At first glance, Fast N Loud seems to be all about the 4 wheeled machines.
Richard Rawlings’ crew of misfit mechanics clearly have magical powers – but they apply them mostly to cars, right?
They can transform rust buckets infested with rat nests into low riding, sleek works of art that customers line up to buy.
But every time I watch an episode, I’m not thinking about the cars.
Because at Gas Monkey Garage, motorcycle themes are everywhere…
And yes, that’s partly because I’m often looking at the world through rose-tinted motorcycle goggles.
You probably are, too.
So if you look a little harder at this version of garage reality, you’ll see that Richard Rawlings’ gas monkeys are not just working on cars. This operation gives us some real insight into motorcycles too.
Why Fast N Loud is Also About Motorcycles
An endless stream of cool cars just keeps on arriving at the doors of Gas Monkey Garage.
It’s surprisingly entertaining to witness the ugly “before” stage turn into the stunning “after” stage. (Even for non-mechanical people like me.)
As the process unfolds, lessons are learned.
And I reckon most of these lessons apply as much to bikes as they do to cars…
1. Confidence sells cars more than a shiny paint job does.
Just watch as Richard Rawlings does a deal with a poor unsuspecting customer. Again and again, people are overwhelmed by his charisma. They find it impossible to beat him down on price too much, because he’s a rock star.
In his tattooed hands, buying and selling cars becomes a sexy process ripe with the promise of outrageous profit (for him, that is).
Now this Texan Elvis approach wouldn’t work with most bike deals. Your average biker has an overdeveloped spidy sense for BS.
But a healthy dose of confidence is a secret weapon when it comes to buying or selling motorcycles, too. Add some friendly banter and a solid understanding of your machine, and you have the bike version of a rock star salesman.
2. A good mechanic is worth his weight in golden spanners.
There are two things you notice about Gas Monkey Garage master mechanic Aaron Kaufman right away.
- Yep, the beard, and
- Aaron’s in control of the rebuild process every step of the way.
Like a seasoned commander directing his troops, he makes a million decisions, and anticipates problems well before they happen.
This level of skill and knowledge is also invaluable in the motorcycle world.
How many times have you had a mediocre mechanic do some OK-but-not-great work to your bike? Before you know it, the original problem is back. You either have to live with that worrying grinding sound, or go back to the bike shop and harass someone.
But get a gifted mechanic with real insight on the job, and the problem is fixed right the first time. Your bike flies out of the shop, purring almost as happily as you are.
And if your Super Mechanic has a beard as good as Aaron’s, well, that’s an extra bonus…
3. When making modifications, be clear on the big picture.
You’ll notice that Aaron Kaufman has a rock solid understanding of how a car’s many moving parts work together. When you change out one part, that has consequences. Everything is in delicate balance.
This also applies to motorcycles. Knowing what will happen to the rest of the bike if you make one ‘minor’ change is vital.
Without this big picture level of understanding, one little ‘fix’ could be a major, major problem that sucks up your next 2 paychecks. Suddenly, the bike is off the road, you can’t afford much beer, and you’re so crabby that your wife is Googling ‘divorce lawyers’.
4. Don’t make the same mistake twice (or three times).
When Richard Rawlings buys a ’68 Cadillac Coupe de Ville that turns out to be about 80% rust, it’s a write off. That’s a big waste of time, money and labour.
So be it; lesson learned.
Until he does it again with a different car.
And the team spend a week cutting out rust before that car is scrapped as well.
There’s a lesson here for motorcycle work, too.
Some motorcycle repair jobs are such a nightmare you probably can’t do them yourself. You already know this. But somehow you forgot about your last 17 experiences throwing spanners around the garage and shouting out all the swear words you know.
It’s plain stoopid to keep on making the same mistakes. Sometimes you have to cut your losses – think twice about the so-called ‘upgrade’. Or just take the bike to a professional and make it their problem.
5. Art with a motor comes in all shapes and sizes.
The gorgeous machines that roll through Gas Monkey Garage are mobile works of art. It’s like being at an art gallery with oil stains on the polished marble floor.
Even if you have a Ford fetish, it’s impossible not to admire the lime green 1956 Chevy as it rumbles down the street.
This sense of appreciation can also be applied to motorcycles.
There’s a whole world of beautiful works of two-wheeled art out there.
Plenty of them won’t be a part of your favourite marque. But that doesn’t have to stop you admiring the unusual lines of a passing bike tank, some stunning pipes or just a really sweet little growl from a perfectly tuned motor.
It’s all art that features wheels and a motor.
To the untrained eye, Fast N Loud is a car show.
But look a little harder, through your own set of rose-tinted motorcycle goggles.
You just might see a few more themes that apply just as much to life on two wheels as on four.
Image credits: RATOCA; Vadim Guzhva @ Canstockphoto.com