Etnies Wear Test

A fresh look at the UK Scene

3 Oct 2014

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Words and Photos By James Cox

I arrived at the the 4Down park in Hastings on a sunny Friday morning to shoot the etnies Wear Test with ten riders chosen from 4Down’s UK shop teams. 

The riders set to be in attendance were Harry Barrett from Custom Riders in Letchworth, Mallick Cham from Sibot BMX in Horley, Louis Robinson from Foundation BMX in Crewe, Storm Hughes from 2020 Store in Aberdeen, Ian Underwood from Motion BMX in Norwich, Isaac Lesser from Rad BMX in High Wycombe, Jamie Skinner from the Boarding House in Exeter, Joe Embrey from Hardcore Hobbies in Bury St Edmonds and Hastings locals Jamie Lusted and Phil Martin who both ride for Source BMX, with the added bonus of Phil also riding for the etnies UK flow team. By midday everyone had arrived, so Ian Morris did the honors of welcoming all the riders and furnishing them with a new pair of etnies to put through their paces for the day. The two models under scrutiny from the crew were the etnies Aaron Ross Rap CMs and the etnies Chase Hawk Maranas. After the shoes had been handed out and laced up, the ten riders made their way into the 4Down park.

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etnies weartest mallick lookingatpark

The first thing that struck me after just a few minutes watching everybody warm up was that these guys were good..really good. It felt like a glance through some of the present and future of the UK scene. It was the first time I’d filmed with most of these guys, and also the first time a lot of them had met eachother, and rather than being the slightly daunting and awkward experience I was half anticipating it would be for them, the atmosphere was strangely relaxed almost immediately. It was like watching a huge session between old friends, and just another of those recurring moments that BMX has given me over the years, a reminder of the strange way that a small bicycle can pull together a group of people who have never met before, and has so frequently created so many memorable days over the years, shared by strangers who say their goodbyes as new friends. As cheesy as that is to write, it’s one of the few things about BMX that never seems to change regardless of the generations involved or the way that you choose to ride, and for me was a really huge part of the day, and why in my opinion it was such a success. As Mallick mentioned in a brief interview we did, it wasn’t a shoot or a filming session, it was just a session, and I really got the feeling that everybody was on the same page in that respect.

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Joe Embrey

The melting pot of BMX riding going on during the day was eclectic to say the least, with pretty much all bases being covered in terms of riding styles. It’s always interesting to see how different riders will ride the same spot, and certainly kept things interesting throughout the day. One minute you’d be watching some hyper-modern peg trickery, then the next a big ol’ grizz air or a 360 table - there was something for everyone. It’s safe to day that the 4Down Park got an absolute beating that day. It was virtually impossible to capture everything that went on, it was literally 10 hours of non-stop riding, which I suppose brings us on to the reason that were all there…to test out the shoes. Personally I think I would find the prospect of being filmed riding a place I’d not ridden at before challenging enough, let alone doing it in brand new shoes. That didn’t seem to be the case for this lot, which I’m sure says as much about their riding prowess as much as the attention to detail that Etnies have put into their shoes with BMX riders in mind. The general consensus was that the Chase Hawk Maranas were good to go straight out of the box without needing to be worn in for a long period of time to feel ‘right’, and that they offered more ankle support than was expected from a lower cut shoe. The other main positive point about the Marana which came up in conversation was the vulcanized sole, which means that it’s an extremely hard-wearing model and typically tougher than most.

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The other model under the magnifying glass in the wear test was the etnies Aaron Ross Rap CM mid-top. The obvious advantage of this shoe was the ankle protection, which according to Phil Martin passed the tailwhip test with flying colours. Other comments included the benefits of their soles being stitched rather than glued, and generally looking cool, which is as good a point as any as far as I’m concerned.

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Phil Martin

So with new shoes still intact, all of the food on the BBQ was eaten, a few choice refreshments were consumed and before we knew it the day was done and slowly the crew of ten reduced itself to nothing as we closed up the park for the night. On a side note, at the very end of the evening, Mother Nature made her contribution to the day by putting on a huge finale in the form of about an hour of ‘heat lightning’. I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of the phenomena itself, that’s what Wikipedia and Google are for, but it was a sight to behold.

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Anyway, weather reports aside, I’m sure I’ll be seeing a fair few of these lads in the future, or at least I hope I will, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy our Etnies Wear Test video offering. Hanging out with this group of people for the day was an absolute blast (and also may have contributed to helping to slowly change this salty old bastard’s general outlook on the future of BMX), and I hope that you enjoy watching and reading about this as much as we all enjoyed making it.  - JC

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JAMIE SKINNER The Boarding House

What did you enjoy most about the day?

Spending ten hours on the road to ride a park for one day was pretty sweet! Good food, good park, good people…

And what about the shoes?

I got the Etnies Chase Hawk Maranas, they feel pretty good to ride in. New shoes aren’t always great to start riding in but these feel good to go straight away. They’re very comfy. I don’t actually usually wear low-tops usually but I’m comfortable with these so I’m going to keep wearing them. 

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JOE EMBREY Hardcore Hobbies

So, tell me what’s happening today then Joe

I came here to the 4Down Park today and Ian kindly gave me a pair of these Chase Hawk Maranas. The one thing I was shocked about was that I put them on and they were literally ready to go straight off the bat. Sometimes new shoes can feel all glossy on the pedals but I didn’t get that with these.

What would you be doing if you weren’t here today?

If I wasn’t here at the etnies Wear Test I’d be riding my local skatepark in Bury with my mates, then chilling with my girlfriend…I probably have to say that last bit otherwise she’ll get mad at me.

etnies weartest joe embry


You’re a man of many tricks, what was the best trick that you witnessed today?

Probably the hang five that Isaac did, crazy man. That was nuts. There were a few tricks I saw but that was the most crazy, doing a hang five off a drop like that.

Which shoes did you get given?

I have the Etnies Hawk Maranas, it’s a really good shoe. My favourite thing about them is the grip - today it actually saved me- I pulled trick that otherwise I don’t know that I’d have got away with! Usually I wear really thin shoes, and these are thicker, but I was happy with these after about ten minutes of riding.

How did the day pan out for you?

There’s been some good moments, everyone is super friendly simper nice to talk to, just been a really positive good day. I’ve pulled a few things I was happy with, and I’m sure everyone else is psyched on the clips that they got. It was an all-round sick day.

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How would you describe the day?

Everyone was sending it and getting loose, it was a good day. It wasn’t just a filming session, it was more of just a session. I wasn’t thinking of it any other way than just a good session, it was a good day.

Most memorable thing you saw?

Isaac’s hang five drop off the big ledge, and I’d say the double bar fake to fakie whip that Louie did.

And which shoes were you riding in today?

I got the Chase Hawk Maranas..I’m, a man of my shoes…after riding these today, I’d say they bedded in quite quick. I thought the soles were going to be be quite thin but they were thick, but in their own way if you know what Ii mean? I’d definitely suggest that people get a hold of some of these. 

etnies weartest Mallick Cham


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Ian Underwood, overtooth

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Ian, rail manual

Why do people call you Pants?

As my second name is Underwood people call me Underpants, it just went from there.

Now you’ve said that it’s obvious. How did you feel you got on today?

I had a really good ride today, I didn’t get hurt and was really chuffed to get some new shoes! It was great to meet everyone. Really good day, good riding and good people.

Ever seen a storm like this one? any ideas what the fuck it is?

I haven’t got a clue, I’m stumped. 

etnies weartest ian underwood

PHIL MARTIN Source BMX (Etnies flow)

How did you get on with the new kicks?

Today I got these sweet Aaron Ross Rap CM shoes, they’re pretty sick. They’re real good for whips. You don’t catch your ankle on the cranks with these on. They seem real tough too. Pretty sweet, and nice colours too.

What do you post on your Instagram? Why would someone want to follow you?

I post pictures of my dinner most of the time, usually from Iceland… one pound meals mainly. They take 20 minutes in the oven, job done. I had a Thai curry the other day, three quid, in some big leaf thing. Real good. I'm @philmartinn with two n’s.

What do you think of this weird storm?

Never seen anything like it, it’s nuts, no thunder, just loads of lightning.

What’s the chances of there being extra-terrestrial alien involvement in this?

I don’t know, 80%? 

etnies weartest phil martinn


What was the most memorable moment from the day in your opinion?

Isaac Lesser’s hang five on the giant ledge, just came in from the sky. That was the pinnacle moment of the day, it was huge. It’s been an amazing experience in general though, I came down here knowing literally none and got chatting to everyone, it was dialed. That’s what its all about, traveling around, meeting people and enjoying it.

What about that storm then, Storm?

The storm’s pretty wild, mental lighting but no thunder. It’s getting closer for sure.

What shoes have you been riding in today?

The Aaron Ross Rap CM, I’m stoked on them. I’m used to shoes that have been glued and these have been stitched so that means that they’ll last that bit longer - I usually rip the soles off my shoes all the time so stitching is good. The tread is pretty solid and grippy too - they’re a standout shoe.

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What was the best thing that happened today?

The best thing today was all the riding kicking off, the BBQ, and the storm in a big cloud over the park with lightning going off every five to ten seconds. I think it’s heading over the channel from France, or it could be a bit boat of angry Scots that have taken the long way round…

As you come here to the 4Down Park all the time, how was it seeing all these guys hitting your local spot for the day?

From being a local here, it was really cool seeing other people coming down and the variation of different tricks going down, and setups being made that I never would have thought about before. I particularly liked Ian’s ice 270 on the sub-rail, along with the huge grizz airs. Also Mallick’s pegs on the flat bar to hardway up the stairs. Just generally people using the ramps in there in ways that I haven’t seen before.

Isaac doing that hang five on the ledge first go after pulling the wallride was scary too…

How did the new shoes work out for you today?

Well I’ve got the Marana, it’s really good actually, I put it on and unlike other shoes I could just get riding straight away rather than having to wait 2 weeks for them to wear in. I like the vulcanized sole, they’ve got really good grip and they feel really tough and hard wearing, but they don’t feel like I’ve got a block of wood strapped to my feet.

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etnies weartest harry mallick
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How was your day today Harry? 

I seen Mallick do the cleanest pegs to whip up the rail, it was so steezy. Boss as fuck, he sent loads of stuff, he killed it. It was so sick today, I met loads of people who I enjoyed riding with because they enjoy riding the same way as me. Where I come from not everyone rides pegs, and I just ride with my homie Chris, and we’re the only guys in my area that seem to just grind stuff, and everyone else doesn’t grind so it was good to session with all the homies today because they liked all the sh*t I did and they sent it fucking hard too, it was sick…and the 4Down Park is just amazing.

I was pretty happy with today too because I didn’t have a back hub guard so I couldn’t really do any grinds on the back peg, so today I was doing more front-end stuff, and that was really different too because the transitions here come up real quick - but getting used to that felt really awesome.

Any words on the Etnies? What did you get?

I got the Aaron Ross Rap CM shoes. I usually wear lower shoes so in these I felt really safe doing gnarlier shit because I’m not going to rip my ankle to pieces. They’re just more solid, but I broke them in over the first hour or two. I’m really stoked on how they look too.

etnies weartest harry barrett


What was the best thing about the day? 

What did you say Mallick?

Everyone said your hang 5, just say that

No! I think one of the best things for me about the day was getting the chance to ride with Joe Embrey, because he always finds such unique lines and he’s always really good to watch. The line he did which was the smith on the wall, tuck no hander into the ledge and then the flair was the b*llocks - it was good to watch.

Did you know any of these guys already? Make any new mates?

I knew quite a few of the boys here today. I knew Joe, Mallick and Jamie from down in Devon, but then it was really good to meet everyone else. I had a really good ride and it was a really good group down here. It was a sick session.

Which shoes did you get?

So I turned up this morning and got given a pair of Etnies Aaron Ross Rap CMs. It’s always nice to get a new pair of shoes so it was sick! For me I always have trouble with new shoes because I think my feet are too wide (laughter) but after a short while they bedded in and felt really good. They’ve got really good grip on the pedals too, so yeah, they’re sweet. 

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