The wizard of old wheels – the craftsmanship initiative gas vs diesel truck


A romantic aura hovers like exhaust fumes over the old Japanese bikes that Stefani keeps in fighting trim. They were the motorcycles that made riding, or the image of riders, civilized, re-drawing the bandit image of Harley-Davidsons and even the snob value of the tweedy Triumph, dramatically evoked by films such as The Wild Ones. (Despite the Harley-loving ethic that movie inspired, Marlon Brando is actually riding a Triumph.) A Time magazine headline on a story about Hondas when those bikes became widely popular in the U.S. was “The Mild Ones.”

The first Honda imported to this country, the 125 cc Benly in 1960, was designed to make consistent visual sense from front to back, in a way that was rare in motorcycles, where style was almost entirely confined to the gas tank. The trusty little Benly was my second motorcycle, a welcome relief after my very undependable 500cc Triumph, which was easily the most dangerous part of my time in the Marine Corps. gas chamber Over time, Japanese bikes got bigger and faster, ultimately rising to dominate global racing.

Let me digress for a moment to salute the great pioneer of Japanese motorcycling. Soichiro Honda began making motorized bicycles in 1949, calling his first model the D Type, propelled by war surplus 50 cubic centimeter generator engines. f gas regulations ireland As early sales, and a large loan from a U.S. bank, gave him the cash to expand, his company grew quickly, expanding into automobiles and eventually all sorts of motorized machinery. Within 10 years, Honda was the largest motorcycle company in the world, and its founder was already building bikes good enough to compete in international racing. (Today, almost six decades later, Honda is the world champion at Moto GP, the top-level motorcycle race.)

One day in 2001, over a beer, the bike shop’s original owner, James O’Hanlon, told Stefani that he was planning to sell the garage and move to Vermont. “And I want you to buy the place,” he said. mp electricity bill payment online indore Stefani was driving a cab at the time, and the city’s taxi industry was already tanking. So he happily accepted the offer. photo by Peter Belanger

In 1959, the first Hondas were imported to the States (although Yamaha beat them, having started selling bikes in this country a year before). electricity basics Suzuki and Kawasaki soon followed. gas up shawty Simply because of proximity to their manufacturing centers, British motorcycles such as Triumph and BSA were the machines of choice on the East Coast; meanwhile, with easier access to shipments from Japan, California riders were inclined to go with what became known as “rice rockets.” Stefani believes the Europe versus Asia dynamic still prevails. “On the East Coast,” he says, “a lot of the maintenance and rehab work keeps old British, German, and Italian bikes running. Out here, the sentimental favorites are mostly Japanese.”

Since Stefani and I own the same classic Honda (something I didn’t know until interviewing him for this story), let me digress again with a few facts about the 400F machine that won my heart so many decades years ago. This sleek little bike was introduced, in 1975, at the Intermot show in Cologne, Germany, as a re-design of a slightly smaller four-cylinder model.

Along with boring out the cylinders, Honda lowered the handlebars to get some café racer elan, added a stylish gas tank, then gave the bike its most elegant and distinctive feature: a set of pipes sinuously sculpted as a four-into-one exhaust system. This curvaceous detail is what I fell for instantly when I walked into the small Honda dealership on 14 th Street in Manhattan with a little money to burn.

With 37 horsepower and a weight of almost 400 pounds, the bike was not as fast as the Kawasaki two-stroke machines of the same years, but it could break 100 mph, just barely, if the rider ducked under the wind. As a result, it wasn’t a particularly good bike on the racetrack, though a re-purposed model did win the 1980 small bike class on the Grand Prix circuit.

Let it be noted that if any of the bikes ridden in the annual Melee have been restored and serviced at O’Hanlon, they do not have exhaust pipes made of old coffee cans. electricity font generator Riding up to the O’Hanlon shop, the first thing any bike gourmet notices is a parked line-up of 20 or so Japanese machines of various ages and states of health in a chorus line of aging and ailing beauties.

The O’Hanlon shop services anywhere from 80 to 240 bikes a month, depending on the number of mechanics working at any given time. In San Francisco, there are no slow seasons like there are in other parts of the country, where sleet and rain drive people indoors, or into their cars. Still, the O’Hanlon shop sits in one of the last gritty, semi-industrial neighborhoods of an increasingly upscale city, so his patients have to be locked inside every night. Getting as many as 50 bikes into a shop that’s not much bigger than a standard home garage takes some “spatial organizing,” Stefani says, “but we always figure it out.”