One of the best things about having a bike company is being able to help out riders that might never get the opportunity. South Africa’s, Stephen Savage is a perfect example of this. He’s an amazing rider with a style that isn’t learnable, it just is with him. Sunday has been lucky enough to be able to help him out over the past few years. He took this opportunity to do this 1 part interview with us about riding and South Africa. Photos by Eric Palmer. Check out his website/blog HERE!
What’s your full name?
Stephen Frederick Savage
Where are you from?
I was born in Cape Town, and grew up in George, South Africa
Where do you live now?
In Cape Town
How did you get started riding?
My first memory of bmx was chasing my brother and his friends up the road. they were big into bmx and i just wanted to hang with them because they were amazing to me and i obviously wanted to be just like them. i could never keep up though haha! And then when I was about 15 or 16, I got out my brothers old bike and started again and haven’t stopped.
What was your first bike?
A cromed out old Mongoose! I loved that thing. we couldnt really get parts or anything like that at the time, so I got my dad to make me pegs, and I bent the dropouts and had to replace the 10mm axles at least once a week. That frame is completely bent and cracked right through, but I still have it and will hang it on my wall one day!
BMX has basically been around since the late 1970s here in the US, is it the same way in South Africa? If not then when do you think BMX got popular there? Who were the old guys back in the day?
My boss is super old school and he says its started in 1980 about, obviously with racing. They killed it back then and had USA pros come out here and we beat them proper! He has photos with Charles Townsend.
What’s the best thing about South Africa?
There are so many good things. Probably the cultural diversity of South Africa, I mean, we have 11 national languages. So you are bound to meet interesting people and its beautiful here! Cape Town especially! A city around a mountain, its epic! Not to mention summer time here is perfect!
What’s bad about South Africa?
I guess the fact that its a 3rd world country…theres still alot of poverty. The government is struggling to deal with it and is still corrupt in many places. With poverty comes crime and people living on the street and all that. I know its worse in other parts of the world, but South Africa has such potential. It’s fighting so hard to get out of it, but gets dragged down by people making the wrong decisions.
What’s something people might not know about South Africa?
We have the highest bungi jump in the world! 216meters! (708feet!)
So the bungi jump is 708 feet? As in that’s how high it is? Have you ever done it?
That’s how long you freefall for! It’s nuts! It’s a crazy tourist attraction, so its really expensive. I haven’t done it. but i want to:)
How’s the riding scene?
Small, almost everyone knows everyone, but its getting to that point where there’s more riders. I start seeing a lot more new faces, and the kids are dialed!
Is it mostly street riders?
Definitely not. There is a good mix of every riding style in SA. There are a bunch of parks popping up all over and trails too. But I must say we have sick street, you just gotta be down for the mission!
Are there a lot of skateboarders there? What’s the vibe like?
Yeah there’s a good skate scene. There will always be 1 or 2 that cause hassles, but whatever. For the most part they are cool. The Cape Town skaters are down for anything, I like ’em.
Isn’t there one of those theme park wave pool things that you can surf in South Africa?
Yeah, the wave house in Durban. It’s at a big mall and has an awesome skatepark/snake run/spine-mini/kidney bowl.
What’s with that old skatepark snake run thing with the big quarterpipe at the end? Where is that?
Germiston bowl in Johannesburg. That place is iconic! Brad Simms went so f-ing high out of that thing. I would love to see someone beat his air!!!
Is it wild to think that a street rider like Brad Simms can air so high on ramps?
Brad Simms can do what every the hell he wants to! Hahaha! That guy is one of the craziest and funniest people I’ve ever met. Come back to SA Brad!
Are there any flatlanders there?
Yeah there’s a good crew of guys.
I’m going to make a generalization that might get me in trouble, but in the US the big trick right now is no handers down stairs. Last year it was Luc-e grinds. What are some of the big or trendy tricks going on in South Africa?
I wouldnt know… Hahaha. I think the footjam whip is still lingering! HAHA. No I feel like kids in SA just do their own thing for the most part. There will always be tricks that are more popular than others though, but i feel like kids here learn tricks with their friends, so different groups of friends are into different tricks…does that make sense?
You told me that you don’t get Ride BMX in South Africa? What magazines and media do you have there?
None…haha. The internet?? I guess. We don’t get magazines and if we do, they are probably 2 months old. Internet is taking over the planet.
What was it like being in Ride for the first time?
EPIC! I was so amped! getting to shoot with Jeff Z was a dream! I wish I could of hung with him for longer and shot more.
Look for the 2nd part of Stephen’s interview tomorrow!