Si Coburn has been skating for nearly 25 years, first as an aggressive skater, then taking those skills and adapting them to big wheel blading. Si is constantly evolving and pushing himself while showcasing his unique skating brand to the world through his Instagram page. Si teamed up with legendary UK photographer Sam Cooper for this interview to document his skating.
What age were you when you got your first skates?
So I’m 36 now, and I was around 12-13 years old when I received my first pair of skates; they were a pair of Roces Rome’s (black with blue cuff). My friends and I would remove the middle wheels and try to wear a groove into the frame even though we couldn’t do any grinds. I remember my good friend Pete was trying to convince me to try some skates, but I was so in love with playing football then, so I wasn’t too keen. Eventually, I gave in and had a go, and ever since that moment, I have been hooked and never looked back. From that moment onwards, it made me who I am today, so I have Pete to thank for that. I owe you a beer, bro!!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small city called Gloucester, which is based in the southwest of England. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside, but we had some good spots closer to the city. We all lived close together and would roll every day pretty. I remember being in secondary school and discovering a few other people who were into blading. As most skaters know, when you meet someone else who blades, you have that instant connection and share the same passion, So when I met these guys at my school, we all became good friends, and the crew I was rolling with merged into the crew of blader’s from my school too. They had a knock-on effect on meeting other skaters in other towns and cities. To begin with, we had a powerful scene!
What was the UK scene like in those days compared to now?
In the very late 90s to the early 2000s, the scene was strong. People had cars and were in their late teens, so it was a time when no one had anything better to do apart from going to skate all the time. Aggressive skating was massive back then in the UK, with regular competitions and jams happening all the time, which created a huge community of bladers. I lived close to Bristol, which had a massive scene, so we had people like Guy Crawford, Alex Jones, and Mark Trebble, and he was doing a lot with BHC and filming lots. Those days were so fun, just cruising around, hitting rails, gaps, and ledges, and just being a nuisance to everyone and anyone, haha.
These days, though it’s very different, for several years, many of us have all remained good friends and been going skating most weekends, etc. As we all know, life takes over at times, so everyone has stuff going on, whether it’s work, family, or other commitments. The good spots have either been capped or destroyed, and security has stepped up their game, so the aggressive skating side of things is much tougher to find decent stuff to skate. Recently, though, a fair few of us have started to get more into the big wheel blading side of things, which, for some, I feel has rejuvenated their love for blading. There is still a strong scene throughout the UK, though for aggressive skating, people are still throwing down and perfecting their art, which can be a pleasure to watch! It’s far from dead, that’s for sure!! It’s nice to have a different mix of styles of skates and skaters.
Zero spin abstract.
Who was in your early crew?
The early crew consisted of my good friends Pete Abell, Tom Dallow, and Scott Bagnall, and then from there, we hung out with Chris Hallam, Sam, and Ben Davis up in Stroud. This led to us taking regular trips to Bristol, where we all became good friends with Mark Trebble, Alex Jones, Guy Crawford, Anthony Mackie, and Nick Davis. People from all over would come down to skate, whether to film or hang out! BHC brought everyone together; we would travel every weekend to see different people.
These days, most of us still see each other as much as we can or try to keep in touch occasionally. Locally, Sam Davis, Chris Hallam, Matt Brown, Ollie Jones, and I will meet up for a skate, whether at a skatepark or just for a cruise. We often meet in Bristol together to see Trebble, Niko, and Mackie. I also take regular trips over the bridge into Wales to see the Welsh skaters like The Blade Clothing’s Sean Partridge, Steve Riddick, and those lads.
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Who were your influences when growing up?
Man, I had loads of influences growing up! My main ones were the people I would roll with regularly, no video or section could compare to that feeling when you’re with many people doing amazing stuff, and you can feel the vibe and get juiced off of it. Everyone would throw down; no matter how good or bad you were, you could feel the energy!
My first significant Influence has to be Josh Petty, and it’s amazing to see he has got back on the blades recently and is loving it! Please keep it going, Josh!!
Others include Alex Broskow, Chris Haffey, Eric Bailey, Aaron Feinberg, Dominic Sagona, and Richard Taylor! Rich was the local ‘Pro’ at the skatepark we visited every weekend; watching him skate was something else, and getting to know him and the energy he gave off was something else! Even to this day, he still influences me. Rest in peace, dude!!
Who was your first sponsor?
My first real sponsor was UK Skate, an online shop at the time. Steve Bass was the owner, and to begin with, he sent the team everywhere and sorted us out with skates/clothing/accessories, etc. My sponsorship with UK Skate all came about from me winning the Am UK Cup, and then a month or so later, I got joint 1st in the Am British Champs along with two others. We then had to do another little comp between us three to determine the top 3! Steve contacted me via email, I think, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of the team.
Who else have you been sponsored by throughout the years?
I started with UK Skate when I was about 17; through that, I think I had a little flow-type deal with USD, but I was never officially on the UK team. I then helped Mark Trebble set up BHC wheels and was part of the AM team. I rode for Remedyz Skates for about nine years or so. SlapTap then sponsored me, an online shop initially set up by Mike Goggerty, to which Chris Leaver took it over. Sean Partridge then asked me if I would like to join The Blade Clothing team, which I still am today. Lade Wheels then approached me to see if I wanted to ride for them, which I took them up on. Still, unfortunately, they recently decided to close up business. Then, in the past year or so, I got hooked up with Rollerblade as a UK Ambassador and, recently a local speaker company called Birdie Audio and Deathwax, both based in the UK.
I want to thank every single person involved in all of those companies. I’m forever grateful for the good times and fun trips. Memories I will have forever!!
When did you pick up big wheel blading?
So, this has been a new journey for me. I got hooked up with Rollerblade in March 2019, and they sent me some of the Twister Edge 3WD 110mm skates and some of the aggressive New Jack skates. At this time, I was still heavily into the aggressive side of skating, but I injured my knee in June 2019, which stopped me from doing any grinds for a good few months! Between this time, I got hold of a pair of the RB 80, which changed my perspective on blading and even my way of blading! I still went blade with my knee injury and discovered I was having more fun than ever on the RB 80s. Also, watching Danny play around on his 4x80s opened my eyes to a different way of skating!
What is your current skate setup?
I have a few current set-ups on the go, all covering my different ways of skating; my first and main setup is the RBDA, which is the Rollerblade Danny Aldridge pro model. It’s an 80mm set-up with which I have the most fun, just blasting around the streets/parks and testing my brain on different ways of skating. I find it’s a good balance between a tri-skate and an aggressive skate setup. I love to go fast but still have the control and maneuverability of smaller wheels, so 80mm fits the bill for me for sure. Brad over at Endless Blading Co. is kindly sending out some frames to me soon, so as soon as I receive them, I will be chucking them onto the RBDA’s and seeing what they can do! Looking forward to trying them out, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about them, and they look amazing!
Do you prefer a 4×80 or a 3×110/3×125 setup?
I suppose This depends on what I’m doing; I like to mix it up from time to time! If I’m looking to do a long-distance and just out for a cruise, I prefer the 3×110 setup. It’s easier to cover a greater distance with more ease and comfort. I will then use the 4×80 for days like cruising around a city with the lads looking for skating spots or hitting up a skatepark/hill bombing. I prefer the 4×80 as I feel I have more control over them, but I still love the 3×110; neither has any negative aspects!
Are you big wheeling more than aggressive skating these days?
Yeah, for sure, I have always had mad love for aggressive skating as it was a huge part of my life, and I still love to do it from time to time, but I do find I’m having way more fun on the 4x80s, I think it comes from being able to go quick, its smoother and less impact on your body! It’s easier to get from A to B, skates are lighter, and the comfort is next level! I still love trying to push myself, so combining the big wheels with aggressive skating is nice.
Has big wheel blading changed the way you see skating?
Yeah, it’s opened my eyes to a different side of skating. I took a trip down to London over Christmas as London Skate Life held regular group meetings for skaters to get together and roll through the streets of London. It was crazy to see the number of skaters and also the varied number of people who bladed. It was so cool to see!! There is a whole fitness side to it, too, so I have just put my skates on instead of driving around. Big wheeling isn’t just great exercise for yourself but also an environmentally friendly way of getting around. In a nutshell, it’s awesome!
What’s your favorite thing about big wheel blading?
It has to be the speed, for sure! The feeling of going quick with minimum effort and how well the bigger wheels carry your speed. The fun factor is something else, and I think it’s more accessible to an outsider’s eye. Also, there is a certain sense of freedom; you can just put on some headphones, go on a cruise, and forget all your worries for a while. I’ve never returned from a skate feeling bad or regretted going unless I have fallen over and hurt myself, haha!
How has skating changed since big wheel skating has become more popular?
It’s hard for me to answer as I’m pretty new to the big wheel side of things. The most significant change is how people think about what’s possible on them, what tricks can be done, what terrain is possible, and how skate manufacturers have started combining bigger wheel frames into the aggressive market.
What is the most significant difference between skating now compared to your early years? How has your skating evolved?
In the early years, I was a massive fan of skating handrails/ledges and gaps; that was pretty much all I wanted to skate. I never really thought about anything else. Over the years, I think skating has evolved in different ways, such as what is classed as a ‘Spot’; it’s not all just about grinding a rail/ledge! There is a variety of things that are possible on skates, whether small or big wheels.
For me these days, I take on a different approach to skating; I’m not looking for stuff to do that will hurt or injure me if it goes wrong. I’m all about going out, having fun with the homies, being on my skates with a big smile, and pushing myself in different ways.
How have you managed to maintain such a high level of skating for such a long time?
Ha, I’m not sure I’ve ever really been at a high level, but I have always tried my hardest, and I think it has just been my commitment and dedication to blading. Since day one, my passion for it has never eased off. I think I’ve been lucky I’ve had a group of very talented friends who have had the same passion and who have carried it on over the years, too. Having a massive indoor skatepark about a 20-minute drive away has also helped, especially through the winter months! Big up to the crew at Rush Skatepark.
How long have you been friends with Sam Cooper?
Oooh, that’s a hard one. It has to be a good few years now! I have always seen him in passing at events, but I suppose I have gotten to know him way more in the past five years. As you can see from all his pictures, he is a killer behind the lens, and boy, can that guy put the miles in on the blades. I swear, during the lockdown, he averaged 30-40 miles most days; he’s a secret blading machine!
Do you remember the first ever photo he shot of you?
It was either on the Slaptap/Blade clothing southwest tour or Strasbourg in France. The one on the southwest tour was a 180 gap from a bench to a bench. The Strasbourg photo was a forward gap over an oval-shaped planter; I needed a tow from a car. Then it was this horrible tiny little launch with a tight landing, and Sam captured the shot perfectly. Those trips to Strasbourg have been some of the funniest times.
What is your favorite place you’ve ever skated?
It has to be California for sure; many of us took a trip out there when we were about 17 years old! Some crazy stories came out of those trips. You can imagine 8 English teenage lads let loose on a month-long trip in America without a care in the world! Growing up watching skate videos and seeing all these fantastic skate spots and then seeing them and skate them was just unreal! Every place we went to was amazing: the weather, the food, the girls, and the perfect skating spots. I even met you, Jan, at San Dieguito just before Frazer Watson did his disaster True Top Porn; that’s a day I will never forget!
Barcelona is also up there for the best places I’ve been to skating! It’s made for skating! It would be cool to revisit some of these places on the big wheels and explore some new places.
I want to mention Copenhagen; a few of us spent a week out there, and despite the weather being a bit on and off, it was still one of the most memorable places I have been to.
Are there any places you’ve dreamed of skating that you haven’t been to yet?
I would love to visit Tokyo, and it just looks so cool! I’ve never been to that part of the world, so to experience the culture on and off the skates would be incredible.
Australia, too; I’ve always wanted to go but have never had the chance or opportunity. It seems like they have a solid blading scene there, too, I’m a big lover of wildlife, and they have some of the coolest wildlife going.
Norway, Brazil, and Africa, to name a few more! Too many good places to name
Has COVID-19 affected your skate plans this year at all?
Yes and no, originally it was annoying that any travel plans had to be scrapped! My Girl Kat and I were hoping to take a few trips in the camper van in Europe, but that has had to be put on hold, and the same goes for skating trips! I was hoping to get out to Barcelona to go and visit Danny and have a blade, but everything is still up in the air. We had our yearly trip to the NL Festival in Strasbourg booked, which had to be canceled, so hopefully, next year, it will be back on!! The positive from it all was that spending time at home and appreciating what was on offer closer to home was nice. It’s made me realize that the UK is perfect for big wheel blading, and I now have some ideas that Steve Clarey and I have come up with for some edits around the UK, which we want to do! So keep your eyes out for that.
Have you noticed more skaters out and about since the pandemic started?
100% yes!! Before the pandemic, I lived in my house for four years and had never seen anyone blade past my house; now, I have seen about 7-8 different people going past! Even just being out and about, you can see more and more people doing it. People of all ages, couples, and beginners, it’s been so good to see, and the best part is that you can tell they are enjoying it, too! I have been asked a lot over the past few months about what skates to recommend for beginners or what’s good to go out and cruise about on! Let’s hope it continues.
Bank to tree stall.
Do you do any long-distance skating? What is the longest skate you’ve done?
The longest I have done is 26 miles for the Berlin Marathon, the longest I have done in one straight run nonstop. It was a hell of an experience and wasn’t as easy as I thought! The heavens opened big-time before it started hammering down rain, lightning, and thunder. This made things a little bit more interesting, but at the same time, everyone was still in good spirits and got on with it! Crossing that finish line was the best feeling, followed by a few beers later that evening, it felt so deserved.
I have most likely done more than 26 miles through when just being out and about on the skates all day but having regular stops or filming something. So that doesn’t feel quite as exhausting as a marathon as that’s nonstop skating for 2 hours!
When did you get picked up by Rollerblade?
It started in January 2019; I had a random voice message from Danny Aldridge saying my name had come up in a few meetings, which I was heavily surprised at! It took another couple of months or so before anything was made official. Danny sent a few things to me, and we agreed on me being an Ambassador for them in the UK. It was a surprise, and I was buzzing so much from everything happening! I had always dreamed of being involved with Rollerblade, but I never imagined it would ever be a thing. I’m still buzzing and cannot thank Danny and Rollerblade enough for hooking me up. You have made me one happy ginger man! It’s opened my mind and eyes to just enjoying skating for every aspect of it, no matter what form or style!
Where do you want to see your skating in the future?
I want to promote skating; I’m happy with what I’m doing right now with mixing it up between aggressive skating and big wheel blading! I think further down the line, and I want to see myself just being able to still be out skating and loving life along the way and hopefully introduce it to some new faces! I guess it would be cool to be involved more, whether it’s with Rollerblade or just the industry itself, and help promote blading. So if you happen to be reading this and you are looking to get into blading, then don’t hesitate, buy some skates and get involved; you won’t regret it 🙂
Do you have any skaters that influence you these days?
Of course, I get influenced by all my friends I skate with! They are still holding it down, and going out skating regularly greatly influences me! Many different things influence me through sports personalities, musicians, and just random people you may speak to on your travels! Anyone passionate/positive about what they do is a huge inspiration for me.
As for certain skaters, I would say Alex Broskow is and has always been a big influence on me, Danny Aldridge and Nicholas Swan as those two are awesome to watch on big wheels and also a shout out to Brett Davies, he is another good one to watch, he is always out skating and uploading videos on Instagram. I like to watch Nicola Torelli, too; he has some serious steez!
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You post a lot of content on your Instagram page. Are you trying to grow your following and become “an Influencer”?
Haha, yeah, I have been posting a lot recently; I try to upload something most days if possible! The positive side is that it gets me out skating more; I recently bought a Go Pro Max 360 camera, and it’s been fun filming with that most days, and it’s easy to get footage! They even shared one of my videos, which was cool; every little bit helps get blading out to the masses. The negative side is that it can be time-consuming at times. I wouldn’t say I’m trying to be an “influencer.” I wouldn’t say I like that term. I would say I’m just going out having fun on my skates, capturing some of it, and if that happens to motivate someone to pick up some blades or even get up off the sofa and go out, then to me, that’s amazing! So I suppose I’m trying to influence people to get out and skate, but I’m not purposely trying to be an “influencer.” I don’t know if that even makes sense, haha!
That Grab over the hip.
You are a licensed skate coach; when did you get certified, and with whom?
I have been teaching people to skate up at Rush Skatepark for the past 4-5 years, but I was never officially a certified coach! I was going off experience and breaking things down for people to help them with their confidence! Since lockdown, we haven’t been able to get into indoor skateparks, so I figured now would be the ideal time to become a fully qualified instructor; a few people were chatting about an online course by ICP. I had a look into it and thought sod it; now is the time, and it’s all online, so let’s get it done! I recently started this back towards the beginning of June, and I’m just in the process of going through that now, so hopefully, when this interview is out, I will be a fully qualified instructor! It’s been an eye-opener for sure, as most of us are self-taught when it comes to blades, but this course by ICP teaches you the correct methods for beginners, and the teaching methods involved get students to become a better skater. It’s been amazing to be involved in the course; there was so much I didn’t know about certain techniques and teaching methods! I have gained so much from, and in turn, that it’s going to help any beginners I have in the future when it comes to coaching them! I want to shout out to Kris and the gang at ICP, as this is the first time they have ever done it online!
What kind of skating are you teaching, and where are you instructing?
So, before, I was mainly teaching skatepark tricks at Rush Skatepark. Still, I found that I was also getting a lot of beginners and people who wanted to learn the basics for fitness reasons or go recreational skating! With my ICP certification and trick skating experience, I can offer a much wider range to everyone. I can also plan my lessons much better now! I’m now looking into making plans to expand my teaching; I have a few ideas in mind, hoping one day may lead to something full-time, but I will have to wait and see what happens!
In several of your edits, you are with your pug, Shady. Is your dog a regular during skate sessions?
Ha Shadoooooo!! He has been on a fair few skate trips away on weekends and day trips, so he is used to sitting and chilling whilst we are skating, but from time to time, I like to go out just us two, and he can have a run around whilst chasing me on my skates! He seems to really enjoy this, and honestly, they have been some of the best skates I’ve ever had! He is my best friend so seeing him happy makes me happy. He is, however, getting on a bit now though, and being a Pug, his breathing isn’t always the best, so he can’t run for a long distance, so when we do go skating, it’s something more of short bursts and plenty of rest and water for him! He is the most chilled out dog you will ever meet, though. Big up shady!!!
What do you like to do for fun?
So apart from skating, I like to spend time with my Girl Kat, Shady, friends, and family. I’ve always been a fan out of the outdoors, going for walks in the forest, cruising on my e-bike, and just spending time outside, especially in the summer! I’m keen on sitting down and having a jam on the Playstation too.
Big Wheel Blading urban skating edit.
You’ve worked for some pretty cool brands over the years. First, you worked for the fashion label Superdry, and now you work for the helmet brand Ruroc. What was/is your role in these companies?
So Superdry is a Clothing label here in the UK, they were trendy a few years back, and it was exciting to be there from the early days and watching it grow into a massive company! I was there for 12 years doing different jobs, but mainly I was sorting out all the season’s samples. I had some amazing times there, some of the best parties I’ve ever been to! I now work for a ski/motorcycle helmet company called Ruroc; they specialize in full-face helmets, I’ve only been there around 18 months, and already the growth in the business has been incredible. It’s becoming more and more well known as each month goes by; they are taking the helmet world by storm. I’m currently helping with the shipping side of things and even done some modeling for the helmets along with a few other bits. Big up, everyone at Ruroc!! Go check them out.
Are you traveling for them?
In the 18 months that I have been there, I have been to Iceland, France, Italy twice, and a couple of trips to London. These were all trips to get content for the new helmet ranges. The Iceland trip was incredible; it was weird standing on a beach with black sand for the majority of the day holding ski’s/snowboards posing for pictures with a full-face helmet on ha! We have made other trips that have involved these awesome electric bikes called Super73; cruising around them looking for good places to get some shots were wicked! Hopefully, there will be more trips soon, but we will have to wait and see.
Have you suffered any injuries in your career?
I have broken my knee cap in half, dislocated my finger 3 times, broken fingers, ribs, stitches in my head/face, ligament damage to my shoulder and knee, twisted ankles, messed up my lower back, and also a hernia! Lost a lot of skin along the way too.
What has been your greatest personal achievement in blading?
Man, that’s a tough question; I would say getting a signature pro wheel with Lade Wheels last year! That was like a dream come true to have my name on something like that. It’s something which I can always keep and look at that will remind me of all the good times from blading!
What is your favorite section you’ve put out?
In no particular order, it would be my joint section with Scott Bagnall in the first BHC DVD, that was like my first ever proper section! I also like the Remz street edit I did with Guy Millership, and also the two Rush Skatepark edits me and him did a few years back!
In your career, is there anything you did or didn’t do that you regret?
Nah, I never look back on things like stuff I may regret; everything has either happened for a reason or stuff that just cannot be changed. I don’t regret anything I have done, as it’s been a fun journey so far. I guess one thing I do wish I had done more was to travel to places I have never been to before.
All photography by Sam Cooper.
- Follow Simon Coburn on Instagram
- Visit www.samcooperphoto.co.uk and follow Sam Cooper on Instagram to see more of his photography.
- Check out the last article we did with Si: Si Coburn of Gloucester, England on Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19.
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