Photos by Anthony Smith
Brian Lopes said on Friday afternoon that he has signed a deal with a new bike sponsor, and will announce specifics about that relationship before next month’s Sea Otter Classic.
That news comes on the heels of an earlier announcement that Lopes and Ibis Cycles, his sponsor of seven years, would part ways this season. Lopes and Ibis both said the split was amicable.
“We talked like adults should talk,” Lopes said. “It just seemed like we couldn’t figure out what would be best for them and what would be best for me. There’s no animosity.”
For Lopes, 42, the decision came down to his future after the long racing chapter of his career closes.
“The amount of racing and where they wanted me to go race, just a focus on solely being a racer. I kind of feel like I’ve been a racer my whole life, I’ll continue to be a racer, I’m not bowing out by any means, I just want to grow a bit and have a future aside from just racing. It seemed like there might not be anything aside from racing with Ibis,” he said.
That potential for growth is present with the new company, he said.
Ibis certainly seems to have gotten its return on investing in Lopes. The brand had just relaunched when it signed Lopes, and he went on to win multiple victories at Whistler Crankworx, a World Cup victory in the first XC Eliminator and the reincarnation of the Kamikaze Downhill last year–on a 29er Ripley no less–plus the immense media exposure Lopes continues to garner.
“It was definitely fun for me, too. I saw the company flourish, I saw more people out on the trails riding the bikes,” he said.
Lopes also parted ways recently with longtime chainguard sponsor MRP, as more of that company’s marketing budget went toward suspension. Lopes had stopped using a chainguard most of the time anyway with the progression of chainring technology.
This race season, Lopes is keeping an open, flexible schedule. He’ll race at Sea Otter in between sponsor obligations, possibly the dual slalom or downhill. He also plans on doing at least two stops on the Enduro World Series circuit, most likely the Colorado Freeride Festival in Winter Park, and at least one overseas race.