a long, long time ago, probably last week, i found a builder doing stuff i thought was kind of neat, but also reminded me of a van halen cover band; doing a great job of playing somebody else's original tune.
not wishing to make such a harsh judgment (surprise), i did some research and discovered they can cover a lot of bands. from guns-n-roses to metallica, classified moto to wrenchmonkees.
i was intrigued how they had done this and nobody was writing "copycats," and "sh*t f***ing d*ckweeds" in comments in other blogs, which is why i don't read the comments in other blogs, so for all i know they are there but probably not as they're little but a bunch of d*ck sucking, back slapping, and always the one or two know-it-alls who criticize everything.
besides, i've discovered how my own ignorance knows few bounds such as how to tell if a drum brake is on backwards or the first few posts i wrote about falcon motorcycles.
therefore, i decided to discover what was going on at spin cycle industries myself. i emailed and received a reply from on of the two main men behind the bikes, eric meglasson.
this is what happened:
TR: from what i understand, you are an architect and your shop partner josh is a graphic designer. what got you guys into building custom metric motorbikes?
EM: Well, we've both been motorcycle fans for years. We own dirt bikes, sport bikes, super motos, scooters, and more. I bought an old CB450 brat last summer and we both kind of dug it. It had a cool vibe and was fun to putt around town on. It was kind of nice to enjoy riding a bike without ludicrous speeds. Old bikes are fun at half the speed and have a lot more character. After owning one, I decided it would be fun to try to build my own. I got started on the Virago project, then Josh got excited about his 850 project, and we were off and running.
I've always had an interest in bike design, and have paid close attention as some new bike designs have developed. I try to find design sketches and read about the thought process behind new bikes. I enjoy designing buildings, but I've always wanted to design bikes, too. Old bikes give me an outlet for that. Obviously, we're not designing them from scratch, but there are still a lot of design decisions that have to be made to get the look and feel we want. We discuss graphic qualities such as lines and proportions quite a bit, as we would with any design project we deal with at work.
Also, chicks seem to talk to us way more when we're on vintage bikes versus modern bikes, so....
TR: i know a lot of guys who work/worked in ad and architectural agencies and the skills they've learned in those gigs seems to translate well into nicely designed motorcycles, but it doesn't mean they're mechanics or welders. i imagine you had to pick those skills up in other places. what have you had to learn, what's been the most fun, and what's the biggest pain in the a** when you're building a new bike?
EM: We've learned a lot over the past year! As we mentioned, the design aspect comes pretty naturally and we have both been riding and tinkering with mountain bikes since we were pretty young. I worked in a bike shop in high school and we do most of the maintenance on our dirt bikes. So we had some decent mechanical skills. We've definitely gotten pretty handy with the angle grinder and the flapper wheel! Those are our favorite tools. I also learned to weld. My girlfriend's brother taught me, then he lent me his MIG welder. She's not my girlfriend any more, but I still have the welder. My welds mostly still suck, but you can hide a lot with a grinder and some paint! Actually, I'm slowly getting better. Josh has learned a lot about wiring, as much as he hates it, he has become our splicing and soldering specialist.
We definitely require help on some of the complex stuff. We have access to a fantastic machine shop, a very skilled welder, and a good seat upholsterer to help us through our challenges. My dad's a good auto mechanic, so he has helped us out of a few binds.
TR: you mentioned that you had a little event recently. can you tell us about it and your plans for other events in the future
EM: Yeah! It was pretty cool; we called it the Art in Motion Show. "The spirit of the motorcycle through art and design" We billed it as more of an art show than a biker rally and it was hosted in an art gallery.
Once we took an interest in the old bikes, we started noticing quite a few of them around the area. We thought it would be fun to get the bikes out into the open where people could see 'em. Plus, we thought it would be fun to feature our own new bikes. Honestly, when we came up with the idea of a show, we didn't know if we'd be able to get anyone else to bring bikes, and we thought maybe only our friends would show up. In the end we had way too many bikes and had about 500 people show up, which is pretty damn good considering how poor of a job we did promoting it, and the fact that we live in a relatively small town. One of our friends owns the Boneyard, a local brewery, and he donated a keg. It was gone in just over an hour. We're aiming for at least six kegs next time and are planning to expand the event significantly next year.
We're also helping to put on a vintage moto ride at the beginning of August. There are a lot of really neat people and cool machines in the world of old bikes. We've had fun meeting the people and hearing their stories. It is definitely a fun, interesting and super diverse culture.
TR: your first custom build was a 1981 yamaha virago that looks awfully similar to the style classified moto has made popular. how did this bike come about for you guys? did you see john ryland's stuff and want one for yourself or is it coincidental?
EM: Not a coincidence at all. John's 750 Virago was definitely the inspiration for my XV build. That thing was pretty rad! We noticed John's bikes about a year and a half ago and I got excited about his first Virago. I had my CB450 brat at the time and I was interested in coming up with something with bit more muscle; better brakes and definitely more reliable. I like the look of air cooled V-twins, and who doesn't enjoy the sound? We looked around at as many different types of bikes as we could that had air cooled twins. There really aren't a ton of options. At the time I couldn't even fathom owning a Harley, though I have now seen some that are so incredibly beautiful from the likes of DP Customs and Zero Engineering, among others, that I think a Harley build could be fun.
TR: there is something a bit different about that cb450 tracker. i dig it. hope you stick with metrics and euro bikes, harley customs get pricey and then you become a know-it-all snoot...
EM: Well, I settled on the Virago and got going. My friends laughed their asses off when I showed them the stock Virago in my garage. They thought I'd flipped. Just before the Virago showed up, there had been an MV Agusta in it's spot. It's not easy to comprehend the mental shift required to move from the MV to a Virago, that's for certain.
John Ryland actually helped me with the build. I hired him to perform the triple clamp swap so I could graft the R1 forks onto my Virago. John is a super nice guy and continues to turn out some pretty unique bikes.
TR: he is cool. he often answers my beer-swilling emails. i think we've spoken on the phone (beer! arrrrrrrr!) and last year he sent me a nifty classified moto t-shirt. who else has supported you guys as you build your hobby into something recognizable by dozens?
EM: Yeah, as you say, it definitely started as a hobby. At first it was just me in my garage scooting around on my rolling stool as I was recovering from ACL replacement surgery, thanks to a supermoto incident. I picked up the project mostly to stave off the boredom of not being able to ride bikes or motos all summer. Josh started helping me, then got his own pile of crap project going. Soon, a couple of our friends that had previously been laughing at us decided maybe they needed sweet old custom bikes, too. They hired us to build their bikes. We charged 'em double for laughing.
TR: i'd have put the ignition switch behind an exhaust header...
EM: We have definitely had a few friends and local shops make it possible for us to build our bikes. Our friend Wade at Vulture Cycles did some welding for us before I learned how. One of my contractor friends allows us to use his sheet metal brake and roll formers. My dad has definitely helped us out with some of our mechanical confusion.
On a broader scale, no one would have ever seen or heard of us if our buddy Rex Havoc at Garage Project in Perth wouldn't have forwarded a photo of my first bike to Chris at BikeExif. Rex also encouraged us to start our blog, which has really taken off. We have friends and followers all over the world and people asking us for tips on their builds. It's fun to help others out as we have had some good builders help us along the way. If they knew how little we really knew about bikes, they probably wouldn't be asking so many questions! The moto community seems very generous in general, and we are happy to continue that theme.
TR: ah yes, rex. he's a troublemaker. i've profiled his bikes a couple times. you have built a handful of bikes, is there one that stands out for you for being something that was either fun or a nightmare, or gets the biggest response when you take it out?
EM: They're all fun of course, because it is still new to us. The Virago was a pain in the a**. It took the most time by far. Its not easy to hide all of the electronics for a bike under the fuel tank. Both of our Yamaha builds get lots of looks around town, even moto people have trouble comprehending them. They're so radically different from stock.
The CB450 we did was interesting as it strayed from our personal vision more than the others since the owner had some specific ideas he wanted integrated, but it seems to be the most re-blogged, so apparently a lot of people dig it.
TR: what is behind the name "spin cycle industries," and where are you located?
EM: We call it Spin Cycle because my washing machine is in the shop. We are located in my garage in a town called Bend, Oregon. It's a little mountain town in the northwest United States better known for skiing and "The Ale Trail." This town loves beer.
TR: beer soon but first, your washing machine; what brand is it?
TR: you are lonely inside, aren't you? do you think it is possible to achieve world domination without having to hurt and/or imprison everybody first?
EM: Sure, just look at Marc Zuckerberg. He controls everyone's information. He probably has more power than anyone on the planet at this point, right? Guns are sooo last century. Information is the new ammunition.
TR: beer; an essential element of survival or merely something to loosen up a babe for a one-night stand?
EM: Babe loosening, for certain. Though there are better elixirs than beer for that task. Neither of us actually like beer (gasp!). Whiskey or gin, thanks.
TR: ben franklin just called me. he wanted me to let you know you cannot have a revolution without beer.
surely you have new builds in the works. what do you have going on that we can look forward to, and do you have plans to change up stuff or stick with what's working in your street tracker/fighter style? a bobber or chopper? a full-fairing cafe? something with butt plug highway pegs?
EM: Yep, we just picked up a couple more bikes to start tearing part. Two Kawi's, coincidentally. Folks can see the progress on our blog. At this point our blog is a bit light on technical information and heavy on the comedy of us trying to figure out how this whole custom bike thing works.
We like brat style bikes quit a bit. From here on out we'll probably always try to upgrade the brakes and maybe forks on our builds because we like stopping as much as we like going. So far, each of our builds have elements of cafe's and modern bikes mixed in, so its a bit hard to pin down our style, I guess. If we think it's cool, we're happy to try to build it.
Pegs? Hey, the more you ride, the more highway pegs start to look attractive! Just last weekend I was threatening to design some that fold up into fork guards so I can hide 'em when I'm not using em!
TR: done that myself.
thanks for taking the time to speak with me and for sharing a bit about spin cycle industries, eric. i'm sure my countless readers will be looking forward to more cool bikes coming from you and josh.
check out spin cycle here, mofos.