Hastings teen discovers, cultivates love for vintage bikes
HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) — It’s not the new and shiny revved-up motorcycles that light up Jake Tessman’s passion — it’s the rare, old and vintage motorcycles.
Tessman, 16, will be a junior at Hastings High School this fall. His passion is restoring old motorcycles, and he’s done so since he was 13.
The Grand Island Independent reports that at 13, Tessman became interested in old motorcycles when he took a trip to Genoa with his dad. The trip was to get a vintage gas pump, which Tessman’s dad collects. As Tessman and his dad were about to leave, the seller asked if they’d be interested in vintage motorcycles.
“I knew nothing about vintage motorcycles,” Tessman said. “Make, model, nothing.”
The man urged Tessman and his dad to consider buying the old motorcycle.
“He walked over to the corner (of the garage) and took this big packing blanket, pulled it off, and motorcycle parts were sitting there,” Tessman said. “My dad said, ‘That looks like a mess.’”
Tessman and his dad almost walked away, but the man persisted by lowering the price from $500 to $300. The father-son duo thought they could take the motorcycle off the guy’s hands and at least sell it for parts, getting back what they’d buy it for.
Thus began Tessman’s vintage motorcycle passion.
After researching the motorcycle, a red 1966 C102 Honda Supercub Rally edition, he became more interested. Tessman said Honda came out with kits that gave their motorcycles a racing look. There are four kits, total, that were released to add to the motorcycles: the Rally, Roadster, Student and Boss. The red bike from Genoa has the Rally edition kit. Now his goal is to collect all four motorcycle kits.
“I never even knew I liked motorcycles,” Tessman said.
Tessman was 14 when he started riding the red Rally edition. He didn’t want to chance anything with a vintage motorcycle, especially the engine, so he had someone else work on it. He mows lawns during the summer, which is how he raised money to restore the motorcycle.
When he ran out of money to have someone in Grand Island work on the Rally edition, his parents gifted him that for Christmas. He rode the restored 1966 motorcycle that summer. However, he knew he couldn’t ride a vintage motorcycle every day, due to the wear and tear.
Then, two years ago, Tessman looked into his next project: a motorized bicycle. His grandparents ended up gifting him the motor kit, and his parents gifted him the bicycle for his birthday.
Tessman re-created a 1937 Columbia-built motorized bike, which he still rides, after school. He said it took him less than two days to build, just by looking at a photo. He added a horn, lighting system and brakes.
“I just like tinkering with things,” Tessman said about figuring out how to build the motorized bicycle.
However, just because he had a motorized bicycle didn’t mean he stopped his love for vintage motorcycles.
Last year, he heard of an auction in Kansas that had another kit. He bought the blue 1964 C100 Honda Supercub Roadster edition, which is still being restored in Grand Island.
Tessman now stores his first vintage motorcycle, the red one, in his room. He has part of the Student kit and is saving up money to buy the last kit in the collection, the Boss.
Other than liking the stylish look of the vintage motorcycles, Tessman said he likes the rarity of them.
“There’s always a story behind them. You can’t just go down to a dealership and buy them now,” Tessman said. “You’ll see a million old cars before you see a vintage motorcycle.”
Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com