Thursday, March 20, 2008

Other People's Garages #2

My buddy Max wins the garage wars. He's working in a turn-of-the-century brick warehouse (very rare in our earthquake-prone Bay Area), which used to be a tool and die company. The fir floors are soaked with 100 years of machine oil, giving credence to the old saw that the building is 'oozing history'. It's been completely retrofitted for e/q safety (note the red tie-bar ends dotting the front of the building), which is somewhat reassuring, but as he says, when the Big One hits, it's still made of brick. But, the light inside makes one forget about the dangers; this workspace is what every vintagent dreams about, but which rarely materializes. If it were mine, it would already be full!

The warehouse is slowly being fitted with vintage machine tools and cabinets, groovy memorabilia, and the bikes (Harleys) which Max makes his own through creative metalwork and painting (which he does himself - no 'checkbook choppers' here).

Max has a great blog, 4Q Conditioning, which is a conflation of his parallel interests in motorcycling, skating, dogs, and Americana. I check it every day for a laugh.

He's got all his Harley bases covered in the photos; flatheads, knuckleheads, panheads, and shovelheads, and while my interests range in other directions, I've always appreciated the skill and restraint in his custom bikes. His creations, and Shinya Kimura's, are the only customs which I've looked at with a 'hmmm... maybe...'.

But in truth I've owned a lot of old-school customs in the past 25 years; hardtail Triumphs, bobbed BSA's, high-bar Ariels, and even own a bobbed Velocette currently. There was a time when a TR6 Triumph with a rigid rear end was more commonly found than anything in stock sheetmetal, but nowadays, almost all the bikes for sale are aspiring to be standard, and the 'original' (ie converted decades ago) stripped machines are highly sought after.

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