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Brit-bikers in the bike biz? #570168 11/03/14 11:47 am
Joined: Jul 2006
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J
J. Charles Smith Offline OP
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It seems to me that quite a few of the posters on Britbike.com spent some time in the motorcycle business. I think it would be interesting to know who, and how long. I started in late February 1968 and haven't done anything else since.

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Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570207 11/03/14 3:58 pm
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wadeschields Offline
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Sounds like a good topic to me... You have a shop in Maryland J. ?


http://wadeschields.tumblr.com/

Jack of all trades . Master of fun! wink

Beer is not the Answer.... Its the Question..... The answer is YES

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Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570213 11/03/14 4:37 pm
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Ob1quixote Offline
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I did some time at the parts counter of an OT bike shop. Luckily for me, they had been a Triumph dealer and had parts for them tucked away when I toasted an exhaust valve on the 441.

Nowadays I stay on the other side of the counter, but every once in a while I get to paint a bike.


When singing "Kung Fu Fighting" is outlawed, only outlaws will sing "Kung Fu Fighting"
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570267 11/03/14 10:08 pm
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T140V-Rich Offline
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Might not be precisely what you're asking, but my dad worked in a shoppe in Greenville, SC that catered to bike repair around 1971-3ish. He'd taken a bike in for repair but the owner and he realized my dad knew more about repair work than half the staff. He worked on HDs, Triumph, BSA, Nortons and the odd Jap bike after hours after his regular job. Then he'd come home and often find a lad waiting on him in the drive...

I went with him to the shoppe many times. Bikes of all manner lay about. Wish I'd taken pics but I was only a lad of about 8.

Cheers

Richard


1977 T-140V
1973 T-140V
2011 Bonneville SE
Author of "Relics and Reminiscing."
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570279 11/03/14 10:40 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
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GrandPaul Online Content
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Tried to turn my love of bikes and collection of British bikes & spares into an income, gave up after 8 years. Still have some of the bikes and still love 'em all, but having 2 young kids means needing a steady paycheck.



GrandPaul (does not use emoticons)
Author of the book "Old Bikes"
Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, a BSA, & some Japanese
"The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570306 11/04/14 7:49 am
Joined: May 2007
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ricochetrider Offline
Moto Mojo
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Man I only WISH I could somehow eek out a living doing something within the world of motorcycling.


"It is no measure of health, to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: GrandPaul] #570312 11/04/14 8:09 am
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Alan_nc Offline
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Have bought/sold traded bikes and parts for about 15 years. Got serious about it when I retired 5 years ago. It has been a good steady income in a "retired" sort of way. I have a pension so I don't have to rely on it to pay the rent or food bills. I'm not sure you can make a "feed your family income" from it. Well I know many do but it is iffy. I have had a eBay store which worked very well. For those of you that buy/sell on eBay a store saves you quite a bit if you deal in volume.

Several of the local dealers in my area have gone under in the past 5 years and others have combined brands. The local BMW dealer handles Triumph and several Italian brands. Honda is now Honda/Kawasaki/Suzuki/Yamaha.

In the past month I have shut down my business. Several factors lead me to this decision. eBay and Google are currently in a fight over how 'searches' are handled. This has caused a drastic drop in the number of hits you get on items you list. I also found that the business caused me to not work on my personal bike collection. Third, I now have grandchildren that my wife and I want to spend more time with.

So...I'm not in the business any more but did enjoy working on bikes, talking about bikes with many folks on a daily basis and of course the money that it did generate.


Alan
Cleared m out....left only
59 BSA Bantam (Trials)
78 Triumph Bonny (UPS)
02 Suzuki GS500
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570317 11/04/14 8:53 am
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,696
kurt fischer Offline
#irideslow
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I was in the motorcycle business 1969-1976. I learned two things especially in the motorcycle business, that "motorcycles" and "business" are two very different things, and that I was better at motorcycles than I was at business. My franchises were Triumph, Kawasaki, and, for a few years, Sachs-powered DKW trail bikes, nice bikes.

When it came to Kawasaki, you could say that I drank the Kool-Aid.


Kurt

-- Don't believe everything you think.
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570391 11/04/14 5:35 pm
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Rusty Goose Offline
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I just finished putting together a DKW 125 for my son. That thing really is a wheelie monster! The earls type forks take some getting used to, the whole front lifts when the front brake is applied.

When I was 16 and needed some parts for my Kawi H1 500, I found a guy who raced H2's amoungst other bikes. He ran a shop from his home building race bikes for different racers. I ended up hanging around working for free just to learn. I started with cleaning and sorting parts and moved on up. Eventually some pay came in the form of used performace parts. I learned a lot hanging around that shop through hs, then off I went to college.


1967 A65 Lightning
1967 Moto Guzzi V7
1969 B44 Victor Special
1966? Royal Enfield Interceptor
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570402 11/04/14 7:37 pm
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J
J. Charles Smith Offline OP
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My start in the bike biz was about the most ignominious imaginable. But being the "motorcycle department" at a suburban Montgomery Wards turned out to be a more useful education than what I received contemporaneously in college. Wards was blowing out their entire motorcycle inventory in late-1967 and '68, the bikes were selling like hotcakes, and I got a part time job as a set-up guy. (The 50-350cc "Riverside" models were going for about 1/2 price, which made the sporty, Benelli-made 250cc singles just $288.) The manager of the department was an AMA Novice road racer, so I spent my first evening at Wards helping him set up his TD-1C Yamaha 250 for Daytona, where he finished 3rd. The mechanics who I worked beside, and soon joined, included a former 500cc road racing champion (on a Manx) in his native Philippines and later, a school teacher and motorhead who advanced my motorcycle education greatly. In my 3rd and 4th year there, I was building "custom" bikes from parts and selling them for Wards, and I'm still friends with people I met there. I quit a month before graduation, got my second motorcycle job a month after graduation, and never looked back.

Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570405 11/04/14 7:58 pm
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kurt fischer Offline
#irideslow
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Great story.

BTW, I was at Daytona on my TD-1B, was this 1968? I was in the Novice class 1966-67, Amateur in 1968:

Originally Posted by J. Charles Smith
The manager of the department was an AMA Novice road racer, so I spent my first evening at Wards helping him set up his TD-1C Yamaha 250 for Daytona, where he finished 3rd.



Last edited by kurt fischer; 11/04/14 8:03 pm.

Kurt

-- Don't believe everything you think.
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570442 11/05/14 2:56 am
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HawaiianTiger Offline
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Working on Britbikes and trying to make money at it is a great way to ruin your hobby. I'd rather stick a hot poker in my eye.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Black Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570452 11/05/14 6:56 am
Joined: Aug 2005
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bodine031 Offline
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I am currently at a shop just over 10 years as the parts manager. It's an independent HD specialty shop.The owner opened in 1998.I left the car world in 1999 after spinning wrenches as a GM line tech since 1971.I got in assembling heavy cruzers at Quantum. FXR style 88 inch S&S powered bikes. Company shut down in the fall of 99. Landed at a CMC/Indian dealer till that closed in Nov.2001.Joined the local HD dealer till the summer of 03 then set up the parts dept. for the new owners of a Kaw, Suz, Yam, Hon, Triumph store. That turned into a huge clusterfuk,and I bailed!! to my current location. Been in Brit bikes and cars most of my life. My godfather David Ash "Mr. MG"
and my dad raced all over the east coast in the 50's and mom named me Geoffrey after some guy she met while pregnant at Sebring in 53. Dude was Geoff Duke driving Astons. My first new bike was a 1974 Kaw Z1 next a 75 H1 then in 77 I bought a 75 left over T-160 which I still have. My Last new bike was a 2003 bonny I bought for my 50th birthday!!

Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: bodine031] #570490 11/05/14 11:25 am
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Rickman Offline
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I tried to be a supplier of Rickman parts, when the original importer on the west coast was still alive. Started @ '85?

He is gone, don't know where his warehouse of parts went, but I have an idea...

Still have a lot of parts, but nowhere near his warehouse full...

And nobody seems to want any of 'em.

Gave up Mid-O spaces @ '99? When they got too expensive...Never sold enough to make the rent of the space, except for two times...

Was only employed at a bike shop in '85-'86. It's gone now also.

Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570507 11/05/14 12:53 pm
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Tribsauk Offline
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I,m will Bill on this one. I worked as a bike mech when I left school mostly on brit bikes but more and more Jap stuff started to come into the shop.After a day working on bikes the last thing you wanted to do once home was to work on your own and as for other mates bikes, I once restored a 1968 Triumph TR6 for a mate I was glad to get it finished it actually cost me money and more time than I charged for! never again! I still have people ask for me to work on their bikes but politely decline as its the best way to lose mates, Unless they were like one guy I got to know who turned up one day with his newly bought BSA bantam, I didnt know him but said I would get it running for him .Anyway I did several jobs on his bike over a period of time and got it roadworthy then I didnt see him for a long while, when I did actually catch up with him I asked how the bike was running and he replied perfect I also asked why I hadnt seen him for a long while he said he had watched me work on his bike everytime he brought it to me and learnt to do it for himself, needles to say he is still a good friend of mine.. Dave


1941 BSA WM20
1958 TRI-BSA 750 PRE UNIT
1957 THUNDERBIRD
1932 R E MODEL GS SPECIAL
1947 BSA YM21
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570643 11/06/14 10:30 am
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GrandPaul Online Content
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Several very good things came of my experience, although lots of money is not on that list.

What I WAS able to do was, every time I placed a large parts order for a client bike, I'dd add one or two bits for my own projects. Also over that same span, I'd send a frame or other parts to powdercoat, chrome, cad plating, etc.

Over the years, I've managed to take three very incomplete basket cases to one complete runner and two projects on the shelf that are very nearly complete and ready to start assembling.

Other things that were made possible were traveling to pick up and drop off client bikes, and purchase bulk/lot buys of project bikes and parts that I was able to re-sell, or replace some of my stuff that was in worse shape.

So, what once was 5 nice bikes and 50 projects has become 5 VERY nice bikes, 20 nice bikes, and 5 projects.

...you know, the more I think about it, NOW I know where the money went...


GrandPaul (does not use emoticons)
Author of the book "Old Bikes"
Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, a BSA, & some Japanese
"The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: kurt fischer] #570683 11/06/14 3:05 pm
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J. Charles Smith Offline OP
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Originally Posted by kurt fischer
Great story.

BTW, I was at Daytona on my TD-1B, was this 1968? I was in the Novice class 1966-67, Amateur in 1968:

Originally Posted by J. Charles Smith
The manager of the department was an AMA Novice road racer, so I spent my first evening at Wards helping him set up his TD-1C Yamaha 250 for Daytona, where he finished 3rd.



Hi Kurt. This was in 1968. I am about 100% certain the manager's name was Randy Johnson (he was off racing more than at work, so Wards canned him a month or two into my time there). I tried to find him or the Daytona results for that year online, just to check my memory, but couldn't find anything.

Re: Brit-bikers in the bike biz? [Re: J. Charles Smith] #570758 11/06/14 10:14 pm
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,411
I
Irish Swede Online Content
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If we didn't love these British bikes we'd have been gone many years ago.

One year working in two separate Honda dealerships, dealing with greedy owners,
ignorant customers, and lying salespeople cured me of interest in Japanese bikes.

it's a long story, but those two dealers didn't care if an inexperienced buyer killed himself on an overpowered bike, so long as he did so one foot off the property and after signing the sales and loan paperwork.


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