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Video: Liberty Vintage Motorcycles

Posted on March 11, 2011 by Andrew in Video. 49 comments

You are an average guy like you or I that finds himself in his hometown with two days to spare. You round up a few mates and enjoy some cleansing ales. And then you enjoy a few more. And then you get thrown out of the ale house. Then you find another one. Then you show a stranger how to break dance “new skool” style. Then things get a bit vague. You wake up the next morning not sure where you are and realise you’ve lost your phone and you have strange purple bruises on your legs.

Or maybe you are cinematographer Andrew David Watson and you find yourself in your hometown of Philadelphia with two days to spare. You round up a mate called Adam Cramer who also happens to be a true character and a vintage bike freak. You enjoy a few truly amazing on-camera conversations. And then you enjoy a few more. Then you spend a few hours shooting the guy’s shop. Then things just get better. You wake up a few weeks later with the final edit of what is one of the best short films we’ve seen in a very long time.

Here’s Andrew. “So if you know me personally, you know that I love anything with two wheels.  The only other “job” that I have had (other then working as a filmmaker) was as a bicycle mechanic in high school and college. This two wheeled passion has evolved into working on and fixing up vintage motorcycles, mostly Hondas.

There is an amazing vintage motorcycle shop in Philadelphia called “Liberty Vintage” run by an awesome dude named Adam. I have always wanted to do a short doc on the shop, and the other week I found myself in Philly with all my gear, so I called him up and he was game.

Its easy to get caught up in real life, paying the bills, and working on other people’s projects, etc… but I decided that I really wanted to & needed to do a personal project, something that from start to finish I can call my own. Hanging around Adam’s shop for two days was great, and the footage I got was even better. I typically hate editing, but I couldn’t wait to start this edit!”

  • Brandon

    I can't explain how disheartening it is to watch this video knowing how true it is.

    I'm 23 and have said the same thing since I was younger without even really knowing the truth just because my dad said it to me and I was repeating it. As I grew I started to understand. I had things in pieces in my garage with grease on my hands with friends who had no idea what it was that I was doing. I dreamed about having my own garage one day more than other kids having the newest toys. And they didn't understand that. I thought my dads craftsman stack was the most gorgeous thing I'd ever seen. Late nights in the garage with my grandfather working on his Fairlane were prized over nights of video games and sports with friends.

    When Adam spoke about killing to have an opportunity to work in a garage like that when growing up, I was already thinking that about his shop and wishing I had that opportunity.

    I hope these days don't ever disappear for young boys. I hope they all have the opportunity to know what it's like to accomplish something like restoring an old bike.

    The video was amazing. Huge thanks to Andrew for putting this together and hopefully motivating guys to take the time with their sons to teach them things like this.

  • Brandon

    Oh, and it really is true. Eventually, all the things you were dreaming about as a kid just suddenly become a reality one day. Somehow I've been blessed.

    I have a '66 Nova wagon, a '75 CB550, and a 2 car garage when my friends just have a 1 bedroom apartment. Oh, and the Craftsman set I eyed as a kid? The centerpiece among the toys 😉

  • Jimmy C.

    This guy oozes passion.

  • Twostroked

    "it's Fonzie for Christ sake". Gold.

  • The video link is broken, aaargh!

  • Coastn

    Great video. I believe this place has an open house the first Friday of every month. I definately have to check it out after seeing this.

  • Adam is a staple in the vintage motorcycle scene here in Philly. He's a wild dude and is always down to talk motorcycles. Every First Friday he hosts an open house so if you're in the Philly area it's worth checking out.


  • The difference in this type of person is that he lives the life he dreams instead of dreaming of the life he would live. He picked up the tools and learned to use them, for starters.

    Fifteen years ago my shop was much like his is now. My collection was somewhat smaller, maybe no more than 25 bikes at any one time and I never kept them more than 4 or 5 years because I had to rotate space to make room for some new treasure on two wheels. Now my "hobby garage" that keeps me sane (I do a lot of work for free, just to keep a wrench in my hand and my schedule my own) is barely 1500 sq feet and I actually own just 6 bikes. Well, five and a scooter.

    But I know where he is coming from. A lot of what comes my way is from owners (not bikers) that haven't a clue. Right now, I've got a customer's first generation CB900 going through major surgery because he didn't even know where the oil filter was located, and after one year of riding had never thought of checking the oil level. And the guy makes 80K/yr as a software guru type. Hmmm.

    And why am I doing the work? Because the local dealer doesn't think the bike (1984) is worth the time and effort to get greasy. Won't even quote him a guestimate.

    Too many people wait until something breaks before thinking of proper maintenance. They wait until it's midnight and the headlight fails instead of replacing the bulb every 100 hours. They want to ride, not to know, to be cool not to be skilled. But they sure buy the chrome polish.

    And actually learn to bend steel, weld, mill and turn? As he said, not many do or will. It's all the rage to become a "motorcycle tech" because a mechanic is just old school, as if tracing a problem to a control module can only be learned by someone under 25. I'm talking about the average rider, not the great build shops.

    Well, it is what it is. Like he said, every generation. End of my rant and lamentations.

    Think I'll put this guy's shop on my bucket list as a place I need to drop by for a visit. I've got one great advantage over him…no wife (kicked her to the curb because she couldn't weld worth a damn LOL)!

  • FAS

    what an amazing 4 minutes. this video just made my friday.

  • This is a really great video. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Tomas

    What an absolutely engaging face … brilliant .

  • Untitled Motorcyles

    Best short film about motorcycles.

  • Really inspiring. Both to appreciate the work, and those who do it. Almost every time I go out to the garage I bring along my 3 and 5 yr old. They love it.

  • Makes me want to quit my day job and learn to wrench like that. Great video!

  • sooperarthur

    That story is so true, the things people will not try to fix or learn how to do something. It is going to be a lost art, seems well on its way.

    Im 28 grew up in the motorcycle industry, at the time i didnt know how important that really was. now i have a passion for motorcycles, repairing, racing, riding, it isnt about the "new doodads" or the "best new bike" its about the love of it. i can have just as much fun on my 76 hercules as on my new husky, and and even better time with the old ones in my garage.

    My wife appreciates it as i have 2 restored bikes in my living room, im not sure how many 28 year olds can tell you about every nut and bolt and tranny gear in a 74 wr250 or a 76 kt250, hell most people my age dont even know what my s1 kawasaki is when i ride it to work.

    inspiring video. . . to say the least.

  • D.

    Unexpectedly excellent.

  • kik

    truly inspiring,… going to the garage and work on my chopper now………..

  • Mr French Tickler

    I need to stop making excuses and get outside and start F***n around w/ the old bikes i have………………………(when the weather gets warmer).

    thanks for posting this video, this guy is truly inspiring!

  • jack

    very inspiring

  • AL

    I think this guy is a real dumbass with much to high toughts about him self. Young people today dont know how to fix/make things/use a tool? How does he think got stuff like the Ducati 1098R, formula one cars or the Boeing Dreamliner ? I, myself am amazed of how much young people today knows and can achive.

  • Mattro

    you think people any younger than he designed the technology you're talking about, AL?

  • True and sad state of affairs. Kids could give a shit. WTF has happened? Great video…

  • XcaptainXbloodX

    What a frustrating video. Im 25 and have been BEGGING to learn how to do the things he talks about as long as I can remember. I would literally go from shop to shop asking if I could work for free, doesn't matter what I do, throw me in a corner sorting nuts and bolts all day, let me push the bikes in and out every day, clean the damn toilets I don't care JUST LET ME IN!

    These days no shops want to take on an apprentice,hell, most high schools don't even have a metal shop. So unless you're born into a family that builds (or find friends that did) your kinda fucked. The only option is to go to Wyotech or MMI and pay what, 40k? so I can get a piece of paper and some very basic knowledge that lets me get a job to make 12k a year?

    tell ya what Mr. Cramer, you wanna find the next you? FUCKING MAKE ONE. put a sign in your window to announce that you are seeking an apprentice, just dont be surprised when your shop is overrun with eager youths frothing at the mouth for the chance.

  • Hey Guys, thanks for checking out the video! I love pipe burn and I'm stoked to share it on here. I have a few more motorcycle videos I plan to shoot once the weather gets nice!

  • i accept helpers here all the… im involved with an "at risk youth" program from a local high school called EL CENTRO,the kids come tuesday & thursday and cant even sweep without texting someone first…but still try to teach then to use a grinder..power tools…what is metric & whats sae.welding…charging a a toliet..chopping firewood..pulling up your pants and other usefull things.
    ETC………. NO ONE HAS TOUGHED IT OUT . they try one day and are never heard from again..i post on CL for apprentice types to come on in,,,they do…for one day!!!! im not down on really the most optimistic person ever…but people want INSTANT,.they are not willing to work for it anymore…

    This of course does not apply to all you out there who ARE DOING IT. in whatever way big or small. you know who you are..

    so if you think you got "IT" COME ON DOWN AND WOW US. low or no pay,must do windows,

  • mr french tickler

    Adam, i wish you were in my hometown or nearby, i'd come by and work/help/clean for free, just to get some kind of understanding of these older bikes!!

    keep up the good work man!

    and to the guy who created the vid, great job and keep'm coming!

  • XcaptainXbloodX

    my respects Adam, knowledgeable folks like you that actually want to pass it on are few and far between. I apologize for pre-judging you as I did, I only wish more people would take that same mentality and put it into practice.

  • AL

    mattro wrote:you think people any younger than he designed the technology you're talking about, AL?

    I don't think they are, I know they are. I have met several designers and engineers from formula 1 in their mid 20's. I met Christian von Koenigsegg ten years ago, just weeks after his first delivey of his supercar. At that time he was twentynine, and most of his staff was in their twenty's/early thirties. And that is high end technology stuff. when it comes to ordinary machanical skills/good craftmanship, I could come up with dusins of people that makes more impressing stuff than this guy.

  • avs

    I don't think it's about age or even technology. i think the take away here is just to be so committed to something you love, unmotivated by power, prestige, and the next new thing. maybe after watching people stand in line for iPads, it's just refreshing to listen to a vintage guy talk about enduring commitment.

  • AVS, I couldn't agree more.

  • formula one you say? more interesting than anything i make?…we are talking about AMERICA HERE..industry…self reliance.NOT if im great or not..i build common mens bikes,,for common prices..i fix crappy bikes for crappy pay if thats what it takes….i work on mopeds to ultra rare jag not the greatest ever,but ive equiped myself with knowldge of the mechanical world,,i learned all this,self taught, simply because mans mastery over situation and circumstance should be firmly in his own hands..the "CAN DO" sprit that those before us counted on to build america into the greatest industrial nation in history…we are a lazy,unmotivated nation whos last chance is unless you enjoy sucking off the teat of forgien powers who hate us (CHINA,MIDDLE-EAST,,ETC)..pull up your damn pants,get off your iphone and do something AMERICA.

    exotic situations as formula one,mostly designed abroad..KOENGSEGG and his team of 20 somethings…from SWEDEN.where trade school is just as prestigious as law school…not applicible to our young taking up tools and continuing to maintain the base ours fathers built for us.CHEVY,,THE HEARTBEAT OF AMERICA,would be no more right now if the goverment didnt prop them up.and how did america respond? toyotas outsold chevy again.why? we dont build a quality ,,efficent,inexpensive car..

  • AL

    First of all, I used Koenigsegg as an example because Im Scandinavian, but Im pretty sure there are similar young people in USA. Theese cars are made by young people that know their tools, who grew up building custom bikes, hot-rods and customized Volvos in their parents garages, but eventually wanted greater challenges. The only difference is that they understand that knowledge of tools is not enough in this millenium, You also need advanced engineering skills.

    I do not disaprove of nether your skills, what you make or your craftmanships importance to american society, but you seem to have very high regard of yourself, and equally low regards of the younger generations, wich leads me to belive that you dont really know many young people. I have met dusins of young americans on my trips around the world, and they don't strike me as lazy nor stupid. But they understand the recepy for meeting Chineese competition is high education in adition to hard work, not working on a factory. That doesent mean that people dont know their skills, they just apply them to different areas. For example, building budget bikes in USA has no future, as poor Chineese people are willing to build them for less than material cost in the US. Building expencive sports bikes, one-of custom bikes or for that matter, racing cars has a future, simply because the chineese dont have the tech or cultural knowledge to understand theese products. If you dont agree, you could at least look at the bikes presented at theese pages for the last few years. You will find that young people are well represented.

  • Interesting video. I work at a bicycle shop, and have since I was 12. I am currently a college student and it's pretty amazing what knowledge and skills you pick up doing things with your hands. I am partway through Shop Class as Soul Craft, a book that deals with a lot of similar issues as this video, and I have to say that the message only serves as inspiration to those twenty-somethings like me who know they enjoy and benefit from a dying trade. Adam, I wish I was closer to your shop than I am, as I too would kill for the opportunity to learn to work on old bikes. There are passionate youth out there still, but I have a feeling we are few and far between these days. Thanks for the video, and your comments.


  • Raúl Vicente

    As I see it, Adam and AL are both right. They're talking about the same thing from differente points of view. That thing being decent humans, caring for legacy, the here and now, and the end of the world. Today's earth is dying, as an ill-hearted fiend that robbed too many old ladies and getting the fair punishment by withering from cancer… Adam and AL are doing their small but very big part to redeem mankind. If everyone did as they do the world would really be a better place to live, instead of being a miserable place to survive.

  • Raúl Vicente

    P.S.:I'm 36 but growing younger every day 😉 Godspeed to all who believe in humanity.

  • Hey Mark, I also worked at a bicycle shop in high school and college and only quit to pursue a career as a cinematographer… I loved working on bicycles and got into working on motorcycles (well one of the many reasons) because I missed fixing bikes. While my profession may not be as hands on as Adam's, I still feel pretty lucky that I get to work with my hands.

  • matt

    you know I have so much to say about this film but damn the time constraints today, One I wish this film was a good fifty minutes longer, two I wish they would show it in schools from grades one through twelve.
    There are undoubtedly many kids missing the mechanical hands on drive but still other kids find their way. Adam is correct and I have said the same many a time more recently than not, our country is sold out from the inside out the rush to China and other slave labor markets where the first assault on our ability to make stuff, meager education and the technology is all we need to play meme sums up the 1 2 3 blow we are suffering from today.

    Adam, cheers brother- you got the heart.

  • were' not sunk yet boys…and im not as a crabby old cuss as i come across on andrew's video. I do believe in the good old USA and ability to come out on top every time…But we are trying to do the job with less & less..our resources and services are disappearing….the machine shops are closing,,metal suppliers.hardware ..etc…its the same for everyone….more & more of the varity of choices are gone…EXAMPLE: i need a cylinder bored for a yamaha rd 60cc..its smaller than what most dealers or shops boring bars can go,I DONT HAVE A BORING BAR YET,,ANYONE GOT ONE TO TRADE FOR A CYCLE?,so maybe a mower/small engine shop,,they must be able to do it,right? NO,
    11 mower shops called,,1 can do it,,its 1.5 hrs away…the other guys all overwhelmingly said..
    "we just throw that import shit out and sell em' a new one,,or at least,if we fix it ,always a new cylinder"..its a struggle..this doesnt just apply to the outdated crap i work with..its across the board…fewer choices of lesser quality.. ever buy hardware at lowes or home depot? it snaps in half if you fart wrong.. so now all the new gearheads have the bar lowered for them as to whats good and whats not…we need to raise the bar,,before it hit us on the cafe racer seat search on ebay,and its mostly from thailand or vietnam,,and its nice shit!!! at an affordable price,,,how can we compete? QUALITY! we gotta make "MADE IN THE USA" mean something again.

    welding classes forming at the shop for this summer 10 nights $10 a night for beer and supplies…

    open house, cocktails from 7pm every first friday of the month

    thanks for all the support

  • jacob.l

    im 21 and id kill to in that shop

  • jacob.l

    i’d “kill to work in that shop” and I’m 21. 

  • Adam Arsenault

    Can I work Here Please? 19 and dying to work in a shop like this!

  • 1armedmotoridercorp

    Seriously? 4 minutes. It took me 16 minutes to get through the video because I had to stop and lust after some of his treasures and watch everything twice. The worst thing about this video was that it ended. When does the sequel come out. I couldn’t agree more with the content. have 23ish bikes myself and I am spoiled to have a great shop to work in. 

  • Flamesshield

    hey adam….great vid!! john flagg here with the copper chopper…remember a few years ago triumph 750 t140…,you did great work,bike is still running great!!!!,first ….second kick every time,ive got another bike bike im bring to ya,1968 bsa,its a cool bobber type bike,just having problems with the timeing which is beyond me lol,ill give a call this week week,great to see that your doing good!!!

  • ALaptopAndAWrench

    We need engineers also! I have been in engine development for 13 years and more and more of the new hires are on visas and planning to go back to their home country after a few years. So I help train them when they are the least productive and then I get to compete against them. I’m not faulting the folks that come over here. They are working hard, far away from home, just trying to better their lives but we have more open seats than qualified people to fill them.

  • Fred Martinez

    Watching “Philly Throttle”. Very cool.

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  • Chuck Merriam

    Where is the next me? I see this as a real serious question today. For me a mid life crisis was really not a crisis, but an awakening to the way things are not….and the knowledge of what they should be.

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