Few people have achieved pro status in both BMX and MTB. Steve Geall made a big impact to the early UK BMX vert scene, racking up top results in the King of Concrete series and Backyard Jams, as well as winning the BMX Worlds Ramp Champs in 1988. In the mid 90s he made the brave move to MTB and became an inspiration yet again, this time to big wheel riders, sparking the UK MTB trails and skatepark movement.
For many, including myself, the first time I saw Steve Geall was on Alex Rankin’s Sprung 4, throwing BMX style and tricks on 26’ wheels. He has ridden everything from vert to 4x to downhill, and even set up a frame company, G-Bikes.
Getabmx probed into his rich history in BMX and MTB and found out what has changed since he first dropped in.
Years riding: Since I could, about 3, maybe before!
Sponsor history: Haro, Animal/Orange, Giant, Spooky, Mongoose
Standard bike set-up: Normal
Day job: Mechanic in bike shop, gonebikingmad
Drink: Vodka n coke, Stella
Park or trails? Trails
Favourite trick? Its all about the tables
Riding style: Smooth as silk... haha
Airing in 1991
“At a BMX track there was a quarter, and I ended up missing my race because I was riding it so from then on I rode more ramps.”
Hi Steve, welcome to GetaBMX! How’s it going?
Very well thanks.
What are you up to these days?
Too much: working, riding MTB, BMX, cyclocross, motocross and DH love it all.
So, starting from the beginning, when and how did you get involved with bikes?
Through my dad John, its his fault. He made me my first bike, I raced for four years and the rest is history.
How influential was skateboarding and MX to BMX?
Loads to me, I used to watch all the vids, all the Bones skate vids. All the early MX ones used to make a massive influence on BMX and how we all used to ride back then.
What was riding like in the 80s/early 90s compared to today?
All the early comps and jams were so laid back. We had some rad stuff to ride back then; used to ride miles to ride a 4ft ramp that was super rough but these were the best times.
The scene back then was so good. The ramps were proper dodgy. We just rode concrete parks all day everyday, Slades Farm, Harrow, Romford, and of course Southsea. I stayed with Mark Likely throughout the whole 6 week summer holidays off school there, it was so much fun.
Wasn’t it mainly about racing at the time? How did you get into vert riding?
At a BMX track there was a quarter, and I ended up missing my race because I was riding it so from then on I rode more ramps. I got into vert from riding quarters all the time and found that I could air much higher than my mates so I just rode concrete bowls at Southsea and it just went from there.
Who did you usually ride with?
I rode with Dave Pitt, Andy Pope, Mike Nash, Geoff and Doug Cain, Darren Bailey, Steve Clark and Neil Hillyar most days. In Bristol I rode with Jason Davies, Browner, Ira , Mooner, Seb, and in Southsea Mark Likley, Carl, and the locals. There are so many more but they were the main ones.
How important was the King of Concrete series and the Backyard Jams in developing the UK BMX scene?
Massive. If it wasn't for them then I’m not sure where the scene would be today?
“There is more of a tense atmosphere now. When you went to a comp or jam you never used to get comped out at the park like you do now.”
What BMX videos have you featured in?
Not a lot really, Clicked.....yeah Steeev b
During the interview with The Boarding House it came up that BMX used to be much friendlier. What do you think?
There is more of a tense atmosphere now. When you went to a comp or jam you never used to get comped out at the park like you do now. Haha
Over the past two decades, what have been the main changes to the scene?
Has the internet had a good or bad affect on BMX?
Yes, all good as way more people can see stunts online now.
Would the sport be where it is today without Matt Hoffman?
Way smaller. Matt is a legend.
Being a rider who seems big on tricks, what was your response to this quote by Jonathan Williams: “I like style more than anything. problem is these days it seems like it's all about tricks. Someone doing a perfect table/invert on a BMX or a big whip on a MX bike is better than any trick in my eyes.”?
Yes john is correct, I would rather watch a big whip over a quadzillion tailwhip any day, filth.
In your eyes, who are the most stylish riders today?
Bezanson, Kriss Fox, Harry Main, Jamie Bestwick (still), theres so many.
Biggest moment in BMX history?
Mike spinner... Haha
Who is your favourite rider at the moment?
Kriss Fox (SE racing) is so good.
These days, how often do you ride BMX?
Weekends and evenings in summer.
Steve on the cover of Dirt, issue 28
“I got to my goal in BMX so I moved to MTB in 1994 cause I could do all my tricks on a MTB and everyone thought I was mad!”
When, and why, did you make the shift from BMX to MTB?
I got to my goal in BMX so I moved to MTB in 1994 cause I could do all my tricks on a MTB and everyone thought I was mad! I also tried XC but it wasn’t for me. I did some DH and liked it a lot. I had an amazing time racing DH and 4x around the world.
Didn’t this seem like a step back when BMX was really growing?
No, just the next step for me.
Did you find it difficult moving from a BMX to a big 26’ wheel MTB to ride jumps and park?
Yes, thats why I rode 24” MTB for a long time. 26” just seem to spin so slow.
How did people you knew from BMX react when they heard you took up MTB?
They gave me some shit, but I was getting paid to ride while they went to work.. Haha
Were you still riding BMX at the time?
How did you get involved with the Orange/Animal team?
Though riding with Steve Kitchin. He sorted all that out. The early days were good, but then I think Steve Kitchin saw pound signs!
At the time of the Sprung videos using a MTB for trails, street and skatepark riding was a relatively new phenomenon. Why do you think it became so popular?
I don’t know, maybe not everyone liked the way BMX was so twitchy. MTB was way more stable.
You were in some really good sections in Sprung 4, and it looked like a lot of fun. What was it like filming for Sprung?
Awful. Haha not really Alex, they were good times.
Do you have a favourite video?
Mad Matt, classic hands down.
You also featured regularly in magazines such as MBUK and Dirt. How important do you think magazines are to the sport, especially now in the Internet age?
Not as good as they used to be, no-one buys mags anymore.
Other big names in MTB included Chris Smith, Jim Davage, Steve Peat, Rob Warner and Ross Tricker. How well did you know them, and who did you usually ride MTB with?
Pretty well back in the day. I haven’t seen some for a while but I used to ride with them all really. Chris Smith I see pretty regularly. I kick his arse at DH a lot.
“I think its rad to see how good the pros are without brakes, amazing. But for kids who are shit, they lose 100% of their tricks by taking them off, then wonder why they nearly get killed on the way to the park!”
Back then the only way you could watch riding footage was through film. Do you think that the explosion of web edits has devalued the whole viewing experience, or do you think that this has had a positive impact to the sport?
Web edits get me amped. I love them.
How did you meet the Fielder brothers?
When I was riding at Buckland I saw them there loads. They were real nice kids back then who had all the new tricks.
What was it about them that caught your eye and made you think they would be successful?
Cause they did tricks that where new and they learnt fast.
This was when you set up G-bikes, making MTB frames for 24’ wheels. Did you see this (24’ wheel MTB’s) as the way forward?
At the time yes, but really 24’ MTB was a cruiser with suspension.
If G-bikes still existed, where would you have taken it? Did you have any big plans for major frame changes or component lines?
No not really if we had more money then maybe, but in reality the frames just got too expensive to make.
Coming from BMX, what do you think about negative attitudes from BMX riders towards people riding a MTB in skateparks, street and on trails?
Never really gave a shit personally, bikes a bike init.
Have you experiences this hostility when riding your MTB at a skatepark? How do you respond to it?
Yeah now and again, most of the time I just ballbag (comp out) the biggest show off at the park with a trick he’s just done but do it way better. Haha
Do you think that Slopestyle is sending the freestyle area of MTB in the right direction?
For sure its amazing.
Is there an up and coming rider you have your eye on?
Theres a few on MTB: Ryan Nangle and Marcel Hunt. They ride for Dartmoor bikes and they fucking shed. Proper rad to watch.
Having been involved in 4x during its early years, what was your reaction when the UCI announced it would stop hosting 4x?
I always thought 4x was a lot more exciting to watch than dual slalom. What was it like from a racers perspective?
4X is way more like BMX racing so there’s much more contact and it’s more fun than slalom.
“I’ve been riding Motocross again for about 3 years. I get that buzz again that makes me go a bit weird! Love it so much.”
Fondest riding memory?
Winning the BMX Worlds Ramp Champs In 88.
Funniest riding experience?
Every world cup DH I have done, they were laugh a minute.
Through riding you must have travelled a lot, what is your favourite country or place?
USA, Canada, but Italy is amazing.
When did you stop riding professionally?
What has been your worst injury?
Best spot you’ve ever ridden?
Peynier trails in france, they were so good.
Best Trails rider in the UK?
Lima (BMX), Jimmy Pratt (MTB)
With the level of progression in both MTB and BMX, do you think that it is harder to become a pro rider now than say, ten years ago?
Bloody hell yeah!
What have been the biggest product advancements?
Full suspension bikes for sure, they ride so much better now.
Worst part ever made?
Open balled 9 and 10t cassette hubs... shocking!
What do you think about brakeless, and other fashions in BMX and MTB?
I think its rad to see how good the pros are without brakes, amazing.
But for kids who are shit, they lose 100% of their tricks by taking them off, then wonder why they nearly get killed on the way to the park!
These days, what do you mainly ride?
Jumpbike and MX at the mo really
Having ridden everything from BMX vert to DH, what do you enjoy the most?
I love riding everything.
How do you think bikes will change in the future?
More carbon fibre, electronic gears on MTB, and BMX frames not looking like scooters?
Fast forward 10 years. What’s happening in the BMX and MTB world?
I will be still riding, you probably wont be able to ride off road anymore, and you wont have to leave the house cause you will have online cyber skate parks.
What other interests do you have?
I’ve been riding Motocross again for about 3 years. I get that buzz again that makes me go a bit weird! Love it so much.
Who would you like to be remembered as?
Down to earth, piss taking weirdo. Haha
Who inspired you when you started riding BMX?
Mike Domingeuz, Brian Blyther, Hoffman, Todd Anderson, Craig Campbell etc.
HP street (Pinkbike user)
What was your first ‘proper’ bike? Patterson PR 200 that bike ruled. (BMX)
Being one of the first MTB dirt jumpers, how does it feel to have inspired so many riders to get into the trails scene?
I’m just a guy who rides a bike. Yeah it's cool that I’ve inspired people to get to the trails, but I don’t see myself as anyone different to the next rider, maybe thats where I went wrong! Ha.
Do you look at modern trails/ park 24’ MTBs and think ‘I wish I had one of those back then’?
Do you ride a skatepark or set of trails in a different style depending on whether you’re on a BMX or MTB?
Not really. You need to pick different lines and stuff in a park on MTB due to wheel size but its never made me change style.
Did you ride MTB in your early BMX days?
Not in the early days, I just rode my BMX bloody far, everyday.
Jonathan WIlliams (direct quote)
He's a fookin legend and seems to have been around forever. What's his secret and how is the old age affecting him?
I think the secret is just to keep riding. If you stop you forget, but if you keep riding you remember. Old age is just a number. John you should know that, haha. To be honest I think I’m getting younger?
Thanks a lot for your time in answering all these questions! Anything else you would like to add? Any shout outs?
Not really, everyone knows who helped me along the way, some more than others. Thanks for wasting your time reading this. See you soon at the trails :-)