John Root is the man behind Geekbobber, an absolute Triumphphile, and a gentleman you should listen to. Geekbobber was started in 2008 as a collaboration tool after John started his first vintage bike project and wanted to share photos and ideas with his brother and document the build of his bike. 7 years later, it’s evolved into much more – a collection of bikes, ideas, vintage ads – just things that motorcyclists will enjoy. It’s also where I discovered this video, which I’ll have to feature as a Video Intermission later on:
I hit Mr. Root with the usual questions – read on for the answers!
How did you get started with motorcycles – how did you learn, and what was your first bike?
When I was 8, I went along with my Dad to a Honda motorcycle dealer so he could look at a Honda lawnmower. I saw a Honda XR75 and discovered for the first time kid sized motorcycles actually existed.
Getting a motorcycle was all I thought about for months. Eventually my older brother helped me find a non-running Yamaha 80 in the classifieds and he loaned me the $130 to buy it (my first basket case). Luckily my Dad and brother were very accomplished mechanics and the problems with the bike were quick and cheap to fix. I went on to ride and race MX for many years. I’ve been involved with motorcycles in some capacity ever sense. When I first got married and had children I laid off motorcycles for a while. I couldn’t afford to get hurt and didn’t have much spare time. I’ve always loved vintage/collector vehicles and owned project cars as daily drives for years. When I rode my brother’s tank shift 1940’s Harley several years ago the unfamiliar controls immediately made me feel like I did as a kid just learning to ride. I knew I was going to have to buy/build my own vintage motorcycle of my own. Soon afterward I brought home my first Triumph project.
What do you like most about vintage motorcycles?
Old bikes are just beautiful, the perfect marriage of simplicity, form and function. Riding a vintage motorcycle is like talking to your grandfather. It was a life experience and a view into a time you never knew (or only knew as a child). I love the sense of accomplishment you get from rescuing an old bike that has been left for dead or buried under a guy’s good intentions that were never realized. Ultimately I get a lot more joy out riding old bikes than working on them but all of it is tons of fun. Motorcycles are nearly all I think about.
Ironically of those things, the community is my favorite aspect. When I became an adult I found it much more difficult to make friends outside of work or the parents of my kid’s friends. The hobby of vintage motorcycles involves a social component I never expected. Vintage motorcycle people are some of the most incredible and generous people you’ll ever meet anywhere.
What bikes do you currently own?
Three vintage Triumphs. A custom I built, a Pre-Unit I restored and a custom Pre-Unit project I hope to build over the coming season.
Assume for a moment that money is no object, and importation laws aren’t a problem. What’s the next bike you’d buy, and what would you do with it?
The answer to this question might be different every time it was asked. Today I’d say Kenny Robert’s championship earning 1979 YZR-M1.
Even though it would make the all-time best living room piece I’d of course HAVE to ride. Kenny has mentioned many times that the YZR was a total handful to ride. Maybe it’s a good thing I’ll never have the money it would take to buy it…
What’s the most memorable motorcycle trip you’ve ever taken?
Attending the Suzuki School of Motocross at the legendary Carlsbad Raceway USGP course.
I’ve heard the track has now been built over by a real estate development.
Do you listen to music while riding? If no, why not? If yes, what are some of your favorite tunes when you’re on your bike?
While I’m a huge music fan I don’t listen to music on the bike. My daily rider is almost 50 years old. If you are going to make it where you are going on an old bike you really have to listen to the bike.
What’s your favorite piece of gear?
My Atlas lathe.
You have $25,000 to spend on anything in the world of motorcycles – 1 new bike, several old bikes, track days, a trip, you name it. How do you spend it?
First, I’d take care of any incidentals the bikes I already own might need. Then I finish the bike project I’m currently working on at a much more more accelerated pace. I’d earmark enough to do something really nice for my wife, she puts up with a lot to support my friends and hobby. How I spent the rest of the money would require some serious thought but odds are good it would be another project bike.
Your site has obviously grown since its beginnings as a collaboration tool. What are you looking for in the bikes/features that you post?
It’s always just been a means of saving things I was interested in in a convenient place where I could find them again if I needed to. It was also a handy way to share motorcycle crap with friends and family. If I posted everything motorcycle related that I wanted to on say Facebook my non-motorcycle friends. The blog provides a better means for friends that are interested to “opt in.” If anyone else cares to look at it that’s cool. Making new friends through the blog is a byproduct I simply never anticipated. I have friends made through the blog that I have talked to almost weekly for years and have never actually met face-to-face.
What do you expect from the future of motorcycling, good or bad?
Electric powered, computerized auto-piloting, whatever. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine a world where riding a motorcycle wouldn’t still put a smile on my face. If I continue to ride motorcycles that are older than I am advancements may not matter much to me. Maybe somewhere down the road technical advancements will allow me to ride later in life. If so, that sounds pretty good to me.
Non-attributed photos from John Root.