The Rise crew is the world well-known mountain bike crew that is very often associated with street riding and a simply great time on the bike. For us, it will be always a symbol of the street riding because we have followed all their video edits in our very first riding times. Over last few years it isn’t just a crew that make mind-blowing video edits but they stepped up their game and became a brand with their own high-end mountain bike frame, clothes and a strong base of fans! We want to bring you more exclusive content with amazing information and stories. We believe this is it! Enjoy it and show them some love!
Who or What is The Rise?
The Rise is a rider owned bike company where we promote the fun aspect of living life to the fullest through bike riding. The Rise is owned by 4 people: Michel Plonka, Matt Macduff, Jeremy Menduni and Louis Lhomel. I think what we have going on is pretty unique. At The Rise, the guys you see in the videos and the guys you meet at events, well they’re the same guys that run the business. 10 years ago, we started with nothing but motivation to leave a positive impact in the biking community, without really knowing what we were getting into. 10 years later and here we are! We also have a bunch of awesome riders on our team now, which are all essential parts of who we are. Our mission is to bring people together and encourage them to accomplish their goals in a friendly environment. The Rise always has, and always will be a people’s community aiming to keep the younger and older generation motivated to get out there and have a good time!
Where it all started? Do you remember the first time when you said: “We are The Rise crew?”
For sure! At first, Michel Plonka had a blog called Allaboutbikes, but he didn’t like the name of it. So as he was on a Dobermann Bikes roadtrip from Ottawa to Las Vegas with Matt Macduff and Jeremy Menduni, he set the goal of coming up with a better name before reaching Vegas. That’s a 40-hour drive in case you didn’t know! So long story short, they spent the whole time talking shit and coming up with the weirdest names until Jeremy said The Rise, and there it was. When they got back from Vegas, Plonka made a new website and the rest is history. Right around that same time, we met Louis Lhomel who quickly got on board and started producing loads of video content. Vincent Allard (RIP) also played a huge part in growing The Rise by producing some awesome videos and even a full-length movie! So all in all, those are the 4 guys that make everything happen at The Rise, but I also need to give a huge shoutout to all the people that helped out along the way! I think what made it successful right off the start is that it was real, you know? People could relate to it, and it motivated a lot of people around us to get involved and help out.
How many members do you have and where around the globe we can find them?
Right now we have 10 riders on the team. In Canada, we have Michel Plonka, Louis Lhomel, Matt Macduff, Samuel “Croots” Croteau, Jeremy Menduni, Ben Desjardins and JP Maffret. In Europe, we have Walter Mayerhofer and John New. In England, we have the one and only Aidan Horn. And we recently added a new rider to our crew, Cody Gessel from the U.S. and A!
Canada is iconic for Dirt Jumping and Slopestyle riding. Still, you have managed to create a worldwide known street crew. How would you describe the MTB street scene there?
Hahaha! Yeah, Canada is really an iconic place for mountain biking, but unfortunately, pretty much all of it is located in the western part of the country. We are located in the province of Quebec, in the eastern part, where mountains are a rare thing. We were lucky enough to have a couple of small dirt jump spots when we started, but mostly there was nothing for us to ride. In a sense, it’s for the better because I think it gave us a different outlook on the sport. We had to do with what was around us: street, public parks, and skateparks. Having limitations really pushes you to do things differently, to learn in another way. We were highly influenced by mountain bike videos, but our condition led us to also look at skateboarding and BMX as an influence because they were riding similar things.
Back in 2006, the scene was huge. There was a lot of riders and everyone seemed like they were riding bikes. It quickly started to dissipate as the older riders stopped riding and the new generation was switching to BMX. I don’t think it was a local problem because I saw that switch across the whole world. But we just kept on riding and doing what we love. We just never stopped. Our scene is small, but the energy and the vibe are top notch! Everybody knows everybody, and everyone is friendly. Our local scene may be small but it is awesome and I’m even seeing more and more people getting back on their bike. Couldn’t be a more happy man!
We all keep an eye on our favorite riders. Who else from the MTB street scene do you following, outside The Rise? What about some young guns?
Man, there’s a lot of people! Back in the days, all of the VVC Force guys, their videos were for sure a big inspiration to keep doing our thing. There are so many good videos of Pavel Alekhin and Alexander Belevskiy, and those guys still kill it today! There’s a lot of guys now doing their thing on the internet, coming out with killer edits and amazing style. Max Otzelberger is exploding our minds everytime he’s dropping something online. The guys from Ukraine made an awesome video not too long ago called Tin plate 3! Fucking gnarly man! We just love when people put out good material and we try to keep an eye out for amazing new talents.
In 2016 you kicked your own MTB Freestyle frame – The Partymaster. Can you describe it for riders who are thinking about this frame?
The Partymaster is a really unique frame. From a Quality standpoint, we believe there’s nothing like it. If you are looking for a frame that is able to attack any terrain that you are going to put in front of it, then this is the bike for you! If you want something that is strong and reliable, where you won’t be scared to send the biggest gap you’ve ever done, this is the frame for you! If you want to bring you technical riding skillz to the next level, then this is the frame for you! We really wanted to achieve a frame that would be the ultimate machine for our sport and we don’t want to brag, but we are pretty confident we did it! You just have to try it out and we are sure you’re going to love it!
Did you set some innovation/version interval for the frame?
We are always trying to improve it, but we chose not to follow the model year thing. We could do like everyone else and change a tiny detail, paint it a different color and market it as the new thing just to sell more, but what’s the point? Right now nothing has changed on the frame since we released it, and we’ve got nothing but good feedback so far. We are working tightly with all our riders and we’re really open to any improvements that could make this bike even better than it is right now. But so far so good and people seem to love it as much as we do. Anyone that has seen and tried one in real life will agree that it has nothing to do with any other frame out there.
What about some first talks about the geometry and everything about it, went everything smoothly? Do you have some funny slash interesting story from the making of or let’s say some behind the scene insights?
We always had the idea of making a frame at some point. Most of our riders were already getting good support from other brands which was really great and all, but you know, we were starting to wonder why not start our own thing? We were already pumping out loads of content at that time, so we realized that we had so much marketing power, with basically nothing to market…
Then, in the summer of 2014, we were in New Brunswick for the Beastin’ Roadtrip. We were catching up with our friend Gabriel Lang commonly known as Gabo… Man, we go back a long way… Plonka knows him since like 2004 and even introduced Gabo to the owner of Dobermann back in the days… So by 2014, pretty much all the boys and Gabo were homies, you know? So he informed us that he’s starting his own bicycle company really soon, and he would love to work with us. You know, we could have got our frames made in Taiwan like everyone else and have an okay product, but this was our chance. This was our chance to make the best frame we possibly could, a frame made in Canada by a true artist, a frame we would be proud to ride and represent. So as soon as we got back from that roadtrip, we got to work! We always felt like Gabo was one of the best frame builders out there, and he proved us right this year by winning Best Mountain Bike and Best Bike of the Show at the 2018 NAHBS!
We wanted the Partymaster to be an all-around Freestyle frame that would feel as good for technical riding as for big jumps. So we sat down and compared the Geometries of our previous frames, discussed what we wanted to improve and what not, and surprisingly we were all on the same page right away. The hardest thing to figure out was what kind of headtube to use. We were going to use a normal 1 ⅛” headtube, but at that time tapered forks were becoming the new standard so we couldn’t do that. We didn’t want to use a tapered headtube either because it adds a lot of complexity to the fabrication process which would have jacked up the price way too high, plus it looks like shit. We were kind of stuck there for a bit, to be honest… Then Gabo proposed the idea of using a 44mm headtube which would allow us to use either straight or tapered steerer while keeping the fabrication process the same, we weren’t too sure at first, but looking back, we’re glad we decided to go that way because it’s super simple, super strong and it looks dope!
I would say that it’s courage to start your own piece of the bicycle among all the bicycle factories. Do you plan to add some products in the future?
Of course, we want to bring more products in the future, but I think we all want to bring something that will have a meaning to our customers. We don’t want to put out products just for the hell of it. We really mean what we do and we want people to feel that when they purchase something from us. So every new thing that we come out with has a lot of work behind it. We are brainstorming a lot of new ideas right now. Just keep an eye out for our next releases!
For someone, it could be utopia but you did it, you made your own Frame. How would you rate your start in bicycle industry?
I would say it went really well, especially for a frame with such a high retail price. It took a little while for the ball to get rolling, I think it’s mainly because people knew us from all the videos, but didn’t know if they could trust us as a bike company, especially with such a high-end product. Two years later, we have sold frames in 12 different countries and haven’t got any negative feedback on it so far, so I guess it’s a success!
Obviously, the biggest industry players at the scene focus on Slopestyle as it’s the main discipline of mountain biking these days. Do you think that there is still some chance to take a place for street/park riding? Should MTB learn something from BMX scene and give more space to street riders or let’s say to riders who aren’t slopestyle athletes?
I think competitions are always a good thing for a sport like ours. It gives a great structure where professional riders and sponsors are able to organize their investments, plus it broadcasts the sport to a huge audience which is awesome. I don’t think Street riding will ever go away, it’s just too much fun! There’s nothing like going out with a bunch of friends and explore the city on your bike, it’s just the best you know? The Park scene will never go away either because if you want to ride your bike in the winter, you have no choice but to hit the indoor park. As much as winter sucks really bad in Canada, riding indoors is a great opportunity to meet and ride with new people, it really helps to bring the scene together I think. There are so many aspects of riding a bike, you can do so much with it and the only limitation you have is basically yourself. There’s always going to be something that is more trendy but I think it’s important to showcase as many aspects of the sport as possible.
And comparing it to BMX makes no sense, I mean on the business side of things. A BMX company makes BMX products, and the profit margins are the same whether they sell a dirt jumping frame or a flatland frame. In MTB, the money is in enduro and e-bikes right now, so obviously, brands focus their energy towards that because the profit margins are huge! It all comes in waves you know? Jump back like 15 years, you had guys like Aaron Chase and Jeff Lenosky making really good money riding street on big bikes and being featured in the biggest bike movies. The 24 Bicycle dudes from France had a huge buzz going on around them, they were selling out on frames designed for Street that sold for a thousand bucks a piece… And at that same time, BMX street was getting close to no attention, until Animal Bikes released the “Can I Eat” video which blew up the street scene like crazy. We’ve been promoting Freestyle since day one, and I really feel like it’s going to become huge again really soon. And when it does, you will see all the big brands jump in again because they only care about what’s selling. Just wait and you will see.
Is possible at all, be clearly Pro MTB Street rider these days?
I don’t wanna say it’s impossible because nowadays you can generate so many different sources of income thanks to the internet and social media, but if you mean riding MTB Street and getting paid a decent living from a bike company, there’s no way. We support our team the best way we can, but what makes it so fun to be a part of is definitely all the trips and projects we organize all the time. All the guys on our crew are passionate about it, and the vibe and energy that The Rise carries are unbelievable! You would be amazed how even some of the best slopestyle riders earn close to nothing or put themselves in debt to keep pursuing their dreams. We’ve been in this game long enough to see both sides of it and let me tell you that there’s only a handful of dudes that earn good money in this sport.
The progression is unstoppable and every rider learns something new for next season so he could stay competitive. We remember runs with the single whip, single backflip and no-foot can. Now? Even you put together triple whip, opposite moves or double backflip it’s not enough sometimes. What was your favorite Era of riding?
You are right, the progression in the last couple years has been insane, and it’s a beautiful thing. Watching some of those FMB guys put together the craziest runs is mind blowing and opens up your mind to so many new tricks that you would have never thought were possible!
At The Rise, we don’t really have any competition. We do our own thing, most of our riders couldn’t care less about being on a podium, they only compete against themselves and work to improve their riding and grow as a person every day. The goal never was to show that we’re the best or anything like that, it was more to get people stoked to get out there and do something. Our goal is to create videos and events that will get people stoked, to show them how much fun it is to do what you love, with the people you love, you know? Tricks are always going to be related to the certain area of riding, but going out to have fun on your bike with your friend is timeless. That’s why we focus on that. So to answer your question, I don’t think we have a favorite “era” of riding. Life is what you make it, and we’re doing our best to make it awesome every day!
Last year at Red Bull Joyride we saw riders use the freecoaster and do half cab combinations from the drops. That was amazing! What do you think that future will bring to top-level mountain biking and what will bring to the street riding?
There’s always going to be guys breaking barriers and mixing different styles together, and most of the time that’s when you get major evolution in the sport. Slopestyle is taking things from the street as much as the street is taking from the slopestyle game now. Matt Macduff is the perfect example of this amalgam of style. He brought the half cab drop in his Civil Savage video back in 2013! It was a beautiful way to bring some street move to the amplitude of a slopestyle course. I’m super happy to see guys pulling it off now in runs. I think it expands everyone’s repertoire of tricks and brings the different styles together. The opposite is also possible. A good example would be Matt’s latest street video in Barcelona where he wanted to do a 360 in a double stair gap. This is where all the slopestyle skills helped him push the boundaries of how we see the obstacle in the streets. And I’m pretty sure it’s all this experience he had riding those big slope courses that gave him this vision and skills to be able to pull it off.
From street to slopestyle, or downhill to freeride, or whatever crossover you can think of, it just shows you how different styles, different riders, and different terrains can all help each other and should coexist in the same environment. It’s easy to judge different styles of riding if you don’t do them, but if you take the time to understand it, there’s always something you can learn along the way that’s going to give you an extra tool in your riding toolbox.
If you could add something to the street/park MTB riding worldwide. What would it be?
Don’t get me wrong, it is an awesome scene right now, but if I had to add something, I would add more events. It doesn’t have to be huge contests with 20k in prizes and TV coverage, just more events in general. Like you know, anyone can organize a local street ride, a small Jam with some small prizes to giveaway, a video premiere at a local bar, or whatever one can think of. These events will cost you nothing but a few hours of work and will impact your community in a beautiful way. Events are so much fun because they bring the people together, and especially for the younger generation, it gives them real life experiences that they will remember forever. So if you’re reading this and you have an idea, make it happen! If you don’t have either ideas or time to make something happen, the least you can do is to go to more events!
The Partymaster Tour 2017 is in the books! The movie from this tour is simply about pure riding and the great time, we love it. Do you already plan another one? Do you plan more tours in one year?
Of course! The 2018 Partymaster Tour is happening sooner than you think! The first edition was such a success, and we learned a lot from it to make the next editions bigger and better! More information will be out really soon. We had an amazing response to the first video and we are super stoked to bring it back bigger and badder than ever. Organising this Tour is a tremendous amount of work though, that’s why we can only plan one per year. Keep an eye out for this year’s edition and come party and ride with us if you can. It’s an amazing experience and it’s always a pleasure to meet bike enthusiasts in real life.
The point of the tour is to bring different people together and we are always open to work with new people and create a strong relationship. If you are reading this and would like to be part of the next edition, or you think that there’s something in the tour for you and your brand, please contact us!
What is future of The Rise? Do you have something in making for 2018?
The future is really exciting. We are going to continue to make amazing content for you guys and hopefully continue to bring The Rise to its full potential. It’s always a hard thing to evolve and stay relevant, but we are trying to stay true to who we are and continue to make people stoked on riding and life in general. We have a lot planned for 2018 already. Aside from The Partymaster Tour, we’re working on 2 pretty big events. We cannot say too much now but keep an eye open, there’s always something in the work!
Shout out to Kent Woods! I wish to see this guy rides once again hehe! They say: “The North Remembers” and so do we!
Fuck yeah! That dude is fuckin’ awesome, shoutout Kent Woods!
Thank you for your time guys! And because you are a great inspiration for many of us, now is your time to leave a message for all fans around the globe. Whatever you want to say, you can do it now!
Maann, this journey has been awesome so far! We’re really thankful for everything that happened, and that wouldn’t have been possible with all the great humans out there. Huge shoutout to every single person supporting what we do, it really means a lot to see all the love there is for The Rise around the world! And a special thanks to every single person that helped us get to where we are now. We’ve made some of our best friends through this adventure and we couldn’t be more grateful for the amazing support we are getting. It might sound cliche but life is what you make it and your only limitations are the ones you place upon yourself. Be yourself, always stay positive, be open minded and work hard towards what makes you happy. Don’t ever let anyone break you with negative opinions and pessimism. Every human on this planet goes through hard times and failures, and that’s okay, as long as you use these experiences to learn about yourself and build a better future. Stay wild, stay free and keep on shredding!!!
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