out before 6pm. Then I go home and play with the kids and wife. Put the kids in bed and then go work on ideas for Santa Cruz until the wee hours of the night.

SF - Rumours are rife regarding raw materials and there availability. I've heard China is buying all the metal it can get it's hands on to help build it's economy. Did you know UK steel has doubled in price over the last 2 yrs?

RR – No, but that doesn’t surprise me. China is sucking down raw materials like M&M chocolate candies. Steel prices in the U.S. Have gone up also.

SF- Also heard about Easton tubing running out of metal. What availability problems have you had?

RR – Last year and this year still, Shimano! They have the longest, most ridiculous lead times in the industry.

SF - Where do you see Downhill bikes going in the future?

RR – Lighter and lighter. I think the amount of travel will end staying around 10” in the rear and 8” or so for the front. Suspension will get better and smarter.

SF - After VPP and the new Yeti, what else can be explored?

RR – Oh...they’re always something new to work on, that’s what makes me enjoy what I do the most...passionate progression!

SF - Maybe this is common knowledge and I’m just slow (likely), but what actually defines the VPP system from any other seemingly similar layout, Cannondale, Sintessi, Azonic, etc?

RR – With the counter-rotating links we can fine tune our travel path and shock rates

Superfly Mid V10 Testing - look out for the full test soon foto: Huw Davies

SF - Otherwise, what's the expected lifespan of the VPP design, how long before you plan a redesign, or is all that’s left to fate and fashions?

RR – Every VPP bike that we come out with further progresses the whole platform. We’re always working on improving our existing systems and working on new ones.

SF - What do you think of the new Yeti bike?

RR – I like what Yeti has done. Haven’t had a chance to ride one yet, but I think it will be good.

SF - How did you find the transition from going from a Pro Skater into the bike scene as a unknown?

RR – I got back into racing Motocross after skating and some of my friends from Motocross were into Mountain Bikes. So I started racing XC, Cyclocross and then adventually got the DH bug. The main difference in the beginning was the whole lycra thing. I couldn’t wear the lycra, just wasn’t cool. But I soon learned after a 3 hour ride, if you didn’t have the shammy you were in for a world of hurt.

SF - What are the differences between the two diverse industries?

RR – I don’t think they’re as diverse as they once were. Downhill racers and skaters today are very similar in style and attitude. But I think all the action sports today have followed skateboarding’s lead.

SF - What did you want to do when you were young?

RR – Played Hockey when I was really young. Always wanted to be an Astronaut. Then I got into racing motocross and skateboarding.

SF - Could you foresee an alternative career forming?

RR – When I got serious with Skateboarding I didn’t look at it as a career, but just what I wanted to do. It opened the world to me, so I’m very thankful for that.

SF - Rob, "As a bullit owner I think its flawless" (forum user) can there be any way possible to make it better?

RR – You can always improve upon things. But I’m happy to hear how much you like it!

SF - The elimination of the Super 8 upset a number of people and you still hear cries of it being the best bike out there... any regrets of taking it off the production line?

RR – None, we introduced something much better.

SF- Are you still confident that bike design is moving away from the single pivot?

RR – Single pivot designs will be around for some time to come, but they’re are always alternatives to what is being done currently.

SF - Can you get hold of any screaming hand stickers?

RR – Maybe, not sure.

SF - Message from a forum member - Can you thank him for bringing some skate attitude to the industry....

RR – Thank you. We’ll do our best to keep it real!

Many thanks to Rob for taking time out to answer the above.. Please return the favour and checkout www.santacruzbicycles.com

 

 
 
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