For me working on and fiddling with my bikes has always been part of the joy of owning one. As a young lad I never really had much of a choice because it was either buy the parts and fit them myself or do without because there was no way I could afford workshop prices back then. I suppose I could have tried giving up crashing, that might have made life cheaper, but if I had done that I would never have learned about the joys of customizing a bike…or rather making something fit because that is what I or a mate had in the shed!
In the beginning I used to work on the drive way, then I graduated to a little garden shed, with barely enough room to get the bike in let alone work on it. I dreamed of a workshop where I had enough room to actually walk around the bike, and finally, with age and a decent wage packet I managed to achieve that, by buying a small farmhouse with an attached barn. Nothing is ever simple however and I promptly destroyed that part of the barn by allowing my wife to convince me that we should extend the house into it. I am typing this now, sitting on a settee positioned exactly where my work bench was. My workshop was relegated into a small dark bit of barn, and there it stayed, until recently when I have got off my ass, knocked down a wall and started to extend it. Hopefully within a few weeks I will have the spacious, well lit workshop of my dreams and I will be able to start work on some of those projects that I have been procrastinating about for years.
For me fiddling with bikes is all part of the pleasure of owning them. Well it is now, those early days working under a sheet of plastic weren’t really pleasurable, but they did give me the confidence to turn my hand to anything, so it wasn’t all a nightmare. To me riding and spanner twiddling all goes hand in hand and I have spent many hours with friends, in a workshop, learning, repairing and creating.
The other night I was watching a motorcycling program on TV and the presenters announced that they were going to visit what was regarded as the best custom bike shop in the UK. Now I know what I expected, a clean, equipped workshop with guys who know what they are doing explaining a few things of interest. That however was about as far from the truth as I could get, because what was shown was weird.
“The Bike Shed” is a big building that displays a few lovely custom built machines, settees, a bar and a restaurant. So far so good, then you have to add in the grooming parlor where you can get your beard waxed or your nails done and the clothing shop which is more T-shirts and designer jeans than gloves and leathers. They do show some beautiful machines, really beautiful machines but on searching their website I can’t work out exactly how the bikes fit in, other than they are the niche to exploit, it is all about the shop, the restaurant and building an online presence. This of course is not a bad thing, they are a business and they need to make money, totally normal.
Really beautiful machines
For me however it all sticks in my throat a bit, they have taken your and my life style and sanitized it. They have made it pretty, nice and comfy and in doing so, to me, have removed its soul. When one of the “Bike Shed” guys complained about the noise of exhausts and engines, preferring instead the whisper of electricity, it was one step too much for me. Electric bikes are great, but saying that the beat of a twin or the song of a four at full revs is annoying and working at a bike shop, is ….bizarre.
and what look like great cakes...
might have to do some serious research!
Don’t get me wrong, we need places like “The bike Shed”, they cater for a person who is buying a bike to buy into a lifestyle and that is not such a bad thing. Anything that promotes motorcycling is good, and as bikers we should support diversity. We all know that there are all sorts in the biking world and so we should celebrate places like the “Bike Shed” even if they are not our thing. What’s more than that some of their clients may well become bikers for life, not just bikers while the fad lasts and even if none of them do, the bikes they spend their money on will at some point become available to us at knock down prices….well I can dream anyway!
Ps… just in case you think I have a complete downer on these guys, it is not so. They run a great motorcycle show, in the heart of London, where you can see some wonderful machines, all up close and personal. Check it out on their site https://bikeshedlondon2018.com/