If you haven’t caught on by now, we’re huge product nerds here at The Union and we’re always keeping our eye out for new and interesting products that are worth getting a look at. About a year ago, we caught wind of a company out of Russia called Brotherhood (or BRZRHD) that are producing a few products that are not only unique, but high quality. With that being said, their product line is a pretty small, but quality and one we have been really impressed with. We were very curious to know just what this brand was all about, so we got ahold of one of the brothers from Brotherhood to find out just what they are about and what they have planned. Let’s take a look!
Alright, Alex! How’s it going over in Russia? I’d Imagine you’re getting ready for a cold winter, huh? We caught wind of your brand Brotherhood BMX on Instagram and it definitely caught our attention. How long have you been doing the brand now?
It’s cool, we’re having fun here, getting ready for the cold days! We’ve been doing it for seven years. Occasionally we have abandoned it and started over again. It’s like riding for a long time, you get more fun if you take breaks and rest sometimes, as you know. But this doesn’t mean that we are lazy. We are a small self sufficient brand, and we know our good sides and the bad ones. We are not trying to work extra hard, yet we’re trying not to get too fat sitting around. Actually, we work almost every day with rare exceptions. For example, today was a nice day and I wanted to hang out, but I’m sitting here doing this interview now, haha! And it’s fun!
What were some of the biggest reasons behind starting your own brand?
There are a few and they all had their part. We started this business with my older brother. Even back in childhood we wanted to have our own project to run and we both loved messing around with technology. My brother used to love painting unimaginable car design concepts and what not. He was particularly interested in the aestethics of things. I on the other hand used to make little models of things, I still do crafting nowadays. When I was 8 or even before that, me, my brother and our mom went for a walk and saw someone riding an MTB. Back then it used to be a really rare occasion. It was like seeing UFO. So unreal, floating like a spaceship down the street. A bicycle seemed to be such a fascinating technical apparatus, back then I couldn’t figure out how it works. It was a major event and it defined the way I went for the next couple of years. About a year or two after we got our parents to buy us a used MTB and I started riding aggressively right away, and the bike used to break too often. When I turned 14, I bought a used BMX for the lunch money that I saved up. It was much sturdier, but still would go out of shape often. Then one day I talked my father into taking me for a ride on his road bicycle. That day I noticed that he didn’t have the left pedal, only the axis stick was left. He was a general scientific worker in an institute but he couldn’t afford some new pedals. Apparently this has gotten really deep into my mind.
Early samples of the Oyster sprocket before it had a guard incorporated into it.
So far you offer only sprockets, is there a reason you only focus on sprockets or is it just the start?
We’re trying to walk the path of least resistance. When you’re a small company that has just started, you have to be very careful and not spreading out too much. Not doing unnecessary actions. Also it’s sort of a game for us. We want to enjoy it. For that we don’t want to overwork ourselves by going for every opportunity at once. We’re doing it all by ourselves after all! The development, the testing, the production. We don’t have armies of constructors, designers or engineers. We are, lets say, zen-buddists, and the process of making it is sort of a meditation, it must not be forced. And lacking of human recources provides a large timespan for polishing the products. We spend a lot of time looking into the lines and details, for hours, for days, sometimes for months we are improving it, while waiting for the opportunity to start producing. We usually have plenty of time. This is how we turn our light weight into a good quality, like judo fighters.
We saw a sample of a pedal you guys are working on. What’s the story behind that one? Any special and unique features to it? When can we expect to see that surface?
In fact a couple of years ago we were already producing pedals on a regular basis. At that point we were the group who made the lightest pedals for extreme usage in the world. Maybe nobody remembers that now, but it was us who used a sliding hub for MTB pedals. As far as I know, noone has done that before neither in MTB nor BMX industry. Even the famous two-part JC PC by Odyssey showed up after we stopped producing our pedals. We encountered problems with stabilizing the quality of production and we had to freeze the project. I’m investing a lot of my time into making them happen again. I personally tested them on field before and I’m going to control the whole proces of production now to avoid any mistakes. From choice of the material to testing. We were very young when we developed those pedals. I was 19. Now I have much more knowledge and experience. However, I’m not going to try and say when it will be available because it involves other people. You’ll know when its out, when it’s out, that’s for sure!
Above is the new spindle they’re working with, below is their original pedal they produced.
You have a sprocket that’s called the Oyster that features a two piece system and it’s hollow. Can you explain how that all works? Does it come in just a guard version or is there a regular version as well?
The Oyster, which we called so due to it’s shape, works better like a hollow rim does, compared to a one-layer rim, granted the cross-section areas are equal. This is called spacial frame. Also this special technology of turning hooks which I developed makes it practically a single piece. However I’m not pretending it has no alternative construction. And I’m not forcing it into people’s hands. You see, it’s not just a job for me. It’s art. I wanted to make something new, make fun of this boring industry. To give something, that is at least somehow different from all those faceless clone-like blank parts. If someone does not accept this design – It’s not my problem. As for the guard, I want to make a version with a continuous double guard to protect the chain from both sides. But I have no idea when my hands will get to it. Honestly, I’m kind of tired right now.
Q: Do you have a background in engineering for your design work or was this all self-taught?
A: I don’t myself, but we have people with engineering degrees which we involve in our production process from time to time. We meet up and work on parts together, I provide biking experience and express my technical and aestethical ideas and they use their skills to translate that into a 3-d model. Together we synergize well.
All of your projects are produced in Russia, right? Do you do all the machining or do you have guys you go to for production?
We are based in Russia, yes. We use outsourcing for production right now, but we are planning to make our own operation for some of the stages of production. We’re keeping it all in our country nevertheless. Until the last couple of months using a high-power equipment was too risky, we needed a financial basement for that. Then again, games those fat politicians are playing are negatively affecting our opportunities in making our own operation.
Have you ever considered doing production in Taiwan, China or the U.S. like most of other brands in the industry? What keeps you in Russia?
Why don’t you simply ride your bike from point A to point B? Instead you go for a different route through ramps and funboxes while doing crazy tricks on your bike. Why do you do that? Because otherwise it’s too boring, isn’t it? Although, talking seriously, I’m not sure I can give a good answer for this question. We’re trying to follow alternative ways in everything. Construction or general strategy of the company’s survival. It’s a part of our philosophy. Practically I’m not persuing the goal of becoming a millionaire. I simply want to reach a certain point of income that lets me have enough spare time and money to do arts like music, poetry, travelling and plain hanging around and having fun. Maybe we’re trying to do an undoable deed. But I’m fine staying on an average level of production. I’m hoping I answered your question.
How can people get their hands on your products? Do you have a website or place for people to purchase your products set up?
Mostly people buy it throught the website. If you want to support crazy russian freaks who work to live and don’t live to work, visit us at http://brzrhd.com and buy something! I hope we have enought metal for you and our small team will provide a good service.
Are there any shops, mail-orders or distributors that riders and shops can get your products through?
Yes, we have official dealers and many countries. You can find the list on our website or instagram channel. We’re happy to announce that now you can buy hardware directly through the website at http://brzrhd.com.
What’s the future of Brotherhood looking like? Do you have plans on expanding your product line to include more items?
We are trying very hard to give people something really interesting. Something original. Right now we’ve launched a stem. We called it “The Oak” due to it’s durability. “The Mirage” that someone might have seen on Instagram was just a temporary name. I believe in weird signs and coincedences and I think this name is bad because it represents something that does not exist.
Do you guys have a team at all? Are you looking for riders to sponsor at all? How could somebody go about getting your attention?
No, we don’t have a team right now, but in near future we are planning to hire someone. How to get our attention? Ride like hell, be noticeable in the media and don’t have any contracts that don’t allow you to ride for other brands and we will do our best to find you!
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks to my mom! She is a great and courageous woman. I’m really impressed by her cheerfulness. She always believed in me. If not for her, I wouldn’t have come this far. She always keeps me up, even in worst times. She is a brilliant mother and I love her a lot. Although I sometimes behave like a jerk and don’t appreciate it.
Anything else you want to say?
Thanks a lot for your interesting interview!