If you've been following Airdrop for a while, you probably know it's been a one-man-brand until now. I've done everything myself, from designing the bike, to building the website, keeping the books, building the workshop, answering the phone... you name it.
It's been good. Hard work but good fun. I've learned a lot, made a bunch of mistakes, met some awesome people and somehow Airdrop has gone from strength to strength. In fact I've been humbled by the amount of support I've had from customers (that's you lot) and it's thanks to that positive reception, and people willing to trust me to build their new bike, that Airdrop is still here and going better than ever.
So it's all good. But I won't lie: the last few months have been tough. I had a spot of surgery in December, became a father again in January and got the new Airdrop premises in February (more on that another time). Edit v2 frames landed in March and ever since then I've been building bikes flat out. That's great - a nice problem to have, as they say. But when it got to the point where I was doing nothing other than building bikes all day every day, it became obvious that I needed help. I almost lost sight of what Airdrop was meant to be about; I just had my head down working as hard as I could. Eventually I saw sense, gave in to a mate's incessant nagging and offered him a job.
Airdrop Bikes is now a two-man-brand.
James is Sheffield born and bred but he's spent the last few years living & working in New Zealand. If you've been out to Queenstown any time recently you'll have seen him shredding the bike park... A lot. He might just be the first person ever to lap the park 1000 times in one season, so he can definitely ride a bike and he knows what works.
James Crossland Q&A
I thought you might like to know a bit more about James so I borrowed some questions from Dirt Magazine's Endtroducing segment and forced him to answer. I'm his boss now so I can do that...
Who’s James Crossland then?
Sheffield born and raised, rider / grafter / ale drinker / doer of things.
Where do you live?
The steel city.
What are you going to be doing at Airdrop?
Everything I guess. It's just the two of us so it's all about just getting stuck in; no job titles here!
How did you end up working here?
I've known Ed a while and had the pleasure of working with him at another local bike brand. Eventually he left and set up Airdrop - a move I admired - I knew it would one day be a rad place to work. In the meantime I moved to NZ for some dream living in Queenstown but kept in touch with Ed and followed Airdrop's progress. Then 2 years later coming home was on the cards so I got down on one knee, did much grovelling and here we are, Ed’s stuck with me now.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working here?
Who knows? Maybe still in NZ or back here but less employed!
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
Tough one really. Probably Queenstown but home is home so you can’t really beat Wharncliffe.
When are you happiest?
Riding bikes with friends.
What makes you angry?
People with acoustic guitars sat around campfires talking about that time they rode an elephant. I don’t want to listen to your music and I couldn’t care less about you finding yourself or your loosely fitted gap year pants.
What makes you happy?
Brownies, ginger beer and bikes.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do what makes you happy.
What are your extravagances?
I go through phases but usually bikes, food and trainers
Who do you admire?
Shane McConkey, Colin McCrae and anyone with raw talent who’s out there to have a good time.
What’s the most important thing in your life?
Family, Friends and bikes.
What’s your greatest fear?
Plus sized tyres and Theresa May. Not necessarily in that order.
What was your luckiest escape?
I managed to lose my front wheel doing what must have been close to 50 mph down a Garbo fire road in Whistler. Resulted in the biggest rag doll I've ever had - lots of sky and lots of floor on repeat. Anyhow I thought I was dead. I thought I couldn’t move afterwards, then realised it was all good! Just a cut to my little finger, a spot of grazing and a quick shoulder relocation and we were on our way. Death before download.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Think really hard about moving.
What’s the last thing you do at night?
Double check my alarm is on.
What would be your dream meal?
Full Sunday roast with unlimited Yorkshires.
What things do you always carry with you?
Phone and wallet.
Do you have any regrets?
No regrets. Just live with it.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Don’t take things too seriously, modesty at all times.
Who is your favourite rider?
What’s your favourite bike product of all time?
Everything Chromag make.
What’s your least favourite bike product of all time?
Shimano. All of it.
What bike are you riding at the moment?
Airdrop Edit V2 and a plastic fantastic Glory.
What was the last magazine you read?
What are you listening to at the moment?
The Earthed Soundtrack.
What one thing would you change about yourself?
To be blessed with an uglier face; it's hard work batting off mobs of middle-aged women.
What are your weaknesses?
My GF’s baking and puppies. In fact, just dogs.
What does the future hold for you?
Riding bikes in new places.
What does the future hold for mountain biking?
The return of downhill and the demise of enduroing / enduroists.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a nice guy.
What Happens Next?
In most ways it's business as usual. We've got plenty of Edit v2 frames in stock and we're putting together some awesome custom builds. If you drop us a line you might get me or you might get James on the phone, but believe me, he knows what he's doing. And he fully understands the Airdrop Bikes ethos which is so important to me. So we'll continue to offer a proper one-to-one service, you can drop in for a demo, a coffee or just a chat. We can put together a bike that suits your preferences or your budget, and we're here to make sure that your new bike is totally dialled the way you want it. For me it was always about focussing on quality, simplicity and creativity... and that hasn't changed.
You'll see that ethos coming through even stronger over the next few months. Having the extra capacity will enable me to crack on with some of the great stuff that's been on the back-burner for a while. There are new bikes in development, new video projects, the website will be updated and the much-requested Airdrop tees and jerseys are in the offing. The idea was always to set up a great place to work, and having good people coming in takes Airdrop one step closer to the dream. These are good times.
One last thing: I just want to say a massive thanks to everyone who's ordered an Edit v2 this year. You lot took me a bit by surprise, and I'm sorry if I emailed you at 1am on a Sunday. But it's thanks to your trust in me and your support for the brand that all this good stuff is happening. So thanks.
Ed is the owner of Airdrop Bikes. A former web and graphic designer, he sacked off his job one day and decided to start up a bike brand.
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