There’s nothing quite like hopping on a motorcycle and experiencing the feeling of being free and out in the open.
Who doesn’t like to haul ass and get away from it all?
Jay LaRossa’s motorcycles aren’t just your run of the mill, traditional café bikes. They are exclusive. Each one is its own process.
All of his one-of-a-kind creations are built from scratch in his Long Beach, California shop and they can perform better and faster than anything on the market.
Even women visit his shop to have complete bikes built, or to do service on bikes they already own. The majority of LaRossa’s customers are a younger crowd, usually in film and skateboarding industries. There are also several older people (over the age of 50) who drop in from time to time to add something to their growing collections.
It all began back in 1998, when LaRossa quit his day job to get his hands dirty building hot rods and trucks in his own garage.
With over 10 years of experience under his belt and a handful of magazines with his builds on their covers, he closed up shop and began working for a famous bike builder, Jesse James. After spending a significant amount of time around James’ innovative inventions and learning the tricks of the trade, he picked up a Ducati Monster and decided to venture off on his own. Once he started doing bikes, he never looked back.
During this time, LaRossa learned all about how to rebuild motors, weld, upholster and fabricate sheet metal. Unfortunately, he also developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma around this time, which is cancer of the lymphoid tissues. This disease nearly left him for dead, but he is currently making a comeback and is stronger than ever.
Following a few hospital stints, LaRossa has been pushing forward to create something worthwhile. A little over four years after starting his business, Lossa Engineering, it went mainstream. Discovery HD Theater even picked up a show featuring him and his crew called Café Racer TV, which initially ran for 13 episodes and just finished its third season.
LaRossa is currently working on some custom builds for his clients – some of which include celebrities. In the past, he has built some incredible bikes for Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi.
He usually ends up having customers fight over a bike once it’s finished and is always a little bummed to see it go.
Recently, we were able to catch up with LaRossa and ask him a few questions regarding the business and what he’s been up to.
Here’s what he had to say:
FTK: What was the most expensive bike you’ve ever completed/sold?
Jay LaRossa: The most expensive was probably somewhere around $15,000. In the beginning of my venture, I was selling bikes for only about $5,000.
Where do you find all the bikes? Are they barnyard finds?
The majority of them are. I used to be able to get some killer deals. I have bought some for a couple hundred dollars in the past, but now they probably go for about $1,500 for a great barnyard find. I’ve also been lucky to find local treasures. Once, I took a bike home and all I had to do was put in a new battery and some fresh gas and I was able to ride it on the streets every day.
How long would you say it takes you to complete a build?
It takes about 100 hours per bike, so about six months to push out a complete.
Are your customers typically pretty stoked when you show them a finished product?
Of course! Although they do get little sneak peeks during the build, when they finally see it, they are literally blown away.
Are you still strictly creating bikes? Any other ventures?
Right now, we are working on building a line of our own brand of parts for motorcycles. I always enjoy jumping around and working on some of my cars or creating furniture or anything else creative.
How has your perception on life changed since battling with cancer?
I’ve realized not to stress so much about every little thing. If it happens, it happens! The main thing is to just live each day with no regrets!
What was it like having your shop be on television and seeing your brand go mainstream?
I definitely wasn’t living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I mean, we didn’t get paid for doing the show. I’m just doing what I love and following my dreams artistically.
Do you have any new business models since we last spoke?
Yes, get all the bikes done quicker! Taking an entire year to build one bike is insane!
Visit Lossa Engineering and see the rad bikes for yourself!