It’s extremely common to hear guys talking about building engines that make serious power numbers and it’s doubtful that you will encounter anyone who will try to tell you horsepower and torque aren’t important. It seems less common to find the guys who take that a step further to the chassis.We were given the opportunity to pick the brain of Gigacycle Garage’s meticulous and astonishingly skilled Tim Statt. Tim is one of those few riders who maintain focus on transferring that power to the ground through suspension that will eat corners at speeds and achieve stopping distances you thought were unobtainable with Gigacycle’s Corsair Inverted Front End packages. We would like to thank Tim for taking the time to talk to us about his world of metal chips, plastic molds, barn ripe Yamahas, and high performance Harleys. Make sure to check out their website at www.gigacyclegarage.com, give them a like on Facebook, and follow their Instagram.
MotoCantina: What was your first motorcycle?
Tim: My first official motorcycle was a 1974 Honda XR75. This was maybe 1977. I bought if from a kid I went to school with. It was pretty clapped out and didn’t run. My mom wasn’t too hip on the idea of me riding motorcycles. However, I was able to talk my dad into loaning me the money to purchase the bike. We went and picked it up and brought it home on a Saturday morning and with some help from my dad for parts and pointing me in the right direction. By Sunday evening, I had a running motorcycle. I remember my mother having a fit that night saying that the only reason she let me get the bike is because she never thought I would get it running.
I remember my mother having a fit that night saying that the only reason she let me get the bike is because she never thought I would get it running.
MotoCantina: When did you start Gigacycle Garage, what were some of the setbacks you had to overcome to get where you are today?
Tim: I wanted to make parts for my motorcycle when I was in high school so I signed up for metal shop class thinking that I could save some money by making the parts myself. I didn’t realize that this would turn into a career that I made my living at for many years. We started Gigacycle Garage in 2000 as a way for me to get some spending cash for my projects. I originally bought and sold used parts. I worked a full time Job also so it was a part time gig till 2007. In 2007, I quit my engineering job and opened up our machine shop. We also went full time with the online parts sales. The biggest set-back we have had is one of our industrial customers going bankrupt while owing us 10s of thousands of dollars for work we had done for them. That took us 3 years to recover from. What it did for us is to teach us to stay away from credit, don’t let the bill get too big before you start demanding payment, and just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean it will happen when money is involved.
MotoCantina: Rochester NY has a storied history in American engineering. What’s it like to have a shop in an area like that?
Tim: Rochester, NY used to be the technology center of NY. We had some big players that called Rochester home. Eastman Kodak, Bausch and Lomb, Xerox and General Motors to name a few. They are still here but only a shadow of their former incarnations. Having these large businesses in the area created a need for outside companies to provide expertise and support for their large manufacturing operations whether it was engineering and building assembly machinery, tooling, raw materials or the building trades. Our business is a trickle-down effect of this mentality and the skillsets of myself and the guys we have working for us. In this region we have the expertise and engineering skills to design and build most anything.
Tim: I don’t know if it was really solving anything. It was more like filling the need. I was approached by my friend Jay Roche from Special 79 fabrications and asked, if I thought we could build an inverted front end for his Harley FXR. I said, “Sure I’ll build 2 one for you and one for me”.The biggest hurdle that this type of conversion has is the Sportbike front end is too short and the offset for the trail is wrong for a Harley. Another thing I didn’t care for was the use of the Sportbike front wheel. To me, it just didn’t look right on a Harley. We laid everything out on our CAD program and played around with different scenarios until I was happy with what we had and then built 2 prototype units. The calendar time for this was 1 year as; we did it after hours and on weekends. The actual man hours that went into the 2 prototype units was 250-300 hours. We have been through at least 3 revisions on every part of the assembly so far and we are still making minor tweaks to improve the product.
MotoCantina: What were some of the biggest hurdles you encountered while doing the research and development for your front end?
Tim: Convincing die hard Harley guys that they need improved suspension on their motorcycle. Harleys are about style first and function second. There is still a contingent that runs springer front ends and rigid rears that were designed at the infancy of the motorcycle. Even the hydraulic front ends on modern Harleys are 1940’s technology. The actual engineering and building of the Corsair Front end was straight forward as this is what I have done for 30 plus years.
MotoCantina: How does it make you feel when you see your product on someone else’s bike whether it’s on the road or in pictures?
Tim: I feel honored that someone spent their hard earned money to purchase something that I thought was cool and built.
MotoCantina: Correct me if I’m wrong, but your machine shop is not limited to motorcycle parts. What are some things you produce outside the world of two wheeled performance?
Tim: Our core competency for my business is tooling for plastic injection molds. What that entails is designing and building molds and supporting fixtures for plastic part production. We don’t actually make the plastic parts at this time but build all the molds to make the parts. We serve many markets for our tooling such as Medical, Automotive, Firearms and Consumer Goods.
Tim: Like most guys, time and money. Generally, when we have extra cash to sink into a motorcycle we are working a bunch so the fun projects get back burnered. I usually have one primary motorcycle that I ride and one or two that are in the process of being built. We don’t build motorcycles or do service for profit. The building or modifying is a way for us to develop new parts that we may add to our growing product line.
We don’t build motorcycles or do service for profit. The building or modifying is a way for us to develop new parts that we may add to our growing product line.
MotoCantina: You’ve built a wide variety of bikes from FXRs and Softails to Yamaha scramblers. Which was your favorite bike to build and which was your favorite to ride?
Tim: First off, I build and ride what I like. My favorite is the next one that I have in my head and that I am collecting parts for. My main brand that I usually work on is Harley Davidson. I don’t care what vintage or model. I have built Ironheads, Shovelheads, Evolutions and Evo Sportys in recent years. (As you mentioned my Yamaha scrambler.) This bike was for a special event in Arkansas called the “Ozark Mountain Scramble”. The premise was to purchase and prep a motorcycle for $1000.00 inclusive of purchase price and all parts to get it road ready. I found a barn fresh 79 Yamaha XS650 that hadn’t seen the light of day since 1981. This thing was crusty and rusty. We were able to get it road ready for the allotted budget. This clapped out Yamaha was one of the most fun bikes to ride on the Ozark mountain roads. Not to mention the friends that I met on this trip that I keep in contact with regularly to this day.
Tim: My dad was probably my biggest influence, not so much for technical skills of my chosen profession but how to be a good person and deal with others honorably. He pointed me in the direction that he felt would most benefit my natural talents and was there for support and did anything he could to give me opportunities to succeed whether it was hooking me up with one of his friends to work in a shop or giving me a hand in the garage with a minibike or bicycle when I was 10 years old.
My dad was probably my biggest influence, not so much for technical skills of my chosen profession but how to be a good person and deal with others honorably.
MotoCantina: What are some future plans for Gigacycle Garage?
Tim: one of our 2016 goals is to become the one stop shop for performance Harley parts. We are concentrating on ride-ability of Harleys such as suspension and ergonomics. What looks cool may be great for the crowd that parks their bikes in front of the local bar, but, not to great carving up the twisties. We will also have horsepower packages and parts for improved braking as well.
MotoCantina: The motorcycle community seems to be in a constant state of both evolution and retrogression. Where do you see the motorcycle world heading around you?
Tim: As I mentioned previously, I think performance is the next big trend.
Instagram is loaded with Dynas and FXRs doing wheelies and stunting. I think this will grab the extreme sport guys that were into skateboards and BMX and transfer them into Harleys that actually perform extreme, not just look cool.
MotoCantina: What are some of your interests outside of the motorcycle industry?
Tim: As my wife tells me “if it doesn’t have a motor you’re not interested!” I guess that sums up my outside interests.
MotoCantina: A lot of our readers and members think of us as a sort of internet dive bar. Do you have a favorite dive bar story that makes you chuckle every time it plays through your mind?
MotoCantina: Any Parting words? Thanks? Shout outs? Words of advice?
Tim: Just keep this in mind “The safe decision isn’t always the best decision for your future”. I would like to thank my family for supporting me with my crazy ideas and through the tough times financially as a small business owner. Lastly, there is no secret to success. Hard work and perseverance is the only formula that works. You may feel some have it easier than you but keep in mind there is always a back story that you don’t see.
There is no secret to success. Hard work and perseverance is the only formula that works.