Death Grip

Huggie, or Brent Burrows as he’s sometimes known, is one of those guys who is just awesome to be around. His enthusiasm for riding and life in general is infectious and I’m yet to see him in a bad mood. Although he is older than time itself, he has raced competitively in several bike disciplines; this definitely shows in his riding style. Don’t let this guy’s age fool you, he’ll still ride any Young Gun into the ground! These days Huggie applys his extensive knowledge of bikes into the new Avanti MTB range.

NB. Huggie may or may not be as old as I have made him out to be.

How old are you (if you want to tell us)?
My hair is going grey so that should be a good indicator.

Where do you live?
The North Shore.

What do you like best about living where you do?

After 20 years in Wellington the warm climate is a real plus. It’s great to be so close to a beach and to have enough of the right weather to enjoy it.

What do you dislike about living where you do?
An off-road ride here generally involves a car ride. It was 10 minutes by bike to the trails in Welly.

How did you get involved in the mountain bike scene to begin with, and how long ago was that?
I raced BMX for a number of years and when these weird bikes with big wheels, fat tyres and gears started appearing I got interested. A Karapoti excursion on a BMX bike convinced me that gears on a bike made sense and I have pretty much been riding mountain bikes ever since.

What’s your ‘day’ job? What does it involve?

Bicycle Product Manager is the title. I lead the team responsible for designing and developing the Avanti Bicycles mountain bike product range. We have our own engineers and graphics staff here in Auckland which enables us the freedom to create what we want, the way we want. Designing our products here in New Zealand is an important part of the Avanti design process. It involves a fair bit of travel around the globe and and staring at a lot of spreadsheets.
What are five benefits of working with bikes all day every day?

  1. My hobby has become my work and that’s not a bad thing.
  2. Seeing and testing all the cool new stuff that’s being developed for the market long before it hits the shelves.
  3. Most people are into bikes because it’s what they love. Through this you meet a lot of positive passionate people. There are too many grumpy buggers in this world already.
  4. Riding bikes. There needs to be more of this.
  5. There is a sense of pride in creating something from scratch, from concept through to testing and presenting to the public. Job satisfaction indeed.

How would you describe your riding style?
I had a customer years ago describe himself as a tractor. Not really that quick or stylish but would still complete every climb, that about sums me up too when it comes to hill climbing. I enjoy the challenge of a technical descent at speed although big jumps ore off the list these days thanks to a back injury a few years ago.

Favourite trail?
I don’t really have a favourite but any dirt trail where cars don’t exist is a good start. Rotorua always offers up great riding and the various trails around Wellington city strung together make for a great day on the bike, and that’s without hitting the trails at Makera Peak. Hook up with a local to get the best of this one.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and the trails around Whistler are awesome, and a recent trip to Morzine got the adrenaline pumping.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in the last 10 years?
Kids always tell it the way it is. There is no padding around to soften the blow. My 6-year-old does this a lot and he also has a knack of remembering things I’ve said that would probably best be forgotten.

What’s wrong with mountain biking?
Nothing at all. Anyone can do it, you can go your own pace and not get jibbed and post ride beers are always expected.

What are three things right with mountain biking?
It’s always progressing as technology develops. There’s a lot of tech in today’s carbon and full suspension bikes. Being able to cruise through country trails and singletrack and not having to worry about traffic signals and vehicles. It’s something entire families can go and do together. The families I’ve seen on the trails at parks like Woodhill and Rotorua show there is a strong future ahead for this sport.

Top two MTB developments in the last 10 years (bike park, part or whatever)?
Developments in suspension top the list for me. When I started riding, the suspension fork wasn’t even on the product horizon and bikes weighed a tonne. Now you can hit the trails on 6 inch full sus bikes that are easily lighter than those old clunkers and a lot more efficient.  What is happening with carbon is pretty exciting too. Who would have thought that mountain bikes could get as light as they are and still be durable.

All time favourite rider?
I don’t have a favourite but any Kiwi rider doing well on the world stage is worth following and riders like Gracia and the Atherton boys inspire for their ability to ride with style and skill whether it be downhill, dirtjumps or a Red Bull huck fest.

Top five favourite bits of MTB kit?
The latest versions of the Shimano XT brakes are a pure joy to use and have a tonne of stopping power.  Lock-on grips; if you’ve ever experienced a grip coming off the bars on a descent then you know what I mean. Troy Lee shorts; they fit well and I’ve had them for years and still cannot kill them. Shimano 646 pedals; I’ve had these for years too and they never seem to be getting old and worn out.

Who do you look up to?

People who just get on and get things done in this world. Everyone knows life can be tough at times; complaining about it won’t make it any better. Here’s to positive thinking people everywhere.

Other than your serious caffeine addiction, what are your vices?
My wife’s incredible cooking and baking, a glass or two of a great Pinot Gris and home renovations. I’m a serial offender on that last one.

Finish this sentence: “On a Saturday I like to get up and….”
‘Go for a ride’ should be the answer but the reality is I get intercepted by my son who wants a slice of my time. It can involve BeyBlades or Lego but generally it’s demands for breakfast pancakes. Claims that I make better ones than mum normally clinches the deal.

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