A day in the life of...A custom Ducati mechanic: "Leith is Edinburgh's answer to Brooklyn"

“Leith is Edinburgh’s answer to Brooklyn, the atmosphere is very similar, it is part of what attracted me here.”

Friday, 12th July 2019, 2:47 pm
Tyler Lunceford relocated to Leith from Red Hook in Brooklyn
Tyler Lunceford relocated to Leith from Red Hook in Brooklyn

Tyler Lunceford, 37, repairs, builds and services motorbikes in his Leith workshop. He lets us in on the golden rule of bike mechanics and our similarities with Brooklyn

“My wife and I pulled the plug on everything and moved here two years ago to raise our kids in Scotland. She is from Edinburgh, but she was working in New York when I met her, so I uprooted everything from Oregon, where I grew up and moved to Red Hook to open a Ducati workshop, that’s really how this whole journey started.

“Being a mechanic, you can go anywhere in the world and work, especially if you are passionate about one particular type of vehicle.

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Tyler said his "love affair" with bikes started at just 12 years old

“As long as you obey the golden rule of keeping people moving when they come into the shop, you can do anything. The languages might change, but the parts, the sense of achievement you get at the end, that all stays exactly the same.

"My love affair with bikes started at 12"

“I grew up in Corvallis, this little city about 80 miles from Portland, which I guess is the part of Oregon that everyone would know.

“My whole love affair with bikes started from a young age. Our neighbour had a dirt bike when I was younger and when I was about 12, he let me ride in these fields near my house. It was one of those experiences that you only ever get once, your first time and I had never felt anything like it.

Tyler began his career in his home state of Oregon before relocating to New York

“In the US, or at least in Oregon, you can get your full licence when you are 16, so I did. I bought my first bike in 1997, just the cheapest one I could get my hands on that would still go.“But obviously, that didn’t last long and the second bike I got, that was a Ducati. I became a friend and a really good customer of this Ducati dealership in Portland.

“At that stage, just leaving school, you are at a crossroads, but I remember having a talk with the manager who asked me what I did for a living and then offered me a job.

“It really was like an awakening. A Ducati, to me, is just built to be worked on. It is pure craftsmanship, a beautiful item that has been created with such amazing passion, you can actually feel it.

“That is a feeling that really is shared by a lot of the Ducati community, you can tell by the way my business has grown here and how it grew back in the States, a lot was through word of mouth, a lot came from members of that community talking to each other, I don’t know if that really exists with other bikes.

“When we relocated from New York, I wanted something with a similar vibe to Brooklyn and the moment I arrived in Leith, that’s what it was.

“My current place wasn’t for sale when I found it. I had walked past a few times and noticed it was empty, but the first time I came inside, I could see why. There was no insulation and plywood all the way up the walls, but the roof had not been sealed properly, so everything was rotten and covered in mould and damp. Everything needed completely renovated, it took 10 months before we were able to open in January 2018.

“It’s still not finished, I have a lot of improvements that I still want to make to it, but for now we’re doing well.

"If someone rolls into the shop halfway through a journey, you have to keep them going"

“I had to build from scratch, a totally new client base, but thankfully, the community is quite strong here, not just with the people living here, but Scotland is a beautiful, amazing place, you get a lot of people passing through because they are heading up to the Highlands or down into the Borders and sometimes, they need a hand to keep going.

“That is the unwritten golden rule of being a mechanic, if someone rolls into the shop, halfway through a journey with an mechanical issue, you drop whatever you are working on and make sure they can keep going. It is that kind of camaraderie that keeps the community so strong.

“This week we have a group from Portugal coming in who are making their way through the country, so that will be the afternoon taken out get them back on the road.

“I still do one or two custom bikes a year, most of my work is Ducati service and repair. But when I’m not in the shop I spend a lot of my time in the Borders. I can go for a mile from my house near Fairmilehead at 9pm and it is still light outside, that beautiful evening glow, it is absolutely stunning. Scotland as a whole is really starting to feel like home.”