Inaugural Issue | MARCH 2018
Interview with Serge Bueno
Interviewed by: Dawn Garcia @dawngarcia
In a world where aesthetics and beauty are dominant, there is no greater display of that than in art and design. Among the many creations that embody that ideal is the intricacy of a motorcycle. With a sleek design, attention to detail, custom handmade parts, a beautiful bike can be as delicate and seductive as the curves of a woman and, in Los Angeles, there is one man whose vision to showcase that seduction is ever apparent: Serge Bueno. With a hugely successful career as a designer, Serge’s love affair with the art of design transcended the moment he laid his eyes on a 1920’s Indian Boardtrack Racer. That is what inevitably led him to open one of the most beautiful motorcycle shops I’ve seen: Heroes Motorcycle Shop in the heart of LA.
The moment you enter, rich tones of black leather greet you with vintage inspiration that begins somewhere between the 1920s extending into the 1970s. It’s an homage to the days of ole when petrol stations greeted you with a man in coveralls and life seemed more like a song than a hardship. From the art hanging on the walls to the gorgeous display of motorcycles lining them, Serge and his team spend their days immersed in the art of design and restoration. Whether you come here to shop, restore, or simply sit and take in the vibe of the place, it’s somewhere you can easily feel transported. I had the pleasure of interviewing Serge to get an education in how it all came to be …
MOTO SPIRIT: What first prompted your interest in design?
SERGE: I have always been interested in aesthetics. I like how simple shapes, lines, and texture can create the beautiful design of an object. Early on I realized how important looks and beauty were in our societies. People create beautiful things while others can enjoy just looking at them. I love the idea that design is part of the process of everything we build. This is how we have beautiful cars and motorcycles on our streets, but also clothes, furniture, everything ... Everyone can just look and enjoy, and it’s free. At least for now! Haha!
When imagining the Heroes Shop, what was the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to create something special and unique, a place where people can enjoy beautiful motorbikes, accessories, and pieces of art, but also feel comfortable. I used to keep my most beautiful bikes in my living room when I lived in Paris, a couple of rare Indian and HD board track racers. I loved the atmosphere that it created and most people really enjoyed it as well. I guess the idea spurred from there. I started to imagine a place decorated with nice wooden furniture, leather sofas, good lighting, and with enough space so that people could enjoy what is displayed in the showroom. We started to create that atmosphere in our showroom in La Brea, and now we have a new bigger showroom on Melrose and we have been getting very nice feedback from our customers. So far, the place is exceeding our expectations so I am very happy and grateful.
Did you curate the art in the shop?
Yes, I have selected all the pieces of art in the shop and also designed some of the sculptures myself. I also created some of the paintings and posters. I guess I have been developing these skills after many years of acquiring art for myself or for friends. I also was managing decoration projects for corporate offices back in France for about 10 years. This was the main motivation for me to graduate from the “École des Beaux Arts” in Paris, I wanted to specialize in art. I would say now, and without sounding too arrogant, that my goal today is to develop and bring new art to the world of motorcycles.
What is the most unique motorcycle you’ve worked on/restored?
It has to be the Majestic. This motorcycle is like no other. The fact that the engine, drivetrains, fork, and suspensions are all supported by the body panels makes it very unique from a conception standpoint, and yet it retains the look of a beautiful and very luxurious motorcycle at the time.
What is one of the most interesting aspects of your day?
It’s when I arrive at the workshop in La Brea, I usually go there before I go to the showroom on Melrose. I like to organize the space, take the bikes out, talk to the team, discuss how we will organize the day. There will always be something exciting, whether it will be some good news or something unexpected or even challenging that will lift my day, and I am always looking forward to that moment on my way to work.
At the end of the day, at the shop, if you could play one song to wrap it up, what song would you play?
A song by Michael McDonald.
You have an incredible team working with you at Heroes. If you guys could work on any type of bike from any era, what bike would you love to work on?
It would be the Vincent Black Shadow, arguably the most iconic motorcycle in the world. The Vincents, in general, were regarded as the finest motorcycles of their time and the Black Shadow was considered the ultimate one.
Do you have a regular ride you do in LA?
I like to ride up the canyon roads from Malibu to the PCH. It reminds me of the roads we have in Europe. If I am by myself and want to have a bit of fun I will take my Ducati Paul Smart Replica. Otherwise, the Street Glide is awesome for a relaxed ride, two up with the music blasting from the speakers.
When you came across that beautifully restored Indian board track racer from the 1920s, aside from the minimalistic lines and shape, was there a specific part of the bike that really excited you?
Oh yes, the engine really intrigued me. When you look at a 1000cc engine on a modern bike it’s big and complex and has several cylinders. These engines where amazing, barely any cooling fins, small in volume, simple in conception and yet quite powerful for their time. And - the rider had to constantly adjust everything to get the most of it, fueling, timing, oil level. It is so different from the experience of riding a bike today. You had to feel that engine running and play with it as if it was an extended part of your body.
When you were a kid, what was your favorite thing to do?
I loved to ride off-road with my older brother who was a motocross racer. My first bike when I was 14 was a Yamaha TY50. I loved it and would have kept it in my bedroom if I could. I must have done 6000 miles on it during the 1st year or so, which, at a 40mph top speed is a lot of time on that tiny seat. Then I got a Suzuki RM80 MX bike and that was a really big deal for me. I could now tackle the real stuff on motocross tracks and impress my brother and his friends!
How old are your four kids? Does your wife go riding with you?
I have 3 boys, 8, 18, 21 and my little princess who is 14. They all love to ride on the back of a motorcycle and my oldest is a good rider now. They also all learned to ride motocross bikes when they were kids. My wife enjoys riding with me, but she will go for comfort overlook so I better be careful which bike I choose!
Is there a ride you’d love to do back in France? And if in the countryside, what draws you to it?
I love, like most people in Europe, the road across the Alpes. Going from France to Italy or to Switzerland through the mountain passes offers some of the most amazing scenic views in the world, especially in the summertime. Plus the roads are in great condition with good grip if you want to get some thrills out of a few hundred corners.
What would we be surprised to know about you?
I used to do motorcycle raids and raced rallies in Africa, following in my brother’s footsteps - Eric did the Dakar rally 3 times. So I did the Optic 2000 Rally in Tunisia with him. This was part of the Cross-Country World Rally Championship, a sort of a mini Dakar Rally. It was only one week but those guys were really fast and it was tough riding through the desert 10 hours a day alongside those star racers, but it was an amazing experience.
Tell me a bit about the apparel line. Did you create the designs?
Yes, I created all the designs for the tee shirts and hats, I really enjoy doing that actually. I love doing drawings and I could spend hours, even days working on new logos and graphics. Also, we now have the new collection of Heroes leather jackets for men and women. The design of each model is also original. I created these designs after spending a lot of time looking at what was available in the marketplace, following trends and also I have been advised by professionals. The result is exactly what I wanted, something I hope people will like. Beautiful leather jackets with a high quality of finish, using good quality leathers with some elegant, functional detail. All branded with the Heroes Motorcycle logo of course!
At the end of the day, what Serge and his team have created is an artistic space that lends to the creativity and love that vintage bikes inspire. To visit the shop or learn more about Heroes Motors, visit www.heroesmotors.com