Scotty Stopnik

Scotty Stopnik

There’s something about a Gerry Lopez Pipeline bottom turn that just ages well. That’s Scotty Stopnik’s sentiment, at least. Drawing from the past, surfing refined single fins and resurrecting old motorcycles from scratch, bringing his family along for the ride. Scotty Stopnik, born and raised in Huntington Beach, is 37 years old. He’s been married for 15 years and has four kids. His brand, Cycle Zombies, is more of a creativity hub, collecting and rebuilding old artifacts to share with the world. Scotty’s a family man first but doesn’t hesitate to hit the road on the next quest for a rare old bike frame. Turns out the soul of a Cycle Zombies bike usually starts with a single part. Let’s see what that process looks like. 


The Word with Scotty Stopnik


Talk us through your daily routine.
The daily routine is always changing. A lot of times, I hang with the kids and my wife at home for a couple of hours and just have the full coffee date. I’ll usually go and check the waves around town after that. Sometimes, I’ll venture off down south if it's better that way. After I surf, I go into my shop space here in HB and run a brand called Cycle Zombies. We’re not really open to the public, but we build bikes here. We do a lot of exporting, buying and selling. All the stuff surrounding that subculture of music and vinyl and clothing and everything that's old and kind of repurposed now. Along with CZ, we have some apparel that's attached to that, so I’ll get busy shipping the product. Sometimes, I'm driving to pick up an old bike. I did a thousand miles in the last couple of days. My schedule changes daily depending on weather, swell, and traveling. I usually go home in the evening time and roll around with the kids. We have a little skate park in the front yard. Wednesday, we'll do taco nights and skate in the front yard and keep it light.
How old are your kids?
I have three daughters. My oldest, Rosie, is 12. And then there's Izzy, she's 11. Goldie is nine. And then I have a little boy, Sid, he's six. Having the lifestyle and the job that I have, and having the kids being homeschooled and not locked down, we can kind of just pick up the bags and go somewhere at the snap of a finger. It's not so much planning stuff out. It's funny because when my kids’ friends ask them, “What does your dad do for a living?” I always tell them to say I’m the guy that screws on toothpaste lids.


What about the environment in Huntington influenced your life? How do you think that growing up there shaped you?
I love Huntington Beach. I think if you didn't live here, you would have a different perspective on it. There’s a rich blue-collar DNA here, a working with your hand’s kind of mentality. That was always what my family was about. I was homeschooled, so I was surfing at the beach at 10 o'clock rather than when surf school was at six. I grew up in North Huntington next to the Bolsa Chica wetlands, which at the time had tons of oil rigs and drilling, and there were these big open dirt fields with bike jumps, and it was our own little wasteland where you could get away with doing whatever. And then right behind that was Bolsa Chica beach, and I grew up surfing that area. A lot of people that surrounded me were older, crustier dudes. I grew up riding longer boards and alternative stuff, and back then, it was uncool to do that. I remember walking down to surf the pier with a twin fin when I was 15 and hearing the name-calling. I was different, I was into late-70s punk rock. I dyed my hair and wore tight pants. There are a lot of old-school dudes that I grew up surfing with that shaped the way I look at boards. There's a guy that gave me an old single fin when I was 13 years old. He was like, ‘This is a short board; this is what you should ride.’ He gave me a heavy log and was like, ‘You don't ride a light longboard; you ride a heavy longboard.’ Huntington's changed a lot, though.
Do you have a favorite bike right now?
My personal bike right now is a 1947 Harley Davidson Knucklehead. A daily rider for me, a throwback to a degenerates bike back in the early 50s. I've had it for probably eight years, and it's still my personal bike. I've got a few bikes, but I'm always rotating them. I'll ride one for a few months, sell it, and build another one. I have 13 plus bikes to my name. It’s money in the bank with old motorcycles. You can trust that it is probably better than money just because it seems like it's always going up in value.


Is the bike world pretty small? 

It used to be a lot smaller. When my brother and I got into that world, it was a lot of older guys, no younger kids. I was 19, and my brother was 16, and it was kind of frowned upon. The dudes that were my age now were like, “Take a hike.” That was the vibe. It was pretty unfriendly. Fast forward to now, and there are so many kids that are into bikes; that whole scene is huge now. It’s like surfing when you meet somebody who maybe skated or played music their whole life, and then they recently got into surfing. They're so stoked. When I see younger kids who just got a bike. The bike might look like trash that they just built, but they're stoked on it. That's like the dude paddling out, and you see him get a little head dip barrel, and he's so pumped. You kind of laugh to yourself. But that’s rad. They're in it for the right reasons.


How do you stay inspired to build and create new bikes? 

I really get inspired by old junk. I love going to swap meats, I love digging through junk and finding old parts. I'll build a whole bike around one beat-up old tank that's got some crusty paintwork on it. Match the paint on the frame. That’s where the whole name of Cycles Zombies came from. Bringing old stuff back to life. It’s about finding a bike that looks like it would never run again and being able to rebuild it and get it running again, and you're ripping down the road. And when it breaks, you can fix it. It’s inspiring to be able to figure it out and try to make something work without having a manual. Failing is the biggest part of success.



Has becoming a father changed the way you look at the world? 

We were super fortunate to go to Kelly's Wave Ranch a week ago. The whole family went. It was pretty rad. My 12-year-old daughter rides a longboard and doesn't really shortboard, but she rode a shortboard, and by the end of the day, she got a proper backside tube. It was unreal. It makes me look at everything totally different. I’ve been to the Wave Ranch before, and it was just like, ‘Oh, man, I need to get a good wave.’ This time, I just see my kids catch waves and have fun. In a weird way, it was just as satisfying as getting that barrel myself. If I would have gotten that backside barrel, I would have come out and been stoked. But watching her do it, I was literally in tears after. Just how crazy it is that this little person who came into the world is now getting a barrel for herself.

Are you able to pass down “style” to your kids?

My little guy’s into skating, and he will even see something and grab the rail of his board. He's like, ‘This feels like surfing!’ And I teach him that's what people used to do. They’d grab the rail of their skateboard to mimic surfing. I do tell him things like: You don't pump on a skateboard with the front foot; that's mongo. Yesterday, we went to Doheny, and I got to watch my daughter on a wave. Her feet are really tight together; she has good style. It’s cool because some people start out with a wide stance, and that’s how they are forever. The girls are pretty into ballet. You think of a ballet dancer and how they lift their leg up and twirl and then put their leg back down, and their hands are all in one spot. It's not like they're flopping their hands around. You could probably watch a contest and see a guy that could do 10 turns on one wave. And then there's a dude that does four turns on the wave, and those four turns are way better than the 10 turns. Some people have more style in their pinky than a lot of people have in their whole lifetime. And I think that really sums up a lot of stuff. When you think of bikes, surfing, music, or whatever it is, style is everything.