Mother's Motors

Mother's Motors

Mother's Motors was a psychedelic era motorcycle shop in Berkeley, California, started by mechanic Brian Bailey (aka "Mother" ) in 1967. Once Bailey is joined by ex-NASA scientist Charles Wehrenberg, Mother's Motors moves to Stuart and Adeline, Berkeley. Bailey works on European motorcycles while Wehrenberg services anything Harley Davidson.

1968, January: Charles Wehrenberg and underground FM radio disc jockey Ed Bear of KMPX (defunct) plug Mother's Motors over the air. The effect is immediate. San Francisco Bay Area notables: Hell's Angels Sonny Barger; LSD advocate Stanley Owsley; activist clown Wavy Gravy; musicians: Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Neil Young of CSNY, Stu Cook from Creedance Clearwater Revival, Country Joe of the Fish, Pig Pen from the Grateful Dead, and Paul Kanter of Jefferson Airplane visit Mother's Motors to inquire about refined custom work or to arrange meticulous detailing and restoration. [Ira Nowinski, "Ira Nowinski's San Francisco poets, politics, and divas", The Brancroft Library / Heyday Books, Berkeley, 2006, p. 56/57, ISBN 1-59714-040-6] Bay area impressarios Chet Helms and Bill Graham visit to ask that their Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore Auditorium concert posters be displayed. Pacific Film Archive founder Sheldon Renan, pornographer Jerry Abrams, and photographer Bob Seideman make it by with cameras. Then Berkeley resident-cum-"Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski visits to demand that Mother's Motors service bicycles.

1968, February: Dick Raymond, Stewart Brand and Timothy Leary of the Portola Institute in Menlo Park, visit Mother's Motor's to see what Charles Wehrenberg means by "all you need is access to tools."

The anti-Vietnam war activities centered at Mother's Motors and the constant flow of underground personalities around the shop gain the immediate attention of ill-fated California celebrity narc Gerrit van Raam. [Joe Eszterhas, "Narc, a Tale of Terror", Rolling Stone, vol 102, February 1972.]

1968, April 17: Mother's Motors is surrounded by armed police during the anti-war riots.

1968/69: Wehrenberg pioneers the implementation of capacitance discharge ignition on Harley Davidson, Honda, and Triumph motorcycles. He develops the concept for the Harley Davidson Cafe Racer with extended moto-cross forks, tapered roller bearings in the frame neck, hydraulic front disk brakes (adapted from aircraft systems), and a low saddle seat which together modernize the lines of the classic V-twin motorcycle.

1969: Charles Wehrenberg leaves Mother's Motors to pursue research into biofield interactions [Charles Wehrenberg, "Will Ball", Solo Zone Publishing 1995/2001, p. 100, ISBN 1-886163-02-2] , and to develop a non-liquid fuel and engine system for mobile applications.

1970s-90s: Founder Brian Bailey sells Mother's Motors to motorcycle collector Ben Kalka. It changes name and eventually ceases to exist.

1988: Director Steve Kovacs films "68" with Neil Young at the Mother's Motors building located at Stuart & Adeline Streets, Berkeley. [, 68, 1988]


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