Cliff Notes

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My history with motorcycles starts back when I was sixteen or so, and would longingly look at the string of motorbikes cruising up and down our main street on a Friday and Saturday night. There were GXRs and FireBlades, early race bred crotch rockets, bright plastic fairings which screamed of speed and sex. And the riders in their one piece leathers, all looking the part. It didn't matter that they never got above 30mph on the 'gerbil run' as we called it; these bikes look fast standing still.

I would say it was fortunate that my economic situation at that time meant I couldn't buy one of these bikes. I don't think I would have made it past eighteen. I had to wait another eleven years, where upon I met a woman who would help rekindle my interest in motorcycles again. We started CBT training together to pass our motorcycle test (I should point out that I am British and this part of the story is all happening in Scotland), with a view to both getting bikes and touring though Europe together.

A few days after passing my test and applying for my license, I was laid off from work. With no immediate job, no apartment, and really no reason to stay in the UK, I decided (with some prodding from my girlfriend) to take the Golden Goodbye they had given me, fly to New York City, buy the bike of my dreams (1999 Honda VFR800i Interceptor) and spend three months exploring the back roads of the USA.

And so fourteen some thousand miles and six sets of Dunlop 207 tires later, I completed my epic road trip, settling in Friday Harbor, WA for the last two weeks of my tourist visa.

Well, those two weeks have now turned into sixteen years; I never returned to Scotland to live and work. A lot has happened since I rolled out of Brooklyn on that shiny red VFR. I have an amazing fourteen year old daughter, a growing photography company, and my dream machine shop where I can build amazing custom motorcycles. 

Why do I love the cafe racer look? I guess I love the simplicity of the lines. There is little clutter, all superfluous junk is removed, and all you are left is a bike in its most elemental form. And I love the idea of taking a lost and forgotten '70 motorcycle and giving it life again. How many old Japanese twins are rusting in garages across America? These bikes can be cheaply resurrected and offer an easy way into motorcycling. The mechanics are simple and easily understood, even if you are not a wrench monkey. Plus they look so damn good! 

I hope you enjoy reading the transformation of old, rusty, and forgotten motorcycles into treasured classics. The internal combustion engine may have only a couple of decades left, so let's enjoy what we have left of this era. Pull on your leather jacket, throw on a helmet, and Do The Ton before it's too late.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you have; I believe knowledge hard earned is best shared. 


John Sinclair

Rebuilding, restoring, and recycling classic bikes into unique custom-made cafe racers.


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The Four Fifty

170 John Street

Friday Harbor, WA 98250

United States

(360) 298-2374

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