Name: Tony Esnault
Home: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Executive Chef, Patina Restaurant
“It was in Paris where I passed my driver’s license—the most difficult place to take the test. My first motorcycle was a Yamaha TY50 when I was 14 years old. To ride a motorcycle in France is to be a part of a huge family. Hundreds of riders would get together and take part in demonstrations to show support for different causes. When I was 18 I began working in Paris, so upgraded to a Honda CX500. It was the first time I felt the sense of freedom and the sensation of being so in touch with my surroundings—the sense of nothing between the world and me.
“In Paris I didn’t have much money to pay for parking, so I always rode my bike. I rode in every season, and in every kind of weather. During the winter I would wake up most mornings to find everything covered in frost—including my bike. I had to chisel the ice away to free the buttons on the handlebars and be able to kick-start the bike. Imagine riding a two-wheeler on the icy, cobblestone streets of Paris. As a young chef beginning my career, it was fun. Life was full of challenges.
“My next bike was a Suzuki DR350, set up as a supermotard with smaller wheels, which was perfect to drive around Paris. I bought a Suzuki GSX-R750 when I moved to Alsace, a region of France near the mountains. Because it was a sportbike, the gearing was very short for a better, more tactile response to driving on the curving mountain roads. When I moved to San Francisco I purchased a Honda CBR600F4, which I later brought with me to Boston. I sold that bike partly due to the fact that I was pulled over too many times by the police, but mainly because of the birth of my son William—we needed a second car to take him to daycare. Such are the realities of family life!
“I now have a 2008 Honda CBR1000RR in Los Angeles, in addition to the vintage 1982 Honda CX500 in France. I love riding my CBR in L.A. whenever I can, especially when the weather is beautiful. I love the lightness and torque of it. My motorcycle has always given me a feeling of freedom and power that allows me to release stress, and gets the adrenaline running through my body.”