Wednesday, August 17, 2011

20TH CENTURY CYCLES


Not exactly a retail establishment, even though it has a glass storefront in Oyster Bay, 20th Century Cycles is the garage/collection of Billy Joel.  Billy isn't a concours junkie or a hunter of exotica; he prefers motorcycles he feels comfortable riding, 'everyman bikes', although of course, every man would envy the assembled machinery...
Indian Chief custom from a couple of 'Pauls'...
Rule Brittania; BSA A50 Royal Star
Interesting custom with some history; Kawasaki built BSAs under license in the 1960s...
The Kawabeeza makes an odd sense; note CR carbs.  The Kwack W650 is popular with customizers; the engine is nicely done.
Thoroughbreds; Ducati '73 750 Sport and '76 900SS
Billy has many Royal Enfields; this one in Navy/trials spec
Immaculate, low-mileage Suzuki Katana, rapidly appreciating as a groundbreaking design.
'No' as in, 'I will not sing at your wedding/bar mitzvah/reunion/retirement/birthday...'
RE with bolt-on café kit...looks nice!
Lots of Guzzis, lots of BMWs...
Ducati 'round case' 750 Sport, ca. '73...such grace.
The one bike Mr.Joel doesn't ride; his 1977 Harley XLCR café racer...because it is 'fucking horrible'.  He keeps it as a memento of a horrific crash in his youth on exactly such a beast...
Moto Guzzi V35; the 350cc is rare in the US.
The Vincent Rapide Series C was a gift from Billy's sound man.
Alex in the shop truck.

 Many thanks to my pal Alex Puls, who manages the collection, for the invite.

8 comments:

GuitarSlinger said...

Like Nick Mason , Jeff Beck and a very few others , Billy Joel is the real deal . Not a musician who happens to collect car/motorcycles to be cool etc , but rather a musician who IS also a very serious GearHead.

Thanks for showing more of his collection than the general public usually gets to see

Greg Ess said...

I have to belatedly thank Mr. Joel, whose collection was directly responsible for starting me down the road to incurable motorcycle illness.

It seems Mr. J had comissioned a custom factory BMW R100 with twin turbochargers. This motorcycle was, apparently, not too much fun, because he sold the bike after a very short period of time. My best friend had a subscription to Hemmings Motor News, where we saw the bike advertised for sale. The month following, we saw it advertised again, by its new owner, at a higher price. The month following we saw it advertised AGAIN, by another owner, at a higher price. When it showed up a FOURTH time, we couldn't stand it any more. We called the current owner - who turned out to be the infamous Ghost Motorcycle, of Port Washington, NY -- who confirmed that they bike was available and its provenance.

My friend and I drove as fast as we could from Baltimore to Long Island, only to see said bike disappearing down the street as we were getting out of the car. Determined not to waste the trip, we asked Sal, the proprietor of Ghost, whether he had anything else that we'd find interesting. He Did.

I bought an R75/5 toaster tank that day for 1600 dollars, which considering the 150,000 miles I have ridden it so far, and the fact that it is still street legal and dependable, may stand out as the greatest bargain of my motorized life.

So thanks, Mr. Joel. Its all your fault. ;-)

grant said...

hi paul
sorry you have been "duped"
the kwak is a modern w650 dressed up
the w1 from japan looked and felt like an a10 with that love heart timing case fraid this is just a lookie likie

The Vintagent said...

No duping here, the only people who made ohc vertical twins in the 50s were JAWA... obviously a new machine, as are the Indian-made Royal Enfields....

grant said...

still a fantastic looking machine

Charles said...

I had NO IDEA Billy Joel was into bikes. that PLUS Christie Brinkley? I have MORE respect!

Anonymous said...

A riding friend and I met Mr. Joel out here on the east end of Long island this past summer and talked bikes for a while. Yes, he is the real deal: a fellow motorcyclist. And we approached him just that way-- no autograph requests or similar celebrity stuff. We just talked bikes, as bikers do.

Anonymous said...

I guess not all bikes look the same.It seems ;like there is quite a variety.But they are fast and a lot less inhibiting than cars. Less expensive for gas.