Finding the Groove
Like so many other youngsters growing up, I was drawn to bikes because at some point the “cool” factor made me wild eyed. We’ve all heard the stories about the young kid seeing a big group of patch members blowing down the road as he peaked over the doorframe out the window. At some point though, at least for me, my love for old scoots took a turn in a slightly different direction.
After being away from bikes for a long time I was drawn back to it at a point of great turmoil, the details aren’t important, but it was one of the most difficult times in my life. Upon building a new scoot I found myself healing, in a way. I found a sort of piece and rhythm to it … it felt very similar to playing music. I’ve been a drummer for ages and I made a living in Miami playing in a number of different bands. When I played the kit sometimes I would get into a zone and time would stand still. I unexpectedly found that same feeling in the bikes. In a way, bikes saved my life.
So began a deeper connection to building and riding. The cool factor was now just an afterthought; it was all about the “Zen,” all about finding the groove, the pocket.
At some point there was synchronization of all these things I was drawn to at a young age … blues, jazz, art, old cars, drums, and old choppers. For me all of these things began to connect and make sense. Sure, I went through the “f@@@ the world” punk-skate phase. But that never lasts and it’s counter to the idea of finding the “groove.” It’s like long board surfing vs. short boards. One is about the flow and connecting with the wave, the other is about attacking and dominating it. So for me, the less is more idea always inspired me … jazz trios, three notes on a blues solo, two wheels and a motor. Coltrane said it best, “You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.”
When approaching a new project I have all these things in my mind in some form or another. Most of the time you are not thinking about it, it just happens and much like the ride when it’s done you learn things on the way.
Every week I would walk to my favorite bar in Venice and along the way I would pass a local body shop. All the year’s I lived in the area I never saw a bike in there, but this day I turned and saw what looked like a shovel sitting on a lift. I walked up and as I got closer I realized it was a cherry 1966 sitting in a raked frame. I asked one of the helpers what the deal was. After a phone call, an old-timer came over and proceeded to tell me a story about the owner. The owner moved to a Third World country somewhere in Asia where he could be surrounded by as many women his U.S. dollar could afford. It seems the duty on getting the bike to this country was way too pricey so it was for sale. The old man said it had been sitting for a while, but one kick and it turned over. Cash in hand the bike was mine!
I tore it down, kept only the motor, tranny, and wheels … sold everything else. The bike sat for a bit while I could drum up cash and other parts to get it done. The frame and gas tank came in as a trade for some work on a bike build I was doing for Matt Davis of Dice magazine. Matt scored the frame from Scott Craig. The frame came with some history; just about every bike Scott built was with this frame. I narrowed and frisco’d the tank and added some funky handmade mounts.
The front end came in as a trade for some fab work on a gas tank. The oil tank and donor fender were traded for an old bass drum pedal. With everything lying there, I turned on some Coltrane, drank some scotch and searched for the groove. I rode the bike unpainted for a while. It would have stayed that way, but after being asked to bring it the Stay Gold show at Sturgis in ’08, I felt the least I could do was paint it. While I am not a purist and enjoy riding these old bikes more that anything I wanted a little head nod to the era. A quick call to Scott Craig and he painted it up complete with funky acid drops.