THE GUY standing next to me in the carpark hit the nail on the head. “I could probably find this part on the ‘net, to be honest,” he said. “But I like to pick it up — feel it in my hand — before I buy it. And it’s nice to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about.”
There’s no doubt the internet — with its extraordinary capacity to track down vintage motorcycle parts — has reinvigorated the restoration of bikes across the planet. Sitting in the comfort of my Aussie lounge room, I once tracked down an exhaust for my 1988 Moto Guzzi LeMans, hanging from the rafters in a garage in south London. It had been hanging there, unused, for 30 years.
The owner had bought his LeMans brand new and ordered it with a race exhaust — so the original had stayed in its wrapping paper, hanging in the shed. Pre-internet days, I would never have found that exhaust and it probably would have ended up in a rubbish tip.
The ‘net has also opened up a previously inaccessible ocean of knowledge. YouTube can show you how to tune an Amal carburettor or remove a cylinder head from a Norton Atlas.
But — it’s just not the same, is it?
The Guy in the carpark had just driven 50km across Perth to visit Vintage & Modern, a small old-style bike shop in Maddington that he was pretty sure would have the gearbox part he needed for his AJS. The bike was originally owned by his father who had raced it at the old scramble track in Mosman Park.
Sure enough, The Guy did find the part he was looking for. He was one step closer to getting dad’s old Ajay back on the road.
I have been driving past Vintage & Modern for more than 20 years. Most times when I drive past, the roller door is down and there’s no sign of any activity. But I recently happened upon the shop with the door wide open and people coming and going. I poked my nose in, finding a fascinating tale and an Aladdin’s Cave.
Vintage & Modern is a two-man shop these days, father and son Tony and Morgan Tumath opening the doors only on Saturdays.
Tony called into the shop one day in 1990 to buy a bike. The conversation went longer than planned, one thing led to another, and he bought the business instead.
There was a time when Vintage & Modern employed eight people with a busy workshop and a huge inventory of new and (mostly) second-hand bike parts.
Business has declined in more recent years and, after Tony suffered a stroke last year, the opening hours were pruned back and the workshop wound down.
But the inventory of parts remains, and so does the store’s reputation among Western Australia’s vintage bike crowd as the go-to place for parts; especially old British parts.
Tony and Morgan let me poke around with my Nikon to catch these shots.
WHY SUBSCRIBE? Our Facebook posts typically reach only 20% of people who Follow us on Facebook. When you subscribe to The Bike Shed Times, we can reach you by email to tell you about our latest stories, special deals, and the latest additions to our Bikes For Sale page. Just give us your name and email address in the box under ‘Subscribe (for free) to The Bike Shed Times’, then hit ‘Sign Up’.
Can’t find it? If you’re on your phone, keep scrolling down a bit. If you’re on a PC, it’s over to the right, up near the top of the page.