I shot my first Garage Company feature in 2003 when the chopper scene was a very different animal. This was the time of fat-assed rigids with big Evo motors and almost every bike we ran in the magazine reflected that. Yoshi Kosaka owns Garage Company and if you know his work, you know his style is anything but what was popular at the time. A Shovelhead was late model for his iron, the tires were skinny, and so were the gas tanks. In short, the bikes were an awesome, refreshing break for me. I was hooked.
Since then several Garage Co creations have found their way into both Street Chopper and Hot Bike. I've rounded up five of them for you to look at. Click the captions to see the stories on each of them. Enjoy!
The early '80s were a bit of a dark time, but it was a good era for evil empires. For one thing, Luke Skywalker found out that Darth Vader was his father, but, more importantly, Harley-Davidson was still under the burdensome yoke of AMF, which had done a lot of damage to the Motor Company's reputation. Three years later, things would be a lot different. Luke and his dad bonded while whacking the Emperor, and H-D was bought out from American Machine and Foundry to start its journey back to its former glory. But there was something else: It was the same year that Yoshi Kosaka moved to the U.S. from his native Japan and started what would eventually become the Garage Company in Marina del Rey, California.
The Garage Company and owner Yoshi Kasaka have always helped to keep the bikes of the past on today's roads. Yoshi often finds projects at local swaps meets, and the '72 shovelhead engine for the centerpiece of this article was found in just such a location. That day at the swap meet turned out better than he could have hoped; Yoshi also found a rigid frame, trans, and a Springer. With this combination of parts, he knew that he was ready to start building a new bike.
G40’s beating heart is a 1940 EL knucklehead reconstructed by Mike Knox. Most of it is the original deal but the pistons, pushrods, and valves were no good so he swapped them out. Although getting the motor back up to snuff was fairly straightforward, the frame wasn’t nearly so healthy; the shop scrapped it in favor of a `57 chassis whose last occupant was a Panhead. Yoshi’s crew didn’t make too many changes to it; they kept the rake down to 31 degrees and didn’t bother stretching it. Kosaka comes from a racing background so he makes machines that put function a step ahead of form.
Dubbed "M" by its creator, it's essentially a modern gooseneck frame with new sheetmetal but covered with old parts. Yoshi's quite familiar with old bikes. The Garage Company is a steel graveyard where old motorcycles come to die and are reborn as custom bikes.
When Christian Audigier, owner of the hip Ed Hardy apparel shop on L.A.'s trendy Melrose Avenue, needed something special to add to the ambiance of his shop, he went through the list. A Peter Max painting? Nah. A chandelier from the Titanic? Nyet. A cheese sandwich shaped like the face of Britney Spears? Nope. A Garage Company custom bobber with a hint of Von Dutch? Hell, yes. So Christian got on the horn, called Yoshi at his 5,400-square-foot Garage Company vintage bike emporium on Washington Blvd., and just said, "Yoshi, I need a bike." Three months later, he laid eyes for the first time on what Yoshi simply calls The Blue Bike. It's reported that Christian let out an 8.1 "Whoa!" on the Richter customer satisfaction scale.