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NIGEL SYLVESTER: Fresh & Clean

One of the most celebrated extreme BMX bikers in the world, Nigel Sylvester is making his rounds. From his day job in the sport to brand endorsements and major collaborations with designers like G-Shock, it’s hard to believe that Nigel is only just celebrating his 24th birthday. He shares all in 15 minutes with STARK.

Words: Tatiana R. Johnson
Images: Courtesy of G-Shock

Trying to chase down Nigel Sylvester these days may be a hassle; after all, he can pop a
wheelie until he gets tired. But before the launch of his signature G-Shock watch and the event that brought 800 industry insiders including Pharrell Williams to the posh penthouse suite at the Hotel on Rivington in New York City’s Lower East Side, Nigel was just a kid from Queens, doing a few tricks on his bike.

Growing up in Queens, where did you discover the love for BMX biking?

Queens really had a major impact on me and my BMX life. Back in the day when I was a young kid, having a dope BMX bike was the cool thing to do. That being said, I always worked on having a nice bike, so when the summer time rolled around I could hit the streets shining. That evolved into an addiction for bikes in general. As I got older, I began to see more and more kids in my neighborhood actually doing tricks on BMX bikes and embracing the culture, which fueled my fire even more and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Speaking of embracing, what about hardships, have you broken any bones?

Yes, I’ve broken my wrist before, when I was 19 and I wasn’t able to ride for about six weeks. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on life and think about the journey I have embarked on with BMX.

When you first started what else were you doing to stay financially stable?

When I started taking BMX seriously, I was still in high school and living at home. So I worked odd jobs just to have money and I wouldn’t have to bother my parents. I was able to afford clothes, bike parts and food. I really didn’t need anything else. After I got my first couple of sponsors, I moved out and could take care of myself.

You had a huge party this summer for your G-Shock GD100NS-7 signature timepiece, how did that collaboration come about?

Well, I’ve worked with G-Shock on a couple of one-off projects over the past year and half. The feedback was super positive and they decided to sponsor me and give me the opportunity to do my own watch.

What other projects are you involved with right now?

I released my first Animal Bikes signature seat earlier this summer and I’m still doing promo stuff around that. I’m also working with the DOT closely and we have a few community giveback programs that we’re working on. I have a few video projects that I’m working on as well, one of them with my good friend 13th Witness who I’ve done some amazing work with.

Now we must talk tricks. I’ve heard your wheelie game is crazy. What’s the longest you’ve wheelied down a block?

Well as a kid, the cool thing to do was wheelie for as long as possible. We actually crafted bikes just for wheelies. Back then I could do 10 blocks no problem.

Where’s the best place for doing tricks these days?

The best place to ride and do tricks would be somewhere secluded; a place where no one can bother you and a cop won’t mess up your session.

How do you “create” tricks?

I have a certain creative process where I imagine the trick in my head [first] most of the time. [If] it’s a trick that hasn’t been done before, then I go out and practice ’til I land it. That can take a couple of tries sometimes, or a couple of months in other cases. The most satisfying moment is when I land a trick I haven’t done before.

How do you make your biking videos different from others that you’ve made?

I like to work with different directors and producers who can offer a new opinion creatively. Also different videos have different goals, it can sometimes be as easy as what is the purpose of the video and go from there.

Now that you have a fashion collaboration under your belt, do you think it will affect your biking style?

I feel it goes hand-in-hand. I like to keep things clean and neat, but I’m also crazy about detail—that goes for my riding style and clothing. When you look good, you feel good and feeling good on my bike makes for a good day of riding.

We recently saw designers Dee and Ricky Tweet about an upcoming project with you, can you tell us more about that?

I have a bike collab with Dee & Ricky and my bike sponsor MirraCo coming out really soon. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated on a bike. I feel good about this project because both Dee and Ricky used to ride BMX and they appreciate the culture. It’s going to be a limited piece and only offered at select doors.

Tell us about your shoes? Which is your favorite for biking? Are they as wide as skateboard kicks?

I got a thing for good footwear. I like to ride in clean and comfortable sneakers. Being sponsored by Nike is one of the best things ever. They make sure my sneaker game is always in tip top shape, and the fact that they are always looking and researching new ways to enhance the sneakers that I ride in is truly impressive. As a whole, the sneakers that most BMX’ers and skateboarders use nowadays are starting to slim up and just focus on the areas that need more support and comfort.

Do you skateboard? If not, would you consider it?

I skate around just for fun. I have a cruiser board that I mess around on, from time to time. It’s pretty awesome to just roll around my neighborhood and explore.

What gets you going when you’re riding?

I listen to music all the time when I ride. I’m really into Hip-Hop, artists like Jay-Z, Kanye, Pharell, Drake, Lil Wanye, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross just to name a few. When I’m on my bike and put my headphones on, it’s like I zone out the whole world and it’s just the bike and I. Honestly, one of the best feelings ever.

What’s your ultimate goal at this point?

Overall, I want to live and enjoy life, ride my bike for as long as possible and during that journey, do some incredible things in the sport of BMX that people will remember for a long time.

Images Courtesy of G-Shock.

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