A new featured interview with Amos Brumble from Westerly Rhode Island
Tell us, what is it you do?
I own my very own bike shop Brumble Bikes, I have an advisory role with Velotooler, coach local cyclists and I still actively ride and race my bike.
How did I get started in cycling?
I first became at least aware that cycling existed as a sport when I saw the pursuit in the 1984 Olympics on television. I also saw clips of RAAM and the Tour de France. I thought to myself "I would like to do that".
There was a local shop King's Cyclery on my paper route. I saved my money and bought a basic Centurion Signet 10 speed. I started to ride most days and wanted to go fast. I picked up a better model that was a 12 spd and had indexed down tube shifters. I had the luck to see the return of the shop group ride-everyone seemed excited and talkative so I really wanted to be able to do that.
The shop owner Steve King brought me out for an early morning ride to teach me how to draft and make me at least sort of safe to ride with anther rider. A few days later I did that group ride and I got dropped. I had crashed when I overlapped wheels and since I was last in the group when I went off the road no one knew it.
I was stuck in my toe clips(I had sneakers). Once I got myself out of the toe-clips and started to ride Steve had come looking for me. We rode in and I was hooked!
How did I become a mechanic?
At first I just had the one bike and it was the most expensive thing I had ever bought so I cleaned it all the time. My parents bought me a book on working on bikes and the shop was hugely helpful. I did things like buy a set of used pedals, bearings and over hauled them. I did the same with hubs, built wheels (I paid the shop mechanic to help me learn) and generally read and took things apart and then tried to put them back together on my own.
I kept going and branched out into working on bikes for people I rode with for free. Eventually the other local shop in town Ray Willis asked me if I wanted a job as a mechanic when I was 18. I've been in the business ever since.
What keeps you going as a mechanic?
I could talk about specific instances but the what keeps me going with it is the whole process of learning, being rewarded by the results of my work from my customers success and the constant changes in products that drive me forward.
Tell us about your involvement with Velotooler.
I have known Yahor Buben (co-founder of Velotooler) for more than twelve years. We raced together on CCB Racing. We had lots of long car drives to events and plenty of time to talk. As both of our times racing at a top amateur level wound down we had many conversations about things we would like to change in cycling this ranged from racing to retail.
Yahor approached me in late 2015 with his idea for Velotooler. They needed some input from someone with bike shop experience to assist in developing the mechanical job codes.
My official title is "Director of operations" sounds cool right? Since I actively work in the industry on a daily basis I assist in interviewing mechanics, answering technical questions related to repairs and even being hired through the app to work events for Velotooler.
How will Velotooler affect service in the future?
Well anyone who has been in the industry and reads a bit will notice that there is a staggering loss of retail locations across the country. Combine that with a change in consumers being more comfortable purchasing their bicycle related equipment through other channels than shops and a real conundrum comes up; where will people who want their bike serviced go?
My opinion is that there will not be a reversal in these trends and one solution will be that the skilled mechanic will travel to the customers location. One goal with Velotooler is to enable skilled mechanics to connect with riders who need those skills. I could expand on this for hours...
What is my favorite hex wrench?
Okay I am really torn here, 5mm is SO practical but the 4mm has really picked up steam in the last few years as stem bolts, seat binder bolts etc. have gotten smaller but my secret favorite is the one for Campy Delta brake cable anchor bolt, the 3.5mm just because it is so odd!
Any advice for a new mechanic?
I waffle between the practical "find additional income" to the more passionate "Do it for the love of the work".
Here is my plan for a mechanic to make a career out of it. See yourself as being a professional. Do your best work, learn constantly whether that is about new techniques or improving your communication skills with customers. Be patient, an endless supply of patience is SO useful. Learn to be in your customers shoes; I continue to ride for many reasons but this is one of them. Seeing the experience through their perspective, it's easy to get wrapped up in our own everyday stuff but there is more going on out there in the cycling world. Get involved, mentor new people; this can be customers or other new mechanics who want to learn.
Do you have a favorite bike?
Again a really hard question-Do I say my fat bike? Always brings a smile to me, my road bike because I love speed and competition? My cross bike because of it's race back ground and versatility? My fixed gear bike because of my memories of spinning away for hours alone on the roads in the winter looking to improve my stroke? It's a real toss up and I still really want an eBike...
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