On my way to Works Engineering, I stop by Genuine Motorworks. It’s a small shop on a pretty secluded street corner, but it’s standing in the right spot, sandwiched between a few motorcycle garages, creating an obvious link with the American Chopper Culture, while following the current trends. They say, "There's no way like the American way," and it’s quite logical to discover a fine selection of motorcycle apparel and accessories from local brands, although all world-renowned. From Schott jackets to Indian Larry products, from Biltwell, Pendleton, and Thorogood exclusive ranges, everything is made in the USA, or even in Brooklyn.
As I get closer to Works Engineering, I finally find what I came looking for; what I hoped to discover in Brooklyn anyway. Vintage hand-painted logos on a crumbling facade, a place filled with a thousand and one treasures, vintage bikes, and their true stories. I meet the owner Rik, originally from Bonn, as well as a gifted young guy named Oscar, and Larry from NYC Motorcycles passing by in his Ford Mustang, about to open a Lifestyle corner at Works Engineering, and whose stories alone could fill at least five issues of “Motorcycle Cities.”
Here it smells like metal and oil. Real oil! So, I step inside. It’s a 10,000 square-foot area, with many different spaces side by side, workplaces, and storage rooms. People are coming and going constantly. There is even a small circus school inside, a tattoo artist, a pool parlor, and even a Belgian guy, Benoit, tinkering on a 140cc Monkey, so all is well.
Rik settled in Brooklyn around 1999 to open the Works Engineering garage with his partner Ray, who unfortunately passed away a year ago. He also tells me his lease is about to end, and that he doesn’t know yet where and how he will continue the project. This does not keep him up at night though, and new projects are already on their way. Such as the installation of a Lifestyle corner, led by Larry Morris of New York City Motorcycles, with the support of Deus.
Rik is a lover of motorcycles, dirt bikes and vintage racing. He rides extensively throughout the US, and he is currently preparing his next race in Alabama, which popularity is comparable to the Spa Classic Bikes in Belgium. Participants can register in almost 40 different categories, so they can ride more than once and get their bike displayed in several competitions.
I slip away and sneak between the bikes, to get a closer look. Going up the stairs, I find myself in a room where Oscar hides with his machines. Oscar is a young genius that must have hands made of something better than gold. He is studying aerospace engineering but spends most of his time in the shop, welding, restoring old metal lathes, milling machines, and other old tools. Right now, he is working on two different bikes that will surely get noticed soon.
As I finish my round, I bump into Larry Morris again. A key character in the US motorcycle world, he knows everyone in the motorcycle scene and vice versa. He shares his time between New York and L.A, moving between the two cities to take part in races and vintage shows with his motorcycle collection. To get a better idea, his collection includes the following bikes: a 1972 Laverda 750 SFC, a Laverda Formula 500, a Benelli 250SS, a 1970 Harley XR750, a Honda Dream 50, a Kawasaki H1, a Norton Commando, a Matchless G80CS Scrambler, and many others.
He also tells me about his shop project, a place to exhibit some of his motorcycles, but also a range of clothes and fashionable accessories. The project is supported by Deus, because they’re the only ones able to sponsor and support the 'cool.' On my way home, a few weeks later, I call him to know how the opening went. A success, I guess. Lucy Liu is already a good customer and “Motorcycle Cities” magazines are selling well. This is New York, you see.