It’s never easy being the new kid, and for the first time in a long time, that’s exactly what we were. When a good opportunity knocks, we believe it best to invite him in and hand him a cold beer. And so it was, after 8 years we saddled up, kissed our beloved Brooklyn goodbye and pointed ourselves south – second star to the right, straight on ‘til morning.
Arriving in Chattanooga, TN we knew not a soul. Exploring the quiet neighborhood streets we came to find to the local speed shop, Honest Charley, and to our surprise, the famous Coker Tire headquarters. Taking to the interwebs, we we’re also pleasantly surprise to discovered a run down Gulf gas station, brought back to life by a husband-wife duo dubbed Speed Deluxe.
Owners Adam and Jamie Sheard couldn’t have been more welcoming. The type of individuals you hope to roll into town and meet. Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten to known them on a personal level and damn, we’re so happy to have found them. More than a physical shop, Speed Deluxe seems to be the beating heart and soul of the motorcycle community. Grab a beer, kick up your feet and nestle in to some serious southern comfort. - GSCo.
Can you give us some background on Speed Deluxe? How did you land here in Soddy Daisy?
Speed Deluxe: Jamie and I both have an automotive background, I grew up in England and ended up owning a small custom shop there for a few years until I decided to change things up and move to New Zealand in 2006 and then Australia in 2008 where I met Jamie. Jamie is from Illinois and after completing an Automotive degree, worked for GM and Honda in their Technical and Development departments until 2005 when she decided to change things up. She went back to University in Australia, completing 2 more degrees and a PhD. We moved to the US in April 2013 and after traveling around, landed in Chattanooga and shortly after opened Speed Deluxe in October 2013. We service, restore and build custom vintage motorcycles, covering all makes (America, British, Japanese, European). Other than powder coating, chrome and some machine work, everything is completed in house, which was our intent from the start, and with a small retail area, we have essentially a small one stop shop.
SD: Why Soddy Daisy? A question that has been asked many a time especially given my origins! The simple answer is the building we are in, it’s an old gas station from the 40’s and was just what we were looking for, having been on industrial estates before I really didn’t want to go back to that. Soddy Daisy is around 25 minutes north of Chattanooga, and we saw it as a destination for riders; however, this hasn’t quite worked out, and we are excited to announce that we have just signed a lease on an awesome building in downtown Chattanooga.
Situated directly in the middle of Nashville & Atlanta, what can you tell us about the motorcycle scene here in Chattanooga, TN?
SD: The roads within a day’s ride of Chattanooga are arguably up there with some of the best in the US, so it really isn’t that hard to convince people to get on a bike, and that is evident by the amount of bikes you see around, especially in the warmer months. Chattanooga is also bike(r) friendly, holding an event called Nightfall every Friday night throughout the summer months. They shut down a city block for motorcycle parking only and with free live music, food trucks and beer, it’s pretty awesome!
SD: Although it might seem as if Chattanooga is dominated by modern Harley Davidson riders, the vintage and non-domestic custom market is well represented and most definitely growing, especially in the last few years. Because of the surrounding natural landscape, Chattanooga is an outdoors town and has some amazing off road and dualsport riding as well. It feels like this part of the scene is also flourishing especially since we can be on some awesome single track just 15 minutes from downtown!
We found Speed Deluxe after photos surfaced from last year's RelicMoto Vintage show held in downtown Chattanooga. We soon found out Speed Deluxe had a hand in organizing that event. Can you tell us more about it?
SD: In 2012, a Triumph TR6 we were building whilst in Australia was invited to a show in Melbourne called Oil Stained Brain. The show took a similar format to The One Show in Portland, and to me, it was a breath of fresh air that the show scene needed. After attending some more typical style shows here in Tennessee in 2014, Jamie and I started discussing the possibility of creating a small invitational show in Chattanooga. Fast forward to early last year, we decided to focus on creating a few different events to try to build a sense of community within the Southeast vintage motorcycle scene: a screening of Greasy Hands Preachers, the Vintage 1000, and the RelicMoto show. We wanted the RelicMoto vintage motorcycle show to highlight the quality of vintage stock or custom motorcycles that the Southeast has to offer. The Camp House in downtown Chattanooga fit the desired aesthetic, with a beautiful interior and an outdoor patio. The space defined the number of bikes (30), and the response to our request for submissions exceeded our expectations for a show in its first year, with bikes submitted from Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. There were 16 makes, ranging from 1929 to 1980. The People’s Choice award (the only award) went to a 1929 Indian that completed the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball. We’re looking forward to the next show, which can be found on Instagram (@relicmotovintageshow).
You're currently building for this year's Mexican 1000 in Baja. What moto do you plan on bringing to race?
SD: For me, the NORRA Mexican 1000 is a stepping stone to the SCORE Baja 1000, for which my goal is to finish on a vintage bike. Initially, the idea was to race an early 80’s Honda XL600 but as much as the XL is a great bike, it just didn’t sit right with me. I’ve been racing British bikes and am a huge advocate of them. I’m also probably the biggest fan of the BSA/Triumph 250 single there is. I ran a 250 on the Vintage 1000 and contemplated running one in the Mexican, but as this bike might possibly run the Baja 1000, I just didn’t think it was a good idea.
SD: I had picked up a ’64 BSA A65 project earlier in 2015, and its locked-up engine was calling my name - could this bike handle the eventual goal? I guess we’ll find out. It was missing a bunch of original parts, had a pre unit triumph front end and was generally begging to be made into a desert sled! I’m still in the middle of the build, but so far I’ve changed out that pre unit front end for a Bultaco Betor 35mm type including the 21” front wheel, the internals of which are being upgraded with Racetech Springs and Gold Valve Emulators. The rear suspension is taken care of by a pair of Racetech G3S shocks. I’ve stripped the frame of anything unnecessary and am currently hand making a new bigger aluminum air filter housing and aluminum oil tank. After all the chassis work is complete, I’ll turn my attention to the engine rebuild including a few mild performance mods. The main goal for the engine is reliability.
Last year was the inaugural year of the Vintage 1000, a race along the Trans American Trail that you, Speed Deluxe, gave birth to. We're excited to participate this year but have no idea what to expect. Can you shed some light on what this race entails?
SD: First, it’s great to have you and another British bike on board this year! The Vintage 1000 is really a 5-day 1000 mile vintage (pre 1981) dualsport ride or an adventure, as we like to think of it, but there is a winner, so I guess it’s a race. The winner is in fact determined by the most mileage and/or least breakdowns. Last year’s winner was the only bike that did not have to go on the support trailer at some point in time. The event was born purely out of my own desire to do something like this - the way I work is: I have an idea, I instantly run it by Jamie (who likes most of my stupid ideas), then I put it out into the social media world. I already knew a good friend of mine was in, so even if it was just the two of us, the goal had been achieved. The response was great, but there was definitely some trepidation, and although a lot of people fell by the wayside, we had 7 riders, which turned out to be a great number for the first year. This year, we limited the numbers to 16, and it was booked up within a few weeks!
SD: What you can expect is a fantastic week of riding the Trans America Trail through Tennessee, Mississippi and back in a big loop. The trail is navigated with roll charts (no gps allowed), and this area has a mix of true paved single lane back roads, giving way to more gravel roads and dirt roads as we head west. 200 miles a day seems pretty easy but trust me it’s a full day of riding every day, which will inevitably include a breakdown of some sort, running out of gas and definitely getting lost! Camp life is split between laughing at stories of the day’s ride and working into the night on yours, or if you’re lucky, someone else’s bike. I’m excited just thinking about it!
You mentioned earlier Speed Deluxe is relocating to downtown Chattanooga. Sounds like a big move. What can we expect to see?
SD: It’s a huge move for us, and it wouldn’t be possible without our co-conspirators Silent Cycles and Velo Coffee Roasters. We have been talking about a shared space since the end of last summer, but after the Christmas break we got really serious about finding a building. Finding a location downtown where you can build motorcycles and bicycles whist having a great retail presence, all in a building with its own character, takes some time, but we did it. The new shop is on two levels, the top accessed from Cherokee Blvd and the bottom from a road behind the building. The bottom will house the Speed Deluxe and Silent Cycles core businesses, whilst the top will be a shared space between the three of us but under the Speed Deluxe name.
SD: Built in 1926 from brick and limestone and still retaining its hardwood floors and high pressed steel ceilings, the building is amazing. The top space is still under development, but we want to create a destination where men and women want to come hang out, look at cool moto and bicycle stuff and have the opportunity to buy high-quality, American-made products, a lot of which will be from small manufacturers like yourself. We want to support 2-wheeled adventures, big and small. Also expect monthly events ranging from crawfish boils to tech sessions! The workshop will be open from March 1st, and the top floor will open sometime in early May - check our website and social media for updates.