The Art of Motorcycle Restoration: An Interview with Greg

Posted On 17 Nov 2023
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This entry is part 38 of 44 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#1

The world of motorcycling encompasses far more than the gleaming models you see on showroom floors. There’s an art to bringing an old classic back to life. And Greg, a seasoned motorcyclist with 45 years under his belt, is a master of this craft.

A Passion Ignited Early

“I’ve owned a few older bikes and know my way around basic maintenance. But the magic lies in reviving an old classic,” begins our host. It’s Greg’s prowess in this realm that truly stands out. “My motorcycle journey began with a 650 Yamaha. And soon after, the allure of classic bikes gripped me, maybe it’s in my genes; after all, my grandfather was an Army bike mechanic during the war,” Greg reveals.

Greg’s Prized Possessions

His collection is diverse and historic. From the AJS bought in 1981, to the Triumph Trident he’s had for over a decade, to the beautiful Square Four from Victoria, each bike tells a tale. The most recent addition? A BSA Blue Star he painstakingly restored this year. “It was mostly a frame and engine when I got it. Gathering all the parts took me a couple of years. But the end result, especially its unique four-speed gearbox and oil system, was absolutely worth it,” Greg proudly states.

The Joy of Restoring

“I’ve always been a hands-on person. There’s something incredibly rewarding about resurrecting a bike that might have been forgotten. Over the years, I’ve brought about 40 or 50 bikes back to the road,” he shares. Each bike presents its own challenge. Whether it’s adjusting to different gear placements or managing unique engines, the experience is always novel.

Preserving Motorcycle Knowledge

Sadly, Greg notes that there’s a scarcity of people specializing in classic bike restorations. “Many approach me for even the tiniest jobs. But I treat every bike as if it were my own,” he adds. With each restoration, he stresses the importance of understanding the uniqueness of old bikes and adapting your riding style accordingly.

Old vs. New

When asked about newer models, Greg admits, “I appreciate bikes that are visually appealing, like the new Nortons and Triumphs. However, there’s something about classic bikes that modern ones just can’t replicate. With advancements like ABS and traction control, bikes are losing their raw feel.”

The Motorcycle Experience

For Greg, riding is therapeutic. “It makes you live in the moment. You’re attuned to every sound, every smell. There’s this constant interplay between enjoying the ride and ensuring the bike is in perfect condition,” he explains.

Advice for Aspiring Motorcyclists

His advice for newcomers? “Start small. Experience the charm of a classic bike and see if you catch ‘the disease’. Remember, it’s a journey of learning, making mistakes, and above all, cherishing the sheer joy of riding.”

In a world dominated by technology and automation, Greg reminds us of the pure, unadulterated joy that comes from understanding, restoring, and riding a classic motorcycle. For those inspired by his journey, perhaps it’s time to hunt down that old model and embark on a restoration journey of your own.

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Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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