TWMX Friday Feature: Berik

Ricky Carmichael surprised a lot of people late in ’04 when he switched from longtime sponsor Alpinestars to Berik, a company that was pretty much unknown in the moto world. But maybe it wasn’t so surprising, once you know a little of Berik’s background as part of a much larger company known as Madif. Founded in 1973 and based in Hong Kong with offices in the U.S. and Europe, Madif not only produces private label products, it has brands of its own with Arlen Ness, Berik, and MotoGP.†  It also has U.S. and European offices.

At the Supercross season finale in Las Vegas, OMS’s Fred Bramblett explained a little about Madif’s history, how the Berik MX effort was started, and how they hooked up with Ricky. “Madif are manufacturers of apparel and now technical footwear. They did a joint venture in acquisition of a company that a lot of people in the industry are familiar with called BieffeBi. BieffeBi builds about 27 different brands of boots. One of Madif’s first goals with their acquisition and development of their footwear through BieffeBi, was to establish a premium brand. BieffeBi had always been a private label manufacturer, and Madif wanted to clearly define that they could build a product that was equal to anyone’s.”

Berik’s General Manager, Sidney Ko added, “Berik has been one of our house brands for road race products, primarily suits and gloves. That’s been our brand for the last five years in road racing. We decided to use that brand name for our motocross boots. In Europe, certainly, Berik is very well known.”

So how did Berik hook up with RC? Fred explained, “As their agency in North America, they wanted whoever was perceived as being hardest on his equipment, and the person who was the most demanding and required perfection from what he utilized. They also wanted someone who could win races. It worked out really well, because it happened to be the same person. The second or third week of December was the first time Ricky actually saw the boots. He liked them right off the bat, and they’ve gone through four different generations while he’s been racing in them.”

So how long did it take for Ricky to get comfortable in the boots? Apparently not long. Sidney told the assembled press, “When we went out testing in December with the very first pair of boots that we produced, he put them on, and wore them for about a half an hour. When he came off the bike, he said, ‘I’m ready to race in these.’ We were so surprised. Through his feedback, the original boot has gone through four different minor changes, mostly very detailed cosmetic changes, alignment of the buckles, and so forth. There was no real overhaul in the actual design of the boots.”

One of the unique features of the high-end Berik models is the use of Kangaroo leather, which first came into use in their road race suits. Fred explained, “You’re talking about a suit that’s almost three times as abrasive resistant, and weighs a third as much as a standard suit. With as much leather as there is in a racing suit, it’s a huge issue.” Apparently it’s also quite flexible, which as far as Ricky was concerned, is a great thing. He said, “I like a lot of flexibility in my boots. They’re really flexible, but at the same time, they’ve got lots of support. They’re super-easy to break in, which is important. I don’t think anybody likes a pair of boots where by they time they’ve got them broken in, the sole’s ripping off of them or the side’s blown out. That’s important, too. I’ve always been the guy where I’ve got to wear my boots for a long time before I even think about racing in them. These things are broken in within a couple rides.

“I got lucky with my decision. I took a chance, and it was good. Ricky said. “They (Madif) had so much background with boots, and even the gear situation. They’re all over MotoGP. I think they make a great boot, and they have a lot to offer. For me it’s great because I have a lot of personal service, where with oer places I really didn’t. That’s important.

Ricky continued, “I’d like to thank Berik and Madif for going out and showing a lot of interest in me. It was great. They’re a huge boot company. Alpinestars was always a leading group in boots. But I think this boot is really competitive with the Alpinestars. I think they make a great boot safety wise, and that’s important. It’s nice to see other people stepping it up. They have a unique look. The eyes really stand out. They make just about everybody’s boots, so you know they’re going to be good. We did go through about four pairs of boots during testing to try and get it right, so that when they go out for sale, I want them to be good. I don’t want somebody to get something and not be happy.”

“It’s the same as when we went into road racing. There were established brands-Alpinestars, Dianese, and others. ” said Sidney. “We came in and said, ‘We want to be different. So we started using kangaroo. All the riders loved the product, and that’s how it came about. We didn’t come up with the product and say, ‘Please, how much do you want to wear it?’ It was completely a reverse process. We want to do the same every time we want to go into a new sector. We’ve found that this is the best way and the best approach for us, and it’s worked every time. We really wanted somebody that would represent what we want to do. We know it’s a very competitive business, so we wanted to come in here with a difference, and the difference is not just merely signing somebody from the top. It’s having the right product that goes with that personality and that image to really solidify the statement we want to make. We’re coming in here with something different, and we got someone different to wear them. That person supports you all the way through, and we only now release the product when he is completely, and we are completely, happy with it. That’s the difference.”

Below are the spec provided by Berik for their upcoming line of boots. They’re in final negotiations with Tucker Rocky for exclusive U.S. distribution, and final pricing hadn’t been set yet.

Ricky Carmichael Replica OVS-Pro

  • Floating plastic ankle/calf protection with patent pending Over Sliding System (OVS)
  • Anatomic internal ankle foam
  • Complete injection molded shin, sides of the foot & heel plastic protection
  • Aluminum buckles for a precise fit
  • Replaceable buckles
  • Adjustable & replaceable straps and strap holder
  • Anatomic shape for total support
  • High tech materials used
  • Leather heat shields providing protection & better grip
  • Kangaroo leather is on flexing notches for better flexibility
  • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
  • Heavy duty double stitching for the sole
  • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
  • Removable & replaceable antibacterial EVA foot-bed
  • Design & made in Italy
  • Ricky Carmichael’s signature on the back of the boots
  • Available in: Blue, Red, Yellow, Black, Black/Chrome. White/Silver

Berik OVS

  • Floating plastic ankle/calf protection with patent pending Over Sliding System (OVS)
  • Anatomic internal ankle foam
  • Complete injection molded shin & heel plastic protection
  • Replaceable buckles
  • Adjustable & replaceable straps and strap holder
  • Anatomic shape for total support
  • High tech materials used
  • Leather heat shields providing protection and better grip
  • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
  • Heavy duty double stitching for the sole
  • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
  • Removable & replaceable antibacterial EVA foot-bed
  • Design & made in Italy
  • Available in: Blue, Red, Black, White/Silver

Berik Contender

  • Adjustable & replaceable straps holder
  • Replaceable buckles
  • Complete injection molded shin & heel plastic protection
  • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
  • Heavy duty double stitching for the sole
  • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
  • Removable & replaceable foot-bed
  • Made under Italian design & development team
  • Available in: Blue, Red, Black, White/Silver

Berik Junior Contender

  • Adjustable & replaceable straps and strap holder
  • Replaceable buckles
  • Complete injection molded shin & heel plastic protection
  • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
  • Heavy-duty double stitching for the sole
  • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
  • Removable & replaceable foot-bed
  • Made under Italian design & development team
  • Available in: Blue, Red, Black, White/Silver
  • Replaceable buckles
  • Complete injection molded shin & heel plastic protection
  • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
  • Heavy duty double stitching for the sole
  • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
  • Removable & replaceable foot-bed
  • Made under Italian design & development team
  • Available in: Blue, Red, Black, White/Silver
  • Berik Junior Contender

    • Adjustable & replaceable straps and strap holder
    • Replaceable buckles
    • Complete injection molded shin & heel plastic protection
    • Adjustable hook and loop shin plate closure
    • Heavy-duty double stitching for the sole
    • Internal steel shank for shock absorption
    • Removable & replaceable foot-bed
    • Made under Italian design & development team
    • Available in: Blue, Red, Black, White/Silver