Power 50 dealer TTRNO goes beyond service seminars; customers actually build the bike
Service seminars have become regular events at many dealerships over the past few years, and The Transportation Revolution in New Orleans is no different.
TTRNO, a Powersports Business Power 50 dealer since 2013, has hosted its monthly Tech Talks on everything from engine rebuilding to roadside assistance and from suspension to fuel injection tuning, but this year the dealership is taking its customers on a new journey — building a custom bike from scratch.
The idea came as stars aligned for Maxwell Materne, co-owner and general manager of aftersales at TTRNO. Last year Materne offered a hands-on class that allowed customers to bring their own bikes in, put them on TTRNO’s lifts and learn how to do a first service on the units. That class was so popular, Materne wanted to up the Tech Talks ante this year.
As luck would have it, Materne also got new neighbors recently, as John Franco, owner of Wicked Brothers Customs, and James Parker and Patrick Tilbury, co-owners of Royal T Racing, moved into the area.
Materne started hanging out with Franco, Parker and Tilbury, as well as JT Nesbitt, owner of Bienville Studios, who already was a local, and each soon agreed to become a guest speaker for TTRNO’s Tech Talks in 2016.
“As we talked more and more about it, we decided that instead of teaching a class on engine building and then teaching a class on wiring and then teaching a class on design, we’ll just put them in order and then make a bike,” Materne said.
Now known as the Crescent Concept, the classes will span 15 sessions over eight months. Two motorcycle design sessions, held Feb. 20 and Feb. 25, marked the launch. Both of those classes were free and open to the public.
However, the more detailed demonstration classes begin March 27. From then on, classes will cost $20 each and will be limited to 30 attendees. Those who want to attend all sessions can pay a $250 package price, saving $10. The price for participants will cover the materials cost.
“For $250, which I think is a pretty reasonable amount for people to buy it as a present or buy it for themselves, it’s an entire year’s worth of learning. They can literally build their own motorcycle by the end of it, so it’s a pretty cool knowledge base to gain during that time,” Materne explained.
The costs can be kept low because of donations. Each builder, including Materne, is donating his time; Triumph sourced the engine, and Gerald “Smitty” King, owner of Finish Line Racing, will be donating a wire harness, when he flies in from Arizona to teach the Wire Harness Fabrication session.
The idea behind the class is that each student will be able to learn how to build every component of the bike — from the frame, to a custom fuel tank, to the engine and exhaust. They’ll also learn about the painting process during a live painting demonstration, seat fabrication from Karl Voslosh of Customs to Classics, and dyno tuning.
Materne is restricting the class size to 30, so everyone can get a close look at each process and be hands-on whenever possible.
“We want to keep it kind of intimate. I don’t want it to be where it’s a huge class of people. I want people to be able to walk up and have their hands on it and touch it and feel it and wrap the leather on the seats themselves, that kind of stuff,” he explained.
The hands-on, up-close experience has always been important to Materne, as he hosted his in-house Tech Talks.
“I’ve never wanted any of my classes to be sit down, and I’ll give you a presentation, so we’re not doing it that way in our classes, either,” he said. “The whole idea is crowd around, come up to the engine while we’re working on it. I’m going to take these parts off, and I’m going to pass them around the class, and I’m going to explain every different nook and cranny of it and why it is the way it is. So that’s how we’re planning on all the instructors teaching.”
Each class will also be held at the individual instructor’s shop, allowing the participants to visit different custom shops in the area.
“I think the more we can get people in other cool, interesting shops, the more they’ll feel like they’re part of that community,” Materne said.
Building a community of local builders and others in the area who are interested in becoming builders is important to Materne and the other instructors.
“Really the motorcycle community, especially on the custom fabrication side, nobody’s really close. It’s all very competitive, but we don’t feel like it has to be that way,” Materne said.
Going into the Crescent Concept project, the builders are excited because they don’t know what type of bike they’ll be building. Design drawing began at the Feb. 20 class, and those attending the Feb. 25 session were slotted to choose the final design. However, with experts in choppers, baggers, modern classic café racers and other designs, Materne’s crew is ready for the challenge.
Though the build will be a fun experience for the builders and the participants, the bike also has a charitable mission, as it will be auctioned off after it’s finished in September. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a group that aids wounded service members, and High Art, a New Orleans non-profit that obtains vacant lots and converts them into mural parks.