In the early to mid-’50’s Jay Richter had a small group of customers with NSU’s ranging from 125cc to 250cc’s. The loosely knit group spent their Sundays at scrambles and hill climbers at sites within 30 miles of Winnetka. They would gather their families in trucks and haul their bikes out for a day in the sun. They were car salesmen, welders, machinists, assemblers from the GM plant in Van Nuys, accountants and of course those from Rocketdyne or Atomics International who were building rockets or developing the solid rocket fuel which would propel objects into space.
We would spend our Sundays at the “races” with the yellow Chevy pickup loaded with tools, tires, chains/links,spare parts gas, tie downs, and coolers with Cokes, beer, sandwiches and fruit.In 1955 that changed and we added CATALINA Grand Prix to our adventures. No longer would the Chevy pick up be used, we had to put all the bikes and their gear on barges and ship them over for a weekend of racing thru the streets of Avalon sand surrounding hills. Riders made the trip on the “Great White Steamship” in 3 hours, flew from Long Beach across the 26 miles to the island landing at the “airport in the sky”. The deHavilland Dove (passenger limit was 12) and then take a harrowing 45 minute bus trip from the airport into town (longer if the buffalo were roaming across the one lane road). The best way to go was the Grumman Albatross which departed Long Beach Airport and landed in the bay at Avalon and then bobbled over to the dock. That first weekend in May was truly magical for 9 year old Laurie and her big sister. We would stay in a little cottage and make a trip to Safeway to buy bread, milk,, cereal, lunchmeat, ..you know staples for a kitchenette and 3 days with Dad and the guys. Friday was preparation, unloading the barges, matching gear with the bikes, meeting everyone as they disembarked from whatever method they had used to cross the Pacific.
Saturday was RACE DAY for the “little bikes”. The streets had been lined with bales of hay and closed. At 8:30am they were lined up and ready to be let go. We would count the laps, scurrying from one vantage site to another trying to keep track of all 6 of them. By 11:30 to noon is would mostly be over except for a few stragglers. The WVCS team won their classes in the top 3 and we were so proud to have been a part of the excitement and the fulfillment of each riders dream accomplishment.
NSU during the 1950’s held the world speed record for their size and were nimble and quick. Over 1 million 49cc NSU Quickly’s were built and sold. In 1956 the first ever 200mph+ on a motorcycle was on an NSU at the Bonneville Salt Flats.While big brother Bud Ekins rode his Triumph to victory at Catalina, little brother Dave was on an NSU!
Sunday RACE Day was for the “big bikes” 500cc’s. A couple from the shop ran and finished on BSA’s. After the race, we supervised the packing and reloading, the guys went to the Tiki Lounge to celebrate or commiserate while Jay and his girls meandered off to the Casino to catch a movie before heading out. Dad didn’t race or ride fast but he was there to provide whatever support, advice, technical repairs or logistics were necessary. There was no official sponsorship of our team; no advertising on jerseys, no corporate logos on helmets. The team was made up of a group who wanted to challenge themselves and do it on their own.WVCS provided assistance with the logistics and followup so they could concentrate on what they wanted to do (and discounted parts!).
On a particularly hot day this past summer, a Red Tesla pulled into the WVCS lot and we met a guy who had a dream to fulfill and was looking for a bike to take cross country. There was no electricity in the shop, inventory bikes were dirty and crammed handlebar to handlebar as we had just gutted the building for the remodeling.Without taking out 20 bikes to get to the one up in the corner he wanted to sit on, he said he’d wait and come back later. This is how we met Carl Reese and are honored to have been a very small part of Carl’s World Record setting run from Los Angeles (Winnetka) to New York City in August. Some of our most stressful moments ever came after Carl pulled out of our driveway just after 3AM on August 28,2015. Carl had left GPS Live Tracker on Jay’s laptop and we were able to follow him until 6:04pm Saturday night when the tracker reported “ignition off”.
Carl’s choice - K1600GT (white).
We celebrated with a new “shop shirt” featuring the K1600 blasting thru a map of the US.
Our initial order of shirts is almost half gone; they come in polo, S,M, L XL XXL; regular, long sleeve and sleeveless and women’s. To see a teaser of a documentary Carl is producing about the history of transcontinental records and a 2 minute story of our August journey and moments of terror, check out the video below. The last sound you hear is Jay’s voice...
The Legend lives on...
It’s always been about helping others meet their dream.
Most recently on Yelp:
"The folks at West Valley Cycle were absolutely top notch. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone considering a BMW."
I purchased a BMW from someone who lived near LA and for various reasons I could not actually look at the bike. This is the ONLY dealer in the LA area that I would trust as my eyes and ears in looking it over on my behalf. Not only did they do an impeccable job in testing the bike, but they were also nice enough to store the bike for FREE for several days while I worked out a deal with the seller and until I could pick it up.
I had the pleasure with dealing with every person that works there. They were all as nice as can be and as friendly as you could hope and most importantly highly competent and very knowledgeable. I am not from the area, but I can say that I would ride my bike an hour or more out of the way for West Valley Cycle to look at it.
"West Valley Cycle is what a bike shop should be."
New York, NY
"A hidden gem unique in so many ways".
As a motorcycle dealer, this is one of the country's oldest - you can tell this is a legacy establishment. A treasure of history in the center of LA's heart and soul; the Valley. As a SoCal BMW motorcycle dealer no other dealership comes close. As a family-run business I've been to many family-run establishments, but the genuine care I received the first time I walked in their shop was on another level almost of another time. We spoke about the rich history of the San Fernando Valley, and the lovely lady who had just assumed responsibility for the business (the family members who previously run the business had passed away recently) was kind enough to walk inside to her library and lend me a book by Kevin Roderick called "San Fernando Valley; America's Suburb" (a superb book), to welcome me back home (as I just moved back). What a wonderful person. I was doing my motorcycle maintenance in my garage, but having met the Richters I almost want something I can't handle fixing to happen so I have an excuse to go see them again!
"This family deserves all the support it can get."
Beverly Hills, CA
As a new rider, Ruth at WVCS had the patience of a saint with my endless questions and research on BMW bikes. She was also realistic about bikes I should look at considering my level of expertise and goals. I've spent several hours there and watching how they treat their customers I'm convinced this is the shop I'll buy my bike from. People describe it as an old fashioned bike shop, I can see that.
"Great people, great resource, and I am glad they're close to me.
Los Angeles, CA
My experience with West Valley has been top notch and far better than larger dealerships. They take great care to ensure your satisfied with with buying your bike and getting your service.
"Ruth and John treat you more like family than a customer and I recommend them to anyone interested in a BMW."
Los Angeles, CA
| WEST VALLEY CYCLE SALES, Inc.
20212 SATICOY STREET
WINNETKA, CA 91306
TEL: (818) 341-7221
FAX: (818) 341-6733
34.208° N Lat., 118.573° W Long.
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