Enduro racers and lifestyle proponents Macky Franklin and Syd Schulz have just signed a contract with Jamis Bicycles for 2016. Not purely down to speed and podium positions, the couple also represent a lifestyle that couldn’t be better suited to the US bike market according to Jamis. It’s refreshing to see that sometimes success is not measured solely by victories!
Don’t get us wrong though: Macky is admittedly one of America’s top 5 enduro riders and the 28-year-old has spent years notching a huge score of victories to his belt. In fact, 25 victories in the elite category in 21 US states and 11 countries don’t come without hard work. In 2015 he finished second in the overall standings of the US Enduro Cup. However, it’s a slightly different story away from the stars and stripes, and Macky admits that he wasn’t quite in his element as he rode the Enduro World Series 2015.
It’s a great score for Jamis as Macky’s potential is vast. As a former pro XC rider, he’s brimming with know-how when it comes to training, endurance and fitness. And in terms of riding skills, he can’t be far off the mark – if you’re going to race the EWS, then you’ve got to be fairly proficient. He’s a rider who makes it look easy, and does it with speed. What’s more, Macky can be a valid asset in providing input for future developments: “I’m extremely excited to be part of the Jamis family and to work with Jamis as they continue to build new and innovative enduro bikes. 2016 is going to be awesome!”
Syd has been racing enduro at elite level since 2014 after earlier feats in XC. Together with boyfriend Macky, they crisscrossed America for races and she eventually decided to give it a go too. According to Syd, the strength and depth of the US women’s field isn’t that brutal, so she’s managed to ride to multiple podium finishes, and even finished third in the 2015 US Enduro Series. Her motivation is irrefutable: “Jamis has felt like the perfect fit since the beginning of the process. 2016 is going to be a big year for us and we’re very stoked to be partnering with Jamis.”
You could argue that neither of them are yet to hit the dizzy heights of pure success, but that’s not a decisive factor according to Jamis’s owner Carine Joannou: “Winning is great. But having athletes that feel like they are part of the family and want to perform their best for the brand is the most important thing. I couldn’t be happier they’ll be seeking out their adventure aboard Jamis bicycles.” For Jamis, the couple are in an ideal position to act as ambassadors for the brand’s message and help acquaint the US market with their brand new Defcon 1 enduro bike.
A crash course for late adopters?
It’s nothing new that the new year comes with a host of new sponsorship deals– except in this case. A family-run company set up in 1979 with their HQ in New Jersey, Jamis have never had a serious long-travel alternative so have therefore been an absent player from the world of enduro. The Defcon marks a turning point though, and this modern enduro bike is a legitimate piece of riding fun from Jamis, and it appears to be up to some aggressive trails.
But enduro riding didn’t become the go-to ride of choice just yesterday, so are Jamis trying to cut themselves a slice of the cake? Pretty understandable if so; after all, enduro embodies the very essence of mountain biking for so many of us: shredding trails pumped full of adrenaline on bikes that can literally do anything. Consequently you can’t blame a brand for wanting to design their own all-rounder to get in on the action. However, Jamis’s Crachiola claims that they’ve long had the concept of an aggressive enduro bike in the pipeline, a bike that was originally intended for a 2015 launch but was postponed until now.
So you wonder whether Jamis have just signed Macky and Syd to help boost the profile of the Defcon as it hits the market? Not the case really, as even better results would make more leverage on the market. While the couple are both decent racers, it’s unlikely that they’ll be making waves in the EWS from one day to the next. Jamis have chosen the pair as ambassadors for numerous reasons, including the promising prospect of a long-term partnership with two super cool athletes. For Jamis, as Sal Cachiola explains, they’re after chemistry between the brand and its athletes: “When we were discussing sponsorship opportunities in enduro and speaking with athletes, it was Macky and Syd that just clicked with us. Their passion and story mirror what we strive for at Jamis every day. So we’re thrilled to welcome them into the Jamis family.”
It’s refreshing to see personality triumph over performance in today’s society; shelves full of trophies will only get an ambassador’s brand message so far. At enduro races it’s basically obligatory to chat humbly with fans and emitting even an ounce of arrogance won’t go down well. Given that as consumers we’re increasingly more discerning when it comes to marketing, there are only very few riders who can really inspire us. Those at the top have such a vastly different capacity for performance, and put time into training that doesn’t even exist for the majority of us. We might base bike decisions on what they ride – if it can survive a tough-as-nails enduro race then we know it’s made of good stuff. And, sure, we’ll admire their performances – but we won’t necessarily want to go anywhere near their strict lifestyles.
On the competitive enduro scene Macky and Syd are an exception in their joint role as a couple leading a super cool life that so many of us secretly dream of. Once their van is packed up, they drive from race to race across the states, living a hard life on the road, pulling into roadside campsites or decamping in the middle of the American wilderness. For them, it’s a life packed with adventure and exciting stories – but it needs constant motivation, discipline and the sense that they’re in it together. If any of us wanted to emulate their life on the road, we could give it a go – provided we thought our other half could take it, be it just a few weekends a year for the 2016 race season. This, my friends, is true inspiration – give it a try!
Winning races is naturally something to be stoked about – but racing isn’t everything. See it as being part of something bigger, see it as the mountain biking way of life. These are valid aspects that consumers and brands should support and foster. It’s amazing to see that brands like Jamis still exist, to see a brand that isn’t just scouring results for the top three names in order to promote their products. Let’s not forget that enduro isn’t Formula One, and that winning isn’t everything.
Text and photos: Steffen Gronegger
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