Gwin will be running a different lid this year, courtesy of Troy Lee Designs.

By Seb Kemp

Bike: TLD seem to have been busy acquiring new athletic mannequins of late. Can you reveal the identity of your newest signings?

Stik: We just signed Aaron Gwin, who will join our small but mighty team of champions, legends, whip masters and all around good dudes. I am also building a little enduro love too; expect an announcement of a legend in enduro too. Oh wait, enduro is too new for legends…but it’s sure-as-shit filled with guys that used to be legends! Haha.

[Editor’s Note: check out the official press release here.]

Bike: How long have you being working on negotiations with Gwin and have there been some late nights? What goes into contract negotiations?

Stik: All I can say regarding that is we are very pleased with how it all came together. I did not have to worry about losing my hair because I am already void of follicles! Contract negotiation, I don't know man, I like to keep it simple….after all, it's bike racing and we are TLD – just a bunch of dudes that like bikes and racing.

I reached out to Aaron, had a gluten free meal and the rest is history.

Bike: Do you think Gwinb will maintain the level of dominance that we have seen of him out of the last two years? Or do you think the rest of the field will put in a solid chase? Sort of like cat and mouse, with Gwin being the mouse with the cheese.

Stik: I am not sure the field has risen to his dedication of training, but I do see the tides shifting. I know I brought this deal to my current boys, to let them know what we were doing, in hopes that they would be supportive and stoked on their new teammate, and all of the guys got back to me pretty pumped. My racer guys, I think, will grow hungrier to try and beat Gwin. The Sam Hill element is pretty cool, with Gwin riding his old rig [Laughs].

2013 will be legendary. Even a guy like Brendog, who a lot of people have written off, is training seriously and wants to re-prove himself.

Bike: The TLD butt-patch is a unique expression of the rider and their relationship with TLD. What is the first butt-patch we will see Gwin wearing?

Stik: Haven’t even gone there yet. It’s all come together so fast, but I'd like him to run #notenduro or #dhisntdead or maybe #biggerdealthanpalm

Gonna have to find a balance of my controversial style and his low-key style, but he is way more witty and personable than I ever thought. It's gonna be so cool to have one of our bad-ass team guys living down the road…maybe he can give me Strava tips?

Bike: With Gwin in the Red Bull helmet, there is less scope for really unique helmet designs than, say,
Peaty or Palmer (classic helmets), and certainly less opportunity for selling replica helmets. Is there going to be any other Gwin/TLD signature goods coming this way?

Stik: The energy drink thing has certainly made it more complicated for the guys to promote their signature lids, but that hasn't stopped us from designing stuff that Troy thinks they would love to run. Sam Hill raced in a full custom painted Monster/TLD D3 lid last year and everyone loved it so much that we will make that his new signature lid. Peaty is also a drink guy, he has a signature lid sans the monster logos, so we are already working with Gwin on a custom D3 and another helmet we have coming soon. So while he [Aaron] will be in a Red Bull lid all the time, his essence will still carry through into a signature lid, that people will want to buy. We have never had a signature lid that sucked or didn't sell, it’s what we do – make bitchin' looking helmets that are the safest and best looking things out there.

Bike: Let’s hear Stikman’s World Cup predictions?

Stik: That someone else comes along and starts a comparable world cup series OR if we have to suffer with UCI, that they can step up and give us more than six friggin events.

As for racing, I don't see too much change. There is a lot of buzz about a couple guys, but I think they will fail to impress, whereas the usual suspects will continue to do so. I know Sam Hill is hungry as hell, the guy is foaming at the mouth to win again. Brosnan will slay it too and Fairclough will whip into some killer results too. You can't count out Peaty; while he is the old guy of the field, no one knows more than he does about preparing for the season and for each event. Ropelato, Strobel, all my guys and girls, its TLD's year! Small but mighty baby!

Bike: What about all the wind that is being blown up the rear end of Enduro right now? Is TLD looking in that direction? You have Curtis Keene on your team, who is my pick for claiming a WES top three, but have you got any other athletes sweating their way around the globe in 2013?

Stik: Yep, just signed a deal with Keene to be our American Enduro bad ass. He is back in a D3 helmet too for the more rugged tracks, so I am pumped on that. Lars Sternberg will be doing Enduros for us, Simon Andre in Europe and I should announce next week my big euro signing that I am seriously pumped about.

It has been hard to get served all these massive glasses of Enduro koolaid, because I have seen this over-excitement before with certain genres of the sport, but we gotta roll the throttle on slowly man–don't want to count our chickens before they hatch. There are a lot of great things about Enduro; hell, 75 percent of our line and sales are technical wear that an Enduro rider would wear, not to mention this huge new product we will announce soon, so we are committed to Enduro, gravity, xc, trail riding. It all equates to just MOUNTAIN BIKING.

Bike: What is the hot color for 2013? On the trails, in the Bike Park, and in the bars.

Stik: Hell if I know, that's a question for Jeremy Kneisly, our head bike line designer; that kid is one of the most talented designers I have ever seen, and he keeps working me on Strava, so he must be legit! I will say I have seen what Jeremy has cooked up for the future of bike here at TLD, and he is taking us to 'the next level'….big things for us!