Business finding niche fixing older motorcycles

If you’ve ever driven south on U.S. 321 just north of downtown Gastonia, you might have seen the lime green-and-white building that houses Gaston Motorcycle Werks.

As it flashes by, it’s unlikely you’ll be thinking to yourself, “I need to stop in there to see what’s inside.”

Owner and mechanic Benjamin Segal describes the place this way:

“The most spectacular element of the building’s exterior is the paint color and the derelict fuel pump island in the middle of the lot. The wild grass growing sporadically, unconcerned by asphalt, gives the old station the look of an abandoned building. All that’s missing is a tumbleweed blowing in on a hot, dusty breeze from the west.

From the outside, this apparently forsaken structure seems to have little to offer, but if you are a motorcyclist, the little green and white building warrants a closer look, particularly if you are among the legions who either decide not to work on their own bikes or simply can’t do the work.

Lurking inside is a completely different story, an oasis in an asphalt desert. On any given day visitors will find a variety of motorcycles waiting patiently for their turn in the service bay, from vintage to Japanese classics to current Japanese powerhouses. You will even find an errant Harley-Davidson here and there.”

Gaston Motorcycle Werks is Segal’s brainchild. The idea was to create an independent motorcycle shop where the rider can bring a bike and leave it for service, confident the mechanic working on it knows how you feel.

“I have always ridden older bikes and I searched for years, high and low, trying to find someone I felt I could trust to work on my bike, and I just never found him,” says Segal, a self-taught mechanic who has been working on bikes since the late 1980s.

“I got my first motorcycle when I was 15,” he says. “It was a beater and needed a lot of work. I got turned away from a lot of dealers back then.I finally gave up looking and just started doing the work myself.”

Through the years, Segal found himself helping out friends with their bikes and doing a variety of repairs in his home shop — from fork rebuilds and oil changes to building wheels and adjusting valves. As time passed, word got out and business flourished.

“There are a lot of riders out there who are riding older model bikes that dealers either don’t want to mess with or don’t have the experience to work on,” Segal says.

He wants to fill that void.

 

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