For Tim Gerst, owning a cafe racer style motorcycle is a dream come true. After getting married and starting a family, he just kept thinking about getting another bike. The funny part about this story is it goes against everything you’ve learned about trusting anyone on the internet.
“I started looking for a builder that would be able to interpret my design and bring it to reality. I didn’t have a bike to start with. So I had to find a builder that would be able to find and buy a donor bike. I searched the internet for about a week or so and found decent builder, but the builder wanted to sell me a donor bike without a title and Florida is one tough state to register and plate a bike so we could not move forward with the build,” Tim said.
He got discouraged and decided to buy an already built cafe racer on Craigslist. “That’s when I came across an ad for a Honda CM 400 in Florida that was posted by a guy in Connecticut. Thinking this was a total scam I decided to call and see what was up with the ad. So I called and some guy answered, told him I was not really interested in his CM400, but looking for a builder to build me a Honda CB550. He seemed very legit and was extremely knowledgeable about building bikes, asking the right questions and not really trying to make a buck!! We talked about ideas, pricing and design for weeks. I think he was more enthused about the bike than I was. I sent a large check to a guy I have never meet that’s three states away that I found on Craigslist that was going to find a donor bike and build a cafe racer.
After I sent the check, I thought what the hell did I just do!!”
But, as it turns out, the guy wasn’t just legit, he turned out to be great. He went above and beyond for Tim. Bill Docchio of Sin City Vintage Cycles drove 10 hours each way from Connecticut to Ohio to get the CB550 he needed for the build. “One of the nice aspects of building this bike for Tim was that he had an overall look that he wanted but left most of the visual styling up to me. This enabled me to build a bike that looked like a bike I personally would want, that is to say a bike that is super clean, functional, and have just the right amount of shine to make the trailer queens jealous.”
When Bill called Tim about the bike, he was shocked. “I thought to myself…Ohio, the builder is in Connecticut, I’m in Florida and this is getting crazy!”
Bill was up for the challenge. “One of the aspects of cafe racers in general that I wanted to address with this bike was the open area in the frame where the airbox would normally go on a stock bike. I like the open area but always felt that the frame rails now looked way longer and out of place. So we made changes to that and the end result fixed that gap but also gave the illusion that the seating position is way more aggressive. Another cool aspect of this bike is all the one off machined parts I made for the bike. Having a Bridgeport and a lathe in my shop is huge in that I’m able to give customers a bike that is truly one of a kind. That along with the hand made sheet metal and to me it’s a no brainer that cafe racers are the sweetest customs on the road.”
Tim is now riding in style and thrilled with the way things turned out. “Got to tell you, the builder kept the build on track and true to the original simple idea of a old school cafe racer even when I tried to add so-called trinkets to the bike. The Motorcycle came out so well, it’s just incredible. It’s hard to ride the bike because people of all ages, and I mean all ages, especially the older guys stop me and want to talk about the bike, at traffic lights, stop signs and run after me when I’m trying riding!! Still to this day I have never met the builder, but will return so he can build another kick ass bike!!! Thanks Bill of Sin City Vintage Cycles!!!
The classic part of this for Bill is that two weeks after that 20 hours in the car his brother bought 4 cb550’s from a guy who lived ten minutes away.