Late last week, it was announced that California-based BMX, MTB and 700c component and bike brand Snafu was sold to new owners based in Malaga, New Jersey. Under the new ownership, Snafu team rider and Failure Bikes owner Matt "Beard" Bischoff was hired as brand manager for Snafu, leaving former Snafu brand manager Harold "McGoo" McGruther to pursue further interests with Revolution Creative, a Temecula, Calif. based ad agency.
According to the press release, "After 13 years at the helm of the boutique brand he co-founded in 1999, the 50-year-old bike-industry veteran simply chose to pursue other business interests."
And earlier this week, changes began to happen. Top X Games BMX Street and Park pro Jeremiah Smith was out, while new Failure Bikes team rider and X Games BMX Park pro Harry Main was in. But first, let's take a broader look at Snafu and its legacy within and out of BMX.
Snafu came along at a ripe time in BMX. The first Internet bubble had not yet burst. And outside of Primo and XS, there were not many dedicated component brands that supported a wealth of team riders and manufactured good products. When the brand first launched, McGoo's irreverent component names and ability to rattle the BMX industry's nerves from the inside out were met warmly... enough. And then they sponsored good riders. And started to push the barriers of BMX technology while making good, simple BMX products that worked. Even Mike Aitken rode Snafu's pedals for a number of years. But he wasn't the only one.
Over the brand's years, they supported a number of top riders that included Dave Freimuth, Morgan Wade, Ryan Barrett, Tom Haugen, Vic Ayala, Vinnie Sammon, Simon Tabron, Jerry Bagley, Matt Beringer, Morgan Wade, Markus Wilke, Brad Simms, Dave Mirra, Josh Heino, Mike Ardelean, Jimmy "Boom Boom" Buchans and many more.
They also one-upped detangler technology with the Mobeus, a lower-profile detangler than the Odyssey Gyro that utilized Teflon bearings and lower-profile cable ends. To date, many of the top pros in BMX use the Snafu Mobeus.
As the years progressed, Snafu branched out into manufacturing components for mountain and 700c bikes. They weren't afraid to take chances, and I think that is owed to McGoo's experience within the bike industry. Since the early '80s, first with Torker, followed by CW, GT and then Mongoose, McGoo was at the forefront of some game changing movements in BMX. At the same time, he also made it through some pretty kooky moments in the BMX industry, and had lived to see every trend come, go and then come again. In retrospect, I tend to think that Snafu was McGoo's attempt at taking the good parts of BMX brands (team building, good products) while jokingly reminding BMX that it had come from a checkered past.
And now we move onto chapter two of Snafu. McGoo is gone, Matt Bischoff is in, and Jeremiah Smith is pursuing new opportunities while his teammate at Failure (Harry Main) has been announced as the newest team rider at Snafu. Knowing new Snafu brand manager Matt "Beard" Bischoff tells it like it is, I decided to shoot him some questions about managing both a component brand and bike brand, and the murky waters it could potentially create. Matt has been a part of the Snafu team since the brand's beginning, and because he named his own bike company "Failure," he's clearly not afraid to be self-deprecating.
Also, because I've never turned a good man away from using the caps lock button, including Ron Wilkerson and Tanner Hall, I'm leaving Matt's Snafu references in all caps.
ESPN.com: Why did Jeremiah leave SNAFU and Harry then join?
Beard: Jeremiah is a long time friend of mine and has been on SNAFU for many years. There is obviously a large amount of work and money that is going into taking over SNAFU. We are in a transition period and while we are working through everything I am having to make hard budget decisions. We were unable to come to terms on an agreement, so Jeremiah made the choice to leave to pursue other opportunities. I love Jeremiah and wish him the best in finding another parts sponsor. I am looking into changing up the SNAFU team and picking up some new riders over time. I approached Harry, and Harry was down with the brand and was really stoked to be able to help me and the brand out. I'm happy to have him onboard.
Is there any animosity between the two or is Jeremiah pursuing a new opportunity?
There is no animosity at all. We all are good friends at the end of the day. There is business and friendship. We all realize that you have to separate the two. I'm sure Jeremiah will do just fine. I'm excited for what new things he has on the horizon.
Does this affect their relationship as Failure Bikes team riders?
This will not affect their relationship on Failure at all. Failure and SNAFU are two completely different brands. I just happen to be in charge of both. Jeremiah and Harry are friends and are stoked to be on Failure together.
What can we expect from SNAFU in the coming year and will the change in ownership affect the brand's presentation in BMX?
Expect a lot of new things. We are working on developing a lot of new parts. I am excited to go out with the old and in with the new. I will be working with the SNAFU team riders to come up with the best parts we can, at a decent price point. We are going to be doing a lot more with the brand, and the new ownership is only going to make things better. SNAFU has been around since 1999, and I have been a part of it since day one. I am super grateful to be in charge of managing the brand and turning a new leaf for SNAFU.