Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shadow Drag Bike!

Last Saturday, I got a call from Steve Crocker telling me about a Black Shadow that was listed on Craig's List in Nevada. He was calling me to turn me onto the listing. After I explained that I didn't have enough money at the moment to buy lunch, it was decided that if the bike could be had, we would go in on it together with the purpose of restoring and selling. Steve had talked to the owner a bit, but it made more sense for me to take over the negotiations seeing as I speak fluent "white trash biker". After many hours on the phone, and the reaching of a price that would stop the contacting of the other guys wanting to buy it, a deal was struck. A few days later, I'm in my truck heading off to the Nevada desert with a big pile of cash. My wife was sure that I'd be in a shallow grave by noon, and kept phoning me to make sure I wasn't dead yet.  See, the bike has been holed up in a garage is partial disassembly since the early 1970's. It was owned by a guy who was a self described "Harley guy" and the poor Vincent was surrounded by Iron Sportster motors and shitty aftermarket HD parts for many years. He played it up like he wasn't really in love with the Vin, but I noticed that he head a photo of a restored Shadow in his wallet. Having sold my own Vincent hen times were tough, I understood his pain.
A few hours later, I'm on the road with a Shadow in the truck, and no gunshot wounds. Mission complete. The bike is spectacular. It's a verified matching #'s Shadow that was built in '54 and first registered in the states in '55. The history that I was given is that it came out of Roth's shop in the late 60's and made it's way to Las Vegas. This I will need to verify, so the hunt for info has begun. Luckily, "Big Sid" Biberman will be at Glory in a few weeks, and there are still a bunch of the old boys from the Roth crew still kicking around LA. I'm sure we'll have the history wrapped up in a week or two.
As expected, there are shit loads of mods. First, EVERYTHING has been chromed. It has two front heads with massive DelOrto's. The tank has been cut away to allow the velocity stack on the rear cylinder to jut out. It's got an 18" Boranni with a spool front hub and no brake. The rear is a 16' Boranni with no brake or sprocket(?). It's also been made "hard tail". It's missing lots of minor head parts like rocker arms and push rods. Let's just say it's going to be quite a re-build. My two favorite thing that the guy told me when I was picking it up was 1. "the crank looks like a god damned mirror and spins all day" 2. " I had a picture of some weird loking guy next to the bike with a monkey sitting on it". 
It's things like this that remind me to not complain about the everyday problems in life.... I'll be posting more info as it comes in, and trying to document the entire thing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Venice Vintage MC rally

Yesterday, I went to the rally in Venice Beach put on by the Venice Vintage MC Club. I don't really know much about the club, but I do know that this was the second event like this that they've put on. The set up was this: meet at the site of the event, go for a ride up PCH to the Rock Store then back to Venice for BBQ, music and a bike "contest". Bobby from the Bigfoot Lodge had a beer tent to keep the riders "hydrated". It was in all a great day. I've got some nasty sunburn, and I think a couple of old guys fell over from Heat Stroke towards the end. I hope that these guys keep doing these things. And I guess that Glory needs to get a bit more involved. We will be having a massive event at the shop on August 14th with legendary Vincent tuner "Big Sid" Biberman and his son Matthew. That is going to be killer! look for more info on this and the Glory web site as we finish the details!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Moto Melee

I'm finally back on the planet after the Moto Melee and the 4th of July holiday. What a great couple of weeks. It's making it very hard to get back into the daily grind of business as usual. The Melee was really fun this year. Loads of good bikes an a crew of people that I only see once a year, but wish it was more. It also makes me wonder why Los Angeles has such a shit motorcycle scene.  San Francisco is such a great mc town. I've been to some other good cities as well, but SF is the best. Maybe it's just the vibe of the city in general, but it seems like there's a whole community built around vintage bikes. You have to hand it to Harley Welch and Jeff Guzaitis for creating this thing. It really is my favorite thing to do. I look forward to it all year. As always, there were exploding bikes and drunken shenanigans, and that's what makes this thing so much fun. I try and explain it like this: the year I blew apart my Vincent gearbox on day 2, I still had an absolutely brilliant time. It's all part of the experience. This year on day 3, I awoke in Fort Bragg bright and early. As I opened the door to my second floor hotel room, I looked to my right to see the beautiful Northern California morning. I then looked to my left to see my Norton had been carried up a fight of stairs and perched on a second floor balcony by mysterious elves during the night. My first reaction was a broad smile. My second reaction was laughter. I know that this would upset many owners of vintage machines, but it just made me glad to be on this journey with people who after a few drinks would think that this was a good idea. Brilliant!  So as the real world makes it's way back in, and I go back to the frantic chasing of nickels and dimes, I can look at a cell phone shot of my trusty Norton perched high above a cheap motel parking lot and keep carrying on. All the while thinking about what I'll ride next year. So, to Harley, Jeff and Deb, thanks for that reminder that I need to try and enjoy this life every now and then, and providing the event to do it.