When the in crowd thinks of “cool motorcycle shops” in SoCal, they think Deus ex Machina in Venice or Roland Sands’ new place on Melrose, and why shouldn’t they? But for sheer motorcycle menagerie in a T-shirt / espresso / attitude-free zone, there aren’t many places with quite the mechanical density of Chris Redpath’s little shop in Anaheim. Disneyland is on the other side of town, but MotoGP Werks can at times be the happiest place on earth, for those of a certain moto bent. When the door rolls up on the little shop on scenic LaPalma Avenue, you never know what might be on the other side. Here are the Top 10 Things we Liked last time we dropped by.
10. Spondon SRX-6
This is what I wanted my old SRX-6 to be once upon a time: Your basic overbored, Carrillo-rodded, twin smoothbore-carbureted Single, producing 71 horsepower and reportedly (in Performance Bikes) capable of 148 mph on a cold day in England. The handmade Spondon frame (with adjustable offset) was as cool as it got at the time, the TZ250 running gear probably still is, the tank’s aluminium, of course, and the whole thing’s supposed to weigh 275 pounds. A gruff little beast from a time when Sound of Singles was kind of a big deal.
9. Vapour Blasting cabinet
Okay, so it’s not much to look at, but this state-of-the-art cleaning booth is the best way there is to clean grunge off dirty old parts (not to mention bringing fresh life and performance to my R1’s crusty old brake discs). A high-volume, low-pressure wet slurry cleans and degreases simultaneously, and is gentler on soft old parts than other blasting media. This equipment is a big reason why things like engine cases on Redpath’s projects look springtime fresh, just like Redpath Junior.
8. Heavy Bus
I thought this thing looked familiar. Yours truly rode this very Yoshimura Hayabusa X1-R for a Motorcyclist magazine story around Willow Springs back before the turn of the century. Yoshimura gathered up a bunch of parts from its Suzuka 8-Hour effort to build a slightly milder bike for street use, but it still made 182 horses and 108 foot-pounds of torque. It’s packed with billet cams, 12.5:1 forged pistons, Carrillo 4340 rods, and makes peak torque at just 7500 rpm, which means it went around Willow – a really fast track – like some sort of NASA experimental craft. The Öhlins superbike-spec fork and shock were maybe not quite ready for the Busa’s heft, though, and I remember it being an eye-opening ride.
It also had an eye-opening parts manifest, about $50K worth of components by the time it was done, including a magnesium top triple clamp, Marchesini wheels, quick-change rear brake, etc. – and the Yosh people must’ve decided it just wasn’t going to be financially feasible, even at a time when we were all power-crazed roadrace maniacs. Where did it all go wrong? Redpath rescued the bike from the scrap heap, bless his heart. It lives in the front of the shop, next to a Mat Mladin GSX-R Superbike.
7. MotoGP Werks Exhaust Systems
Redpath is obviously enamored of the cool old sportbikes of the ’80s and ’90s, and produces a line of performance exhausts for many of the old GS, KZ, CB and RZ screamers. His close relationship with a major pipe bender, where he worked for some years, allows him to have small batches built to his specs. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Red is a student of history: “What I did for most of them is just a lot of research in old magazines and places. For nearly all the bikes, it’s pretty simple to go back and find which pipe worked best on each one. From there, I’ll track down and obtain that pipe, take measurements and have it reproduced better than the original – complete with spring mounting and a better finish. For the CBX, for instance, the Winning pipe was the one. I spent half a year finding one, it was a bashed-up piece of junk, but I paid too much for it, copied it, made a jig – and now I sell a better version for less money than I paid for it.”
One of Redpath’s best sellers is a four-into-one for the old Honda CB400F, based upon the pipe originally produced by our old friend Kaz Yoshima of Ontario MotoTech fame. Kazu, phone home! Yours for a mere $499 – which is probably less than Kaz charged for one however many years ago that was …
There are three or four TZ250s lounging around the shop, bikes without a country now that four-strokes are in fashion. You kids will just have to believe us when we tell you what a spectacle it was for all the senses to see a full grid of these things blast off in a cloud of Castrol fumes. And anybody who was lucky enough to turn a few laps on a TZ will always understand the difference between a pure racebike and a “diesel.” The aerodynamic droop tail on this one marks it as a late-model TZ of 2000 vintage, and Redpath confirms it came from someone affiliated with the Roberts clan – which did run for a season or two on Lucky Strike dollars. This unit may have been a back-up bike or assembled from spares, judging from its nearly completely unmolested freshness, original grips, and lack of battle scars.
5. Ducati Diorama
1997 was Mat Mladin’s second year of AMA Superbike racing, and his first and last one on a Ferracci Ducati. On this ’97 955 RS, he got his first AMA wins at Phoenix, Road America, New Hampshire and Las Vegas, along with his mojo back. The following year, the Yoshimura dollars beckoned, and MM returned to California to commence becoming the winningest rider in AMA Superbike history. This Ducati has all the best stuff that was legal and probably some that was not, including a Corse frame, carbon tank, magnesium clamps and swingarm. It had a digital Weber-Marelli dash, but Mladin insisted on analog, so that’s what it’s got now. Flip the switch, and the lights come on. She’s-a ready to go, as Ferracci would say. But she’s going nowhere, since these were the days when Ducati race engines were routinely changed after every race.
“I can only afford to look at it,” says Redpath in his Kiwi accent, “I can’t afford to crash it or blow it up.”
And here’s a rare and lovely 2002 Bimota DB4R, just because it was there. Maybe 30 R models were built that year. This one’s 944cc and fed by a pair of FCR 41mm flatslide carburetors through CNC ported heads. Inside are Pankl titanium rods and Corse race cams, etc. Dymag carbon wheels are nice. It’s showing 5373 miles, and puts out around 130 horsepower. Not bad for an old air-cooled Duc.
4. CalFab Swingarms
If you were reading bike magazines in the ’80s, you remember the ads for CalFab swingarms. “Cal Fab used to be right across the road in the ’80s,” says Redpath, “literally across LaPalma Avenue. I’ve tried to buy their old swingarms on ebay, and people want lots of money for them – 6 or 700 dollars. So I bought the company and started making them myself. Mine are better extrusions, better made, much better heat-treating, and I’ll sell them for $599. They’ll be available for all the good bikes from the ’70s and early ’80s: KZ, GS, CB, CBX, Z1-R, probably for Triumph Bonnevilles and maybe the new CB1100 Honda. I’m planning to build a swingarm for every bike I make a pipe for. I haven’t wanted to release them ’til i have them all in stock. I hate it when I buy a thing and then have to wait for the guy to produce it. F*&k that.”
“Some will be an inch longer than stock, like with the pipes, I did a little digging to see what worked back in the day, wheel widths and things too. They’ll be all bolt-on, so the average guy can install it, with laser-cut chrome-moly chain adjusters, bushes, bearings, all of it but the customer’s swingarm pivot. If these do well, the next batch will be braced, old Superbike style.”
The arms in the photo are almost complete; all that’s left is the polishing.
3. ELR Replica in Progress …
I really don’t know where he finds the time, but Red says this one will be completed in time for the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show in December, along with two other bikes. Once you’ve built a gas tank like this one out of 14 pieces of aluminum, I suppose the rest is easy?
The plan is then to lay the classic Eddie Lawson stripes over the bare brushed metal, then a little clearcoat. Underneath it will be a full old-school 160-hp race motor with ti rods and all the good parts and traction control, in a braced and gusseted frame with modified steering geometry, as well as a very rare and pricey Over swingarm from Japan. The plan also calls for a Motec dash. “The client for this one is me,” says Red, so who knows? Should be good, though.
2. Katana Superbike
Maybe you’ve seen this one before, in the Fast Dates calendar or possibly at the Grand National Roadster show in 2011, where it won Best Sportbike. Redpath is a Katana freak, and this one’s his baby. It started out as an 1981 Katana, before its original engine was shelved in favor of an ’86 GSX-R750 LE dry-clutch Yoshimura Superbike motor, complete with FCR flatslides, an 836cc kit and Carrillo rods. Its Motec brain, traction control and data logger came from a YZR500; its Harris triple clamps clamp a WP fork, the exhaust is handbuilt, of course. It’s really kind of a brutish thing when you look close long enough, slightly cobbled together but expertly so. Maybe it’s just the paint, the classic Wes Cooley colors that bridge the gap from the earliest glory days to what was then the future, which is now the rapidly receding past. I’ll shut up now.
1. Nick Hayden’s Ducati MotoGP racer
Redpath’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of famous moto enthusiasts, but his most bucks-up benefactor is a guy you’ve never heard of who made a fortune, reputedly a big one, in the jeans business. It was his brainstorm to do a little embroidery on back pockets in the late ’70s, and the rest is mercantile history. He already owned a pretty impressive fleet, but wanted something nobody else has. Over bacon and eggs at the Rock Store one Sunday morning with Friend-of-MO Kaming Ko (who is friends with everybody), it came out that Ko is also tight with some people at Ducati Corse. How about one of Nick Hayden’s old MotoGP bikes, the last of the red-hot 800s? Ducati had two it wanted to offload, so Red’s client bought one and Ko the other, for a sum Redpath says was less than he’d thought it would be. But cheap to the jeans mogul and cheap to the rest of us are two different things. Stoner’s and Rossi’s ex-Ducati racers reportedly sold for around £200,000 two years ago.
No, you can’t ride it on the street and in fact, the bike comes with a lot of other restrictions, too, like you’re only supposed to be able to do one track day per year on it, you’re not even supposed to start it except on rare factory-approved occasions, and some other rules contained in the purchase agreement.
No big, I guess. Jeans man already has at least one Desmosedici for the road, and two new Superleggera Panigales – one of which Redpath is currently converting into a “streetfighter.” At MotoGP Werks, the fun never really ends.