(Interview published in the Diario Vasco by Begoña del Teso)
Dani García Vallejo. His grandfather’s Lube and the New Builder Prize in Sodupe.
He has always been on the back of a motorbike. At the age of eight he started riding motocross and enduro bikes. Although it’s true he first studied Trade and Management. Not for nothing he is the son of the founders of one of the first health food stores in this city, Aida, now an organic supermarket and much more. But he would soon enter Don Bosco to study… bodywork. His work experience, first at Peugeot. And also at Batanero. And then, in an unparalleled classic, Carrocerías Biyona. He has just won the prize for Best New Builder at the renowned Sodupe ShowBike. With a Zephyr that now has a Café Racer soul.
- If you liked, like and will continue liking motorbikes so much why didn’t you study, perhaps not riding, but mechanics? Why bodywork?
- As I said above, mechanics can get boring and not because nowadays there is so much electronics in cars and motorbikes but because it has always been very clear cut. There is little room for imagination, inventiveness. Sports driving? There was a time in my life when I thought that I didn’t want to use my CBR to rile it up on main roads. I prepared it for the circuit. I only run it there. Because, among other things, I know that when you fall off, it hurts a lot. And that’s why my idea was to transform that Kawa Zephyr into a Café Racer. But without making the engine more powerful. A calm Racer.
- I will ask you to define Café Racer for me, but please finish your speech on bodywork first
- I must stress: this is where you can dream, imagine, invent. Mechanics, fixes. Or power, if you prefer. But it is the body builder who beautifies, transforms, and develops.
- Although it has its limits. You have to get the new creature approved eventually…
- True. In other countries with a great motorbike tradition, Industry accepts many more adaptations than in Spain. In fact, many of my teachers were convinced that the approvals engineers would not accept the wheelbase I proposed or the inverted fork.
- They were wrong.
- I am proud to have achieved the approval and passed the MOT without changing any of my decisions. I think I presented a good preliminary report and there was no problem. However, the official approval costs a few hundred Euros.
- Can you now tell our readers what a Café Racer is, please. It all started in the 1950s, right? In England. With the rockers and their bikes. That weren’t the Mods’ Lambrettas…
- Exactly. They customised their bikes making changes to the chassis, footrests, exhaust pipes. The wanted them to be faster, purer. Today’s Café Racers are bikes with good performance but also intimate, non-transferable. Of course, when you develop it you can’t and mustn’t wipe out the essence of the bike that has served as a base.
- In the photo, the winner of the Sodupe Showbike is on your left. The other one you can see on the bench doesn’t look like it’s going to be turned into a Racer…
- True. It is a Yamaha 250 Special that I want to develop as a scrambler bike. Have you heard of them?
- Uh-huh. Let’s carry with your café-racer passion…
- Uuumm. Mixture of road and off-road; field, track, enduro. Lightweight machine, simple lines, robust blocks, high exhaust pipe, short seat.
- The one you didn’t modify at all was your grandfather’s Lube 125.
- Of course not. I didn’t want to turn it into a motorcycle with registration plate and treatment of an historic vehicle either. It hadn’t been ridden for 47 years, but it had never been deregistered. I fully restored it and we regained its documents and licenses…
- It was a long process…
- We had to ask for my grandfather’s will and my father and my aunt had to sell me the bike. But it now rides the roads. I’ve ridden it, but I want my father to. He has never forgotten how it sounded.
- How can we see it? You didn’t get it out for the photo…
- Have a look through our Facebook page: DVGasGarage.
- You can’t have experienced so much adventure on your own, I’m sure there are many people you’d like to name.
- From Bixen, a great teacher at Cebanc, to Álex Abril, the photographer who has photographed the Café Racer and me. As well as friends who commissioned the welding. My electronic mates. Those who helped me to mount the engine on the chassis. Someone else I’ll never forget, a great bodywork artist, Alejandro Elizalde. And Valen, who confirmed my idea that the body builder beautifies the machine.
- What do you use bicarbonate of soda for?
- To blast the engine. It seems less aggressive than sand. It pulls out less material and if anything is left in the engine, it isn’t dangerous. At the end of the day it is just that, bicarbonate.