Back Story: Jim C. Odyssey Ad
Seeing my first Odyssey ad for the first time in over ten years brings back so many memories. To be honest, this was a great time for me. It was basically at the start of my “career” taking off and all of these pieces were falling into place. Road Fools 7 was about to drop and I had traveled to the Roots Jam, the Bike Show in the UK, La Revolution in Toronto and California, and even made it to the BACO Jam. To pay the bills I was working at Kink making minimum wage designing products such as the frame, fork, stem and bars that I’m riding in the ad. At the time I had the sense that BMX opportunities like this do not come along very often. Especially for a twenty eight year old. It’s no wonder why I dropped out of my Urban Planning graduate program to ride.
It’s really weird to look back at the bike in the ad and think how much BMX has changed since then. In a bike check back then, you would list all the modiﬁcations that you had made on your bike. There was an almost badge of honor thing based on how many modiﬁcations you could list. The more you listed, then the more you were thinking about how the bike could be made better. Today, my bike has very few modiﬁcations because we’ve standardized all the ones we did back in the day.
My bike back then is drastically different than my bike today. I’m using a press-in Chris King headset to take advantage of sealed bearings, but you haven’t seen one of those since integrated head tubes were universally adopted around 2005. These bars are probably 7.75” tall which are the same height as Sunday 24” cruiser bars now. The frontload stem barely has a pulse in BMX today. Noticed it’s ﬂipped to make my bars taller? Railed seats have been derailed by the Pivotal Post. The ad features 48 hole wheels which essentially died not too long after this ad came out. The freecoaster has been dug out of the BMX attic for everyone to put a modern spin on. There are male axles in the ad which are basically extinct (or should be) now. Originally, the cassette hub’s main feature allowed you to change the rear cog size as needed, but we just put the lowest possible size on without ever changing it because we wanted the bikes to be lighter and have the sprocket out of the way. This realization allowed Odyssey to invent the driver which is the standard today.
This was shot in my hometown of Buffalo, NY by legendary BMX photographer Jeff Zielinski before he worked at Ride BMX. When shooting an ad photo, I've always advocated making it something that's unique and stands out. Unfortunately, in this ad you can't really see what is so special because the product covers the important part. I swear that there was a two page spread version of this ad somewhere where you could see the whole trick. This is a switch rail using using my front peg and rear pedal. I only ran two right pegs at the time, so when we got to the spot, I took my front wheel off and flipped it over, so I had a front left peg and rear right peg. The featured wheel completely blocks my left foot hiding the fact that I didn't have a rear peg. This trick was featured in my section of Ride BMX’s video Parts.
It’s great to know where we came from, but I sure do not want to go back.