I took a nice, long autumn ride through long shadows and cool setting sunlight to NCK Cycle Salvage in Woodstock, Ontario this afternoon.
Google Maps was determined me to walk me through the middle of Kitchener-Waterloo in the middle of rush hour and then along a 401 covered in construction. I forced it to route me around the population and construction, which Google Maps took to mean sending me down increasingly small back roads until I was riding through a deep, dark forest tinged crimson with fall colours on a rutted, dirt road. I think at one point I was being chased by a pack of wolves, but hey, I never once sat in traffic.
I eventually wound my way down to Woodstock and found NCK in the west end of town in an industrial estate. I used to do a lot of work on cars, so I was expecting something like a breaker’s yard with bikes laying out in the weather. I was once told by an old motorcyclist that bikes don’t last well in the weather because, unlike cars, they don’t have a cover; NCK agrees with that biker wisdom.
I was worried that the carburetors I was picking up for the Fireblade project were going to be rusty and nasty, but instead they look almost brand new – far better than the battered carbs the muppet who owned the Honda before me had molested.
I was surprised at how organized and dense NCK’s layout was. Nathan, the son of the original owner, is in the process of taking on the family business which has been running in Woodstock since the early ’90s. He took me on a quick tour and explained NCK’s process. They dismantle and warehouse parts as bikes come in. I asked about the lack of European bikes, but Nathan said they tend to either be repaired or written off, whereas Japanese bikes are more common and less expensive, so that’s where the spares market is. They often get bikes from dealers who don’t want an inexpensive bike cluttering up their showroom. Where possible they sell the bike on complete, when it isn’t possible they dismantle the bike, check the parts in to inventory and keep everything organized in their dense, 5000+ square foot warehouse. That inventory system is what allowed Nathan to immediately get back to me with confirmation of the parts I needed when every other motorcycle salvage operation in Ontario was radio silent.
Since it’s all inside, you’re not getting rusty, rained on left overs and the parts look like they’ve actually been looked after (because they have). We had a walk through the warehouse and I got to see the next project they’re working on, an originally painted mid-70s Yamaha air cooled big twin. It was already in shockingly good condition (the old fellow who owned it lost his storage and had to move it on), so now it’s at NCK getting some TLC. You can tell this is as much a labour of love as it is a well run business.
If you love Japanese bikes and are anywhere within a stone’s throw of Woodstock, Ontario, you owe it to yourself to drop in to NCK Cycle Salvage and have a look around. If you’re working on a Japanese bike, this place could save you a pile of money. I got the ’97 Fireblade carb for $250CAD (they are going for $250US+shipping+customs on eBay). When I was sourcing new parts that the muppet who butchered the carbs before me had broken – strange parts like choke plungers (not even sure how you would break one of those) or carb clamps (because this goof had tried gluing them to the engine!), I was quickly running up a bill into the hundreds of dollars US, plus shipping and border taxes – and that’s even assuming I could find the parts, many were not available.
A nice ride through the countryside on a sunny, autumn afternoon and I’ve got a donor carb that looks to be in even better shape than the low mileage one I was looking for parts for. What I was going to use for parts I’m now swapping in. I’ll take the old one apart and sell off the pieces. I’m only a couple of online sales away from breaking even on the carb purchase.
I can’t recommend NCK enough – they know what they’re doing, do it well and if you’re looking for parts for an older Japanese bike, they might not only save you money, they might be the only ones who have what you need!
Maybe it’s just me, but a place like this scratched an aesthetic itch. That’s a lot of Japanese colour to take in!
|Where possible, and especially with older bikes, when a good tank comes in it gets special treatment. Wherever possible they try and keep the tank and paint as original and unblemished as possible.|
|Fairing bits that might simply not be available any more, or cost you as much as the bike did in a dealer…|
|Little bits, big bits, mechanical bits; organized and accessible.|
|Fenders… so many fenders. Got a cafe project? These aren’t so dear that you’re afraid to modify them.|
|NCK also offers a purchase and store option where you can buy a used bike in the fall and pay it off over the winter while it sits in heated, safe storage in the warehouse – no extra charge. Nice, eh?|
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