Scotty Cranmer takes a picture of his beloved bulldog Clarence with him when he's out riding his BMX bike. But he's not holding said picture in his pocket, instead wearing it underfoot as part of his new Sk8-Hi Pro Vans shoe he designed in time for this weekend’s Summer X Games in Austin, Texas.
Cranmer took a photo of Clarence and had it printed on the shoe’s insoles. If taken out and placed side-by-side, the entire picture becomes clear. “He’s really proud of that as well,” Cranmer jokes in an interview with SI.com.
But beyond a colorful picture of a bulldog and Cranmer’s name on the insoles, the BMX rider took his first shot a designing a shoe with Vans with performance and aesthetics in mind. “I'm extremely proud of this whole project,” he says. “I’m loving the feedback. I love seeing kids posting on Instagram (with the shoes) excited. It is a really cool experience.”
Cranmer says ankle support led him to choose the Sk8-Hi Pro as the base model. “There is always a component on your bike you will end up hitting and getting some ankle coverage and support is a must,” he says.
Good grip on the pedal, though, can’t be ignored. The Cranmer edition uses Vans’ well-known waffle sole—this time in a gum treatment. “Your body is moving in the air and with your weight distribution coming down, you need a trustworthy relationship between foot and pedal,” he says.
Added cushioning everywhere helps with the high impact, from protection on the side, in the sole and extra cushioning in the heel for those times the biker needs to bail on a trick and land on his feet.
To help define his style, Cranmer opted for an all-black leather-like synthetic material. “Ever since I was a kid I was into black shoes,” he says. “I wanted all black.” He added some red accents and gum soles to round out the aesthetic. The synthetic material helped create the matte look he wanted and some black pig suede—yup, pig suede—helps “accent it and break up the lines of the shoe.”
The new-look Sk8-Hi Pro will hit the Circuit of Americas BMX Park course this Friday, as Cranmer competes as one of 14 riders. Walking the course on Tuesday, he says he heard some riders wish things were different. Not so for him. “Heck, yeah, this is what I need,” he says of his initial thoughts. “I’m tickled to get out there and lay it all out.”
Last year’s Austin trip was “miserable” for Cranmer, so seeing a complete makeover of the course was ideal. “When I saw it was completely different,” he says, “Hell, yeah, let’s start over new.”
Expect Cranmer to excel on the elevated spine, a new feature for the 2015 course. “It offers an option for a drop-in type of trick,” Cranmer says. “You can do a huge trick and it is at the highest point of the park and you jump into a lower point, so it makes a huge trick even huger.”
While Cranmer hopes to reverse last year’s terrible experience in Austin, returning to the city still had him excited because of the rooted BMX culture making it feel like a home city for BMX. “Austin is a great city,” he says. “Everyone here is fantastic and they appreciate the riding and the talent.”
Now Cranmer just needs to make Clarence proud.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.