Even if you’re not a Brian Lopes fan, you must acknowledge that the man is an absolute powerhouse on a bike. He’s won so many titles, even Wikipedia has lost track. He’s 45 now. World cups aren’t on his schedule anymore, spending time with his three-year-old son is.
Lopes has a lifetime of experience behind the bars. He’s won everything from XC to DH races. Now he’s at the stage in his career where he wants to use those talents to help make bikes better. And that brings us to Ellsworth. Once upon a time we drooled over the Dare and Truth, but recent times have been trying for the iconic brand. Quality control issues, dated-looking technology, and a reputation for sub-standard customer service conspired to drag Ellsworth down.
Read the Mtbr First Ride Review of the new Ellsworth Rogue Sixty.
But after a pair of sales, the second to a local investor, it seems the company is back on track. The new bikes not only look great, but our first ride impressions were solid. The brand believes so strongly in their new product range, Ellsworth is offering consumers a 30-day money back guarantee on new purchases and financing options.
The next step was bringing in a brand ambassador, which is why we’re here, talking to Lopes about his move to Ellsworth. At first glance it sounds like a headline from the 1990s, but it might just be an inspired match.
Mtbr: What inspired your move to Ellsworth?
Brian Lopes: I’m always interested in the industry and what opportunities are out there and it so happened that Intense wanted to focus all their energy into World Cup Downhill racing, which gave me a window of opportunity. I usually tend to look for smaller companies be involved with, ones where I feel like I can have a bigger impact in helping them grow. I love being able to speak directly with the owner and not have to through a bunch of different channels to get anything accomplished. Ellsworth fit all these desires. I tested the bike and it performed way beyond my expectations and I honestly just had a really good feeling about the new owner. I got a good feeling from him every time we spoke. He was honest, down to earth, motivated, and super smart, so I felt good about working with him. There was no BS, he gave me a lot of freedom and he really valued what I could bring to the team.
Mtbr: Is your role at Ellsworth more ambassador oriented or product development?
BL: Ellsworth is small and in a re-growth period, so I will have many roles. Helping with product development will be one for sure and I’ve already begun testing new products in development. I love helping make products better. It’s the worst when companies ask you to test something, then you give them your feedback and it really doesn’t matter because they’ve cut molds and change is pretty much out of the question. It makes you wonder why you are really testing.
Mtbr: What are your goals going forward with Ellsworth?
BL: My goal in working with Ellsworth is to help them grow and be relevant by being involved with development. I want to make the Ellsworth customer experience as pleasant as possible and I plan to personally be involved in helping achieve this. I know how it is to be a top racer whose primary focus is training and winning races, but at this stage in my career, my goals are to help make awesome bikes. I want to use my knowledge and experience to achieve this.
Mtbr: In the press materials, you mentioned you’ve enjoyed testing the new Rogue Sixty. What other models will you be riding?
BL: The Rogue 40 and the Epiphany Convert 27.5+ are the bikes I plan to use right now. But we have some new bikes in the pipeline that I’ve already started testing. Once we feel those are ready, we’ll start showing them to the public.
Mtbr: On the riding front, will you be focusing more on racing, events, or video?
BL: I wouldn’t say my focus is on any one thing right now. Again, being a small team, we all have to wear many hats. Racing, events, content, those are all hats I will wear and do my best at.
Mtbr: You’ve been a professional rider for 25 years. What keeps you stoked?
BL: Well, I just love to ride and will always ride. I still love to push myself and get better, but building relationships and working with people that want to work with you definitely makes me stoked. Setting new goals and achieving them also gets me stoked.
Mtbr: Switching tracks for a second, we’re big moto dorks so we have to ask – two stroke or four?
BL: Tough one. I’ll have to say two stroke. I have a Husqvarna TE150 and FC450. The four stroke is better on the track for sure, but the two stroke is better for trail riding, and I enjoy trail riding more.
Mtbr: Over the past few years, you’ve also helped train several up and coming supercross riders. With your move to Ellsworth, will you still have time to work with these racers?
BL: It’s not the move to Ellsworth that limits my time, it’s the fact I have a 3 1/2-year-old son that I want to spend as much time as possible with. Helping supercross riders was great. I really loved training them and watching them achieve their goals, but it is time consuming. It’s hard to find the balance between riding, taking care of sponsor obligations, family time, and training riders, so something had to go.
Mtbr: And finally, how many parking spaces do you have reserved at Ellsworth HQ for your van?
BL: Haha! We don’t have a lot of employees right now, so I can take up a few.