In 2010, Australia via Scotland transplant and Haro BMX collector John Buultjens started his own BMX brand dubbed Pilgrim. According to Buultjens, he had produced a video in 1992 titled "Pilgrim BMX: Rebels In A World Full Of Laws," and many years later, had a dream to create a bike brand under the same name. "I had a dream that Pilgrim had become a full on bike company and they were being sold all over the world," said Buultjens in an interview with ESPN.
Buultjens launched Pilgrim with a line of complete BMX bikes, BMX frames and a team that included X Games BMX Vert and Big Air competitors Steve McCann (McCann left in 2011 for a deal with Mongoose) and Vince Byron, Giants of Dirt innovator Dane Searls, and triple backflip innovator Jed Mildon of New Zealand. Because it was a new brand without any big-money investors, Buultjens took a unique route towards paying his riders -- he gave 50% of his frame sale proceeds to the team riders. "It's not much, but every little bit helps and I know the team will push the frame out there -- it's their frame, not mine," said Buultjens.
And they were off. World records were set on Pilgrim frames (including Mildon's triple backflip and Searls' Giants of Dirt jump), X Games gold medals were won on Pilgrim frames, and the brand seemed to be enjoying some momentum both in the Australian scene and abroad. Unfortunately, Buultjens ran into problems with his agent in Taiwan, and earlier this weekend, announced that his bike brand would be closing as a result.
According to a post on Facebook from Buultjens, "Eighteen months ago, an order for Pilgrims was mistakenly doubled from $198k to $396k. It has taken me all this time to pay this bill off. Without no new product, no new sales, I cannot carry on anymore. I tried everything. I have been working a second job for the past twelve months just to keep all the bills paid. Now I am closing a company that owes me $145k."
Pilgrim BMX leaves behind four team model frames, five complete bike models, a team that now includes Cam Pianta, Jed Mildon, Sam Illman and Chris Henderson, as well as a protege team.
"Riders need to realize if they don't support the brands who are BMX, more of us will fall. I don't want to see any of my good friends in the BMX industry go under. Support your brands, don't drain them. I do have a backup plan, but that's other news," Buultjens continued.
In the meantime, Buultjens continues to focus on his vintage Haro Bicycles collection. Though only in operation for two years, Pilgrim BMX definitely left its mark on the Australian BMX scene and abroad.