Before this interview, my knowledge of ‘Ben Boyko’ was pretty much limited by his riding and a few comments I’d read in magazines. I knew he was a smart yet fearless rider, with a buttery-smooth style influenced by years of practice and competition in the BMX scene. I’d also heard him described as ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, and ‘the hardest working pro in the business’. What I found was a blunt spoken guy, with a quirky, infectious sense of humour, who has more than earned his ‘hard working’ reputation. Whether he’s creating the perfect line for a photo or video shoot, hauling logs to build a new stunt, appearing at events with his sponsors, or attending dirt jump and slopestyle competitions all over the globe, Ben approaches it all with his unique blend of quiet intensity and self-effacing good humour.
- Trisha Petrella
Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – Vitals
Ben Boyko I’m 25, born in Vancouver, and currently living in North Van. I’ve been riding for about 14 years.
nsmb – What was your first two wheeler like?
Ben Boyko – It was a 24” single speed with a pedal brake. It had all kinds of paint splashed on it. My parents picked it up from a garage sale and I spent all my time on it. It came everywhere we went.
nsmb – Who was the person who got you into mountain biking?
Ben Boyko – Me!
nsmb – How did that go down then?
Ben Boyko – I started out on a mountain bike as a kid. I did trials a bit, raced cross country, and even remember doing well in some races. It wasn’t long before I realized what I really liked was BMX jumping and ramp riding. It was 12 years before I picked up a 26 ” bike again.
In 2004, my friend Neil Saunders invited me to come on a road trip through California. He offered to pay for my trip if I wanted to film for Superheros 4. I was all over that! So, I borrowed his bike until I got my own just before Sea Otter in 2005.
nsmb – What was it that lit your fire?
BB – Mountain bikes are so versatile. For the most part, you can ride any landscape, any terrain, and any jump at any time, in the rain and sometimes in the snow. If I could only ride one bike it would be a shorter travel bike, like my Norco Six.
Ben has never been afraid of the ‘less glamorous’ side of biking. Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – Were you into sports in high school? What did you do?
BB – I was a runner. I never trained for it but I had the school record for the 5km and the 10 km run.
nsmb -How did you get tangled up with Norco?
BB – This Mark Schmid guy called every day, like a stalker. I had to change my phone at one point. So, to get the guy off my back, I figured I better meet with him and do whatever it took to get him to stop calling me.
Actually, it didn’t quite go down like that. At Interbike this past fall, when I was walking into Marzocchi for a meeting with Bryson, Mark and Pete from Norco were just wraping things up so everyone was there. I had been meaning to meet Mark anyways. I guess, just before I got there, they where all arguing about whether I was 33 years old or 25.
nsmb – what bikes are in your quiver right now?
BB – A GD for dirt jumping and street and a Six for everything else. I’m also looking forward to riding a Team DH. That bike has got some new changes and it looks sick.
nsmb – Which one lights you up most right now and why?
BB – I like the Six, the geometry’s perfect and it’s light.
After a day of building and filming for Kranked 6: Progression. Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – How do people react when you tell them you are a sponsored bike rider?
BB – I usually don’t make a big deal about it. I’m not going out of my way to randomly tell people or anything. I think the only time it ever comes up is when someone asks me how much I paid for my bike.
nsmb – What was the best thing you learned on your bike in the last year?
BB – I’ve learned that everything I do, no matter what it is, is always somehow bike related (whether I’m actually riding or not).
nsmb – Why?
BB – . . .It takes a lot more than just riding a bike to ride. Building things to ride for example.
Taking one last look at his line. Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – What was your most recent injury and how did it happen?
BB – This isn’t recent, but in ’02 I tore my PCL when I over-rotated a backflip and hyper-extended my leg. I lost a lot of saddle time. They don’t repair PCLs, so it’s still something I have to watch. I’ve had a flip phobia ever since. I can still do them but not very often. I’m working on getting more comfortable with them again.
nsmb – What sort of training do you do off your bike to help your riding performance?
BB – I find most of my training is done on my bike.
Makin’ it look easy. Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – What do you think about the way mountain biking is evolving? Going in the right direction?
BB – There is no right and wrong direction. It’s all mountain biking to me. I’ve heard some people say, “the whole scene is going too BMX”. I don’t really know what that is supposed to mean, but I guess it’s because there are so many street-style, urban contest coming up lately.
Although I haven’t been in it long, I think big mountain style is where freeriding is really going. Not that I don’t like street contests, since street courses are what I mainly grew up riding, but I enjoy the big mountain side of things a little more.
nsmb – What’s your favourite trail in the Whis bike park/on the Shore/ in the world? And why?
BB – Whister = Anywhere where there’s not a lot of people, like at the top.
Shore = I like the trails out at Veddar.
World = Well, Whistler’s pretty much the best in the world.
nsmb – What’s one place in the world you haven’t been to that you’d like to check out?
BB – Thailand for holidays, but for riding, I don’t know if I could choose just one place. There are so many cool places I haven’t been to yet.
nsmb – What vehicle do you use to haul your bikes around?
BB – 1996 Chevy half-ton pickup.
Ben’s Wheels. Photo ~ Harookz
nsmb – Last book you read?
BB – That might not be appropriate.
nsmb – Movie you saw?
BB – Shark Water, it’s a documentary. I like the non-fictional films. I could stay up for days watching documentaries.
nsmb – CD/MP3 you picked up?
BB – I don’t buy CDs anymore, I’ll just download it or buy it off itunes. The latest song I downloaded was Enrique – Don’t Turn out the Liggggghhttteeees (that’s for you Mark).
nsmb – You have a Sunday off – no riding. How would you like to fill it?
BB – Hiking through the woods (looking for places to build new stunts).
nsmb – Favourite post-ride beverage?
BB – Chamomile Tea with a hint of Absinthe.
nsmb – Anyone you’d like to shout out to?
BB – Thanks to Brian O for a lot of builds, fixing my bike and hauling my bike up the mountain on countless occasions. I’d also like to thank Surrey Steve for all the filming, Neil Saunders for the mountain bikes, all the local shredders, and everyone else that I ride with, compete with, and travel with.
Fore more info, photos, and video of Ben’s, check out: Ben Boyko: Norco Factory Team
Ben Boyko rides for Norco, Marzocchi, Denny’s Canada, Kenda, FSA, Sombrio, Dakine, and Mavic.