By day—and occasionally by night, for that matter—Neil Fenton models for some of the top brands in the business. Unbeknownst, however, to many who have gazed upon the glossy fruits of that labor is his true passion: motorcycles. A lifelong devotee of all things two-wheeled and mechanized, Neil got his first whiff of motorcycle oil at age sixteen, and has been working on, restoring, and riding them ever since. We stopped by his workshop and motorcycle collective in Bushwick to say hello, and to find out how an average guy can get into motorcycles. Here are a few of the tips Neil passed along.
Tip 1 : Start with a "beater."
Your first year on two wheels, cut your teeth on something that's not too expensive or flashy. It should be able to handle a few spills, and you should be able to leave it parked without worrying about it getting stolen. Obviously, you want a bike that's dependable, but try to keep it under $1,000.
Tip 2: Make sure it's not too rare.
It's fun to test-drive something vintage and exceedingly foreign, but beware: if you get a bike that's too rare, it's going to be impossible to find spare parts. A used Honda 400cc, or something like it, is a smart way to go when you're just starting out.
Tip 3: Find a decent tool set.
Again, nothing too fancy. Your standard Sears utility kit should cover the basics. But owning a motorcycle will require some maintenance, and you're going to be getting your hands dirty. Having the right tools on hand will keep the costs down, and allow you to learn the inner-workings of your own bike.
Tip 4: Don't let your hair down.
If you or an alluring ladyfriend happen to have long hair, keep it up while you're working on your bike or hanging around the workshop. You do not want it to get caught in the machinery. Also, keep the sleeves rolled and avoid other overly-loose clothing. As for gloves, they too can get caught—I say avoid them. It's better to lose a piece of finger than your whole hand.
Tip 5: Get handy with a broom.
If you're looking to join a motorcycle club or workshop, learn to sweep. A good place to start is as a "sweep intern," helping to keep the workshop or clubhouse clean. No, it's not glamorous, but it's a foot in the door, and exactly where many members of motorcycle clubs begin.
Photography by Weston Wells