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Portrait: Dillon Butcher

Style speaks louder than words.


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In conversation, Dillon Butcher is unassuming, and even a little shy. You get the sense he’d rather ride than talk. Put him on a bike, and this 23-year-old Vancouver Island boy is as smooth as silk. For Butcher, who rides for two Island brands, NOBL Wheels and Forbidden Bike Co., action truly does speak much louder than words.

Watch him shred some of his favorite trails, whether it’s burly DH on Mount Prevost in the Cowichan Valley, South Benson in his hometown of Nanaimo, or the Jordie Lunn Bike Park in Langford; Butcher makes it look easy. Jumping dirt is his happy place and it’s no surprise that he started racing BMX at age 5. However it would be another five years before his dad started taking him mountain biking on the Doumont trails, one of the more popular riding networks in Nanaimo.

Dillon Butcher

“There were a lot of old-school wooden features,” Butcher told Beta one day over Zoom. “BMX is about manuals and jumps so I was pretty comfortable.”

He continued racing BMX, while at the same time paying more and more attention to one of his idols, Brandon Semenuk.

“He’s so stylish and calculated with his riding,” Butcher says.

He quit BMX when he was 16 to focus on mountain biking, and developing his own unique, almost effortless style. It wasn’t long before his riding started to attract attention from videographers and industry insiders. In a world that celebrates flashy self promotion, it’s hard to imagine understatement being an asset. But according to Stephane Pelletier, Canadian marketing and sales director for Cumberland-based Forbidden Bike Co., in Butcher’s case, it is an asset.

Pelletier first met him in 2019 at the Coast Gravity Park on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast when both were competing in Logan Peat’s Backwoods Jam.

“I remember chatting to him about the speeds for the jumps and being super impressed by his effortless style that, coupled with his chilled and friendly demeanor, left their mark,” Pelletier tells me.

When Pelletier moved to Vancouver Island in 2020, he spent a week with Butcher hitting some South Benson dirt jump lines, Laguna (“a secret trail” that he built with his buddies) and other local classics. That’s when Butcher’s bike skills really hit home for Pelletier, who saw that there was something special about his style and approach. Pelletier says ripping a trail or jump line with Butcher is like watching a single-take video from start to finish: flawless.

“He’s so consistent. He rarely makes any mistakes whether he’s just flowing with a line, or making super technical tricks look effortless,”  Pelletier says. “For Dillon Butcher, it’s just another day riding bikes.”

“He’s so consistent. He rarely makes any mistakes whether he's just flowing with a line, or making super technical tricks look effortless,”  Pelletier says. “For Dillon Butcher, it's just another day riding bikes.”

Eventually, the leadership team at Forbidden started tossing his name around the marketing table. To Pelletier, Butcher was a great local rider, still flying under the radar, while pumping out awesome video content, building trail, participating in local events and inspiring other riders. In other words, everything you could want in an athlete ambassador. In January 2021, the boutique bike company signed Butcher.

Pelletier admits he was also guided by an ulterior motive. 

“I wanted to see what he could do on our bikes, doing things that hadn’t been seen before on a Forbidden, or any high-pivot bike,” Pelletier says, adding that high-pivot designs were saddled with a reputation for being glued-to-the-ground race bikes. “It turns out that’s not the whole story. You can also design them to be super fun and highly capable in the air, as Dillon has been showcasing.”

  Butcher’s skills are on full display In a recent video for Beta, shot entirely on Vancouver Island at the Jordie Lunn park, Max Power on South Benson, and a big rock drop finisher filmed in the Doumont zone, where mountain biking all began for Butcher a dozen or so years ago. In it, he executes cliff drop bar spins, downside tables, a dumped 360, and a no-hander cliff drop as casual as a kid swinging monkey bars in the playground.

“It was super fun to film. It took about four days to shoot over a couple of months last spring,” Butcher says.

The two-and-half-minute edit is aptly titled “Style Speaks Louder Than Words.” Videographer Max McCulloch, who recently joined the marketing team at NOBL Wheels as head content creator, was behind the camera. In the fall of 2020, it was McCulloch who put Butcher on the radar of Chris Arruda, marketing manager for the high-end composite wheel maker that recently relocated from Greater Vancouver to the Comox Valley.

“He’s technically gifted and his tricks are amazing, but he’s softspoken and he lets his riding do the talking,” Arruda says.

According to Arruda, it was an easy decision to sign Butcher to the NOBL team. But he also says Butcher’s not like some other content creators who yak constantly and entertain with their mouths as much as they do with their bikes.

“Dillon is not that kind of guy. You have to meet an athlete where they are,” Arruda says. “What’s important for us is that he really makes the product sing.” 

And make it sing, he does.

Now it’s about seeing what he can do on a bike, new tricks, making vids and having fun, always having fun.

A few weeks ago, I sat down to watch Butcher’s Beta edit with my friend Joe Schwartz, a former Kona pro from Nelson, B.C., an early generation Red Bull competitor, and all-around rider extraordinaire who now calls Cumberland home.

“He’s one smooth shredder,” Schwartz says. “He’s got dirt jump flow on a big trail bike. Most people would hardly make it through that opening jump line on a bike like that, and he’s boosting.”

That speaks to Pelletier’s gut instinct when he recruited Butcher to ride for Forbidden Bikes; to help dismantle design prejudice that says you can’t send it on a high-pivot bike.

These days when he’s not wrenching on bikes Arrowsmith Bikes in Nanaimo, he’s out building trail and making video content. Butcher says he left his racing stoke behind on the BMX track a half dozen years ago.

“I’m kind of over it,” he says.

Now it’s about seeing what he can do on a bike, new tricks, making vids and having fun, always having fun.

 In a future, non-pandemic world he looks forward to traveling with his bike. For now, he’s focused on his Vancouver Island backyard. And with its rugged topography and mossy deep green forests, there are far worse places to be riding a bike for someone of his natural talents.

“Building new stuff and keeping it fresh. That’s what gets me excited,” Butcher says.

Photos by Daniel Fleury

Click HERE to watch ‘Dillon Butcher on Vancouver Island – Style Speaks Louder Than Words’