Picture Intermission – A Tour of Cycle Refinery

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On the same day as my wonderful visit to Moto-Vated, I spent the morning with Jesse Loesch at Cycle Refinery in Austin, Texas.

Even though I was only in town on Veteran’s Day, he was kind enough to open up his shop and show me around.

Plus, Glenn from Moto-Vated would be there, as a nice bonus.

Glenn rolls out a Honda Solo – more on that later.

I showed up at Cycle Refinery having absolutely no idea what to expect. Five seconds after walking into the front door, I knew I was about to have a good time.

When I first arrived, I was greeted by Jesse, his colleague Crystal, and Glenn. Glenn runs Moto-Vated, a company I featured earlier. They import motorcycles from Japan, and usually sell them “as-is.” The story of how he met (and grew to love Jesse) is quite simple – he brought a Motocompo by Jesse’s shop and asked for starter fluid to confirm that it runs. Jesse’s response? “We don’t have starter fluid here, we get bikes running properly!”

With that in mind, maybe we should start with the workshop in the back? When I visited, it was packed with interesting Japanese motorcycles:

When Jesse interviews for a new mechanic, he doesn’t ask “show me what you’ve worked on.” He instead wants to know if they understand Ohm’s Law and Bernoulli’s principle, because “then they can troubleshoot anything.”

Cycle Refinery has been around for 5 years, and since the beginning Jesse has vowed “never to sell anyone a project.” Jesse had a two-decade career as an aircraft mechanic, 7 of which he spent at the FBI field office in New York. For him, vintage Japanese motorcycles were his therapy outside of work.

For years, the Jesse’s focus was on parts and maintenance, but he recently became a dealership.

I had never heard of a Honda Solo before, so I turned this into a Guess That Bike. The Solo was the fourth model in what Honda called the “N Project”, a series of two-wheelers “designed to deliver to its owners the pleasure of owning and riding a bike that serves as a fashion accessory in addition to providing convenient daily transportation.” The other examples were the Ape, Zoomer (sold in the US as the Ruckus), and the Bite.

I would later feature some of the other goodes in the showroom, such as this Honda CB-1 and this Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ750. Here’s what they’ve got currently – looks like the perfect time to come by if you’ve been looking for a Honda Zook!

Photo from Cycle Refinery.

Jesse kindly let me try out the Solo, and he also let me take a spin on the shop’s Honda Gyro Canopy. I apologize for the audio quality (I only had a GoPro and no professional mic seeing as I was packing light for a road trip and wasn’t planning on creating any sort of video):

Looking ahead, Jesse may be planning on expanding his brick and mortar presence to create something along the lines of the Bike Shed. Whatever the future holds, it’s worth visiting Cycle Refinery. Again – the shop was closed on the day I visited, but he made time for me to come visit and he helped out two separate customers that stopped by, not realizing the shop was closed for the holiday. It’s a good group of people that makes motorcycling fun – I left the place with sore cheeks because I was smiling and laughing so much!

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