How does a BMX Mechanic organise their tools to be Olympics-ready?

We get a lot of customers sending in their pictures to us, but this time we had something a bit more special. Richard @purepikebuilderuk sent us some pictures of his finished toolboxes, and they look great! Richard is actually a BMX mechanic for the UCI World Cycling Centre, so we decided to have a little Q&A with him to learn a bit more, and see how he’s getting on with his Shadow Foam.

So first thing if you can just give a little introduction – what you do, where you’re based etc.

My name is Richard Townsend, I am the owner of the pure bicycle company which I started 10 years ago. I design and manufacture BMX racing frames and components. I also work for the UCI World Cycling Centre as their BMX mechanic travelling to European, World Cup, World Championships, and Olympic games with their team of elite athletes.

How did you get into doing this? I imagine it’s not easy to be a mechanic for athletes at that level

It started back in 2015 when one of the GB team, Liam Phillips, needed a mechanic for the World Championships in Belgium, as the normal BC mechanic could not attend. I had built wheels for Liam’s bike for the 2008 games and had known him for a long time, so I helped BC for what I thought was a one-off event. I then, out of the blue, got a call from Australia Cycling asking if I could mechanic for them in Europe for races, as at the time Liam’s coach was an Aussie, and Australia reached out to ask if he knew anybody and he recommended me. So I travelled for 2 years with Australia. I then went to an indoor race in France and Liam had retired due to injury and is now the head coach for BMX at UCI. He was there with a group of riders and was struggling on his own so he asked if I could help him and have been working with him ever since.

That’s really interesting, it’s just one of those things that snowballed then? So, with a lot of travelling then, it must be important to keep your tools organised?

Yes, it did very much so. Yes in the last season I did 52000 miles of travelling on planes and road went to USA South America Australia all around Europe and Japan for the test event. Having tools organised is vital, as if there is an issue between races there is very limited time to fix things. So I have to know that I can go straight to my box and know where the tool I need is I don’t have time to be digging round to find them. That could be the difference between a rider making the start and not and when the prizes can be up to 10k per race I can’t risk the riders not being ready. It can be quite high pressure but knowing I have the tools and knowing where they are, it definitely makes the job easier

It’s quite a common thing we hear from mechanics that they need to know where a tool is, or at least be able to see if something is missing. Obviously you starting using Shadow Foam, but did you try any other organisation techniques before?

I had the Park Tools toolbox with their organising system in it but found that every time I flew or even moved it they would move, so that’s why I went to the foam to stop things moving about and to protect the tools as they are a big investment

How did you end up hearing about Shadow Foam?

I follow Toolbox Wars on Instagram and had seen a few guys there using it so looked it up and bought what I needed and set to with a blade

Yeah, there are quite a lot of entries to toolbox wars with Shadow Foam. Did you have a look at any other products, or was it love at first sight?

I had seen some of the pre-cut stuff but was very expensive and I thought I could do it myself and the Shadow Foam was pretty easy to cut, after I had done a few tools I soon had the hang of it

And now that your tools are all cut in, how have you found using your toolboxes?

Much better there is no movement at all. Have not been able to fly since doing it, so not had them being thrown off a plane test yet but I am confident it will be good

Well, you’ll have to let us know! Hopefully, we can see Shadow Foam at the Olympics! Where can people find you?

My main business page is @purebikeco on Instagram and @purepikebuilderuk is my mechanics page so either of those. My website is www.thepurebicyclecompany.co.uk