Good Shop Practice #12: Plan Time for Clean-Up.

Cleaning up shop at the end of a task or the end of the day is a way of extending courtesy to yourself tomorrow.  Having things where you expect them to be when you start the next job is the best reason for cleaning up after this job; it makes work much easier and reduces frustration.  Few things are as satisfying as putting in the last bolt or putting the seat back on the bike and seeing it whole again (then going for the mandatory shake-down ride), but that is not the end of the day’s work.  The half hour or so that it takes to wipe things down, put tools away, take care of the rags, &c., is last act, and it can be a very pleasant, low-mental-energy, reflective way to wind down.  It is also a great time for a beer.

Ride it Like Beckham

Why would you want a replica of some celebrity’s bike? Knowing you, you probably wouldn’t – unless that bike happened to be a tight little custom Triumph Scrambler.

beckham bike 1


If you’re not familiar with sportsball hero David Beckham’s motorcycle trip through the Amazon, there is a BBC documentary called “Into the Unknown” that is worth checking out:


One of these gents is probably Mr. Beckham

Let’s be honest, this is exactly the kind of trip we all wish we could do and would jump on if we had the chance. Being a man of discernment, Beckham didn’t just embark into the jungle on any ol’ German GS or big enduro bike. He rode a Scramblerized custom Bonneville T-100 what was customized in both the UK and Brazil. It’s a lovely custom job: classic, understated, tough-looking, and functional. And it looks great covered in muck and filth.

beckham bike 2

I bet you wouldn’t mind flogging around roads and trails on a bike like that. Motolegends, the British retro-clothing and bike gear specialists, are putting up a chance to win a replica of the Amazon custom bike. Graham Elliott and Phill Sharp of FCL Motorcycles in Cranleigh, UK, have built the replica to win. Like the original, it is built on a Bonneville, and it has key desirable bits, like the Arrow exhaust. It is stripped down, cleaned up, and blacked out, just as it ought to be.

 beckham bike 5

Visually, what really makes this bike is the custom tan leather seat. This was critical to getting the bike right, and these blokes (“dudes” for our USA readers) nailed it. It is the punctuation on the design, and is very well executed. beckham bike 3

A particularly pleasing detail is the blacked-out “garden gate” nameplate, which I consider an improvement over the “eyebrow”-style nameplate on the original Beckham bike.

beckham bike 4

This bike shows the real potential lying just under the surface in the Hinckley classic twins. These bikes are essential – elemental, and anyone with a little skill can bring that character through. I think the boys at FCL have more than a little skill, and they have done a fine job.

Go over to the Motolegends site and register to win this bike. Good luck, chaps!

Good Shop Practice #11: Focus

Distraction has become our normal psychological state. Focusing attention on one thing for more than a few minutes is now the exception, and this has interfered with our enjoyment of activities, our ability to see things to completion, the quality of our work, and our sense of peace and happiness. Distraction breeds anxiety and poor workmanship. Focus when you work, and prepare to focus for the duration of the work. If you need to gather information, such as, say, finding a video to walk you through a task, gather it all beforehand so you’re not searching at the same time you’re trying to work. Do one task at a time; if another task occurs to you, write it down and set it aside. Avoid the manic temptation to jump from one to the other. You can only do one thing well at a time.

Why the Feds Should Lay Off the Mongols’ Colors

Donning your motorcycle gear does not mean renouncing your constitutional rights, even if – and pay attention here – that gear includes motorcycle club patches.*

While most of our readers probably agree with that statement, the Department of Justice apparently does not. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the federal government is seeking authority to seize the patches and logos of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club. This literally means the power to stop on sight anyone wearing a Mongols cut, or anything with a Mongols logo, and confiscate it on the spot.

The mechanism for doing this would be the federal government legally taking over the trademark of the Mongols’ emblem, which is the intellectual property of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club. The justification, in simple terms, is that the logo amounts to a “license to commit crime.”

Many people have correctly asserted that the wearing of colors is a type of speech that should be protected under the First Amendment. However, it is another clause of the First Amendment that is more directly under assault here: the right of assembly. A motorcycle club’s colors are a statement of association with a group. This is penalizing individuals not for any acts but for their identity and associations.

Of course, the First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” It doesn’t protect, for example, riots or criminal conspiracies. The problem is, the government has not shown that the Mongols as an organization are a criminal syndicate. While some individual members have been convicted of crimes, that does not indict other members nor the organization per se. The DoJ just finds guilt by association much more convenient than the long way around. Unfortunately, this handy shortcut goes right though the First Amendment.

I am not saying that the Mongols are or are not a criminal syndicate. That is for the federal government to prove, and unless they successfully do that the rights of expression and free assembly of the Mongols’ membership should remain intact.

By all means, we should vigorously prosecute violent and criminal activity, regardless of what badges, pins, patches, logos, jackets, vests, or – ahem – uniforms the perpetrators are wearing, but it is difficult to imagine any way whatsoever in which the power to seize the clothing of bikers would serve the public interest or public safety. On the contrary, it is likely to be a distraction from the actual investigation of criminal acts. It would surely be very satisfying for the federal officers, but merely antagonizing people who are perceived as low-lifes and outsiders is not a compelling government interest.

Cuts are deeply valued, highly personal possessions and statements of identity. Taking a biker’s cut is much more than confiscating some piece of paraphernalia – it is akin to stripping their identity. It is a humiliation.

And let’s be totally honest here: the Justice Department is not starting a collection of patches. The effect of this policy is to give them carte blanche to stop, harass, and search bikers without a warrant or probable cause. It gives them an excuse to get in the door and under the sofa cushions. It’s not really the bikers’ First Amendment rights they’re after, it’s their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The fundamental premise the government is working on here is that wearing the colors constitutes a presumption of guilt. The unspoken intent is criminalizing identity, and it sets a dangerous precedent for stop and seizure on sight.

We have stated before that there is a huge difference between the lives, lifestyles, and culture of outsider motorcycle clubs – the so-called 1%ers – and most regular bikers you see every day at the bar. That is true. However, there really is no legal distinction between the Mongols and the Christian Joyriders of Kenosha. Neither the Mongols as a club nor a majority of its members have been convicted of a crime. This is an attempt to short-circuit the hard, important work of prosecuting criminal activity.

The ACLU is supporting the Mongols, and so should the AMA. Not that AMA funds should to toward the Mongols’ legal defense, but the AMA should take the official position that motorcycle club insignia are the intellectual property of the club and not subject to seizure, and that bikers should not be stopped on sight.

*In this essay, we will use the terms “club” or “motorcycle club” and not the terms “outlaw” or “gang,” because part of the question at issue is precisely whether the club is legally defined as a criminal organization. In other contexts, we use terms such as “outlaw” or “gang” to indicate cultural or aesthetic distinctions, not legal ones.