ShoesUp Magazine – France

Who are you and what’s your background?

I am a Los Angeles Photoshop artist who specializes in automotive retouching. I grew up in a working class suburb of New York City where I was always tinkering or building things whether it was a tree fort or my first car, a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle.

How did you get into bike restoration?

I had been riding bikes legally since the late 90’s but I think it started when I purchased my first BMW motorcycle 14 years ago.  I wanted to give it a non-stock paint job to make it unique and personal to me. After that, I considered buying a new Ducati when a local mechanic in San Francisco convinced me to rebuild a 1977 BMW R100S under his guidance to make it entirely ‘new’ again.  I figured in the long run, it would be cheaper and more unique then any other Ducati Monster on the road.  I have always had an appreciation for classic cars and motorcycles, so the decision was easy.

Is this becoming a trend? Where does it come from according to you?

I think it already is a trend.  After completing my first cafe bike in 2008, there were not that many cafe bikes on the road and finding cafe BMW parts was impossible.  Now, the bikes and parts resources are everywhere.  I think people recognize and appreciate a simple, classic and stylish design when they see it.  The internet and popularity of TV programs has catipulted that image even further. Now I am seeing lifestlye advertisements for companies like Levis with vintage motorcycles so once corporate advertising gets ahold of something, it is definitely trendy.

What is it exactly you’re striving for? Authenticity? Vintage performance? The good ol’ sensations?

All of the above!

Actually, I try to upgrade whatever I can without making the bike too modern looking.  But, if on the inside it can run the best it can with modern components, I will skip authenticity for reliability.  Aside from all the upgrades, it is still a 40 year old machine and sometimes your heart skips a beat as you push the corners too hard or expect modern braking.  It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate the sensation of an old machine.

The best part of the whole process?

Working in the garage is theraputic.  It is a total departure from my day job and I love using my eyes and hands for something tangible versus on a computer.  Ultimately, the best part is breathing life back into a machine that was considered dead.  I see way too many motorcycles out in the world that I want to ressurect into something new.  I am just lacking the time to do it.

You executed a commission work for a guy you’d never met before. Can you tell us about it?

I figured ‘What the hell,’  I might as well give it a try.  I thought about all the ways it could backfire and go wrong by trying to please somebody, meet deadlines, make design decisions for somebody else, etc…  Luckily the person I built the bike for was compassionate, understanding and appreciative throughout the entire process.  And to top it off, we quickly became friends so it wasn’t just a bike build, it was a collaboration with a friend.  I just wish he lived closer so I could continue to ride, and tinker on his bike.  I truly miss both of those aspects.

Do you do custom jobs for people abroad, or overseas? If not, would you be open to it?

I am actually building another version of the silver bike for a customer on the other side of the world.  So yes, I am open to it.  I still have to figure out the logisitics of delivering his bike to him though!

What other adventures did motorcycles bring you?

Honda used to have an advertising slogan, ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda.’  I have met some amazing people and satisfied my needs to tinker and build something I am passionate about.  Then of course there are the adventures of riding motorcycles. I did a small ride in Peru and a few years later, a 5 day ride in Ireland.  I think it is a wonderful way to experience a new place.  Arriving somewhere on a motorcycle is an instant conversation starter. And it separates you from the typical tourist.  Additionally, once you leave the congested freeways and road of Los Angeles, there are some amazing roads for testing out a motorcycle.  I am fortunate to live in a place in which the landscape and weather suit motorcycles wonderfully.

You’ve been receiving a lot of attention online and in magazines after your last two restorations. Have you been approached by any company?

Actually, I do have something in the works…  More on that at a later date.

Your dream collaboration?

Oh man…. This question has my head split into a million directions.  There are so many great bikes, bike builders, vintage car restoration shops and car designers that I would love to work with.  I still consider myself a student of this build process and would love to sit with the elder gentelmen who were actually building these bikes in the 60’s and 70’s.  Their knowledge needs to be passed on as well as the classic skills (such as brazing metal). However, a dream would be to sit down with BMW and design a truly retro motorcycle. Triumph did it with their Bonneville and Thruxtons but something about those bikes are slightly too modern for my taste.  Royal Enfield seems to have the classic styling figured out. A true modern classic BMW is achievable.

You never ride without…?

A helmet and cell phone.   After all, these are 40 year old motorcycles! haha.

What are you currently working on?

I have a few projects I am working on.  One is another cafe bike as mentioned earlier.  That bike is the priority due to a deadline.

And your upcoming projects?

I am planning a franken-airhead for myself with a classic foundation but modern suspension and braking.  I also have a street tracker in the works too.