Hero Of Modern Motorcycling: Caesar, Lynnway Cycles
On one of my last visits to the Lynnway, I finally submitted to my curiosity regarding the motorcycle shop next to the repo lot.
At first glance, it looked pretty rough.
Upon closer inspection, it looked borderline unsafe.
But seriously; every surface on the facade that wasn’t rusty was faded, and most were both. The barbed wire from next door was pouring into the parking lot; the whole scene was enough to make a warehouse from Saw look quaint as a Vermont B&B.
Naturally I had to have a closer look.
As I strode toward the door, a couple was wheeling a step-through scooter out the door. They looked disgruntled, and I abstained from engaging them.
Because as soon as I got inside, I felt all apprehensions melt away. I was standing in a cave of wonders; H1 Yamahas, Ancient Honda CB’s, and even a first-gen GSX-R were among the tarnished jewels populating the surprisingly large showroom.
Scurrying about from bike to bike I observed they were in various stages of disrepair- nothing looked remotely retail ready. On the walls were faded posters of racers carving corners… the men depicted were long retired, as was the technology they were showcasing. Behind the counter, there were strange signs; “NO DREAMERS” scribbled in Sharpie on a pizza box. There was also Caesar.
He was greasy, grumpy, and old-school to the core. I was a little scared of him before he opened his mouth, this feeling only intensified when he did. He engaged me as I examined a gauge pod on his counter, trying to determine what it had come off;
“What you want,” he barked in an accent heavy as 20w-50.
“How’s it going? Just admiring your hardware. Any of these for sale?” I inquired, desperately hoping he wouldn’t answer in the affirmative so I wouldn’t be tempted to add to my collection.
“Some for sale. Some customer bikes.”
“You selling that Yammy?” I probed, nodding at a two-stroke H1… dead ringer to a bike I’d long coveted in my friend Jeff’s stable.
I learned that one was not for sale, but I had asked the right question- the mechanic then not only introduced himself, but gave me a deep run-down of everything in the showroom. He had a gleefully gruff way about him- and admirable lung capacity. The man talked for ages, through a range of topics from bikes to his neighbors to the feelings of rage he felt when someone brought him a machine to work on he didn’t approve of. I thought of the step-through I had seen being removed on my way in and imagined he must not have given the poor woman riding it much of a welcome.
Finally, Caesar took a breath and began a brief interrogation;
“What you ride.”
It wasn’t a question. It was a statement that could only be interpreted as ‘you better answer right, or get the hell out of my shop.’
“GSXR,” I answered meekly as a catholic school boy, fearful of getting his ass caned.
“‘nintey-one? please don’t hurt me“
He responded with a shallow nod, so I elaborated; “Last of the air-coolers. Only year with individually rockered valves but no radiator.” When I noticed his expression still spoke skepticism, I added a little white lie; “It’s 100% original.”
He had mentioned distain for modifications several times in his first rant, jumping right back into it as soon as my mouth closed. First he bitched about people putting non-OEM spec tires on their bikes. Then he told me how there was a special circle in hell reserved for those who add pin striping to their fuel tanks. The gist of the tirade was that if a bike wasn’t factory-spec’ed down to the tire valve stem caps, your bike ain’t shit and he would refuse to work on it.
He finished, and there was a loud void of talking. He looked at me and nodded again- I had past the second test, probably listened to him longer than anyone who’d ever been in his store.
“You wanna see bikes in the back?”
Truck yeah I wanted to see the bikes in the back.
“You’ve got more?”
He lifted the velvet rope (proverbially speaking. It was actually a gross and ratty string) to the door behind the counter and led the way into his secret stash.
Besides a pile of parts cast aside like unusable mannequins, there were two motorcycles on stands. An early 70′s Triumph and similar vintage Honda- Both immaculate, both gleaming under high-wattage worklights.
“Not for sale” he said without prompting, a smugly accentuating the first word.
At this point I realized had killed over an hour of my workday with this goofball and made to leave.
As I headed out after two rounds of handshaking and salutationing, he said “Tell your friends to bring their bikes.” And before I could answer; “No shitboxes”.
If you’ve got an old motorcycle you’d like to keep in or restore to factory-fresh condition, see Caesar on the Lynnway. If you have some time to kill and want to hear some great stories about motorcycling from 1950 to present- see Caesar on the Lynnway. If he shows up in your rear-view mirror… for godsakes give this dude a wide berth.