Hidden amongst the green pastures of sunny Camden lies Grant’s garage, where it seems that if you’re a Yamaha you’re in for a makeover. Standing proud an immaculate blue XV750 Café Racer, nearby it’s twin is in the process of a rebirth and finally an XS650 that’s having a bit of work done for a mate.
For most of Grant’s life he’s either owned, worked on or modified motorbikes, starting off with dirt bikes and road trail bikes. Sure enough, the passion for more retro bikes hit him like a brick.
“I was on the lookout for a Motard, to commute with, about 6 years ago. I came across a Thruxton in a bike shop and just loved the whole retro theme. After researching the Café Racer scene, right back to the Ace Café origins, I was hooked. All the way from the style, right down to the backyard modifications, I loved it all. I then started searching for a donor and found Jap bikes were the way to go (sacrilege) price-wise and parts-wise.
I was more into pulling the engines and the mechanical side of it back then, but having built and sold a few now I’m starting to get right into the rebuilding of the whole bike with your own spin on design.”
It’s evident as soon as you talk to Grant about these bikes that both riding and working on them is something he is passionate about. The work he’s accomplished on his pair of Viragos is stellar, but there’s always more work to be done. Be it a new paint job or some smaller touches.
What’s the most useful or favourite item in this workspace?
“The Laptop. It has saved me so many tears yet cost me so much money over the last few years! I use it for everything from the constant country music streaming into the garage via Pandora to searching parts to you tube ‘how-to’ videos to searching for next project. eBay is truly a sickness…”
Ok Grant, you’re stranded out at sea and have only one item from your garage handy, what is it and why?
“My Bunnings toolbox. A present from my wife and I really don’t know how I survived without it. I basically carries everything I use and probably the only thing in the shed that is organised. I have been accused of spending more time modifying it then my bikes!”
Alright, but I just hope it floats…
It’s safe to say almost every spare minute during the week, Grant will be in his space either working on a bike or trawling the Internet for new parts or ideas. “Working shift work I have a lot of time during the week to myself so I am always wrenching on something to do with current build… I almost feel guilty if I’m not!! Weekends are usually a mix of family time and riding.”
Working as an engineer’s assistant on the Many Ferry, Grant has made a connection between both his work on bikes and boats. “When I got back into rebuilding bikes I felt the urge to fire up the brain that had been laying dormant for a fair few years and study for a marine engineering certificate (MED II). It was a massive help being able to draw on trouble shooting experiences, even though its like 1/10th scale, the principles are generally the same and vice versa, stuff I have learnt engineering has turned out invaluable with some of the builds. I was even able to submit part of a build towards my practical assessment!”