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Inside: Classic Cycles Inc.

 

Recent success stories about independent motorcycle repair shops are hard to come by. Many a small shop has fallen victim to a flailing economy, fickle customers, over-regulation and increased competition. One shop we've enjoyed watching rise to the top in these hard times is Classic Cycles Inc. of Orange, California.

Tony and Andy Dunn are the father-and-son owners of Classic Cycles, and since teaming up to repair vintage motorcycles in 2007 they haven't looked back. The quality of bikes on the floor and on the lifts in their tidy shop on any given day are testimony to the dynamic duo's attention to detail, years of combined experience and dedication to customer satisfaction.

This installment of "Inside" takes you behind the scenes with Andy and Tony and the entire Classic Cycles crew.


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Who is Classic Cycles Inc? Tony and Andy Dunn, and Ryan 'Norton" Mullion, with help from the Legendary "Flat track" Bob and "Bad news" Tim

So what happens at your shop? Do you build complete bikes for strangers, tune and service for friends, work strictly on your own stuff or is it really just a tree fort for grown men? We specialize in service, tuning, engine and transmission rebuilds, frame/wheel building and repair, and occasionaly a full build or two. We stick mostly to the vintage british bikes, but we dabble in vintage Japanese and European bikes, too

How long ago did it start? What did Classic Cycles evolve from and into? I think Tony started building bikes when they still had square wheels! Seriously, this was a hobbie for my dad and me for a long time. I jumped into it around my late teens and when I moved out, we had a pretty good business out of our personal garages. I had a two-car garage that was pretty much staked all the time. I actually made enough money to pay my rent every month from that! My dad also had a garage and a side yard that was full of Triumphs and Hondas. There was always someone over there, bench racing, bullshitting, and tuning a bike

Since I was doing pretty good and we were starting to pick up a decent reputation, we decided we would get a shop and combine the two houses and have a better place to work. In 2007 we officially opened up our doors and named it Classic Cycles Inc. About a year later, my dad was pushed into "forced retirement" and we started evolving from a hobby to a real shop. We are now well on our way to becoming a full-blown service/repair and custom shop, with more employees, more lifts, and more tools. With a full house of usually 20 to 30 bikes we still strive to keep to a one-week turnaround for the "rider" repairs and hot jobs

How many hours in a typical week do you spend in your shop? Tony and Ryan are pretty much here 6 or 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. I try to spend 3 hours at night and two full shifts on weekends. I still personally work another full-time job. The rest of the help comes in throughout the week. Saturday is always our busiest day

We get busier every day, so naturally everyone has to spend more time in the shop. When we're not here, we're usually at a show, picking up a bike. Believe it or not, sometimes we actually get to go out on a ride!

 

Who is Classic Cycles Inc? Tony and Andy Dunn, and Ryan 'Norton" Mullion. With the help of the Legendary 'Flat track' Bob and 'Bad news" Tim.
So what happens at your shop? Do you build complete bikes for strangers, tune and service for friends, work strictly on your own stuff or is it really just a tree fort for grown men?  We specialize in service, tuning, engine/trans rebuilds, frame/wheel build and repair, and occasionaly a full build or two. We stick mostly to the vintage british bike industry, but we dabble in vintage Jap and European bikes occasionally.
How long ago did it start and what did it evolve from and into? - A long time ago, in a far away galaxy... or something like that. I think Tony started building bike when they still had square wheels and just keep going from there!  This was a hobbie for both my dad and I for a long time, I jumped into around my late teens and when I moved out, we had a pretty good business out of the garages. I had a two car garage that was pretty much staked all the time. I actually made enough money to pay my rent every month from that! My dad also had a garage and a side yard that was full of Triumphs and Hondas... There was always someone over there, bench racing, bullshitting, and tuning a bike.
Since I was doing pretty good and we were starting to pick up a decent reputation, we decided we would get a shop and combine the two houses and have a better place to work. In 2007 we officially opened up our doors and named it Classic Cycles inc. About a year later, my dad was pushed in 'forced retirement' and we started evolving from a hobby to a real shop. We are now well on our way to becoming a full blown service/repair and custom shop, with more employees, more lifts, and more tools. With a full house of usually 20 - 30 bikes we still strive to keep to a same week turnaround for the 'riding' repairs and hot jobs.
How many hours in a typical week do you spend in your shop? Is this more or less lately compared to years past? - Tony and Ryan are pretty much there 6 -7 days a week/ 12 hours a day. I try to spend 3 hours at night and full days on saturdays and sundays. I still work another full time job...  The rest of the help comes in throughout the week and usually saturdays are our busiest days!
We get busier every day, so naturally everyone has to spend more time in the shop. And when we're not there, we usually at a show, or picking up a bike, or sometimes actually out on a ride!

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The Dunns and Co. have probably spun a wrench on half the old British iron in Southern California. Once in a while, Andy gets a chance to work on his personal bike


What do you see happening in this space in five years? More of the same, or something completely different? I see more of the same happening in five years, except much bigger. I want to be doing some retail, get a bigger warehouse, and hire some more employees. We want to branch out into vintage Japanese and European including BMW's to make Classic Cycles more of an all-around shop. When you get right down to it, we want to service everything vintage, except Harleys of course!



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You can tell a lot about a mechanic by how he organizes his tools and work area. Andy's engine area is a primo example


Does the workflow break down into different areas, like clean, fabrication and assembly, or is each machanic's work space defined? We have a motor/trans building area that houses six motors at a time and nothing else is really allowed over there. This is where we keep our clean work. The service lifts on one side are where we do our engine-in-bike service and tuning. The other side houses a couple of lifts usually reserved for full builds and fab work. They are in the dirty area, with the welders/grinders and machinery. We also have a pretty good storage area in front for bikes, so we always have room to take a bike in


Any rituals or hard/fast rules for your shop like cleaning every night before shutting down, never work with music, no booze, lots of booze, etc? Naw, we have Ryan's brother come in and clean on Saturdays for us, but other than that we try to keep a tidy shop 24/7. Shit talking is pretty much a ritual around here, so if you've got thin skin don't even bother trying to hang around here! I'm kidding. Everyone's cool with people and each other


Who else would we find in your shop on a typical Friday or Saturday night? You'll usually find us here on a weekend night, maybe with a couple of friends having a beer. That's about the only time we can work on our own stuff, or catch up on anything we are doing for a friend. We get the standard ramblers and neighbors that will come over at night, too. If someone is here late on a Tuesday, it's my dad or Ryan. They are known to close up and get some serious late-night work done


What do the neighbors think? We are luckily in a great stretch of shops. With a paint shop, two hot rod shops and two Harley shops, who's going to complain? Seriously though, everyone gets along well and hangs out in each other's shops all the time. There is a good amount of work getting passed between the shops, too


What's each guy's favorite kind of work?

Tony: Probably tuning/electronics and some fab work

Ryan: Norton repair and Triumph engine repair; fab and welding  

Andy: I like engine bulds the best, but I am also a fan of the ass-kicking service problems

"Flat track" Bob: Triumph race motors



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When was the last time you saw work orders hanging off the bars in a shop that specializes in vintage bikes?


There has to be something you don't like about your shop, what is it? We outgrew our space way too fast. Also, the bathroom smells



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Just a bit of the upstairs stash


What's your favorite thing about your shop? The upstairs loft and closet. If we didn't have that, the floor area would look like crap with parts and dead storage bikes taking up valuable room


Any tips for a novice just starting out working on his own machine in a small space? Stay clean and organized. It's never good to buy parts twice or not have any room to break something down and leave it. That way you don't have to move your stuff every day and forget where you were. Also, buy some manuals. The factories didn't just write that stuff for fun


What would you tell a seasoned builder if he asked for advice on setting up a small shop? Try to get a client base first. That way you'll have something to work on and pay the rent when you first open up. Also, remember that warranties are your best friend and your worst enemy. Everyone screws up, it's how you deal with it that keeps customer's coming back



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Classic Cycles ChopCult profile

 

classiccyclesinc.com


Pics: BFJosh

 


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Comment with Chopcult (14)

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 01:46 pm
 

Good read. Nice to see some positive in the industry.

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 03:12 pm
 

Old-school choppin' right there!
Clean, fast and stylish bikes

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 03:34 pm
 

Josh had to limit the number of photos used to seven because the world just can't handle the awesome fury of Classic Cycles. It would be like suddenly knowing the meaning of life wherein your brains would splatter all over the wall behind you.

Trust me....its probably for the best.

I would live in that shop if I could!!!!

Andy Dunn for president '12

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 03:47 pm
 

I should add they make some pretty swanky motor mounts.

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 05:18 pm
 

Great story for sure!!!!

Commented on 12-18-2009 At 06:13 pm
 

hey, my '69 bonneville has presented at least one of their ass-kicking service problems. and if it weren't for this crew, it would be garage sculpture. glad they're getting their props.

Commented on 12-19-2009 At 04:27 am
 

Now i Know who to take my new british iron (>50yrs old) to when I can't figure it out myself. So nice there are shops out there that still gets peoples respect. Classic Cycles Inc. it is!

Commented on 12-19-2009 At 05:23 am
 

What the fuck, how come I have to be the Norton specialist now. I guess that's my x-mas bonus. The bathroom always smells like shit, thanks Tony and your hungry man's dinners. On a serious note the Dunn's are really good people, I started hanging out there at night awhile ago when I first started building my bike. They were always cool and awnsered my dumb questions. Soon I started helping out after work and now I work there full time and quit my other job. Keeping the place clean is important but shit talking and bench racing or jumping customer's bikes(sorry steve) is just another day at Classic Cycles. The father son team of Dunns are great to work for and can't picture myself doing anything else right now.

p.s. just kidding steve


p.p.s look for the video on you tube.

Commented on 12-19-2009 At 07:29 pm
 

oh, that explains the "complimentary" wipedowns. it all makes sense now.

Commented on 12-21-2009 At 05:18 am
 

Kick ass to see someone making it work in this shitty economy

Commented on 12-21-2009 At 08:18 pm
 

a brit bike mecca! wish i had one.

Commented on 12-31-2009 At 11:45 pm
 

Been dealing with Andy since the garage days- even then, it was nice and clean. A clean shop says a lot about someone's work. If you need parts or service for your Brit bike, this is your shop. By far, the best Triumph shop in So Cal.

Commented on 1-9-2010 At 05:55 am
 

The strong will always survive, and this shop has a strong sense of what is happening with motorcycles today. Terms like traditional, old school, and classic are alive here.

Commented on 2-8-2010 At 05:51 am
 

THIS IS THE GAYEST THING I'VE EVER READ.....AND I LOVE IT!!!!!!FABULOUS!!!!!!!

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