- 11 октября 2013
In early September I was lucky to stay a couple of days at home of the current owner of FLAME — Joсhen Morcher aka Jo Mo. He owned the company less than a year ago and now actively invests in promotion.
Jo Mo © Patrick Temme
It was November 22, 2012. «The story was very simple, — says Jo Mo. — I needed a binding and I wrote and called to Albert Müller (the old owner of the Flame), but nothing. And then I called him again: “Hey, Albert. Can I buy your shop or your company?” And he said: “Come to me at Tuesday and we’ll talk about it”. And we talked and he felt that I’m the right man and I feel the spirit. So, we took it together».
A brand-new Dirt Pipe made from Aluminum 7075 © Andrey Yenin
Initially, Flame Offroadboards was founded over a decade ago by Albert Müller with a mission to design and manufacture a revolutionary new range of boards with acceptable price tag. He opted to target local suppliers, a move that would ease communication paths — a vital factor when developing a new product that will be subject to ongoing improvement and modification.
Flame Dirt Pipe with 35 mm axle © Flame Mountainboards
«We have a unique axle design for our boards», explains Mr. Müller. «Standard skate axles are fine for straightforward runs, but at higher speeds on more rugged terrain, unsteady riding behavior (speed wobble) is frequently encountered. The usual solution is to deploy channel axles, which provide greater track stability and overcome these difficulties. We have taken the simplicity of the skate axle and combined it with the excellent running characteristics of the channel trucks».
The first Flame Dirt Pipe 1.0 was made in 2010 © Albert Müller
«Because the axle is bespoke, the dimension from bearing to bearing is 37.5 mm. This is far from standard and there is nothing else like it on the market, so we didn’t approach the established wheel rim manufacturers as none of their tooling would match our requirements», tells Albert in Protomold’s case study. «Good riders use high tire pressures up to 4 bars, so the wheel rim has been conceived as a six-spoke design featuring six bolts in order to achieve the greatest possible rigidity. The structure is designed so that 8″ and 9″ tires can be fitted, which center themselves automatically».
Cryptic Universalfelge © Flame Mountainboards
After transfer ownership, no one board was made without Albert Mueller’s help. «All the rules and all the knowledge, everything with the core, with the carbon, with the fiberglass stay by Albert Müller in Oberammergau, — explains Jo Mo. — The other part of the company is in Schorndorf near by Stuttgart. We make metal work and plastic materials and other stuff: assemble the boards together and I drive one board, two boards, three boards, every custom board to their customers».
Flame trucks Dirt Pipe 2.0 have been a few years in development © Andrey Yenin / Flame Mountainboards
All decks are made by Albert Müller and they quite pricey — 250 euros is the cheapest one. The most expensive part of them is the core in the middle. There are two kinds of wood and three lines of it and a little bit of carbon. Decks are perfect for the longboards, very sort to curve in the boardercross track and also fit for big boys. Such kind of deck with any Flame truck system becomes at 20 mm dipper than MSB or Trampa board. It’s all about the filling and rider can make board control overall. It’s nice for freeride and downhill.
Flame’s deck shows the inside core and polymer layer © Andrey Yenin
In this season company presented a renewed truck system — Dirt Pipe 2.0. As Johan says: «The second generation is really stiff and I think it should be perfect for freestyle. No speed wobbles, nothing. It’s like a skate trucks, where you can change any part of it. When you are in high mountains and brok something, you can change it with one tool. Only with one tool you can fix your board and can drive away. All the parts of Dirt Pipe Two are perfect. It was one year old Dirt Pipe One and we changed the system with all the wrong elements and it becomes beautiful».
Flame Dirtpipe’s replaceable axles © Andrey Yenin
But there are two more truck types. Reactor — a really cheap one, which made with liquid steal. For all the time they were produced more then 500 pieces.
Flame Reactor © Andrey Yenin
And Transporter — a CNC system, but it never goes over in produce because it’s very expensive. Nevertheless it’s really cool longboard truck, especially for straight lines — you can go really fast on it.
Undated Flame Transporter © Andrey Yenin
This year a new bindings and hill straps also came. It’s the first time when Flame produce hill straps. «We have two variations of hill straps: a big one and a small one. The small one is very very fine with the dirt, really dirt like in Grosserlach. And the big one is perfect for the mountains. You drive one hour downhill, two hours, three hours, five hours, nine hours downhill and you go out of the bindings and say: “Oah, perfect! I will go back”. They are soft, really soft».
Flame team rider: Kalle Morcher © Ines Westphal
And news for the bolts. It’s a great system — two bold together with the bridge in the middle. Everyone will love it, as a lot of more parts…
L bracket with U-Nuts © Andrey Yenin / Flame Mountainboards
Unfortunately all small manufactures have a problem with distribution and Flame is no exception. «The shop system is really small, — complains Jo Mo. — There is only one retail shop in Germany announcing about the money. The shop’s holder is a good man despite the fact that we saw one time and talk about only on Facebook and e-mail. And another shop in Poland and I bring it to Slovenia into another shop and that’s finished. May be Russia?»
Flame board with mounted brakes © Flame Mountainboards
No one can imagine how it’s hard to manage mountainboard company, especially when it’s not profitable. Jo Mo told a sad truth: «It’s not the perfect moment for the business, but for starting this year my bank was very happy. I spent a lot of time in this company and when you make it alone at home, you feel how your money goes away. I give all to try to build a very cheap system, but while it’s only 20-30 euros more, then top versions of Trampa or MBS. A lot of my friends in Bulgaria or Poland interested in it. I say it’s 250 euros or 300 when you buy it in the shop with all the taxes. Everybody says: “WHOOO, that’s very expensive!” But the system is OK! You need only one system, no speed wobbles, you can change the parts and can choose any color you want. No really problems with Dirt Pipe 2.0».
Comparison of Flame Dirt Pipe 2.0 (780 grams, green [new] and yellow [used] on top) and 1.0 (612 grams, red on bottom) © Andrey Yenin
Anyway, Flame’s team rocked the German mountainboard championship 2013 in all categories:
- German Master Open — Christian Bergmann;
- German Master Women — Robina Schellinger;
- German Master Youngster — Kalle Morcher.
Russian version of this article can be found here.