“THE BEST VINTAGE BIKE SHOP ON THE PLANET” GARAGE COMPANY24 April 2020Highligts-enNEWS This post is also available in: Ita For sure a senior position within the LA vintage bikes scene is that of Yoshinobu ‘Yoshi’ Kosaka and his Garage Company, which – displaying lots of European, Japanese and American bikes – was described as “The best vintage motorcycle shop on the planet”! And just like many bike-shops, Garage Company was initially a hobby that grew out of control; the story actually started in the ’70s in Japan, where a young Yoshinobu Kosaka was enjoying enough income to buy a lot of motorcycles. In fact Yoshi was a dental appliance engineer so good in doing his job that – during the time – was able to buy a new bike almost every month. He really loved to race motocross, at twenty-two he discovered roadracing and that was that. Years later (in ’84 to be exact), Yoshi decided to leave Japan to move to California, home of not just the surfer scene, but also of the motorcycle lifestyle especially. In Beverly Hills he made maybe a tenth of what he had earned in Japan but he had saved money, and if you recall the years of the gas crisis, vintage machines were being thrown away. Cruising swap meets, flea markets, classifieds, boneyards, old garages and other places where old bikes hide, Yoshi started getting real with his collection. He mostly was into Kawasaki H1Rs, Ducati 750SS, Norton Production Racers, MV Agustas and BMWs. In ’86 he started racing AHRMA, and in ’87 Kyoko (Yoshi’s wife) was getting a little bit alarmed that all the bikes around the place not only didn’t fit in the garage, but were crowding the yard. She started looking around for a warehouse or someplace where Yoshi could keep all of his bikes, and she finally found a place on the not-yet fashionable West Washington Blvd. (now Abbot Kinney Blvd) in Venice Beach. It wasn’t just a warehouse, it was a little shop and one day she came home with a key for Yoshi. As he recalls “Lots of bikes and my true-love was understanding about my hobby. Life was good”. Then Yoshi brought a lot of his approximately one-hundred and fifty bikes to the little shop and spent week-ends fixing up them and organising parts all over the walls. The garage was starting to become like a business. No surprise, among many ones it hosted motorcycles like a ’79 Triumph Bonneville, a ’76 Honda CB750 and a Samurai-style custom Harley Shovelhead too… So Yoshi and Kyoko printed up a whole bunch of Garage Company t-shirts for the visitors, since he really didn’t want to sell anything in the shop. Yet tees sold-out quickly and six months later they decided to make a go of it and opened up a real shop at 13218 Washington Blvd. At first the bikes still really weren’t for sale so Yoshi bought a lot of books, racing parts and memorabilia to sell. To this day there are always a few bikes at Garage Company that are not for sale – like Yoshi’s collection of Harley Davidson KR-TTs – or some of the factory racing machines. Speaking of racing, Yoshi finally took an AHRMA national title in ’93 in Formula 250 on a water cooled Bultaco TSS. Other bikes which made Yoshi go big, then, are the ones Garage Company is most known for, we’re speaking about the custom-motorcycles he prepared for people such as rockabilly legend Brian Setzer, tattoo-artist Ed Hardy and even Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, not to mention the three-wheels of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, with custom by Yoshi and pinstriping-design by great Ed Roth (dad of Rat Fink)! Over the years Garage Company has only had a few employees, and the first of them was Kevin Johnson, also a vintage bike racer and multiple season champion singles racer at Willow Springs. Then a bike mags’ journalist, Paul Peczon, was recruited to take Kevin’s job (by Kevin himself) when he decided to move up north. Paul was with Garage Company when they fired-up the first Corsa Motoclassica race in ’95 and stayed when the shop moved to the significantly larger location (5,400 square feet) across the street at 13211 Washington (he left to later return to webmaster the garage’s site, and then followed Kevin up north). Joe Yee now manages the shop and of course there’s mechanic Takashi Iwamoto, who collects bikes too, while Kyoko runs the financial side with professional accounting help from Chiyoko Misawa. In 2010, after more than twenty roaring years on Washington Blvd, in the end the garage moved to a new 18,000 square feet facility in Inglewood where nowadays they finally have enough room to breathe, so you can find pretty much everything they’ve out in the open, not stacked to the rafters like it has been for too long (‘Yoshi’s sigh of relief as background’). And with such a history and fame, let’s do as the Garage Company team says, “Come check out our new place. You’ll be glad you did, and so will we”.