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Shooting The Breeze: With Scott Shepherd of BMXI

Intro and interview by Mike V, photos contributed by Janene/Scott at BMXI

I'm sitting here letting my mind wander as to how to write an introduction for this piece.

Most obviously, I'd outline the momentous history associated with BMX International (BMXI), the countries longest running and largest distributor of BMX bikes and parts, and talk to the endless milestones in which current owner, Scott Shepherd (alongside his sister Debbie and father Blair) have forged. I'd talk about how Blair (motivated by the passion and love for BMX of his then teenage son Scott) was pivotal in manufacturing what we now enjoy today as a flourishing BMX scene in both Brisbane and throughout wider Australia. I'd talk about how BMXI have remained robust, adaptable and forward-thinking over more than 4 decades, to continue to grow and subsequently exist as a powerhouse in the Australian BMX industry. 

I won't though. Others have already covered this, in a more detailed and accurate way. I will however narrow in what stands out from my perspective, as one of the key pillars to the success of BMXI, longevity. 

A concept which is of value to how I view the world, it speaks to a broader set of principles to the effect of patience, commitment and resolve. It requires forward planning, devotion and ingenuity and is presently under siege from the forces of modern society and its bias to short-termism, instantaneous interactions and convenience. That BMXI has remained as a family run business since 1978, continued to grow (now distributing the worlds best BMX brands) and has been run by a series of core staff over its modern years says all you need without having to utter 'longevity'. 

Actions over words! 

This goes a long way to telling me what I need to know, that BMXI is fuelled by pure and raw BMX passion and moreover, that they are professionals with a vision for bigger and better things. That, ladies and gentleman, is the kind of operation that you want to support and see succeed. 

To more deeply uncover the operation at BMXI, I got in touch with one of the head honchos, Scott Shepherd, to work out why he remains so invested in BMX, how things run at BMXI and where the business is heading. 

For the BMX nerds out there, read on and enjoy some industry chat! 

The OGs and BMXI stalwarts! From left to right, Blair Shepherd, Bill De Maid and Scott Shepherd - 2018

You mentioned recently that you travelled to the BMX National Titles down in Shepparton. With your extensive history in BMX, it's pretty cool to hear that you're still involved beyond a strictly work setting through BMXI. How was your week away and what are your reflections from a 2023 BMX racing event?

Travelling our nation and even internationally, is one of the lurks and perks of the job. I get to see our beautiful country, meet many amazing people because of our dealer network and of course, see the crème of BMX racing. 

We at BMXI have several teams spread throughout the nation, so heading off to Shepparton was a great way to catch up with all the riders who represent our brands, the parents, team managers and shop owners. Never a dull moment for me down there. I’m an EX BMXer from way back so it is in my blood. I still enjoy seeing the racing and getting caught up in the atmosphere that BMX racing generates. It is a sport of highs and lows, but in the end, it is great entertainment and a positive outlet to keep our youth fit and healthy and motivated. 

Touching on your comments about being at Shepparton and the feeling you (continue to) get from racing, I wondered if you'd care to comment on your sustained attraction to BMX, in that it is somewhat rare for a person to remain engaged in a single activity/sport/hobby for such a long time. What keeps you coming back for more?

Whatever sport you grow up with, it can flow through your veins for life. Bill ran our race teams for the years he was here, so I did not see a race for many years. Now that I am helping out our team riders, I have been attending meetings again and it has rekindled that old energy I had when I was a kid. 

I would love nothing more than to see our riders get to represent us and our country internationally like Sam did for us. It makes you proud to know you had a small part to play in their success. That is what drives me, alongside just helping out all our other riders who have a smile from ear to ear after their race.

Scott with Redline legend and inspirational figure, Sam Willoughby
Giving back to the race scene, the BMXI sponsored Sam Willoughby Medallist from 2020 - Tom Tucker (centre) with Wade Bootes and Scott

I'll look to explain as best as I can, your background and the context in which you exist in the BMX world, but for the uninitiated (noting a generally younger male audience), can you detail the key moments and milestones from your past to now? 

Our key moments are probably associated with firstly the Windsor BMX Track, and then our warehouse moves. We hosted a couple of big international races there in the early 80’s, which are well documented. The Windsor Track was the premier track until the 90’s when it was bulldozed for the spaghetti freeway system of the Clem 7/Airport Link tunnel. 

BMXI (known back then as BMX Promotions) had its early beginnings firstly as a Pro Shop at the track, then Horrace St Windsor, then Lutwyche Rd Windsor, then Montpellier Rd Fortitude Valley, then Earle St Windsor, then Geebung and finally our current location, Virginia. Each move saw the business grow and increase our floor space.

Scott (right) with Mongoose warehouse manager at the Mongoose factory in 1977
The above mentioned Windsor BMX track, taken in 1978
Scott and mates at the Windsor BMX track

As a small, family owned business, it strikes me as a significant achievement to have not only remained active, but to have grown and remained relevant over 4 decades. Are you able to offer your thoughts as to why BMXI has lasted the test of time? Pretty cool to note the loyalty of your staff, including your wife and sister, with decades of service. This must surely be a clue as to your forthcoming response. 

We are a family-owned business for sure, but we have an extended family as well. Every employer becomes part of this culture from the start and it creates a great work environment. 

Bill DeMaid was with us for 39 years, Dave Fuller 20 years and Kylie also 20 years, so we hold onto our staff well. The respect goes both ways, we appreciate that without good staff BMXI wouldn’t be the business it is today. Working at BMXI is fun, yet challenging at times which our staff deal with exceptionally well. Currently our extended BMXI family includes dedicated staff Kev (20 years), Michael (18 years), Johnny (4 years) and Dave (2 years) and the new girl on the block is Yvonne.


To stay in business for as long as we have, watching all others fall or fade away, we have had to change with the times. Janene and Kylie were instrumental in this with all the IT and website procedures. I take no credit for any of that, but work off the back end of that great platform they set.

To most of our audience, and despite you being an OG Brisbane BMXer, your name would be unfamiliar. What does it feel like to have been there literally at the start of BMX in Brisbane, to observing it now? 

I don’t expect anyone under 40 to understand those early days, because it is just so unique. I’m talking about starting in the late 70’s when petrol was 14cents per litre, a Big Mac was 75c, a brand-new Yamaha YZ80 was $275 and so on. There was no internet, iPhone, 24-hour servo’s or bar codes. Not even credit cards!!! But we survived and had so much fun because we had no distractions. We could do what we wanted without social media crippling us afterwards. 

So, BMX back then was riding because you enjoyed it. You didn’t think of sponsorships, media talks, tyre pressures or even diet – just fun. That’s the era I grew up in. So, from those raw days, it has been a steady progression up until now to the sport we love today. It is no better or worse today, it is just totally different.

On your comment about BMX not being better or worse in 2023, I truly believe that even with the extent of distractions you mentioned, that 'spirit' through which riders get drawn into, still exists. You can see it and feel it with some people, you just know that it's all they think about, the thing that supplies their being with a deep sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and downright happiness. From my point of view, I believe that this comes from a primal desire for connection and community, which BMX serves up in generous quantities. I'm wondering what you think about this?

Yes, riders are “in the moment” with BMX, that’s for sure. There are a handful of riders that stay with the sport forever, but like all sports, many just come and go. It is easy for me, as BMX has been my life for over 50 years now (if you count dragsters) between riding, racing and business. 

Many come in with the desire to change the world, only to burn out and leave the sport. On the other hand, if you get tainted with that special brush, you are drawn into the vortex of being a BMX lifer and that is hard to shake. It seems to be a two wheeled thing as Motorbike riders have a similar attraction as well.

The BMXI crew, Friday lunch with Scott's father Blair (striped shirt at the back) and wife, Merle (head of the table)
A semi full of stock, unloading at the Virginia warehouse location

"A 14-year-old Brisbane boy could be responsible for a brand new craze - bicycle moto cross"

Isn't this wild! I just love knowing that this is essentially the moment that BMX became a thing in Brisbane, the city we now call home and in which BMX thrives. 

The term 'BMX lifer' gets thrown around here and there. It (colloquially) describes someone who transcends time, external responsibilities, eras, fads etc. to continue to be driven by a passion for bikes and BMX. Would you consider yourself a BMX lifer?

I’m a BMX lifer and a Motocross lifer for sure. Even though I have gravitated to mountain bikes, that’s just an age and comfort thing. I am not as die hard, as some of the retro followers are, but I do like the sport and what it brings to young riders, regarding fitness, motor skills, diet and commitment. I think I will enjoy watching and riding until the day I see the roots and not the petals.

Would you mind running through a typical work day and describe some of the challenges you're presented with as well as what drives you to keep on keepin' on with the BMX distribution scene? 

From my side of the fence, there is no typical day. I wear many hats at BMXI, as we are a small family business, so anything from sales, purchasing, race and freestyle team support, stock control, making coffee, cleaning dishes – I dabble in it all. 

Of course, this is not a one man show by any means. Most of my staff, if not all of my staff, can do the same thing, so in effect, I can walk out of here for a week and the business just keeps ticking over like I was never needed. I have a great team, headed by my wife Janene, and sister Deb, who try to make me look good by fixing up all my stuffups!

Most of my days sort of start similar. I ride to work (most of our staff cycle regularly) , Have a shower, Michael has a coffee on my desk and a Staminade beside it. I then spend the next few hours on emails and as the day progresses, this is when the variety of chores differ. Many things drive me as I am a very self-motivated person, so if things get a little mundane, I change it up another gear.

Less a question, more of a comment; awesome to hear you ride to work everyday. Live what you preach type thing. I used to live close to my workplace, in Maroochydore, and had the pleasure of being able to ride to work, it was amazing. Not so easy at present unfortunately. Must be such a great way to start your day, keeping you present and motivated.

Motivation is the key. I can’t wait to get out of bed each and every day and one of the things I look forward to is the trip to work. I run or ride almost every day and get to work refreshed and feeling 20 years younger. We encourage all our staff to do this. 

Earlier this year (2023) 8 of our 10 staff (and Mitch from LUX) rode in the 'Brissie to Bay' ride to raise funds for MS. It is part of our passion for giving back and it created just another bond between our staff. I still ride my Redline Conquest Disc R bike which is probably 30 years old now!

Scott (left) with his trusty Redline 'Disc R', Dave Dillewaard, Kev Craft and Johnny Bonnar, the MS 'Brissy to the Bay' ride

"You can be competitive and shoot for Olympic or X Games glory, or just bum around in the streets in front of your house. I really don’t know any other sport like it. Thats what makes BMX – BMX."

Scott, Dave Dillewaard and Johnny Bonnar enjoying the Hall of Fame annual dinner

BMXI must be easily the biggest BMX distributor in warehouse, with a huge suite of the most respectable and progressive brands. This then brings about a situation in which you're inevitably dealing with bikers who ride for all these various brands like Jake Norris and Jon Mackellar. What's your take on the crew who ride flow for the brands under the BMXI umbrella?

We can’t take too much credit for the freestyle riders we have representing our brands. We firmly believe in our supportive bike shops to hand pick the most suitable riders to represent our brands. We help in excess of 50 riders nationally, all to different levels and I cannot handle that and run a business. So, I rely on our shop owners to manage these riders for us and our brands. 

We are very proud of what our riders achieve in their careers and support them as much as we can. It is a fine balance as our business is not a bottomless pit, but we have to keep their bike performing well, so we appreciate our riders looking after their product and respecting its worth. 

With over 4 decades in the business, I'm interested to hear about some of the more 'famous' BMXers that may have come through the BMXI warehouse and/or met at trade shows, races etc? Can be from the early days to recent times, industry head (Moeller) to rider (Mirra) to racer (Stu Thomsen).

I have been blessed with meeting most industry leaders. Some lesser known, but influential and some big names. I was blessed to meet those founders of the early days in the industry like Linn Kastan (Redline), Chuck Raudman (Skyway), Skip Hess (Mongoose), Chuck Hooper (Redline), both the Cook Brothers, Scott Breithaupt (SE Racing), Taka Nieda (Peregrine), Rennie Roker (Jag), plus many others. More recently, industry royalty like Richard Tang (Odyssey), Chris Moeller(S&M, FIT), Magoo (Snafu), gOrk (Redline) and Harry Schmid (WTP/Eclat/Radio).

We have a steady stream of BMX royalty visit us at BMXI headquarters from time to time and it is always a privilege to rub shoulders with icons of our sport. Of course, riders like Stu Thompson, John Crews, Perry Kramer, and many other BMX riders visited our shores and our shop in the early days. 

Australian riders which have had a huge role in shaping BMX include of course, Sam (Willoughby) who is a standout for me. Not only is he an Olympian and a medallist, but he is also one of the greatest ambassadors for BMX.

We have loved being involved with riders in their initial stages of their careers when they are showing their potential like Olympians Kamikaze, Saya Sakakibara, Logan Martin, Natalya Diehm and other stars like 9 times world champion Tom Tucker, current world champions Teya Rufus and Josh Jolly, Boyd Hilder, Lewis Mills and up and coming riders like Sarah Nicki. All these riders are fabulous Australian ambassadors for BMX.

Some of the freestyle bikers supported by BMXI. From left to right, Denby Chandler, Brock Olive, Jack and Norris. Some new and old LUXBMX crossovers in this one
What a moment! S&M owner and one of BMXs more legendary figures, Chris 'Maddog' Moeller (centre) with BMXI staff
Another legend, this time in the form of Australian (ex-Beenleigh) biker Ryan Guettler

Progression in product technology is a consistent driver of growth in BMX, with the most celebrated companies making this central to their business. I'm thinking, Odyssey, Eclat, S&M as some recent examples. From your perspective, what has been one of the most innovative products, perhaps something that has helped to shape BMX? 

No doubt there is one product that stands out from all others. The Skyway Tuff Wheel. Yes, we have had the tubular fork and cranks from Redline, the alloy frames from Race inc., carbon frames and parts, micro gearing, oversize steer tubes, pivotal seats, but nothing says BMX like a Tuff Wheel. Everyone knows them, even if they have had no background in BMX and whenever you see a Tuff Wheel, you just know it is a BMX bike. 

Odyssey have been very inventive and have led the way with BMX innovation overall, while Eclat/WTP have created a broader range to cover all aspects of BMX. Not forgetting Moellers S&M brand where he has stayed tied to his roots and avoided moving production to Asia and stayed planted in the Mighty USA. But visually, it is all about the Tuff Wheel.

Scott getting all sorts of radical, even before the Windsor track was built, early to mid 1970s

What is in store for BMXI in the short term, it would seem that there aren't any plans to slow down and given the integrity and support of your staff and family, the glue is strong to ensure a solid platform moving forward. What can you offer for the audience?

BMXI is committed to delivering what the BMX rider wants and needs. Short term, we have some exciting new brands coming later this year, but also will still carry the full range of products our existing suppliers provide. If we can keep our stock levels high, then shops like LUX can deliver product to their customers faster and cheaper than an overseas supplier. That in turn keeps the sport of BMX strong in this country. I have loyal staff behind me, so as I get older and fade, they can continue to deliver all the best products to the Australian BMX scene. BMXI is one of the most solid and trusted BMX Distributors globally and that is because of our commitment to the sport and the riders that enjoy it.


To close this out, I thought it might be interesting for you to share a story from your time in BMX that best represents the spirit or essence, of what makes BMX 'BMX'. 

Back in 1969 when I got my first Dragster, I took to the streets of Bulimba, where we lived, and rode, found gutters to jump, broke parts, rebuilt the bike with better parts, and converted it in a BMX type of way. Now its 2024 and kids are still doing the same thing – without the dragster of course. 54 years has not changed the DNA of BMX. It is just that. 

Getting out by yourself or with your besty, or with a whole hoard of BMXers, and just enjoying what is in front of you. You can be competitive and shoot for Olympic or X Games glory, or just bum around in the streets in front of your house. I really don’t know any other sport like it. Thats what makes BMX – BMX.