Interview with Chris Harrison and Alex Liiv on the latest product drop from Australian BMX legends Tempered Goods.
With a focus on attention to detail and design aesthetics, Tempered has built a reputation around finesse and functionality. Combined with a truly DIY ethos and a never say die attitude, the brand approaches 20 years of existence with a heady sense of purpose and a crew of spirited loyalists.
Through rugged times, yet unperturbed in positively growing the BMX community, the brand has emerged with a new self-titled collection labelled the 'The Wrath' and 'The Ritual'. As another notch in the brands belt, this could be the best range yet, including two new Frames, Bars, Stems, Sprockets and some of the most aesthetically pleasing Seats (and Seat Post) around. As described by the brand, this latest collection is by the riders, for the riders and aims to harness the aggressive wrath of street riding and the ceremonial rituals of deep ends and doubles. An ominous admission.
Tempered was, is and continues to be, rider owned and run. At LUXBMX, we share similar values and are equally passionate about growing the Australian BMX scene. It should not come as a surprise that we recently reached out to the key personnel behind Tempered to find out what went into creating the latest product drop as well as what’s to come for the brand. Perhaps uniquely, the following interview offers a dual perspective from both the brands owner (Chris Harrison) and design lead (Alex Liiv), each long time Tempered heads dedicated to the cause.
Take a read as we get into the mindset of an Australian-owned BMX brand and make sure to check out the full range before it’s gone. You can find the new Tempered collection on the LUXBMX online store right now.
Raph Jeroma-Williams downside pegs in Berlin. Photo by Moritz Nussbaumer
It must feel good to have this released into the world, can you talk about what it means to see the range in the light of day and the process to get it done?
AL. Absolutely, we are thrilled to see our new TMPRD drop finally released into the world. It's been a long time in the making, with the process starting almost four years ago in 2019. We gathered input from team dudes on new frame designs and other products, and then worked with Jimmy the machinist to draw up the designs.
CH. The journey to bring the new product range to life has been a challenging one, with the world facing pandemics and hurdles that have affected production times and created shortages of raw materials. Despite these challenges, we have worked hard to ensure that the products remain current and relevant to our customers. It's been a long process. That said, we are proud of the end result and stoked to have it finally hit the stores & get it to the crew that make this flame into a fire, i.e. the public. It's all for the riders.
A completed warrior, a Ritual build
Ryan 'Chowgy' Saville - booter nosedive to the moon
As you mentioned, COVID has exposed the vulnerabilty of supply chains as well as significantly increasing the cost of materials and labour. From a manufacturing perspective, perhaps you could explain the challenges of getting products out of vendors in Taiwan and delivered to the Triple 6 door?
AL. Bloody oath! TMPRD had loads of challenges due to COVID. From what I understand, sales of outdoor activities such as BMX bikes and parts spiked, whilst at the same time delays in production and delivery times kept increasing, creating a perfect shit storm. Manufacturing times went from a handful of months to a handful of years almost over night. Stoked to get through it, have the gear here and people are stoked.
CH. Creation of this range was not without its obstacles. The rising cost of raw materials, combined with exorbitant shipping fees for overseas deliveries, proved to be a significant challenge. To make matters worse, the conflict in Ukraine also played a role in driving up costs. Overall, bringing this range to fruition was far from a smooth process. Many late nights were spent discussing and strategising to overcome the hurdles to bring everything together.
Right from the early days of TMPRD, the brand has been built around aesthetics - a theme which is still continued through this drop. Can you explain how aesthetics feeds into the philosophy of the brand and more specifically, how it was employed in the design and delivery of the new products?
AL. With The Wrath and The Ritual collection, we reevaluated most of the products aesthetics, to blend functionality with essential style, ensuring that our products look great but also can stand the test of time. We went back and forth refining things, simpler is better. We also worked closely with our team riders, behind the scenes crew and Jimmy the machinist (our CAD mastermind), to create a range of products that ticked all the boxes.
CH. I guess our fundamental objective has always been to create beautiful and functional products. We strive to incorporate the principles of aesthetics into every aspect of our brand. Our vision has always been to infuse art / music and what we all find interesting and inspiring in life to reflect into our products, and this has become an integral part of our approach to designing and developing each new range.
The new Ritual sprocket adorning its rightful place on a Ritual build
Wrath front load stem in close up, showroom glory
Speaking of aesthetics, I noticed straight away that the new products come in some killer new colours (mushroom and mauve), include a railed green corduroy seat (and a garden of eden print) as well as a revised stem design that is a homage to the classic 'bones' stem. There is a distinct 'atmosphere' to the TMPRD branding, inherent to this drop. Can you talk to the influences that inform the thinking behind product design and presentation?
AL. At TMPRD, we believe that product design and presentation are integral parts of the brand's identity. We wanted to pay homage to our classic BMX designs and incorporate them into our products in a modern way. For example, the "bones" stem is an iconic design in TMPRD’s history, and we felt it was important to honour that legacy by incorporating it into the new stem, whilst keeping the latest design as simple and clean.
CH. Aesthetics and atmosphere have developed naturally and have become integral to the brand's identity. Our aim has always been to create products that are both functional and visually striking, incorporating elements from both past and present BMX parts. We are inspired by how riders are currently using these parts in the sport, and strive to infuse each range with a sense of fun and creativity.
'Garden of Eden' print on the pivotal seat
70s inspired corduroy cut on the new railed seat
The short brief in the lookbook speaks concisely and effectively to the driving force around the new (and re-designed) products, "from the aggressive wrath of street riding and the ceremonial rituals of deep ends and doubles...". A lot of brands in the market tend to focus on one or the other, i.e. street or trails. What insights can you offer as to the current BMX market and why TMPRD are focussed on this particular route?
AL. We didn’t want to create or market the perfect all-rounder product, we felt that would have spoken to no one in particular. We felt it important to connect with a secretive audience more directly. We talked with our team to see what they wanted, looked at industry trends and niches within BMX, and chose to go in directions we felt strongest about. In saying that though, our products can be used for just about any riding style, it all depends on any given riders wants and needs.
CH. TMPRD is primarily a BMX brand, and we take pride in our team, which is a diverse group of riders who excel at street and trail riding. We draw inspiration from their riding styles and needs to create a range of products that all team members can use and excel with. Our goal is to offer parts that are functional and can be used across different disciplines within BMX.
Mushroom Ritual frame
Mauve Wrath frame
TMPRD presents to the community with an active team, regular product drops over the last 5 years and a growing social media presence. However, the brains and management of the brand is less visible. I can recount many times when I've mentioned that Alex Liiv is deeply involved with TMPRD and often receive surprise and shock in response. Would you mind explaining who is involved with TMPRD behind the scenes and the approach around being essentially faceless?
AL. I guess we believe that the products and team should speak for themselves, rather than focusing on individual personalities. Our team and management work collaboratively to bring the brand's vision to life and grow our community. We prefer to keep the focus on the brand and its mission rather than on us individually as people. We believe that this approach allows us to stay true to our core values and build a brand that is sustainable and enduring, not about personality hype. All the dudes involved have made TMPRD what it is today, and we wanna keep it that way.
CH. Haha the secret’s in the sauce. Nah, Liiv is amazing! TMPRD is so lucky to have had him become a backbone to the brand. That said, we try operate as a collective where everyone, whether a team rider or a member of the backend, plays a vital role in shaping and evolving the brand. There is no one single person driving the ship. This approach adds to the mystique of the brand and reinforces our ethos of collaboration and community. For example, we have had a couple crew give us feedback on the frames so we are now developing them to tailor around the modern day street rider.
Speaking of behind the scenes, I've noticed a recent partnership between TMPRD and Rob from Tempest Bicycles - a bicycle store based in the Hunter Valley. I understand Rob is a machinist (alongside running the retail side of the store) and is working with the brand to produce custom made frames. Care to elaborate on this setup?
AL. We're hyped to work with Rob from Tempest Bicycles on our Australian made frames. Rob is an experienced bicycle welder who has been producing high-quality frames for many years, he does a killer job and is a dream to work with. He's also a passionate BMX rider and shares our vision for DIY BMX. The partnership with Rob allows us to offer unique, Aus-built frames to our customers. We work closely to ensure that the geometry and craftsmanship of the frames are dialled. This level of authenticity is something that we believe sets us apart from other BMX brands and helps us to stand out in the Australian market.
Raph Jeroma-Williams ice 180 in suburban Berlin
West Oz lord Jake Corless with a classy curved wall to manual 180
Now that the new products have been released, what is next for the brand, both from a product and team perspective?
AL. The short answer is just get through the next little bit, get it into shops and crew riding it! But we are always thinking about the future and what’s next. We are always looking for opportunities to expand and work on new ideas and with riders who share this same DIY mindset as we do. Overall, we are excited for what the future holds for TMPRD and BMX as a whole. Thanks to all those who support Aus BMX!
CH. Super keen to focus more on developing the Australian made side of the brand. We are currently working on adding to this range and will be sharing updates and more information in the coming months. Australian made products are a massive project that requires proper development and execution, so we are taking the time to ensure everything is done correctly. There are some super cool projects in the pipeline for this side of the brand. Stay tuned for more updates!
Shouts to Chris and Alex at Tempered Goods for offering their time to create this piece.