History of Blue Moon Cycle
In the summer of ’69, the year of my 16th birthday, I started visiting motorcycle shops. Chicago, particularly Cicero Avenue, was crowded with small, dark, greasy shops as well as big sparkling dealerships. You could still buy a new BSA, Norton, Triumph or Royal Enfield. The BMW dealership carried MV Agusta and the owner rode a new Munch Mamoth. You still saw an occasional used Indian at the Harley shop.
For some reason I was attracted to the clean round lines and lustrous chrome of the BSA. My paper route and dishwashing fortune went to buy a five-year-old Lightning. On the way home from the dealer, the head gasket blew. “Too bad”, said the dealer. I didn’t have the 90 bucks it would take to fix it, so I borrowed some tools and got my first lesson in motorcycle mechanics and customer relations. I never went back to the BSA shop.
A few years later, in the height of the chopper era, I decided I would attempt to ride my rigid-frame Harley to Idaho to see if Evel Knievel could make it over the Snake River Canyon. I made it; he didn’t. Visiting Harley shops along the way was more of a necessity than a recreation, but I still appreciated the ambiance of the small town Midwest Harley dealers, many of which had been family-owned for generations.
It was in one Montana Harley/BMW dealership that I felt my first attraction to BMW. They had a brand new 1974 R90S with beautiful silver smoke paint. I sat on that motorcycle and looked down and saw a clock. After vibrating 2,000 miles on that bone-jarring Harley I decided that my next motorcycle would be a BMW…smooth enough to have a clock! A year later I owned my R90S.
By this time motorcycles were more than an obsession; they would be my life’s profession. For the last 25 years, now more than half my life, I have been fixing, restoring, buying and selling BMW motorcycles.
I appreciate all the new technology and I know the modern motorcycles are the best ever, but in my heart I still love the old machines. I get a feeling of satisfaction, of having earned the privilege to ride the old motorcycles. Breakdowns and rebuilds create character in the owner as well as in the machine. Perhaps that’s why I still run out of gas occasionally—there’s nothing like pushing a 500 pound motorcycle that last half mile to make you appreciate the wonders of the internal combustion engine. Motorcyclists as a whole are my kind of people. BMW owners in general are more experienced and more knowledgeable about their motorcycles. People own motorcycles for many reasons, but BMW owners tend to truly enjoy riding their bikes. Could it be the emotional bond between man and machine is a little stronger in the BMW world? What is it about the BMW that creates this kind of passion? I think it is the Purity of Design.
It is this same no-nonsense approach I try to apply to my business. I strive to be honest and fair with my customers and try to supply the best service possible. I do my best to help my customers enjoy motorcycles as much as I do.
TEN YEARS AFTER............
It's been ten years since I wrote the first history of Blue Moon Cycle. As I read what I wrote ten years ago, I feel blessed to be living the life of a motorcycle dealer. Anybody who has been in this industry for any length of time can tell you it is not easy. There have been days that I felt like throwing in the towel but there have also been plenty of times that I felt like the luckiest person in the world. One thing for sure, it has not been boring. Every day I meet new interesting people—there is no stereotypical biker—motorcyclists come from every lifestyle and background. In the last ten years running a business has become more dependent on technology; without computers and the internet it is doubtful I would still be in business. Ebay is like one giant swap meet. Need information on a 50 year old Bing carburetor? No problem, just Google it. There are more reproduction parts available now than ever before, and as a result, motorcycle restoration has become easier in the last ten years. Still, there is nothing like spending a weekend at a rally or attending one of the few remaining good swap meets. I think the most important thing is to get out and ride your motorcycle, attend a local bike night, or spend a Sunday morning with the wind in your hair. Our motto is "Don't ignore it; Restore it", but when it's restored "Don't hide it; Ride it."
-- John Landstrom