“Give a Bike, Change a Life” – Invoice Getty


Right here’s a novel concept. In case you have greater than, say, 5 – 6 bikes and you’ve got the means to take action, give one away to an adolescent. For years, that’s what Invoice Getty of JRC Engineering in Perris, California has been doing. Importantly, extra than simply freely giving the machine, Invoice additionally mentors the child and figures he’s handed alongside near 100 bikes – thus introducing dozens of kids to the thrills of driving. As ageing lovers bemoan the dearth of enthusiasm for bikes amongst Teenagers and pre-Teenagers, isn’t this one resolution?  The thought harkens again to Invoice’s early days as a Boy Scout; he wasn’t given a machine, however Invoice’s Scoutmaster introduced a few 80cc Yamahas to a Scout weekend to look at the Massive Bear Grand Prix races at Lifeless Man’s Level. “He allow us to exit and trip round on them,” Invoice remembers. “I got here house from that and I advised my mom, ‘I’m going to get me a bike’, and she or he stated, ‘You’ll get a bike over my lifeless physique’. I advised her I’d threat it.”

A younger Invoice Getty with a BSA ZB34 Gold Star particular, with upgraded forks for off-road driving. Within the background is the blue Johnson Motors pickup that JRC finally took as its personal. [Bill Getty]

So in 1966, 12-year outdated Invoice saved each penny he earned mowing lawns – finally sufficient to purchase a used Honda 50. He by no means seemed again. “I grew up in a tumultuous house, and by the point I used to be 12 I’d seen a number of stuff that nobody ever must see,” Invoice permits. “After I received on the bike, actually, they couldn’t contact me. I might get on that factor and get away.” Invoice lived in Duarte, only a 10 minute stroll from the place BSA/Triumph constructed their Western distribution headquarters within the late Nineteen Sixties. He’d go over and “bug these guys. My brother and I rooted by means of their trash cans and we mocked up a bike out of components they threw away. It didn’t run, however in our storage, we had this bike mocked up out of BSA and Triumph components.”

Invoice’s first British bike provide: British Elements Outdated & New. “When the British factor fell aside in 1975, and I used to be driving the Norton, individuals had been giving me stuff.”  [Bill Getty]

One other excessive level in Invoice’s motorcycling profession was turning 16 and getting a job at a Ford dealership. Considered one of his co-workers was a Vietnam veteran who’d misplaced a watch, and together with his settlement from the U.S. authorities he purchased a model new Norton Commando. “I actually seemed as much as him,” Invoice says. “One lunch time, the man says, ‘Hey Getty, wanna go to lunch with us?’ So, I hopped on the again of his Norton. Out on Atlantic Blvd. we’re driving in denims and t-shirts and tennis footwear. No helmets. We received in a drag race with one other co-worker driving a Kawasaki Mach III, and I bear in mind wanting over his shoulder and seeing over 100mph on the Norton’s speedometer. I watched the Kawasaki disappear behind us and I knew I needed to get a Norton.”

Snow in SoCal? It does occur…Invoice ditched his helmet for the complete expertise. [Bill Getty]

That led to the acquisition of a model new 1970 Norton Commando 750. It was a lemon, and broke down on the way in which house from the dealership, and solely managed 10 miles in two months. It by no means grew to become a dependable runner, and a 12 months later with slightly below 10,000 miles on it, Invoice bought that and purchased a BSA Rocket III. “That made the Norton seem like a paragon of reliability, however I simply actually had a factor for the British bikes,” Invoice says. He dropped out of faculty to work in a bike store. “I used to be there for about two months,” Invoice says, “when the supervisor who was there misplaced his spouse and was consuming on the job. The proprietor of the enterprise got here in, and he checked out me. He fired the man and he says, ‘Are you able to be supervisor?’ I stated I don’t know. ‘In case you don’t, you’re fired.’” So, Invoice managed that store for 4 years after which received picked up by Hap Jones and Flanders to be a touring gross sales rep. Within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, he began his personal gross sales firm, taking over quite a few totally different product strains, together with California Sidecar Firm. He hooked a California Sidecar to his Norton and rode round to sellers in San Diego, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, and all the Los Angeles space. At commerce reveals, he says, John Flanders launched him to all people who was anyone within the bike trade.

Invoice Getty with a Rickman-esque Matchless G80 cafe racer. [Bill Getty]

“When the British factor fell aside in 1975, and I used to be driving the Norton, individuals had been giving me stuff,” Invoice says. “I crammed my storage with bike stuff; model new Norton, Triumph and BSA components. My neighbor bought me his hen coop and we moved it into our yard and we made it our components division. I crammed that up with British stuff and fairly quickly I used to be making more cash on weekends promoting British bike components out of my storage than I used to be making as a gross sales rep working 5 days per week. My spouse took over my gross sales route – she’s a lot nicer to have a look at than I’m – and she or he did rather a lot higher at it than I did. In December 1980 we opened British Elements Outdated & New in Whittier on Telegraph Street. That received me additional related within the trade, and I began making an attempt to get younger individuals concerned even there.” Hoping to see individuals get pleasure from bikes the way in which he did, Invoice says, “My mom noticed them as death-in-waiting, and I noticed them as whole freedom.” Up to now, he can account for logging multiple million miles on a bike, and greater than half of these miles have been together with his spouse Marla as a passenger.

Marla and Invoice Getty in Las Vegas for the large Mecum bike public sale in 2022. [Bill Getty]

“I’ve a coverage,” Invoice says of actively getting younger individuals concerned, “that once I employed any person, I’d rent an adolescent. And I’d give them a bike in items, and so they needed to put it collectively. They might take no matter components they wanted out of stock and after they received executed it was theirs. That approach when a buyer got here in working by means of an issue with their bike, they’d have expertise and empathy, and so they might say, ‘Yeah I simply did that.’ I’ve executed that by means of all of my companies and everybody who works for me now, I’ve given each one in all them a bike and so they’ve all constructed them up. A younger man working for me now, I employed him when he was 16 and he’s 34; he’s constructed 5 bikes from components. When he’s executed with one, I say decide one other and go for it.”

Invoice Getty together with his 1956 Triumph TR6 desert sled within the 2022 Barstow to Vegas race, which he’s run many instances on Triumphs, typically constructed from discarded items. [Bill Getty]

Invoice by no means had any formal mechanical or enterprise coaching. However he had mentors; one in all them was Jack Simmons, flat monitor, scrambles and desert racer with the Nationwide No. 88 plate. They met as Jack had a machine store in Fullerton and Invoice introduced him restore jobs. “Jack took me beneath his wing,” Invoice says. “And he taught me the way to off-road trip. I bear in mind him screaming at me to place my ft on the pegs.” One other of Invoice’s mentors was John R. Calicchio (JRC). John began JRC bikes in Costa Mesa with Spanish-built Bultaco machines, however quickly started retailing British bikes. Invoice met John whereas on his gross sales route, and the pair grew to become associates. “John purchased out Triumph Bikes America after they closed in 1983,” Invoice explains. “He purchased all of the property and received 27 new bikes and 1,000,000 {dollars} in 1983 worth of Triumph stock and opened up a wholesale enterprise. He quickly received into computer systems, bought off the components stock to a man in New Zealand and closed the enterprise. I’d been shopping for from him and advised him I wished to purchase the enterprise. He stated there is no such thing as a enterprise. And I stated certain there was – the three letters, JRC. We labored out a deal and I received a letter of introduction from John to Les Harris in England, and David Holder, who owns Velocette and Vincent and had a components enterprise. They each stated they wanted a distributor on the West Coast and so they fronted me an enormous quantity of stock to pay for once I might. We constructed a 60-foot by 40-foot barn on our property, crammed it with British components, frolicked the JRC banner and stated we’re again in enterprise.” It was 1987, and at that time, Invoice bought British Elements Outdated & New and operated JRC Engineering as a wholesale components enterprise. His modus operandi was  to provide sellers with components as if Triumph Meriden had by no means closed. It’s a enterprise mannequin that has handled Invoice properly, and because the JRC web site states, it continues to function as “an unique vendor of over 12,000 components, instruments and over 350 non-public JRC components,” for Triumph, BSA and Norton machines.

Invoice Getty working in his store British Elements Outdated & New in 1983. [Bill Getty]

Again to mentors, and the way Invoice began mentoring children by freely giving machines. Invoice’s best affect was the Scoutmaster who taught him to trip the Yamaha 80. His identify was Clark Shara and he had a yard workshop geared up with a lathe, mill and welder. Clark taught Invoice the way to function all the tools and gave him a key to the store; he was allowed to make use of it every time he wished. “He was the person who confirmed me what a person was,” Invoice explains. “I had a interval of homelessness once I was an adolescent, and once I got here out of it, I believed it will be a good suggestion to get entangled in some sort of ministry, and our church had a Boy Scout troop and so they had been going to disband it as a result of they couldn’t discover a chief.” Invoice stepped in, pondering he’d fill the function till a everlasting chief may very well be discovered. “That was 38 years in the past, and I’m nonetheless the Scoutmaster of Troop 127.” It was, in truth, the instance and encouragement set by Clark that Invoice carries ahead right this moment together with his bike mentorship. How does Invoice join with these youngsters? Whereas he doesn’t actively promote motorcycling inside his Scout troop, “all of them know what I do, it’s pretty apparent,” and he continues, “The Lord leads them to me. Any child who reveals curiosity, I inform them I received’t promote you a bike or offer you a bike – however I’ll give one to your mom. And so long as your mom says okay, then let’s go, come on let’s have some enjoyable. There are many moms on the market who view bikes the way in which my mom did.”

Massive Blue, the previous Johnson Motors store truck, now in JRC Engineering’s care. [Bill Getty]

If a father or mother says OK, Invoice invitations the household to his property for a go searching. He doesn’t simply hand over a bike, nonetheless; it should be clear they’re ready to place within the effort. And Invoice all the time has a father or mother concerned, encouraging them to work alongside their son or daughter. And simply the place do these machines – which aren’t all British – come from? “When individuals discover out what I’m doing,” he says, “they simply give me bikes. For instance, a buddy of mine from an Orange County salvage yard knew what I used to be doing and gave me a bunch of bikes. The youngsters and I repair the bikes and so they trip them across the 5 acres we now have right here.” As they develop up, Invoice says, lots of them do keep it up with the bike enthusiasm, “however none of them as a occupation.” Invoice want to see others scale up a program resembling his, and says he ceaselessly talks about what he’s doing. “Many say oh that’s a fantastic concept, however when it comes time to separate from a bike, they simply can’t do it,” he says, and continues, “You discuss it, however then when any person reveals up it’s laborious to say right here, take this, no strings connected.”

Daniel Calvopina studying the ropes on an area grime course. [Bill Getty]

As soon as, Invoice took beneath his wing a bunch of immigrant children from an area church. They couldn’t communicate English, and Invoice couldn’t communicate Spanish. “However we each spoke bike,” Invoice says. “A type of younger males was 11 years outdated and got here right here from Ecuador. The frequent language was bikes, and Daniel and I had been engaged on a Kawasaki F7, a 2-stroke rotary valve single cylinder bike. We received it operating however it had a large air leak and the engine simply took off. We had been making an attempt to close it off and pulled the spark plug lead however it wouldn’t stop. So, we each simply stepped again and watched it till it blew up. We had been laughing like maniacs.” It was a bond that caught, and Invoice finally employed Daniel Calvopina to work at JRC Engineering, the place he stayed for 4 years. He then went to work in gross sales and finance at Douglas Bikes Triumph, MV Agusta and Zero in San Bernardino.

Daniel Calvopina with a bit extra ability, and extra not too long ago. [Bill Getty]

Now in his mid-30s, Daniel is working as a monetary analyst for the Metropolis of Murrieta. He picks up the story, “I got here round typically sufficient that someday Mr. Invoice provided me a job at JRC Engineering. Initially, he taught me all about components for Triumph, BSA, Norton and different obscure manufacturers that I’d by no means heard of. As he would assist clients troubleshoot points and discover components, he would share how he acquired that information. I actually loved this a part of the job as a result of there have been a number of nice tales that got here from studying the way to troubleshoot these points. A few days throughout the week, I’d stick round after work to work on bikes that he let me borrow or that he was simply engaged on that I favored. Ultimately, I received to personal two bikes, a Honda XR250L and later a ’77 Triumph T140 that Mr. Invoice helped me get operating. He did mentor me on the way to restore bikes on a regular basis and some essential issues did stick, such as you want air, gasoline, and spark to get a bike operating.”

Daniel Calvopina right this moment. [Bill Getty]

Invoice’s mentorship was invaluable, Daniel continues, “Mr. Invoice undoubtedly had a big impact on my life. He gave me a strong basis to construct on and I’ll all the time be thankful for this. With out his mentorship from a younger age, the challenges of coming to a brand new nation, new tradition, and no family members would have been rather a lot tougher.” Invoice’s bike mentorship has meant Daniel is, to at the present time, a powered two-wheel fanatic. “I nonetheless tinker with and trip bikes,” he says. “I’ve my very own little fleet, however nothing as cool as Mr. Invoice’s assortment but [he owns an Aprilia Tuono Factory, Ducati Multistrada, MV Agusta Dragster RR and Honda CRF250L]. I did ask him to avoid wasting me an older Triumph that I might hold in the lounge of my home as he does. These days, I primarily trip canyons or the native go-kart monitor.” Invoice did mentor Daniel on the way to trip within the grime, however Daniel provides, “My off-roading expertise had been by no means nice and at the moment are even worse, so I didn’t proceed to pursue that path of bike driving.”

Marc Froesch with a pile of bits that can quickly turn out to be a bike. [Bill Getty]

One other younger man Invoice has mentored, and given bikes to, is 16-year outdated Marc Froesch. Invoice has been concerned in Marc’s life since he was a teen, however he wasn’t the primary to present him a bike. That fell to Marc’s dad Dom Sr., who gave him a 1996 Yamaha RT100 when he was 10. “Marc’s all the time been (into bikes), being that myself and his brothers had been all in favour of bikes and personal a number of,” Dom Sr. explains. “He additionally all the time cherished going to Invoice’s place and seeing his assortment. What clinched his curiosity in actually entering into bikes was Invoice’s supply to come back up on his Wednesday Night time “Bike Night time” and construct a motorcycle from scratch. Most would have simply seen a pile of rusted out outdated components and junk, however to Marc it was a motorcycle ready to be ridden.” That bike was a 1966 Triumph T100, and with Dom Sr.’s assist and Invoice’s mentorship, Marc put it collectively when he was simply 13. “They constructed a desert sled, and Marc has raced this one a number of instances within the Outdated College Scrambles held at Glen Helen Raceway.” This spring, Marc accomplished a mongrel Triumph desert sled utilizing a 1970 Bonneville body, 1968 Bonneville 650 engine and Nineteen Seventies Honda XL350 fork. He plans to race this one, too. Dom Sr. credit Invoice for being “extraordinarily gracious together with his time, his store, and his willingness to present the boys the chance to be taught that with laborious work and dedication they’ll be capable of construct one thing out of a pile of nothing. Invoice walked Marc by means of the method of making ready the body, the painfully time-consuming activity of cleansing components and at last, assembling and tuning the bike. Primarily based on the variety of bikes Marc owns and his pleasure for racing and driving out within the desert, I believe he’s hooked.”

Progress! There’s nothing fairly as satisfying as constructing a bike from containers, and driving it. [Bill Getty]

Invoice says, “If I might emphasize something to our technology, it’s that we now have didn’t impart the fun of motorcycling. We’ve made it ours however we haven’t shared it. Go to any membership assembly and it’s normally all grey beards. We’re gonna take this stuff with us to the grave and there’s no level in it. We might share this and be part of younger individuals’s lives. Give away a bike and see what occurs. It opens up doorways you possibly can’t even think about.”

Writer’s Word – Greg Williams:

Invoice Getty is on to one thing by passing alongside bikes and offering mentorship to younger individuals. In my case, I’ve identified Griffin Smith, now 27, his complete life.  When he was a teen, I’d give him tin bike wind-up toys. When he was 7, he and his dad came to visit to assist unload a 1939 Triumph Velocity Twin challenge with out the forks. In his early teenagers we mechanically rebuilt an early D1 BSA Bantam, then, together with his dad, a 1969 BMW R69S. He took a bike coaching course, after which took his check aboard my 1972 Honda CB350. After finishing a 1952 Triumph T100 bob job, I had Griffin put some miles on the bike. I used to be impressed with how he dealt with the machine, and pondering I’d go away the Triumph to him in my will, I shortly realized I’d relatively see him driving the bike whereas I used to be nonetheless round to witness it.

Griffin and Jeff Smith serving to ship a forkless 1938 Triumph Velocity Twin to Greg Williams’ storage. [Greg Williams]

Within the spring of 2016, we transferred the registration, and he’s ridden the T100 each season since – each day for a number of summers to work, on quick journeys and round city. There at the moment are greater than 3,000 miles on the Smiths chronometric speedometer. Since then, he’s helped rebuild the ’39 Velocity Twin and been concerned in quite a lot of different Triumph initiatives round right here. He’s discovered his personal place to name house and work on bikes. He’s received a very good bike elevate and Whitworth instruments, and is accumulating components so as to add to a pile of Triumph TRW elements he purchased final summer time — the pastime is in good arms.

Griffin Smith with the identical Velocity Twin right this moment. [Greg Williams]

 

Greg Williams is Profiles Editor for The Vintagent. He’s a bike author and writer primarily based in Calgary who contributes the Pulp Non-Fiction column to The Vintage Motorbike and common characteristic tales to Motorbike Classics. He’s proud to reprint the Second and Seventh Editions of J.B. Nicholson’s Fashionable Motorbike Mechanics sequence. Comply with him on IG: @modernmotorcyclemechanics