Spoken Moto In Bend, Oregon Is A Custom Bike Hot Spot

Coffee in the morning, craft beer by night, and a steady rotation of motorcycles make Spoken Moto a hot spot for the two-wheeling tribe in central Oregon

Spoken Moto in Bend, Oregon
Spoken Moto in Bend, Oregon.Bryan Harley

In two short years, Brian Gingerich and Steve Buettner have turned a beat-down mechanic's shop in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon, into a fashionable hangout for two-wheeled enthusiasts. Mornings at Spoken Moto means the aroma of coffee beans roasting filling the air, as a strong cup of joe plays a big part in its role as a popular coffeehouse. In the evening, Spoken Moto shifts gears as it hosts local bands, with potent IPAs and pilsners flowing freely from its taps. And while the scene may shift as the sun makes its way toward the nearby peaks known as Three Sisters, motorcycles are a constant, and there are always projects on the lifts in the back. So what compelled Gingerich, a lawyer by profession, and Buettner, a commercial construction contractor, to open up what is quickly growing into a moto hot spot in central Oregon? Let's just say that scoring a large cache of motorcycles on Craigslist helped.

“It was a pretty organic process, the way we came to it. This guy had like 75 vintage bikes for sale and I went and looked at them. He had a little 1,500-square-foot shop and all these bikes jammed in there along with three lifts and some tools,” Gingerich says.

Brian Gingerich
Brian Gingerich says he and partner Steve Buettner have always been into motorcycles, and all that passion was channeled into Spoken Moto.Bryan Harley

“He’d run the ad on Craigslist forever and no one was ever able to make a deal with him. We had a decent relationship and I convinced him to sell, so I picked like 50 of them, 53 I think.”

Most of these motorcycles were Japanese streetbikes from the 1960s and ’70s, including plenty of old fire-breathing two-strokes. Others came with nebulous histories, like a Kawasaki H1 Mach III 500 that was dubbed the “Widowmaker” in its heyday. The bikes came in various states of repair, from dusty old garage finds that hadn’t seen the light of day in years to others that only needed a little TLC and a new plug to once again fire back to life.

Acquiring the motorcycles was only part of the plan. After the two partners got to talking, they also put in an offer on the shop so they’d have a place they could go on evenings and weekends to “clean a few of them up and sell them, part them out, whatever.”

Kawasaki H1 Mach III
You’ll find all kinds of bikes in various states of repair on the floor of Spoken Moto, including plenty of old fire-breathers like this Kawasaki H1 Mach III.Bryan Harley

What eventually did happen, though, is a familiar theme around motorcycle shops. Friends started showing up to check out what the guys were working on. Those friends told other friends. A kegerator or two got tapped, and before long the shop became a hangout.

“People really dig vintage bikes. And people were enjoying reclaiming that sense of human interaction. And grease. And smells,” Gingerich says.

vintage Japanese streetbikes
The spark that jump-started Spoken Moto was the acquisition of a large cache of motorcycles on Craigslist, most of them vintage Japanese streetbikes from the 1960s and ’70s.Bryan Harley

“It was a pretty organic process, the way we came to it. This guy had like 75 vintage bikes for sale and I went and looked at them. He had a little 1,500-square-foot shop and all these bikes jammed in there along with three lifts and some tools,” Gingerich says.

“So we decided we could create something around the bikes and chose to do an open shop, and have like a keg and maybe sell a little bit of beer. But we thought bikes would be the primary focus of what we were going to do.

“And then we started looking for a bigger building. This area, there was nothing here in 2014. So we ended up getting an amazing lease on this building which allowed us to spend the money to make it what it is. All the tin, that’s reclaimed from an old lean-to that was here that we knocked down. All those belly boards are roof joists we ripped in half. Almost everything in here was reclaimed. That is the original workbench in this building when we took it over.”

Spoken Moto’s base of operations is a tin building with high ceilings supported by thick beams, creating a lofty space to kick back and enjoy your favorite beverage. Multi-paned, garage-style doors roll up to fill the space with air and light. Motorcycles and moto-themed artwork add to its ambience. Outside its roll-up door, lights dangle between the shop and nearby trees in a patio area filled with picnic tables. Food trucks line the perimeter, providing Spoken Moto with all the necessary components for a good time.

motorcycle repair shop, coffeehouse, pub, and music venue
The open, high-ceilinged building has several sides: motorcycle repair shop, coffeehouse, pub, and music venue. All are welcome.Bryan Harley

A stone’s throw away is a nondescript warehouse where Spoken Moto stores its Craigslist score. Dirt bikes, scramblers, and singles in working order are just inside the door. Behind them are rows and rows of UJMs, a picker’s paradise of collectibles from Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Dig deeper into the treasure trove and you’ll find two-strokes huddled together, project bikes waiting for the day they’re rolled out of the garage and onto the Spoken Moto lift for resurrection.

ADVs to V-twins
Gingerich says the Bend moto scene has blossomed over the years, and now includes everything from ADVs to V-twins.Bryan Harley

Before that day comes, though, Gingerich says currently they’re “trying to get an old Kawasaki A7 running. We’re still fighting the jetting on my nitrous two-stroke RD350. I’m restoring that Velocette (sitting nearby) but I think we’re going to leave it alone, we’re just going to make it run. The BMW needs a little tightening up.” The BMW in question is a 1990 BMW K75RT to which Spoken Moto applied the adventure-touring treatment after hauling it all the way to Texas for an appearance at the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.

Another stellar example of Spoken Moto's work sits prominently displayed in the showroom. The custom 1974 Honda CB450 called "Wart Hog" was built for the One Moto Show as a café racer that's been pared down and its suspension beefed up with the addition of an RC51 front end. Its gas tank is custom made, and it sports a new subframe, while trick stainless dual exhausts have been routed beneath the seat. "Wart Hog" got its name "because it was just so rough, we set out to reclaim a forgotten CB450 and bring it to show standards." The bike is being raffled off to benefit a local organization called Diversability Inc.

stripped-down Yamaha RD350
This stripped-down Yamaha RD350 takes the term “streetfighter” to a whole new level.Bryan Harley

In the two years since opening its doors, Gingerich says he’s noticed the motorcycle community around Bend really blossom.

“We have everything man, it’s ridiculous. ADV bikes, superbikes, V-twins. Right now there’s a ton of V-twins. Three of the female baristas ride Triumph Bonnevilles. Pete, he roasts the coffee under the brand Megaphone, he’s got that R5 that’s next door. Everybody here rides,” Gingerich says.

Spoken Moto rides
Everyone at Spoken Moto rides: the owners, the baristas, and especially the customers.Bryan Harley

On the second Wednesday of each month Spoken Moto hosts Garage Night when you can easily find 100 motorcycles in the lot. The multi-dimensional shop also just held its Twist & Shout celebration July 14 in honor of its two-year anniversary, complete with a group ride, music, races, and a raffle. Having such a diverse portfolio—coffeehouse, brew pub, music venue, bike night host, and sponsor of community-friendly events—has helped Spoken Moto carve out a niche in Bend.

Spoken Moto Menu
The popular hangout hosts all kinds of happenings nearly every week, which is exactly what you’d want from a community gathering spot.Bryan Harley