As far as the eye can see, lay thousands of broken, abandoned, and disowned motorcycles of every type, brand and size - bikes that once roared proudly - bikes that were once admired by their owners.
This rusting rubble empire, located in Longmont, Colorado, is the playground of thirty-nine year old Ty Cowell, who has been operating his Motorcycle Salvage yard and repair shop since 1992. Formerly called Ty’s Repair Shop, it has now been renamed Ty’s Re/Cycle Shop.
Ty mines precious iron parts from these rusting remnants to sell to those seeking old motorcycle parts, and he rebuilds motorcycles as reconditioned ones, which he sells.
Ty says he started his business to rebel against his parents, whom he said had told him, “no motorcycles” under their roof. “So I got my own roof,” he commented. He has collected thousands of old broken down motorcycles and parts over his 17 years of providing motorcycle repair service and “being a pack rat.” “Combine those two things and you end of with big pile of motorcycles behind you,” he muses. His vast inventory has come from people who have given up their old bikes or from trade-ins for newer ones.
He stopped doing service about five years ago and turned his energies toward rebuilding and selling motorcycles and motorcycle parts. “People find out about my place mostly through word-of-mouth,” Ty explained. He added, “People know about my place because I’ve been doing this so long," and he continued, "The pile is kinda big now, which also helps bring in business. People see the pile and come running and they tell their friends.”
Ty estimates that he has a couple of thousand bikes in his salvage yard. He has them organized by manufacturer, which he says, "includes the four major ones - Hondas, Kawasakis, Suzukis, and Yamahas, plus a few odd-and-ends and one tiny pile of European stuff.”
In addition to selling parts for motorcycles, Ty said, “people also buy them as artwork. A lot of people decorate their kid’s rooms with motorcycle parts, and create things, such as lamps made out of motorcycle headlights, and stuff like that.” He says his parts have also gone to The Burning Man, an annual radical self-expression and self-reliance event held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. He said he sold four gas tanks a year ago to some people, who were going to use them to make the fang venom sacks on a giant spider’s face they were building for the event.
Ty’s other passion is racing 4-wheel Quads, which he builds himself, in the Dry Slide Productions’ Flat Track ATV dirt track Races, held at the Jack Murphy Outdoor arena at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. Ty was pictured racing his Quad in the 2008 calendar, published by the organization.
what will eventually happen to all the thousands of motorcycles, which reside
on his lot, he replied, “hopefully they will all find a home.”
Ty’s future plans are, “to keep doing all this as long as I can.”