We’ve tried earnestly to document recent Classified events on our Facebook and Twitter pages. But still, this is one of those stories I don’t really know how to begin. What started as an ambitious agreement to build a bike for Velocity Channel’s Cafe Racer TV, turned into an unforgettable trip to meet a bunch of amazing people and see stuff that not many folks get to see. The most rewarding of which was the look on actress Katee Sackhoff’s face when she laid eyes on her one-of-a-kind Classified Honda. Katee’s elation over her new bike set the tone for what was to be a staggeringly awesome five days. The trip seemed to be constantly trying to one-up itself until it was just kind of ridiculous.
First let me say that Katee is the bee’s knees. She’s even friendlier, funnier, prettier and cooler in person than we thought when we first Skyped with her for the TV show. She not only learned to kickstart a 600 cc bike on camera in front of a crowd, she then proceeded to tear up and down the coast and through the canyons on her diabolical looking machine. It was kind of like watching a great action movie. As sweet and girly as Katee is, when she gets on the bike she lives up to her badass reputation. No fear. All confidence. Great rider.
While Katee was working her butt off in her day job, we got the chance to take in the sights onboard her bike. That included 500 miles or so along the coast, splitting lanes on the 405, cruising the surface streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills and a top secret Classified mission to — Burbank.
Because, as we’ve said, Classified Moto is the luckiest company on the planet, we were treated to a private tour of Mr. Jay Leno’s Garage. It’s been three weeks or so and I’m still trying to process it. In fact, it caused me to have weird dreams for the whole trip. Jay was at work, but we got the full tour — the McLarens, the Bugattis, the Lambos, the Buick that Jay slept in when he was a struggling comic. Anyway, it would be futile to try and do it justice. Look it up online, then imagine being in there with you and five of your buddies. It was life-changing.
Continuing our streak, we left the compound and headed directly to Studio 11 for the taping of The Tonight Show. Since we were invited guests, we got primo parking inside the gate and access to the green room — complete with snacks and drinks — before the show. Rad. The show was cool — Jessica Biel, Kevin Smith, the Lumineers. And afterwards we met Jay in the green room, this time just our little group. We chatted, took some pics, then Jay agreed to walk out to the parking lot — amongst a lot of non-famous people whose jaws were dropping — and check out Katee’s bike. I can’t imagine how busy he must have been, but he had time for pics and to give his stamp of approval on our labor of love. It was just too much.
One of the greatest features of the trip was that we were stationed at moto Mecca “Garage Company” near the airport. Café royalty Yoshi Kosaka was an amazing host and was itching to ride our bike — and we were more than glad to toss him the keys. Yoshi LOVED the bike, and it showed while he was blasting through Inglewood, grinning behind his goggles.
Then on to Deus Ex Machina in Venice. It was weird to be around people who see things just like we do. While they could have bristled at the idea of another builder — a fan or not — coming to their shop, instead they gave us the full tour, talked about the industry’s ups and downs and even ripped around Venice on the KT-600. Those guys are good-hearted creative geniuses and deserve all the success they’ve seen. Super inspiring.
By the time we left Katee and the bike behind, we all had that last-day-of-summer-camp kind of exhaustion. Bittersweet for sure. But mostly just sweet. A year and a half ago I was getting the boot from my ad job — now I was in LA signing over a title to the coolest chick in LA, giving her a perhaps too-lingering hug and flying home.
Nothing wrong with that. — JR
PS: Stay tuned here and there for build details and pics. And of course, tune into Season 4 of Cafe Racer TV in early 2013. Many thanks to all the folks we met out West, on behalf of Greg, Betsy, John Bracknell, Jeff Henshaw, Adam Ewing and the Cafe Racer TV crew. Best trip ever.
(Photos: Adam Ewing and his faithful assistants)