Mayo was born into motorcycles. His parents owned the only dealership in South America, and it was there Mayo fell in love with bikes.
The shop, located in Georgetown, Guyana, originally sold bicycles, but as soon as motorized bicycles appeared, those were sold as well. This would become both a blessing and a curse for Mayo’s parents, who wished their son would pursue formal studies - but that was not to be. Mayo wanted to repair bikes as well as sell and ride them. Mayo learned about repairs in his parents’ shop, then went to England to study with the masters at Triumph.
Triumph’s instructors were brilliant, thorough, and strict. Mayo claims he had few encounters with the grease barrel, which was meted out as punishment for mistakes. While we are unable to verify this, we feel assured, given Mayo’s wild success with motorcycles, he speaks the truth.
Mayo was sent to America to study business administration. When he arrived for his first day of classes at Washington Business Institute, he looked up from the bottom of the steps and realized this was not what he wanted. Instead, he enrolled in the YMCA’s Automotive School. There he excelled in the technical aspects of his studies — actually fixing bikes — but did not care as much for the classroom. Those of Mayo’s peers who surpassed him on paper could barely touch him in the shop. His instructor adored him, and Mayo became his helper.
Although he felt timid, Mayo went to A&L Honda, on Fourteenth Street and Seventh Avenue, to find a job. It was the ‘60s, and the other mechanics wore long hair and beards — in sharp contrast with Mayo’s clean-cut appearance. He was given the task of fixing an ancient, broken-down motorcycle that none of the other mechanics had been able to diagnose, let alone repair. Mayo realized if he succeeded in fixing that machine the other mechanics would be angry, but he wanted the job. More so, he longed to prove himself a superior mechanic. But none of the other mechanics would lend Mayo any tools. With barely a wrench in hand, he began his work. The problem? A needle stuck in a critical location, causing power to be diverted, rendering the machine inoperable. After an hour and a half the bike was running, the other mechanics caught hell from the boss, and Mayo had a job.
The First Store
In less than two weeks’ time, Mayo had proven himself so indisposable, he was invited to move upstairs. This was convenient and an honor, but also meant he would be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It was tiring, but he learned.
Then Japan began shipping smooth-riding, inexpensive, Yamahas, Hondas and Suzukis. Demand was incredibly high and American cycling enthusiasts were waiting six months to a year or more to own one. His boss had managed to find used, Japanese bikes — all in need of repair — and stored them in a warehouse on the West side. Mayo helped his boss by quickly fixing each of those bikes.
His next job was to maintain Cosmic Messenger Service’s cycles and scooters, which he did well, but soon realized motorcycle repair would not give him the financial security he longed for. So he got a job at American Can Company, where he stayed for three years. When then the company closed, he began fixing bikes again, in his backyard.
It didn’t take long for Mayo to re-awaken his love for bikes, and he went from fixing random bikes in his yard to renting a shop on Coney Island Avenue. Then, when he had established himself as a local legend and expert, he took a larger shop on Coney Island Avenue across the street. He and his family spent some years there, until they doubled the shop’s space by taking over a Honda dealership next door.
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