Article And Photos By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The March 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
W hen you walk into a motorbike shop with real history it speaks to you before you even get the door closed. If you happen to be a true bike-nut then your brain races with ideas and desire as you go from part to part like a little kid that scours the shelves of a new toy shop. For me it’s even more than just the things I want, it’s the wonder of how the parts got there, where they lived before, how many different motorcycles and garages had they been in. When you look at a piece of steel that spans decades of motorcycling history it is an amazing sensation. This was exactly my thought process as we visited a well-known shop in outlying Huston area; MC Creations. Owner Greg Hale met us at the front of his shop driving his 1949 Buick I fell in love with this spot immediately and the man behind the counter as well.
MC Creations started in downtown Houston in 1994. A friend of Greg’s’ owned the shop back then but in 2003 Greg bought the place and started to focus more on older bikes. They were his true passion, although he works on anything that has two wheels. He was one of those cats that even rode a bike to high school, a ’49 Panhead to be exact in his junior year. He had built bikes in his parent’s garage all through his teens and it just slowly evolved into a bigger part of his life. In the 80’s he had a spot called Greg’s Cycle that was a pole barn with a dirt floor. His passion for motorbikes and specifically old iron continued to push him on to further his work in the field.
Greg says “The Trivia and the ambiance is the whole deal… The history is where it’s at” As we stood in the actual working part of his shop, the garage, he started to point around the room and tell us stories. A 1937 UL first year flathead with an oil pump, an early ’37 with the 7/8 support tube, one year only stuff. A Knucklehead he had since ’79 and had been riding since he was a kid. The way it sat on the floor was exactly the way he has had it since ’79 and other than repairs here and there it’s never changed and it’s still running good. His ’66 generator Shovel, first year, eighty four inches, a four and a half stroke that’s a strong runner. He and our good brother Buddy own a 1925 together that was sitting over in the corner. It looked odd, that the sidecar was on the wrong side of the bike, the left hand side. As he continued we learned that it had been shipped over from Italy. Only 200 of those bikes were exported, so maybe five or ten are even in existence today. Right away he went on to a motor that Drag Racing famed Elmer Trett built himself. For a true twowheeled motor head that name needs no explanation but for those who are not familiar, Elmer was considered the father of modern day Drag racing. According to the AMA Motorcycle Hall Of Fame he still holds the record of 6.06 seconds at 235 miles per hour. His claim to fame and what made him an instant motorcycle celebrity was being the first motorcycle drag racer to break the 200 mph barrier at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. To see a motor this man had his hands on in person is a complete honor.
If you know a cat like Greg then you know they usually have a “Secret Room” and we were lucky enough to get a peak inside his. This is the type of place that would be compared to the stronghold of Kings in days gone by. In it usually you will find the most coveted objects of the king and of course that was the case in Greg’s. He had some parts in that room that brother, I will tell you, I have never seen with my own two eyes before. Special treasures tucked away, passed over, decade after decade by people who had no idea what they were looking at. Waiting for the day they’d be called to action again. As we continued to visit he mentioned that the people that lived through these eras are starting to get older and pass on, someone has to try and keep the history alive, whether that’s with us or the next generation. It would be a shame to see it all just go away.
The stuff is all still out there, as you can see but to find people with the knowledge, people who have been working on flatheads all their lives, that’s another story. My eyes were rolling around old Panhead trannies and perfectly preserved new old stock parts everywhere as he talked and then I realized; as much as all that had been collected in Greg’s life is inherently valuable, the real treasure here is the man himself. Greg has made a life of learning to take what was at one point considered old scrap metal and make it into good working machinery again. Now that the trend has come around and everyone loves old iron again he is worth his weight in gold, even if just for the knowledge. To have to stories from his life and time that he spent that knowledge, well that my friend, is truly priceless. Thanks to Buddy and Greg for one of our best days during the Lone Star Rally this year.