If you were just driving down the street, you might pass this place up. It has a modest sized sign up that proclaims: THE MOTORCYCLE ACCESSORY SHOP and the phone number. Let's say you needed a fresh spark plug and maybe an extra tube, so you pull in, park in the lot and head for the entrance.
What's this? Leaning against the wall you see a 1973 Cooper 250! Not too many of those rare birds around. When you walk in and look around, you might not be able to take it all in. The place is literally packed with stuff! Leathers, goggles, gloves, boots things you would see in any well stocked shop. But the shelves are jammed to the max with all the gear. And the prices are low, outrageously low. MX gloves 10 bucks. Riding pants 50 bucks. Whoa!
|From the street, it looks just like any other motorcycle shop...||...but inside, it's packed with tons of gear.|
|Bill Ramsey, vintage bike racer and owner of The Black Hole.|
Leaning over the counter, we found the owner of this establishment, Bill Ramsey, also known as Uncle Bill by the riders in the Arizona vintage bike community.
After exchanging greetings, we asked Bill how he could sell things so cheaply. He noted that he simply bought out huge close-out sales from distributors, manufacturers and shops all around the country. Because he was able to buy the gear cheap, he sold it cheap.
"Hey, at this point in my life, I just want to get things to my friends at a great price."
He showed us around the shop and we marveled at how much stuff he could cram in to one place.
"You ain't seen nothing yet."
We went from room to room in the cavernous shop, and saw what loosely must be referred to, as "his collection." One room had a bunch of old CZs and literally tons of CZ parts. A few of the Chey Zeds were operating and raced on a regular basis by Bill and some friends.
"Every now and then, one of my regular customers has his bike break down and they know they can come by here and grab a runner. It's sorta loose how I work things."
|An investigation in one of the back rooms reveals a Harley Baja 100.|
We wandered to another room and this one had a near perfect Harley Baja 100 right next to a CZ on a work stand.
"I've been working this 125 for some time now. It's got all the good stuff on it. Works shocks, electronic ignition, so forth. Of course, there's never enough time, so"
Another room was filled with all kinds of tires and, yes, more CZs, most of them complete and covered with a fine layer of Arizona dust. Bill then took us outside and we were greeted by hundreds of bikes of all kinds, some on sidestands and others just laying on the ground. One thing they all had in common was that the saddles were all cracked and crumbled from the intense summer sun. Lots of street bikes were mixed in with the smattering of XLs, SLs, XRs, DRs, DTs and such. But it seemed that the good stuff, the YZs, KXs, CZs, Bultacos, Huskys, Maicos and Ossas were under some sort of shelter.
We asked Bill how he got so many bikes and he just shrugged his shoulders:
"Well, I keep a bunch of vintage bikes on display at the shop and people driving by just stop in for a look or two. They often tell me that they have one just like it in the garage, or the barn, and the first thing you know, they just drop it off here."
|Separate from the "ordinary" bikes, you'll find clusters of CZs in various stages of condition.||There's a house behind the shop, but instead of people and furniture, you'll find more bikes - the good ones.|
Old buddy Tom drools over a 125 CZ in progress.
"I used to have a business where I picked up a lot of bikes that were wrecked and there didn't seem to be any sense in throwing a bike way just because the forks were bent, or the chassis was all scraped up. Heck, for years I sold a lot of street bike parts from those bikes, but I just don't have time to do that any more."
"Now, I try to hit as many vintage races as I can. Sometimes I'll take several bikes with me, just in case one of my regular customers has a problem with his bike. Most of the time, I'll run a few classes. One of them on my 1965 Jawa 250 and maybe another one on an open class CZ. That Jawa is simply amazing!"
"It was built by Ken Lusk and it's legal in the Lightweight Premiere class. Ken built the pipes out of Yamaha 125 MX pieces and it has a 30mm Mikuni carb that replaced the 26mm Jikov unit. It's easily the fastest bike in the class and is dead reliable. I've had maybe a dozen races and won 'em all."
|We had to restrain Tom when he found a perfect 1971 CZ side-piper - residing on a couch in one of the side rooms.|
"I've been working with dirt bikes most of my adult life. I started out working in a CZ shop in Chandler in '74, then went to Accessories Unlimited and then to Cycle Mart of America. I opened up this business Motorcycle Accessories Shop in 1991 and never looked back. I've been lucky enough to have a bunch of good guys who bought their parts and gear from me and I've tried to treat them fair."
|The rooms are packed with desirable vintage bikes, many of them in showroom condition.||Tom checks out a nifty KX and a rare 125 Husky.|
|Out behind the shop, you'll find hundreds of bikes. Yes, this is the motorcycle equivalent of The Elephants Burial Grounds.|
With that, Bill took us back to a house directly behind the shop. We figured he lived there. Not so. The entire house was packed with vintage dirt bikes the good ones. Pristine YZs, immaculate KXs, CZs that would have any Czech bike fan babbling and some truly rare bikes. Bill even has one bedroom with an actual bed in it and the walls are decorated with flat track photos, because he has a buddy who loves flat tracking and sometimes needs a room for the night.
After a tour of the house, we wandered outside and investigated the contents of several 40 foot containers. Here we found more of the good bikes not pristine machines but seriously good Maicos, CZs and Huskys. The kind of bikes that you would happily take and restore without blinking.
We asked Bill why he didn't sell some of these bikes.
"Oh, maybe I've sold a few to some of the local AVDRA vintage racers, but I don't really try to sell the bikes. They sorta got a home here."
The Black Hole, indeed. Bikes go in here and find a resting place a home of sorts. They go in and rarely come out.
|Another cluster of bikes getting a nice dose of Arizona sun.||More good stuff is stored in huge containers strewn around the shop.|
|Bill's favorite race bike, a 1965 Jawa 250 that he runs in the AHRMA Premiere Lightwight class; 12 starts and 12 wins.||Here's a closer look at Bill's Jawa. It has a dual exhaust port with pipes handmade from a 1972 Yamaha MX 125.|
|Gussie Ramsey tries to keep track of the thousands of items that Bill accumulates. "Well, at least it keeps him out of trouble."|
Gussie is Bill's wife and she works at the shop and makes all the vintage races with Bill. Her biggest problem is Bill.
"He buys bikes all the time and we don't have any more room to put them."
All things considered, Bill has the best of both worlds in his shop. His customers are mostly vintage dirt bike people. He rarely sells a bike, but when he does, he keeps track of it. The bike becomes a member of the family.
A Black Hole graduate.