76hundred Vintage Custom Motorcycles: Wynwood Bike Masters Creating Classics for the Common Man
There are few cities in the United States that are as perfectly suited for motorcycle riding as Miami. Riding season lasts all year in South Florida; when most bikes up north go into the garage as their owners mournfully accept the onset of another bitter winter, the Magic City is at its most glorious on a motorcycle. There's nothing quite like tearing hell across the western arch of the Julia Tuttle at 2 a.m. and seeing Downtown sleeping over the waters of Biscayne Bay, or cruising down Old Cutler, ambling for miles and miles through a surreal tunnel of trees.
And yet, there is a conspicuous lack of motorcycle culture in Miami. Sure, we have our fair share of bikers, but the iron horse has never been a part of our city's image the way it has in other metropolitan areas like New York or Oakland. But that's beginning to change.
If you walk the streets of Wynwood on the right night, you may find yourself entranced by an array of vintage bikes -- some days, only a couple, other days, parked by the dozen. You might be inclined to ask yourself, "Where the hell did these come from?" The answer can be found at the south end of Wynwood, in a shop where four friends are building bikes under the moniker of 76hundred Custom Vintage Motorcycles.
It's hard to miss the 76hundred space on 21st and Northwest 2nd Ave., where the sidewalk becomes adorned with a score of cafe racers and bobbers and trackers from decades past, all bookended by a pea green '73 ford F-150. Inside, the crew -- Rodrigo, Mateo, Danny, and Guillermo -- work on reviving the machines they love: vintage motorcycles.
"There's a huge Harley culture here and in Fort Lauderdale," noted Mateo Chirino, one of the builders and core members of the 76hundred team, "but it's just now that a vintage bike culture is starting to come up. I think people are starting to connect to the James Dean character, especially with the sort of hipster, artsy movement that we have here in Miami."
"You get a Harley," Chirino continued, "and you know what you're going to get. You say, 'I want to get an 883' and you get to change the tank color and that's pretty much it. And when you park it next to another 883, it's going to be the same exact bike. You put one of these BMWs next to one another, and no two bikes are the same, especially when they're custom. You could park 'La Curiosa' next to 'Sophia Loren' and they're totally different. That's kind of the beauty of it all."
La Curiosa and Sophia Loren are the names of a pair of vintage Beemers that have been restored and stand as gorgeous examples of what these guys do in this resurrection of rusted metal. The reality that sets in after you spend some time strolling around the shop and talking to the men who put together the machines is simple and beautiful: this is what happens when bikers build bikes for bikers.
"It started as a hobby," began Rodrigo Rey del Castillo, the founder of 76hundred Vintage Custom Motorcycles. "I built my first bike for myself when I was renting an apartment and as soon as I finished building it, it sold. Then somebody else saw it, they contacted me, and said 'I want you to build a bike,' and I sold that, then another and another and another, and it became a business."
"I started in a hole within a hole within a hole on 25th," del Castillo went on, "I was there for about six months and then I moved to North Miami Ave. and 14th, and that's where we all got together and started expanding. We just moved to Wynwood about three weeks ago."