The Smage Bros, Phil (in green) and Pat (blue jersey) worked up a sweat at the San Mateo IMS. Professionals that they are, the brothers jumped on their Sherco trials bikes and entertained the crowd despite the slick, dangerous conditions.
The Smage Brothers are busy these days bringing trials motorcycle riding to the masses, becoming new ambassadors for the sport after being contestants on the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the Smages, the duo hails from a farm in Wisconsin where older brother Phil is a professional snowskater who has won three X Games, has competed professionally in the AMA Maxxiss Endurocross series and finished top ten in the AMA/NATC Trials Championships.
Younger brother Pat is a four time AMA/NATC Trials National Champion and was the first American in over 30 years to compete in the FIM World Championships of Trial Riding overseas where he won the 125cc class in Europe against the world’s best. And even though the Smages had already made a name and earned respect for themselves within the motorcycling community, few people in the mainstream had heard of them before their recent stint on “America’s Got Talent” where they made it through to the top 12 acts.
The Smage Brothers entertained the “America’s Got Talent” crowd not only with their unbelievable riding skills but by injecting humor into their act. Their cousin, Troy Smalls, was a big part of this, doing his part in the act by bravely serving as a stage prop to be bunny hopped over and stoppied on. Heck, they even brought their “Super Rad Grandma” over from Elkhorn, Wisconsin to jump over. The brothers are currently the featured entertainers at the International Motorcycle Shows where we caught up with them recently.
MotoUSA: How’d you get the idea to turn trials riding into an act?
Pat – That’s a good question. Probably from, originally Geoff Aaron, he’s kind of the originator in the States of bringing trials riding to a show like this.
Phil – So yeah, we gotta pay homage to Geoff Aaron. He made a lot of this possible, the ability to book shows, because trials is such a small niche sport. Up till then, a lot of people had never seen it, so therefore he got the idea that hey, I’m not making any money doing nationals, but what I’m doing is impressive and takes a lot of skill and talent. So he realized it could be, not a carnival act, but an entertaining act unknown to so many people. So he kind of took it and ran with it and we’re kind of picking up hopefully where he left off, even though he hasn’t left off quite yet. He’s still going strong.
So how has your appearance on AGT impacted your lives?
Phil – It’s been extremely positive. It’s gotten us lots of exposure is the main thing. I mean, there was some stress and everything involved with the show and being on it, them not really relating and understanding motorcycling and what we were doing too well. It took them by surprise, but at the same time it was that surprise let us, I think, get as far as we did. In turn it’s affected us really positive in the exposure and now we’re more well-known and therefore easier to sell to the companies for a show. I mean, the “As Seen on TV” logo goes a long ways in today’s society, so it’s helped getting the exposure out there and in broadening people’s opinion on motorcycling because if it can take place in a building with all the live audiences and stuff and not hurt people in there, then they realize, OK, motorcycles in general aren’t totally ruining the environment if they can coop us up on stage. It’s been good for us and good for the sport as a whole.
(L) Pat Smage demonstrates the skills that helped him win the 125cc class at the FIM World Championships of Trial Riding in Europe. (M) The Smage Bros Riding Show gained national recognition after appearing as an act on the TV show ‘America’s Got Talent.’ (R) The Smages are now the headlining entertainment at the current IMS tour.
Was it your goal to bring the trials riding experience to the masses?
Pat – Yeah, we definitely wanted to try to get it out there to a different audience. You can’t get that kind of exposure anywhere, the millions and millions of people who see it, you never know who’s going to see it and want to get involved and maybe push the sport. Maybe it will get someone interested who’s young enough to be able to push the sport. The skill level in America is still really nowhere near what it is in Europe so what’d I’d like to see is an American actually go over there and live over there and be competitive with those guys because there’s only been one that’s done it and it’s really difficult. But I think if the right person goes back and tries it again it can happen. The more exposure we get, the more we get people involved in America, the better chance we have of doing that.
Are you still competing in the trials discipline at the professional level?
Pat – I did this past year and I ended up winning the championship again, which was almost a surprise to me, but it was great to win again. Nothing’s for certain in the future
but most likely I’ll be back at that again but you just never know what’s going to happen in the next years. Being on TV’s kind of opened us up to get bigger and better show performances and you almost have to take that when you can get it because if you wait around then people are going to forget about you.
Phil – Strike while the iron’s hot!
What about you, are you still going to be snowskating? It’s about that time of year.
Phil – This will be the first year, first winter during the past four or five years that I’ve touched a motorcycle. It’s been as soon as the snow hits, I’m snow sports, all the way through. We did stop in Salt Lake City on the way out here and got in the snow, so I’ve not totally given up on that. I’m gonna miss some contests and stuff through this season with this tour (the 12-stop IMS tour which wraps up in March during Bike Week) but like we were talking about before, you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. If you’ve got a chance, I hate to say it, if you’ve got a chance to make money, you’ve got to take that opportunity. So I’m still going to be snowskating and filming on the road because we’re going to be in snow areas. We’ve got our boards, we’ve got our filmers, so I’ll still be going at it, it’ll just be a slight step back. On the other side of the coin, I will be riding this winter and it will be the first time in numerous years that I have so I think it will help my riding, and I’m going to try and do as many nationals and try to get into the competition side a little more than I have in the past. I’ve always been kind of more the goofer-off, showman type guy, so I’m going to try to do some serious competitions hopefully and it’ll help on the motorcycling side of things.
How’s Wilby (Wilbur, the Smage’s famous back-flipping goat)?
Phil – Oh yeah, the Wilbur question, I love it! Actually, it’s my heart strings you’re talking about right there because although Wilbur lives on, actually on the cover of Dirt Rider magazine, but lives on in the t-shirts and videos, Wilbur passed away. Sad, but he lived a good goat life, 17 human years, that’s long for a goat, you know. He was covered in numerous magazines and DVDs and stuff. We’ve got two new goats now that we call them the cousins of Wilbur, BurWill and Trick Carl, so they’re continuing the goat legacy because you can’t live on a farm and not have some goats. Our farm just happens be like a motorcycling/snowboarding/snow skating type farm and the animals just seem to latch on to
According to the Smages, ‘When it comes time to whip out the pitbikes, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, or snowskates, Rad Granny is the first one to throw down.’
that and so we got the new goats, they’re already learning to snow skate and stuff. I’ve got footage of them pushing on snow skates so although Wilbur the original is gone, he’ll live on forever in our hearts. His spirit’s still gracing the Smage Farm.
How’s Grandma Smage?
Phil – We’re trying to bring her out to one of these IMS tour shows. We’re thinking about the hometown show in Chicago which for us is as close as it gets. I think we’re going to bring her out and have a special guest appearance because although people think that might just be a whole front there with her TV “Rad Grandma” status, but no, she still rides. She’s 86 years old and I don’t know of many other grandmas that get on their four-wheeler and rides every day. We’re leaving for the last show and see a four-wheeler cruising around on the side of the road and it’s “Rad Grandma” waving at us from her four-wheeler. I’m like, all right, that’s probably why we have such a screw loose in our head, because we’re somehow related to awesome “Rad Grandma.” Yeh, she’ll hopefully make an appearance, she’s still kickin.’
So what does the future hold for the Smage Bros?
Phil – You never know, but hopefully, more wheelies. We’re going to keep doing this as long as we can. In my opinion, as long as I’m doing something that’s entertaining enough that people would want to watch it, I’m still going to do it and I’m still going to make videos about it and we’re still going to perform and that kind of stuff, so until my body doesn’t work anymore or people don’t think what I’m doing is cool anymore, then I’ll stop and start writing about it or something. But for now we’re going to push it as long as we can, keep rodding in the sport and hopefully make a decent living out of it. That’s the goal right now.