The mother of all shop visits! Old timer and frequent VTV contributor Sandy Roca checks out a motorcycle shop that’s stood the test of time: Stone’s Motorcycle Company .
Back in the pre-helmet days, there were a bunch of bike shops in my neck of the woods. Pete Andrews in Boston and Macks in Everett sold and serviced just about every marque you could imagine . Sam Avellino in Revere focused on Royal Enfield. Bucky’s in Norfolk was big on BSAs. And of course there was John Healey’s excellent Triumph of Wellesley. But big changes were in store. Honda and other oriental makes invaded the states. The mid-1970s custom craze happened a few years after that. Places sprouted up that catered to choppers, diggers and long bikes alike. And, I wish I had a Ben Franklin for every motorcycle shop that I saw spring up and then later wilt out. One notable exception to that here-today, gone-later has been Stone’s Motorcycle Company in Northborough, Mass. Owner Steve Stone opened his doors in 1970. And has stayed around through the thick and thin of the bike biz — for over 45 years.
What is the man’s secret? One word: commitment. Stone’s has always sought to be a one-stop shop and they have held on to that successful strategy like a terrier to a rat — year in and year out. What you first encounter at Stone’s is a well lit showroom with plenty of cool bikes – many of which Stone’s built from the ground up. Plus a plethora of pretty – and useful — parts displayed on the walls. He’s got a sound investment in detail things as well — like cables, fasteners, controls, what have you. Plus a wide array of catalogs for ordering. By the secret to Stone’s success lies downstairs. It’s a spacious shop with virtually every machine tool and facility need to build or service domestic vee twins, vintage Harley’s and Indian’s, or any bike that’s customized or custom built. Stone has, in effect over the years, assembled a small motorcycle factory.
What do we mean by that? Well, Steve is himself a virtuoso welder and sheet metal bender. Not a bad place to start. To that add two Bridgeport vertical mills, lathe, bead blaster, buffing heads, the biggest english wheel I’ve ever seen, hydraulic planishing hammer, parts washers and a custom paint spray booth. Tucked away are also a Sunnen hone, wheel balancer, tire mounting machine, cut off and jig saws, air tool facility, large belt sander and box after organized box of small tools, cutters, fixtures and more. When it comes to metal, Stone has just about everything needed to fabricate, modify or customize. Stone has over the years built his own line of custom Harley frames with cool stuff like oil in a large diameter backbone and monoshock rear suspension. He has fabricated gas tanks, seat bases and engine mounts from scratch. He’s built everything from Buell engined choppers to a wild Big Twin with four cam Spurge cases, to a beautiful and correct Panhead restoration. Over the years Stone-built ground up customs have been covered by magazines worldwide. His bikes have made covers and centerspreads. On any given day, machines from late model Milwaukee Eights to vintage Pans and Shovels are in his shop for maintenance, repair, restoration, custom paint, parts fabrication and installation. It is this diversity of parts and services offered that has enabled Stone to survive and thrive when others fell by the way side.
You don’t stay in business that long by being inflexible. And Stone’s has adapted and adopted with the times. He’s got a website — www.stones-custom.com — and a social media presence with an Instagram profile @stonesmotorcycle. To sum it all up, Stone’s Motorcycle Company is keeping the tradition of the local motorcycle shop alive and well. That’s no mean feat to maintain through over 45 years of oil embargoes, market meltdowns, financial panics, wars, hurricanes, political scandals, terrorism, the internet, and global warming. When you walk through Stone’s doors all that seems to melt away — and it’s back to motorcycling the way it was back in the good old days.