Headquarters

Angry Lane Motorcycle Workshop - Hong Kong

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Building your own motorcycle grants access to a worldwide club of fellow like-minded fools. There’s an unseen bond, brokered in sleepless nights, bloody knuckles, and the torment of looking for that one elusive gasket. I’m going to continue to explore this world and write about the people I meet. In a previous post I talked of visiting Deus in Sydney. On this trip to Hong Kong, I reached out and asked to meet with brothers Ben and G that own Angry Lane Motorcycles. I love exploring.

I erroneously assumed the address of “19F” was a unit number. Thoroughly lost and wandering down an alley looking for a number 19, I found an old man who simply pointed up in the sky when I showed him the address. The 19th floor. A motorcycle workshop on the 19th floor? No way.

Exiting the elevator, (the second elevator that I tried, because of course the first one only had floor 18 and 20) I was further convinced that someone was screwing with me. There was nothing. That was until G, with a huge smile on his face, opened a completely nondescript white door and welcomed me to Angry Lane Motorcycles. Stealthy doesn’t even begin to describe their setup; it puts all those NYC speakeasies to shame.

Clarification: Motorcycles go in the elevator with people when it’s time to ride. G and Ben think that is normal. I approve.

I walked into a bikers dream. I actually giggled, clapped and sort of danced an awkward jig. Ruby helmets, rare Japanese parts, screen-printing, bikes in progress, finished bikes, apparel, prototype parts, vintage race parts… a wonderland!

G explained that amongst other careers that took him around the world, he worked for a Japanese leather race suit manufacturer and built bikes in his spare time. One day, frustrated that a top Japanese supplier only sold to registered companies, he decided that the simple solution was to become a company. It seems easy when you put it like that! Angry Lane was soon born.

There are not a lot of top quality bike builders in Hong Kong (parts are a pain to get – something us in the US take for granted), but there’s wealth paired with style – a rare combination. Subsequently, Angry Lane have benefited from fun clients that are helping push some really cool builds. With the foundation set by building great bikes, G’s background in leather and Ben’s design skills have naturally pushed them toward the booming motorcycle apparel and accessories market. They have been working hard and I saw prototypes of some droolworthy upcoming products. Just look at that jacket.

What Hong Kong lacks in parts availability, it more than makes up for with the nearby mecca of manufacturing that is Shenzhen / Guangzhou – everything you could ever dream of can be manufactured 45 minutes from Angry Lane.

Leaving G and Ben, I pondered this thought for a while. It’s quite a unique position the guys are in. I tend to focus my efforts to stay Made In USA, but the reality is that we all look for affordable parts as well. A $700 CB350 simply can’t always justify billet USA parts. G and Ben have the possibility to innovate some one-off parts for customer builds, but then jump to production pieces very easily in the future. In fact, the biggest hurdle for successful Asia manufacturing is the necessity to be there at some point in time to find a reliable partner for what you need. It’s a little left field, but I think Angry Lane could fund some future projects by working to help some of their bigger peers with local knowledge paired to built-in passion for the motorcycle culture. It was a great day learning from more members of the bloody knuckle club and further fueled my enthusiasm for what’s happening with motorcycles right now. Next on deck for Angry Lane is a BMW R80 café with full fairing. I can’t wait for the e-mail from G telling me it has rolled into the elevator for the first time.

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Deus Ex Machina Headquarters Visit

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If you've visited the Discommon Blog before, you'll know that I'm in deep (possibly drowning... but I'm kicking hard) with a 1970 Honda 350 motorcycle build. When I take on a new project, I tend to try and absorb as much of the world that surrounds the project as possible, it broadens my horizons, teaches me and gives me the opportunity to find new fascinations. Deus_Ex_Art

The custom vintage bike scene is such fun. The price of entry can be what you want to make of it - $200? Dive in! $20,000? You're welcome too! There are talented builders popping up around the world and a thoroughly astonishing support structure of forums and parts companies out there for the weekend garage crusader.

Deus_Ex_Hot_GirlOne of the stalwarts of the custom cafe and brat scene, is the Australian company Deus Ex Machina. I say company, but at this stage in their adventure, it is more appropriate to call them a brand. With a comprehensive clothing and accessories line, shops in California, Indonesia and the headquarters in Sydney, they are a long way from the grease and grime "authentic" 3 man shop that people like stand behind, champion and push as "the real deal". I have heard derogatory remarks directed at Deus..."Oh yeah, Doos, that hipster shop in Venice, right? They make a bunch of t-shirts and stuff?". T-shirt company? I hope not, their custom bikes can draw upwards of $20,000, on a bike that stock might set you back $4000 if it was very clean. I hope this brand I think is cool has some sustenance and isn't just a facade of style...

Authenticity in any environment is really important to me, so on a recent trip to Australia, I contacted Dues and was invited for a good old fashioned poke around their HQ. Walking in, I have to say I was a little taken aback. I was greeted by a store that wouldn't be out of place as a flagship in NYC's hot Meatpacking district. Espresso bar, pretty girls, rockabilly boys, and a FULL helping of clothing.. jeans, jackets, shirts, dresses, the gamut. Shiny bikes, too - the kind that you walk around but don't get within a foot of, because you are not quite sure if you are allowed to.

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So... umm... where's like, the authentic bike stuff? Where's the welding and the oil and the hard work? Where do you guys earn your cool? Luckily, Mike's face lit up when I challenged him and I was whisked off into the back where I arrived at what I wholeheartedly call a shop. Everyone take a breath, these guys REALLY build bikes, right there, in back of this fancy store. Reassuringly, Mike had greasy hands to prove it and walked me extremely knowledgeably through the current projects, sure to eventually end up on the posters for sale out in the store. We chatted about design lines, tricks to hiding batteries, elusive vintage parts, jetting carbs with those troublesome velocity stacks, scouring Japan for that one halo piece and indeed, simple geek stuff like clocking the screws to all line up.

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I was then taken to the second shop, accessed through a maze of storage containers and housed in a false back to a warehouse. In here lives a brain bending volume of parts, ready to be picked through for the next build. Walking back, I saw the parking lot where the locals meet for group rides, where Deus host swap meets and where they plan to have build teaching days in the future.

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Conclusions? Honestly, I was just plain impressed by everything they achieved. Sure, their bikes are expensive, as are their clothes, and well, everything is.. but I'm wearing their chinos right now and don't have a single complaint. They are my go-to travel pant and come from a motorcycle company. So why some of the hate? People like to bitch, it's a universal fact, so it's just too easy for people to question Dues's authenticity because they have grown bigger than the cafe culture wants to allow them to. They have become successful in other avenues, so some might see them as sell-outs. Bullshit, it's just bloody good business. Would I have them build me a bike? No, I'd rather build my own, but if I had no time and enough money, I know I'd be guaranteed a classic if I dove in with Deus. When you are supporting your local shop and wishing them every success and hoping you'll be part of them growing bigger, are you also planning to ditch them when the owner decides he wants to grow and build his brand?

The authenticity was sealed for me, when sitting in a restaurant nearby, Mike roared down an alley on one of their bikes, kicked the tail out with the rear brake, rode the slide and pulled it into a wheelie round the corner he was taking.

I wear my t-shirt proudly.

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CORE Autosport Headquarters

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This was a week of awesome facilities. Core Autosport is the dream of one entrepreneur - Jon Bennet, who took a fascinating route to becoming a professional race car driver. Most that I have met grow up racing as a kid and try to follow it into adulthood on the constant Holy Grail search for solid, long lasting sponsorship to fund the racing. This can be a nightmare journey as more often than not, your life resets at the end of each year when sponsors re-evaluate their spending. This was NOT the journey for Jon. Jon decided the best way to become a race car driver, was to go into business, eventually start his on and simply make enough money to have that business fund his racing. I guess it's not rocket science, but when you see the set-up he has created for himself and his American Le Mans Team, you realize that it was damned smart. Take note - this is something we should all plan to do, guys. CORE Autosport races 2 cars in American Le Mans Series LMP Class. This is a series style I love. The engine is a sealed unit based on a Chevrolet LS model and no real modifications can be made to the chassis either - the team has to adhere to a strict set of rules. It's essentially a series that keeps the costs down a little for the teams as the high dollar world of engine and aero development are not a factor - though let's be honest, we're not going to call this cheap racing!

Most race shops I have visited are impressive, but they are focused race shops. CORE's facility is gorgeous throughout. The attention to detail that made Jon's company successful has clearly ben applied to all areas of building CORE's HQ. The stairs are one of the nicest set's I have ever seen and even the table in the conference room is built from giant Carbon Fiber box beams. This type of attention fascinates me. Working on a race team would be an honor anyway, but arriving at your work every day, these guys get a visual reminder of the passion of their team owner. This is an expensive step to take, but I think it's wonderful, CORE is a giant step above a regular race shop and the environment of the facility will help lock down the sense of pride in working there.

Pride = passion = better performance = winning races

What I find interesting is that in the shop area, there is WAY more area than one team is ever going to need, but it was mentioned to me that it was designed with the ability to possibly host their partners and manufacturers in the future as they grow...possibly aiming at vertical integration in a race team. That would be really cool.

It was a very interesting find in Rock Hill South Carolina, not exactly a location I expected to stumble upon a leading edge race team, but I suppose it is very close to the NASCAR epicenter of Charlotte. I look forward to supporting CORE at the next California ALMS race.

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Fuller Hot Rods - Bryan's Shop Of Dreams

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There are not so many times that I'm lost for words. I get it, I talk a lot.  To those that know me, "speechless" is never a word they would consider using in reference to my behavior, but this past weekend I spend good periods of time truly speechless.

What brought on this onerous feat? A weekend at Fuller Hot Rods in Atlanta. I can only describe it in a manner that still does it little justice -it's a man-stuff dream cave. Bryan Fuller went to Atlanta in 05 after honing his craft back here in So Cal with names like So Cal Speed Shop and Chip Foose - a killer education that he has grown and grown from.

The now home of Fuller Hot Rods is a bit of a "rough" brick building, with a chain link fence, corrugated roofing and scattered, well, crap outside.  It's also in an area of Atlanta that when darkness falls, you may well choose to stay behind that chain link fence... but what a brilliant decision that would be as you might end up inside the greatest  man cave I've ever spent time in.

I'm struggling already to try and form my thoughts on how to explain the shop. I think the pictures will just have to do it the little justice they can.  Bryan has MAD skills, a simple google search will prove that, but he also has crazy patience, attention to detail and authenticity that can be hard to find in the overly commercialized world of car land.  At the end of the day you could roll around in a white t-shirt on the polished concrete floors and still end up with a white t-shirt.

Though Bryan is a wizard with sheet metal and prone to chopping and building, he isn't morphing his newest purchase into a new beast. While we were there I got to hear the bark to life of a 1974 Ducati 750cc with the famed bevel drive cam gear. That's one for you to search, but it's a classic and it sounded incredible.

Some notables in the shop..

  • The 32 roadster body..that's no rat rod, in fact, it's not even a hot rod. It is destined to be a race car. 900Hp Ford race engine and, oh, you know, all wheel drive spinning vintage magnesium Nascar rims... I'm giddy about seeing that one finished.
  • The 33 sedan is rapidly becoming the family car. Look closely and you'll see the sheet metal recessed seats going in the back between the frame rails for his kid. The stitched headers dump exhaust gasses from the 750 Hp motor.
  • The Indian chopper is a customer build with a freaky, crazy carb set-up.

Anyway, enjoy the pics.

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