March 12, 2017 | Rahoul Ghose
It’s about motorcycles, group rides, building a DIYer’s knowledge base and exploring all of what NYC has to offer two-wheeled enthusiasts. But at its core, really the NY Classic Riders MC is about building lifelong friendships … an extended moto family, so to speak, which supports all aspects of New York moto culture.
That’s a large leap forward from what club founder Dominique D. envisioned four years ago when he and a close-knit group of ex-pat French riders first started to organize local informal rides in and around the city.
“I first created this group to gather all my New York riding friends, and thought this would be the best platform for us to share ideas, bike tips, and arrange weekend rides,” says Dominique, a relatively new rider who came to NY half a decade ago in his mid-30s.
With the help of a burgeoning Facebook membership, which is currently pushing the 600 mark, a newly launched and comprehensive website (featuring member bios, videos, photos, a blog and recommended moto vendors shops and eateries), and even a new logo, the NY Classic Riders seems well positioned for the upcoming spring riding season.
dominique d. with his bmw r9t
“My goal is to continue building a strong community of riders,” says Dominique. “I see already in the group, people that would have never met before, developing amazing friendships, after only a single ride. People from the group today are meeting even outside the motorcycle context. When I see this, I tell myself: ‘Mission accomplished!’”
KICKSTARTING A MOTO HABIT
Dominique’s personal moto history is indelibly tied to his move to the States, where he purchased his first bike in 2013, a Triumph Bonneville.
“As a Frenchman I’ve always been passionate about motorcycles, and as a child dreamt about riding US Route 66,” he said. “Back in the days, in my past professional life, I was always traveling. I never had time to really spend to work on my license (back in Europe, you need at least three months to get it, not two days like in the US). When I arrived here five years ago, I was definitely motivated to get it and start riding across all these amazing US roads. I discovered the effect of riding on your own body, emptying your mind and focusing on the roads. But I also discovered the friendship among motorcyclists. Whatever you ride, wherever you are from, it’s one single big family, ready to help one another.”
-- Dominique D., NY Classic Riders, Founder
Dominque first captured and shared those memories on his own personal website -- dubbed “A French Man in New York City”, and social media, including photos and videos of local and long distance rides, moto events, product reviews, and even his experience modding and working on that initial ride.
“I almost stripped my previous Bonneville apart. And by doing this, I learned a lot about my bike (and myself).”
GEARING UP: TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Dominique transferred the success of his personal web presence (and his bike affections for that matter) into bigger and better things … on the web front a members’ Facebook page for the NY Classic Riders; on the bike front a new 2016 BMW R9T ‘Special Edition’ H-Brushed Aluminum Tank.
“The mods I have done already are basic: Rizoma mirrors, front and rear blinkers. I removed the rear fender as well as the passenger foot pegs,” Dominique says. “I also just installed new pipes (Competition Werks). This bike does not need tons of mods as it’s already beautiful. Riding a boxer engine, especially on a bike like the R9T is a one-time experience … so much torque and engine response. I just love it.”
That same enthusiasm can be seen throughout the interactions and posts on the NY Classic Riders Facebook page, and even more so on the new website, which has a distinctly personal feel to it.
a little nycr logo history
“My first objective is to ensure that all members are happy. Happy means meeting new riders, riding together and enjoying the time with the group. Outside the group, my aim is to help develop and promote gentle and respectful motorcycling on a larger scale. I want to help democratize motorcycling in New York City and improve the image that ‘bikers’ have.”
EYES ON THE ROAD: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
To that end Dominque has a host of future plans for the club, which currently includes members (a large majority who reside in the city) that represent more than 28 nationalities and ride the gamut of motorcycle styles and brands.
“I’m going to try to partner with the NYPD motorcycle unit by organizing a one-day training with them. I am also planning a fundraising ride on behalf of a famous children's hospital in New York, a Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride kind of approach in terms of set up.”
-- Dominique D., NY Classic Riders, Founder
And Dominique is brokering partnerships with many of the major players in the US moto industry: shops, manufacturers and aftermarket parts dealers.
“The goal is to offer them a bucket of active riders as potential new customers and in return have discounts for our members. We will see how it goes but we’ve had a good start already.”
Both Dominique’s bike and club are set for some more immediate additions.
While the R9T could see the a new Motogadget gauge and Rizoma aluminum front fender, personal budget constraints allowing, the club as a whole is reaching out to local moto businesses and haunts for mutual benefit.
“On top of our weekly rides, one year ago I launched our monthly socializing events -- Drinks and Dinner. I call this the monthly ‘Moto Aperos’. We have in the group members that are managing restaurants so I always try to organize the events at their places as much as I can.”
The club’s preferred, and highly endorsed, moto foodie spots to date include: La Cigogne NYC in Brooklyn, Café Paulette in Fort Greene, Spiegel in the East Village, Pound and Pence in the Financial District (downtown Manhattan) and OFICINA NYC near Little Italy. On the Moto shop side Dominique gives a personal nod to several locales in the city.
“Union Garage in Brooklyn, managed by Chris (Lesser), an amazing guy, well known in the NYC motorcycle landscape; Jane Motorcycle is also a place that I like as well, managed by Adam (Kallen) and Alex (DiMattio), as well as Filipacchi in Soho that Craig opened recently … and Genuine Motorworks in Brooklyn. For all moto repairs, I’d mainly recommend Brian at A&J Cycles in Hillburn and Kerry at Velocita in Bushwick, not to mention Jim at Hamlin Cycles, Mike at Triborough Motorcycles, and Mototainment in Manhattan.”
A LOCAL RIDE GUIDE
Making connections … what it’s about. But getting back to beginnings, one of the most interesting components of the new site will be a compendium of recommended local rides and destinations.
“The most memorable moment I had was with the group, two years ago. We did an amazing road trip with four other members to Montreal in Canada,” Dominque says. “That was for Labour Day, and if I recall, this was the first long road trip we did with the NY Classic Riders. I still had my Bonnie at that time … quite a challenge to eat miles with it. We left from NYC, stopped one night at Lake George and then shot the day after for Montreal through the Adirondack Mountains. An amazing experience with friends that I will never forget.”
Locally Dominique’s favorite ride is the Seven Lakes Drive.
-- Dominique D., NY Classic Riders, Founder
“Definitely the best roads around, with a stop at Lake Tiorati. Many twistees and amazing scenery, especially in fall.”
Dominique has put out a call to members to share their recommended rides with maps.
Currently the club can see anywhere from 20 to 30 bikers at regular ride events, Dominque says, adding for the larger rides the group might have to rethink how events are organized if participations stays on the increase. Having two waves of riders is a possibility.
“The city of New York is not used to seeing that many riders at a same time. As for the social events, we are usually around 20/25 people for our Drinks and Dinner events which is great. Here again having more people might be challenging with the limited space in NY restaurants.”
MEETING UP: CONNECTING WITH THE NY CLASSIC RIDERS
Membership within the club is open to all bike types and places a high value on diversity. But potential members must live and ride in the New York area. Experience is not a prerequisite.
“Most of the existing members in the group know each other and I want to keep this ‘family’ and ‘local’ spirit in the group. I try to judge if a potential new member can fit with the group to ensure an overall match with the community. And this works … everyone is highly enjoying our weekend rides, both for the act of riding in group but also for the ‘social’ aspect of the journey. We usually always stop during lunch time at a fine restaurant to enjoy great food (a lot of oysters) and chat about a number of different subjects around motorcycles, but also personal stuff.”
So it all comes back to friendships and motorcycles … of course.