Engine11 has dropped their new site, it’s looking good (go peep here) and to go along with that, I conducted a small interview with the founder Kevin Kang and his vision behind E11. I have known Kevin for quite sometime now, I really don’t get to see him as much I would like too and we ride together even less then that! I hope that changes this year. Enjoy.
Name and what you do?
Hi, my name is Kevin Kang, people call me Kangster. I work as an art director at an advertisement agency for living, and working as a director/team member for Engine11. Oh, I got married and have two beautiful girls.
How did E11 come about and who runs it with you?
After graduating a high school in Seoul, Korea, I moved to US. I used to ride MTB a lot in korea when I was a kid. Since my schools were located far from my home, I was always commuting on a bicycle. After I moved to the US, I never thought I was going to ride a bicycle again, because every place I need to go were at a non-walkable distance. Once I learned how to drive, that made me avoid riding a bicycle further.
In 2007, one day I saw some photos of people riding fixed gears in a Japanese fashion magazine. It was pretty rare to see people riding fixed gear here in LA back then. I finally ended up buying a Bianchi Pista for commuting and that was my very first fixed gear bike in my life. To be honest with you, I actually bought the bike to be ‘look cool’(who didn’t?). One day, I tried one of those street races called an ‘alleycat’, and it changed my whole lifestyle. I wasn’t even fast but I truly enjoyed the event. You suck at your first race, but once you practice more and if you beat those guys you could not before at the next race, I don’t need to explain to you what that feels like.
In 2008, I started cycling business. I created a brand called ‘Stryker LA’ and designed some tshirts to sell. After a while, when I was more into cycling culture, I created another brand called ‘Engine11′. Lot of people asking what’s that Engine11 means? A fire truck or what?
When I was little, one day I walked home from school which was far, because I missed the last school bus. When I got home, my mom asked “Oh boy, did you take taxi 11?” I asked “What’s taxi 11?” she said “That’s taxi number 11″, and pointed my legs, which look like number 11. That’s where the Engine11 name came from.
Engine11 means that your legs look like ’11′ are the engine.
I started attending more street races and after a while, I tried racing in velodrome. It was totally a new experience. I wasn’t fast enough (until now) but racing was really fun for me. I started racing on road bike and now I just started racing on cyclocross.
I have a partner in Korea, his name is Sei Heng Lee. He’s a King of Track in Korea.
We’ve all seen the Engine11 team racing around the country, world and at locally to LA, plus we’ve seen more then a few powerhouse riders rocking the kit, can you explain what Team Engine11 is and what your philosophy is behind it?
Team Engine11 is about going fast, racing and having fun. I built the team last year, picked up some friends of mine who has passion on cycling, fast, positive and ‘good personality’. They all are great riders and now they all turned to great racers. Im so glad that all members ride harder since they joined the team. Few of us will racing at the Red Hook Crit on March and and King of Track(Seoul Korea) as well. Big thanks to my partner Sei Heng Lee and our sponsor Avcogas.
Who is on Team Engine 11?
Kevin Kang, Bud Abilie, Brad Adams, Andrew Huitink, Langdon Taguiped, Rob Morris, Luis Avina, Fernnando Vargas, Edgar Torres, Rob Alvarodo, Mike Chitjian, Sei Heng Lee
The other day I posted a teaser you had of the new “breaker” frame, can you tell us a little about it (who designed it, ideas behind, who is testing it) and when it will be available?
Breaker is our official second track frame. Sprinters are designed more for racing and Breakers are for the street riding. They are made out of single butted 7005 aluminum tubing and an aluminum steer carbon fork (not Columbus®). We made this frame for people who enjoy street ride and street racing. They will be available in Mid March.
We’re also waiting on the “sprinter” frame to drop, when is that coming out and who did you have testing that frame and what were their thoughts on it?
Sprinter frames will be available early March and you can order one from strkyerlosangeles.com and citygrounds.com. The frames have been tested by our team members and they loved the frame so far. “Very stiff and very responsible” -Bud-.
We currently made a Sweat Proof Case that I designed and made by Roadrunner Bags, and they selling pretty good. The second round of Engine11 backpacks will be released soon.
What are the major goals for Team E11 in 2013? Heading out to dominate the world of Sanctioned racing on the road and Track?
Our goal in 2013 is simple. One step up.
Will you be sending your riders to any of the larger street races that happening globally this year?
Yes. Bud is going to different state, city, countries to race. In April 2013, our teammate Brad who runs Roadrunner Bags will be racing at King of Track in Korea.
If I was a young rider, what would it take for me to be picked up by Team Engine 11 or how does one get on the team?
We’re currently not looking for any additional members, since we’re kind of new and got some limit on sponsorship but, we definitely will recruit more when everythings set up properly.
How did you go about securing the team that you have? Did you scout these guys or just approach through riding, racing with them?
I picked up all team members one by one. I picked them not because we’re just friends. I saw their passion, potential and personality.
What sort of work ethic do you put on the Team? You guys have a demanding training schedule as a team or do let everyone kind of do their own thing?
We have a ‘team ride’ whenever we want but, since we live far each other they do their own training. We also did team century ride twice last year and it was very fun. We should try it more this year.
Besides being a rider and a racer yourself and a business owner, you are a family man, is hard to find a balance between all of those and do you have any advice for those of us out there aspiring to reach the same goals you have?
Someone asked me the same question before. Everything is harder after you get married and having kids. Now I manage the schedule very good. I love cycling but whatever I do, still family comes first. It’s an impossible to be a good dad, good husband and good cyclist at once, but I’m still trying my best and every year it gets better and better:)
What’s a typical weekend for Kevin Kang?
I go out riding road or fixed on every Saturday morning and ride cyclocross every sunday morning or in the afternoon. Except riding time, Im in full daddy duty.
You know me Sean. Im not a looking for any expensive bikes but the bikes I like are expensive.
If you ask me what bike do i want right now, it’s a brand new Kalavinka.
Favorite riding/ training route that you have right now? I’m gonna go ahead and guess the Fullerton loop, can you tell what the loop is like and how often you out there?
My weekend ride is happening in near Fullerton, OC area. I ride to Seal Beach through a bike path. Yes, I love riding flat. I always stop by at River’s End cafe at Seal Beach and have a great iced coffee. Round trip is about 37 miles from my house.
You see hundreds mountain bikers around fullerton loop during the weekends but it’s cyclocross friendly route. Nothing crazy but still you might need some skills.
When are you and I gonna do the old man tour of Korea?
Someday soon and We’re gonna ride, eat and drink.
Favorite KBBQ in Los Angeles?
Byul Dae Po (all you can eat)!
Out of Track, Road Bikes or Cyclocross bikes, what is your favorite to ride right now?