Name: Shasta Smith
Home: Sacramento, California
Occupation: Owner, The Vintage Monkey
My background is in architectural design, and design is just in my blood. I’m a big motorcycle enthusiast, too. The Vintage Monkey (www.thevintagemonkey.com) evolved from merging my two passions. I started working on bikes by myself, as a craft and at my own pace. Over time, people began to notice and it grew into a business. I have a particular fondness for smaller-displacement bikes. That’s what I started riding in my late teens, and it’s been that way ever since.
I really love the look of vintage racebikes—nothing looks better than a race number on a bike. I really don’t like to hack up my bikes; I prefer modest modifications. I do very little metalwork, a bracket here or there, and a race-style seat, a handlebar change, maybe an exhaust. The last few bikes I’ve obtained were other people’s abandoned projects, and I’ve spent so much time undoing other people’s insanity that it’s made me feel sympathetic with these old bikes. So I’m trying to design my bikes with as few mods as possible, to totally alter the visuals and put my own spin on it without destroying the bike. I don’t do aggressive engine mods for the same reasons. When I obtain bikes, cosmetics don’t matter, but the engine has to be solid or it’s not worth the time.
I recently displayed my bikes at the Easyriders Bike Show in Sacramento. There’s no class for metric bikes, and mine might have been the only non-American bikes there, but so many of those Harley guys came up to tell me how much they loved my bikes because that’s what they grew up riding. “That’s what I used to ride when I was a kid.” That’s what I love about building these bikes. Some people are trying to win awards. I’m just out to have fun.