You can find Brian Gravestock in an old brick warehouse at 110 Sierra Madre Street with wrench in hand, repairing a bike. With 15 years of experience working at Criterium Bike Shop, Brian has earned his place in front of his mechanic's stand, but it is his love of bikes as well as his work that makes Brian's Bicycle Repair noteworthy. Right inside the door of his shop is a gorgeous line of vintage bikes, gleaming with streamlined fenders and frames cast long before Colorado Springs had TV stations or even I-25.
Your card reads, "All makes and models, turn of the century to full suspension." I love old bikes. People had old rusty bikes that they didn't have a place for, and I took them in so they wouldn't get ruined by the weather. Eventually, I really got interested in them. I still view it as a hobby more than a business. My business is repairing modern bicycles. If I find someone who is interested in old bikes, I try to help them out with parts or expertise, but I try not to let that become the part of my business that I depend on. I find that takes the fun out of it. I'd rather make my money doing tune-ups and keep the old bikes as a friendship thing.
So how much time do you spend restoring old bikes? I'm kept busy most of the time with bicycle repair. We specialize in full suspension tuning. It's usually only in the winter that I have time to mess with my old bikes. These bikes in the front are only the tip of the iceberg, I've probably got 60 bikes down in the basement. I have so many old bikes, I could never restore them all. But I hope I can find them all homes where they'll be appreciated.
Where do you find vintage bicycles? All the bikes I have are from right here on the Front Range. I think the farthest I've gone to get a bike is Pueblo. All these were probably pedaling up and down the streets of Colorado Springs 40, 50, even 70 years ago. One a junk collector sold to me. One came from an old farm east of town. It had been sitting in a barn. A lot of them I find at yard sales.
What's the best brand of bike to restore? Schwinns are great to restore because the frame is so strong, even after 50 years. In fact, these old Schwinn frames became the first mountain bikes. This silver Schwinn with knobby tires and drum brakes is one of the earliest conversions. Someone took the gears off a touring bike and the brakes off a motorcycle and pulled together the grandpa of today's mountain bike, and the Schwinn frame was solid enough to take it.
Your shop looks even older than your bikes. This place was an old feed and grain store, built originally in the 1880s. It's had a lot of different owners over the years, but it had been empty for a while before we moved in. When the last owners moved out they left all the grain behind, almost like if you moved out of your house with food still on the stove. The first four months that we were here we took out eight dumpsters of old grain.
It sounds like you can't stay away from restoration. If an old bike or a building's made it this far, I like to see it go a little farther. We're focused on service not sales. That's what's really important to me. When people come in here, I want to help them solve their problems and keep their bike running, rather than try to sell them a new bike.