At just 19 Jake O'Neill is using his platform to make a difference.
Breaking boundaries is just a Tuesday afternoon activity for rising biker and activist, who along with a few friends founded Bikestormz. Bringing together a new subculture, the cyclists gather in the hundreds and thousands in mass ride outs across the country in the name of reducing youth crime, AKA #BikesUpKnivesDown. A trailblazer in his community, Jake 100 – as he’s widely known to his just-under-100K Insta followers – is granting a space for a new generation and forming a platform for greater good too. We caught up with the pioneering rider to find out how the Wanstead-born kid became an internet sensation and a role model for an age that needs one…
What does biking mean to you? How does it make you feel?
It means that I’m able to chase my dreams. Be around and involved in an active community. Explore new places and communities. Without the bike I would never have met the people I’ve met or travelled to places I’ve been and have the experiences I did. I see riding as an expression of my emotion and the way I feel.
How do you feel London and its culture has influenced your style and attitude?
Regarding my attitude, I think it’s made me confident for sure. I’ve seen a lot of things, seeing how everyone in London just gets on with everything regardless of what’s going on around them makes me feel like no problem is big enough to stop me doing what I want. Regarding clothing, what I wear has a lot of London influence, the tracksuits and the shoes. The whole Air Max thing is so London. I’ve been to NY and LA and it’s nothing like it is here.
Who is the ultimate rebel to you? Why?
OneWheelWavey has to be up there, he’s doing whatever it takes to do what he loves. He’s not allowing other people’s views and opinions stop him from living the life he wants to live. It’s not even about what he does, but the mindset he has. I guess he shows how what he loves is so important to him that he’s going to carry on doing it regardless of what happens, that’s inspiring.
Tell us more about your Knives Down, Bikes Up movement. What inspired you to start this?
In America they have a movement where its bikes up guns down. We are in London, the main problem isn’t guns its knives. Growing up I’ve seen the effects of what knife crime can do to people and families: how it can tear people’s lives apart. So with the community that we have on bikes in London I feel like I have the opportunity to help push a positive message to encourage people to change their lives. Helping people to make the decision to pick up a bike and not a knife.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Damn I’ve been given a lot of good advice. To be honest I’ll be real, swear down I was in a PE lesson and we learned about goals. This has been a piece of advice that has given me a mindset that stuck. The thing that stood out to me was setting a goal that was achievable. If I never set goals, I would have no direction and I wouldn’t know what I was working towards.You need something to chase, to get you out of bed every day. Something to keep you hungry, and once you reach that goal you set another one and you keep going.
How does it feel to be a recognisable public figure in London right now?
I don’t really let it make me feel any type of way to be honest. People recognise me all the time when I’m riding, ask for pictures and what not. It feels amazing that I can make people happy and inspire them so that they feel like their dreams are achievable too. There’s so much hope and belief in this scene now. I don’t want it to change how I do things or how I think but that stuff reassures me that I’m doing something good and I’m doing the right thing, but I don’t feel like I’m better than anyone who isn’t as recognisable because of it.
What’s one rule that should always be broken?
I sort of just do what I want, a lot of the time. I just dream big and grind hard. I don’t know if there’s one rule that should always be broken, but I know that rules are always being broken and that’s alright, as long as you’re trying to achieve or create something that betters you or society without harming others.
Jake wears the Air Max Plus Greedy, available from 8th December on nike.com
4 December 2018