Renovations continue

Turning a half century-old service station into a groovy motorcycle shop is no small undertaking. We’ve come a long way since we first moved into our new space on Prior, but there’s still a lot to do. There’s big stuff and little stuff, but it’s all got to get sorted out. We stripped out what had to be a quarter mile of phone and electrical wires that were literally hooked up to nothing.

We’re going through city inspections as well. The Fire Marshal said we needed doorknobs on the entrance to our storage area, but that any knobs would do. So we made our own. What? You don’t have a camshaft opening your doors? It’s upcycling.

Our lobby and merch display area is fully torn down now. We’ve pulled down all the tacky ’70s paneling and found the original yellow paint underneath. Soon we’ll have the floors redone, the walls sorted out, and new displays for helmets and accessories. Stay tuned.

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Letter from the Owner

As the 2011 season approaches I wanted to take a moment to speak to our new and returning customers about BlueCat Motors, where we have been, and where we are going. To begin with I can’t express enough my gratitude to all of our customers over the years, some of whom have been with us since I started this business out of my garage eight years ago!

Since that time BlueCat has gone through many changes and incarnations of what this business can be. Through all the ups and downs; getting that first real shop space, the scooter boom of 2008, the economic crash the following year, we kept our heads down and pushed on through relying on our enthusiasm and passion for what we do. Over the last two years our business has grown, which is fantastic, but I will freely admit we were not prepared for it. Though it has allowed us to purchase and move into our new space, it has become apparent that we were stretched very thin, working harder not smarter. Now that we have moved into our new shop, we have decided to make a few changes and instigate a plan to address this very important issue.

First off BlueCat Motors will no longer be servicing Chinese manufactured scooters and motorcycles. To those customers of ours who own Chinese products we apologize. We believe that by turning away this work we will have more time and energy to focus on doing the best job we can with the Japanese, European, and British motorcycles we have focused our business on. We are still a metro shop and will never turn away from our scooter enthusiast customers, but we must limit it to Japanese, European, and the reputable brands coming out of the Asian market.

Secondly as a small business owner you can’t help but wear several different hats of responsibility, but nothing can compare to having one person devoted to a particular job. This year we are excited to have our customers get to know and work with our newest edition to the BlueCat team, service writer/customer service liaison. It is our hope that by having a dedicated customer service employee we will be far better able to meet the needs of our customers, and facilitate the best experience possible for us and you.

The final step in this effort is getting feedback from you our customer. We want to know directly from you what we are doing right and what we can improve on. We have put together a “customer packet” that every customer will receive upon dropping off their vehicle for service. Along with some good information and tips on owning a vintage machine, and a thorough explanation of our policies and procedures we have also included a customer survey. If brought back to us filled out with honest feedback you will receive 10% off labor on your next service. I am very excited to get some constructive criticism, as well as be able to motivate the rest of the team with well deserved accolades.

As spring draws near and we all anxiously await the big thaw I want to welcome all new and returning customers to BlueCat Motors. We have a lot of fun events planned for the coming season, our vintage motorcycle third Thursday events, weekly Saturday group rides this year, and as always we welcome you to come down to the shop anytime whether you have a technical question about a project your into or just miss the smell of two stroke oil it doesn’t matter. We are here to support the motorcycling community in the twin cities and keep as many vintage and modern machines on the road as we can.

Sincerely,

Ryan Scott
Owner, BCM

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2nd Annual Illegal Pinewood Derby at Grumpy’s Roseville

It’s winter. Only the most insane among us are out riding this time of year, so for the rest of us we need fun ways to stay warm. Enter Pinewood Derby for adults! Last year was a ton of fun so we’re stoked to make it happen again.

This year we’re holding the event at Grumpy’s Roseville location on February 20. Registration is $5 per car. Weigh-in begins at 3:00 pm with racing starting at 6:00 pm.

Just like last year, we’re racing three classes: Vintage, Stock and Open Mod. All cars must pass tech inspection

Rules for VINTAGE
1. Must be a true vintage pine wood derby car.
2. This is a 5 oz weight class.
3. If any original parts are broken (wheels, axles), new parts my be used in place. In the spirit of things, we ask that you try to use all vintage parts if possible. If modifications must be made, please try to use standard BSA rules/parts and apply to you’re older car.

Rules for STOCK
1. Standard Boy Scouts Rules – Here’s the official PDF.

Rules for OPEN MOD
1. This is an 8 oz weight class. It will make for a heavy car but should mean good racing.
2. Nothing on/in the car that would damage the race track in any way.
3. No propellants or propulsion of any kind — see rule #2.
4. Other than that, use your imagination.

You can see some photos from last year’s event here.

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It’s not always about the motor

“Well first of all, we don’t really do V-twins.”

This is what Jeff said to me when I asked about the bright yellow Indian sitting on the lift. On further explanation, it made sense. There are lots of places to get your Harley worked on, but not many shops that can take a 40 year-old japanese or english bike and bring it back to life. So we want to stay focused on that. Yet here is this canary-colored slab of american iron on the lift. Turns out the engine is in fine shape. The reason this Indian is in for service is something that should serve as a cautionary tale to bike sellers everywhere.

This particular Indian was for sale by its owner. A prospective buyer came along and asked for a test ride. Upon returning, this individual complained that the clutch was bad and offered significantly less money than the seller was asking. The clutch was fine before the test ride, so the owner brought the bike to us. Upon inspection, the clutch was fine. Our forensic theory is that this shady buyer must have pulled over while riding the bike, then adjusted the clutch cable way out of spec so that it would feel like there was something wrong. Sellers beware.

With the bike sorted from that standpoint, the owner left it with us for winter storage. Then he asked us to refresh the bodywork over the winter with new paint. We were happy to oblige and now there’s bright, fresh paint on the Indian. No engine work required.

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A bit of Twin Cities scooter history

Beyond all the restoration, repair and custom work we’re doing on scooters and motorcycles this winter, we’re also still sorting out our new shop space. (Have you been by yet?) This great old building has a lot of character, but also needs a lot of work. Part of getting the space sorted out is finding the right mix of art and decor to make it a proper shop. So when this Vesparado sign was offered to us we jumped on it. The Vesparado shop was the place to get a Vespa in the Twin Cities in the late ’70s and early ’80s. To this day, some of the nicest, most accessorized P-series and Rally Vespas we get in the shop usually came from Vesparado originally. It’s nice to have this little chunk of history as part of our shop now, as we keep those old Vespas in good nick and running well into the future.

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New life for an old Guzzi

Sometimes an old bike is as much an adventure on the lift as it is on the street. This 1977 Moto Guzzi 859-T3 is definitely one of those. The owner brought it to us after buying it off someone else. Upon closer examination, we’re glad he did. Jeff’s exact words were “death trap” in describing the myriad of things wrong with this cool old italian cruiser. Nothing that couldn’t be sorted out, just lots of critical things out of spec.

There were loose bolts all over. A critical cup washer was missing from the rear wheel, which had the wheel wondering laterally on the axle while ridden. Because of this, the hub had chewed a deep channel in the rear brake caliper. Not. Good. Basic maintenance had been pretty badly neglected as well. The valve lash was so out of spec the intake valve on one cylinder was simply open all the time. No wonder it wasn’t running very well!

With the baseline mechanicals sorted, it was time for a bit of customization. The owner wanted the cheezy cruiser foot boards gone, then lower handlebars and rear sets added. I caught up with Jeff midway through swapping the bars. Guzzi had routed a ton of wiring up through the bars to the hand controls, so swapping out the bars was a lot more complicated than just slipping grips on and off. The foot boards were no picnic either. We couldn’t just saw them off of there. Instead, we sourced replacement lower subframe parts to take the place of the footboard controls and make room for this bike’s brand new rear sets. A tidy solution, if a bit involved.

The end result is a softly cafe’d little italian go machine. The dropped bars and rear set foot controls should make it a lot more comfortable and it definitely looks the business now. But most importantly, this bike is now mechanically safe and sound, running well and ready to ride. Watch for it on the road come spring.

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Keeping warm and keeping busy

It’s cold out there this time of year in St. Paul, but that doesn’t mean things around the shop have slowed down. We’re bursting with bikes in for winter storage and the lifts are consistently occupied with this winter’s repair and restoration projects. We’re also still making our awesome new space our own. The outside of our converted service station has a fresh coat of paint and that also means a fresh new sign. The new heating system is in and keeping the shop toasty, and we’re reworking the lobby and merch displays as I type. More to come.

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Team Photos

To celebrate our website relaunch, we got some kick ass photos taken of the team. Tristan Thiel came down to shoot us the other day, and I gotta say – we look bad ass. If you’re ever in need of a photographer, definitely give Tristan a call. His work is genius. He also makes some crazy awesome furniture.

Check Out Tristan’s Website

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Friday at Bluecat

Another busy friday here at the shop. Lots of bikes coming in and out of the shop.
bluecat_photobluecat_3bluecat_2

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Mods & Rockers 09

It’s been almost a year since the 2009 Mods and Rockers party. We figured it was about time to share all the photos with you.  Just as a reminder that Mods & Rockers 2010 is coming up soon.

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Contact Us

BlueCat Motors
460 N. Prior
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 645-1172‎
info@BlueCatMotors.com

Restoration Services

BlueCat Motors Restoration Services

We believe there's nothing sweeter than an old machine running as good as, if not better, than when it rolled off the factory line. A close second is when that machine looks as good as it runs. That's why we offer comprehensive vintage motorcycle restoration services. Whether it's a concourse bike, a resto-mod custom, or even your own take on the perennial Cafe Racer, give us a call at (651) 645-1172 and we'll get the wheels rolling.

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