Always Riding: Bike Shop Muscles Into Granby, CT

NORTH GRANBY, CT – There isn’t a single time when I ride that I’m not grateful for the beautiful scenery that surrounds me. The roadsides are filled with farmlands and adorned with post and beam barns as well as century-old New England homes – all filled with history.

The major distraction for drivers around here is typically wildlife crossing the roads or the many llamas, emus, cattle and such leaning against post and rail fences. Just so you know, they also view you as a distraction as you drive or, better yet, ride by.

I guess my point is that it is pretty quiet around the little rural town that I call home.

But it has gotten a wee bit noisier. Almost a year ago, I discovered that Granby is home to American Muscle Cycle Works. It’s a very personal motorcycle shop geared towards the fabrication and custom building of American-made motorcycles.

Located at 561 Salmon Brook Street (Route 202), American Muscle’s setup airily mixes showroom with shop. There’s a line of bikes on the front wall and motorcycle lifts lining the back wall.

Since moving in, I have watched American Muscle settle in to their new found home. I ride by probably 25 times a week and what caught my attention most was how seamlessly they molded into the landscape. This is a bike shop that is all about service and not the high profile flashy appearance one might expect for such a venture.

After visiting American Muscle several times (once even for some help with a front tire on my Gold Wing), I began to see just how serious they are about building motorcycles. Co-owner Lee Cox has a passion for American-made V-Twins. He obtained a Master of Technology status with Harley-Davidson and worked as a shop teacher at the Lincoln Tech Institute in East Windsor, CT for roughly five years.

Having begun his passion for “the build” around 1997, Cox has now had his hands on building, shaping and customizing motorcycles; making them “Mild to Wild” (his words) for some 20-plus years now. Though Cox’s shop was filled with American Iron the day we spoke, he informed me he will service any motorcycle brought to him and has worked on all brands.

To raise the visibility of the business, Cox and co-owner Tony Novak had a display at the recent Springfield Motorcycle Show in West Springfield, MA to show off some of American Muscle’s handiwork.

Tony Novak and Lee Cox

At this time of the year, motorcycle storage is a subject that often comes up. As I don’t store during winter, preferring to keep them rolling all year long, I’m not qualified to give any pointers on doing so. Therefore, I asked Cox for some tips to pass along.

Cox told me to consider the items “around” your motorcycle. As many of us use the shed method and not always the garage, we should not park the bike surrounded by household chemicals, paint thinners, stains and/or items that contain acetone or the likes of. Our motorcycles are full of petroleum based items (brake cables, hoses, fuel lines and even our tires) for which these types of chemicals can have a dry-rotting or other adverse effect on.

Full fuel tank or empty? Cox suggested storing your motorcycle with a full tank of fuel and a quality additive certainly helps. Startron is his preference but adds no matter which brand you add, follow the directions for the product you are using – not what your friend told you he does with his. Read the directions.

One very important thing I learned from my conversation with Cox was that starting your motorcycle once a month and letting it run for five to 10 minutes is not a substitute for storing your battery properly. Running the bike in such fashion will not keep the battery charged.  A simple $20 battery tender and removing the battery to a warm storage area typically yields the result we want.

American Muscle Cycle Works is a suitable ride destination – to either check out what they are rolling out the door or to arrange for them to work on your bike. If you are like me, you will also enjoy meeting their Blue Heeler named Angus, who will welcome you with open paws. Shop hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.


About Paul Siciliano

A native of West Harrison, NY and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Paul Siciliano is a sidecar enthusiast and Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified instructor. He currently rides a 2003 BMW K 1200 RS, a 1989 Honda Gold Wing with sidecar, a 1996 Honda Gold Wing and a 1972 Suzuki GT 250. He lives down a dirt road in southern Vermont.