The Friday Interview: Mike Hammond of Diamondback

A bit back, I had the pleasure of dealing with Mike Hammond of Diamondback for the first time at my job here at Ride. I’d certainly heard the name before, and had built a profile of him as being a committed, hard working rider at the helm of the Diamondback BMX program. We worked together to get Diogo Canina’s latest video as an exclusive on, and after a bit of conversation and recollection on stories I’d heard traveling around the States, I hit Mike up to see if he’d be down to set the record straight and tell the BMX world what the Diamondback program is really all about.

I’d heard a few stories from various sets of trails in various regions of the country about Hammond and Diamondback’s good deeds at various sets of trails and was very impressed. Riding trails has gained a bit more popularity in the past couple of years and more and more people are starting to come out to the woods, whether it’s a regular, everyday rider or a big name pro. The experience of non-locals at trails spots can easily turn into an unpleasant one, but from all accounts, Hammond the his DB team keep their reputation proper when traveling around the globe and visiting sets of trails outside of the Northwest.

Diamondback has a huge history in BMX and to this day, still maintain the reputation of being a more regionally based brand with a solid reputation in their area. It’s always good to see a non-rider owned brand realize the hard work and dedication of the riders that work for the brand and even better to see a local scene recognize it and support.  Read on to get the low down on the Northwest-centric Diamondback program and the man with the plan, Mike Hammond.

I guess we should start at the basics of Diamondback as a company. Besides BMX, what types of bicycles does Diamondback produce? Are they solely a bicycle manufacturer?
We build a bike for just about every type of rider, from 12 inch sidewalk bikes to downhill bikes to road bikes and everything in between.

What exactly do you do for Diamondback, and what is your history in BMX?
Technically, I am the Brand Manager for DB Youth Product. I am the Product, Marketing and Team Manager for DB BMX. We have a great support team in-house that allows for me to this.

The short and sweet parts!I grew up in Florida and started racing at 8 or 9. I kept with it made it to the AA Pro ranks. Started working in shops in my teens, moved over to Profile Racing where I was introduced to the other side; the bike industry. After a few knee injuries I made the decision to work instead of race. I never stop riding and lucky for me, Central Skate Park in Clearwater opened up and totally re-invigorated my love for riding. After a life in Florida it was time to go. I actually picked the northwest because I had never been here and there were some bike companies here. Here I am working for the DB, one the oldest names in the business.

Let’s talk about the BMX program. You guys support a fair amount of local riders (Darin Read, Ben Hucke, etc.) but also support well known riders from outside of the region. Is that a goal of the program, to support at least a few local guys making it on a larger level?
We have always tried to support our local scene and riders. When doing that you always hope to find some riders that want to take it to the next level. The list of riders that have been on a DB frame before getting picked up by another company around here is a good one.

Darin Read's Weekend Wallpaper. Photo: Mulligan (Right click and save to get this on your desktop)

Do you have a short list of riders who have ridden for Diamondback’s BMX team through the years?
Wow, that list is really crazy, I am gonna just start naming names. Harry Leary, Eddie King, Mike Dominguez, Charles Townsend, Matt Hadan, Bruce Crisman, Warwick Stevenson, and so many many more. Thanks to any and all who have ever worn the DB logo!

Do you have a lot of regional support from local riders?
We do, I try my best to keep any of the local NW rippers on their bikes no matter what frame they are riding. The list of non-spnosred guys that have ridden a DB for one reason or another is pretty amazing too.

You guys recently picked up Ben Hucke, who is from the Northwest and has been killing it for years. How did he end up being a part of the program-was did his Northwest roots have anything to do with it?
Well actually, I felt we were out of balance. Our team was little heavy on contest riders. I had ben talking with Ben for a few years about DB actually and it just seemed like the time was right for him and us. Being in Portland is just a huge bonus for me.

Huge moves like this double kinker in Russia earned Ben Hucke a spot on the locally based Diamondback BMX program. Photo: Fudger

When does his signature frame from DB come out and what can you tell us about it?
Ben’s frame is scheduled for late summer. We had hoped for late July but we slowed it down just a bit to make sure he is totally happy with it.

You guys support a number of dedicated trail riders and have earned reputations for treating spots well on roadtrips by buying beer, throwing shovels, etc. Is this something that stems from a solid trail scene in the Northwest? How do you balance out the “business” side of things as far as filming and shooting photos go, and having respect for the locals and their hard work?
Wow, so many reasons really…the easy answer is yes! We have one of the best trail scenes in the world going on up here. So when we go somewhere it’s important for me to leave a good impression not only for Diamondback but for the northwest trails scene too. As to shooting video and pics, well you just never know if the dudes who run the spot doesn’t want you to shoot-then don’t-but don’t just run and hide. Why is it okay to say “No dig, No Ride” but asking a guy who is only there video to dig or carry water is wrong? Obviously though, if you’re from out of town on a riding trip the only thing you really have to do is bring beer! And not just for yourself…seriously!

What are some of your favorite spots around the Northwest to ride-trails and not?
Currently Lynnwood, BlackDiamond in Port Angeles, Solame, GJ’s and for parks they are all so good, really. I mean compared to when I grew up…Fennwick is small but seriously the best park ever and only five minutes from Diamondback headquarters...Get at me for lunch time sesh, ha ha!

Diamondback’s 2011 Trails Mix, shot at Lynnwood, Washington.

Diogo Canina has been one of Diamondback’s premiere riders for a while now. How did Diogo come into the fold at Diamondback and what has it been like having him as a part of the team?
I have to give credit to Trevor Knesal on this one. Trev was the marketing guy back then and lured Joe to us just a few years before the X-games medal..It’s great to have Joe on the team, his energy is amazing and commitment to having fun on his bike is refreshing. Over the past few years his English has gotten really good and his personality comes out more and more all the time.

Diogo’s 2012 video for Diamondback that appeared as a exclusive.

Do you guys do many team trips or smaller, individual ones? Any particular reason why in either case?
We have big 2013 Bike Launch we are doing at the UP Skate Park in Tacoma, WA on July 6. This is the first time we have done something like this so I am really excited about it. We are bringing in the whole team and doing a northwest mini tour afterwards…then shipping Diogo and Rob off to Germany for the worlds.

Nice. Do you have any stops planned, or are you guys just going to wing it?
We are gonna wing it and do it BMX style…just let it happen!

What’s happening with the BMX program in 2013 product-wise?
We have great line coming down the pipes with refined geometry on all the complete models. We’ve been working on a new crank and it’s very close to completion.

Northwest ripper Darin Read has been a loyal member of the Diamondback BMX program for many years now. Photo: Fudger

Are there any common misconceptions about the Diamondback program?
I am sure there are, I think a few are (based solely on internet comments) is that we are this huge company and pay riders lots of money…

Any last words, thanks, etc?
If you got this far... thanks! Now turn of the computer or phone and go ride your bike!

If you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out Diamondback’s 2013 Product Launch Jam at the University Place Skatepark in Tacoma, Washington this Saturday, July 7th.