Kali Journal

Elevator Repairman by Day, Motorcycle Dream-maker by Night

Walking into True Performance is like visiting Disneyland for Harley Davidson fans. The parking lot is filled with two-wheel wonders and every single rack in the shop has some lust-worthy Harley getting dialed in. True and Stephine Garwood, owners and operators of True Performance, do almost everything a Harley might need, from basic maintenance to full custom kits. They opened up the shop in Morgan Hill, CA at the height of the pandemic but this didn't seem to slow the work. If the line up of bikes and the list of requests is any indication, the dream-makers will be busy for the forseeable future. Early memories of wanting a motorcycle? Stephine: For me, I grew up around motorcycles. I’ve been around them since I was like seven. I’ve always liked the smell and the sound so I’ve always had interest in them and wanted one. I had only ridden dirt bikes so True told me one morning to ride his motorcycle around because I was scared and I came back and told him he was in trouble because he’s gonna have to buy me one.  True: The first real bike that really impressed me was my best friend's bike. He bought a street glide and this was over fifteen years ago. He didn’t want to keep it at his house. My garage was empty. I had just moved into my place. He was cluttered building a Grand National at the time so I said he could keep the bike with me as long as I could ride it whenever I want. He agreed but I only rode it three times.  How did True Performance come about? Stephine: We’ve always been interested in bikes and when we first met we had talked about buying a bike. Bought a bike, started working on bikes in the garage and then a hobby just turned into passion. True: Steph is really the reason I got a bike and just like with anything that I’ve ever owned, I never left it alone. I mean it always ends up being lifted, lowered or put on new rims and it's gotta have a new stereo. As soon as I hopped on a motorcycle I couldn’t believe I waited as long as I did to get one.  True: Being able to figure out how to take a factory part off and put something on aftermarket and customizing it and making it different from the next guy who bought the same bike as me. It spiraled out of control. Apparently, I did good enough and it got a lot of recognition through social media. The social media platform put us in touch with so many people and seeing so many people like my bike got me looking at how cool and different other people's are. There's so many people out there that are into the same thing that we’re into. Going to events got me meeting so many down to Earth people that wanna look at your bike and pick your brain. Then dm’s started coming in, “Well, I’m having fitment issues with that part.” I had fitment issues with that part too, this is what I did. A lot of our friends that we met through the moto community told us that we should open up a shop and do this for a living. At first I told them no, I had a job, my wife had a job and we just do it on the side. Stephine: The good thing for us though getting into it was that I used to work for Harley and did parts over there and then worked at another place and did parts over there. So he did the mechanical side of the job and I had the other side of looking stuff up that he needed to make that job complete. So everybody said why don’t you guys open up a shop so we kinda did it in the garage at first. True: One of my best friends basically has the same passion. He bought a bike right around the same time I did and we just kind of figured out how to do everything together. We bought a manual, followed the book step by step and enough people were interested in what we were doing to allow us to work on their bikes. I’ll forever be grateful for people trusting us with their brand new bike or used bike or reaching out with, “Hey, I can’t get this thing running. It's sitting.” I feel the need to figure it out so I’ll tell them to bring it over. To put bikes back on the road and keep bikes on the road has really been a humbling and rewarding feeling. I’ve never been so grateful for everybody. To run a business, it's pretty wild figuring out all the ups and downs.  What drives you? True: I don’t care about the money. I really just want people happy with the work that they’re getting and to be excited about doing mild stuff to radical stuff to their bike. To me that’s a no-brainer and what drives me. It makes the longer days, coming in on the days off and staying the late nights worth it. Everybody that comes to us says it's from social media or they heard about us through a friend or they see their bike and it's blowing up. I hope we can keep up the pace and quality of work. It sounds so cheesy and I’ve heard so many people say it but it's the customers and those believing in us or bringing us their bike, issues, parts they want put on that keeps us going. It’s pretty enlightening. What’s the most common thing people come in for? Stephine: We do a lot of suspension, braking, and handlebars. We’re very ergonomically driven to getting the bikes tailored to the customer themselves and that really caters to your seating, your handlebar set up and the way that it rides and glides down the road. True: A lot of oil changes, tires, services and inspections. Some stuff comes in spurts. I won’t see a transmission for a while and then all of the sudden I've got six faulty transmissions in the shop. We want to solve problems.  What’s the craziest request you’ve ever gotten? How’d it go? True: Probably the coolest dude you’re ever gonna meet. Craig, I’m talking about you. He brought us a flat track turbo'ed sporty that was race only and he said I want this as my daily rider. So we’ve completely changed everything. He’s gonna get a whole new tail section. We put bags on his bike so he can carry his gear. We went from a very low rise handlebar to tall up top, comfortable ones. Custom headlight. We fabricated a fairing to block the wind. Handguards. He’s gonna get a full paint job. Different exhaust flow system. A lot of stuff is being relocated since it was a race bike. It had a little tiny tank so now it's got an FXR tank on it that we out fitted to fit the bike. Of course FXR was not fuel injection so now I need to cut open the tank and install fuel injection so everything is being modified. There’s nowhere to go online and buy what we want. So everything that we’re doing to this bike specifically has been definitely more handcrafted.  Have you ever refused to do anything to someone's bike? True: Being a new business, striving for the next customer and trying not to let anyone down has made it hard to say no. It’s gotten me in trouble before. We had one bike come through and I could not get it running. I didn’t tell them no. The bike had been sitting forever. It was a rat's nest, wires were missing, twisted together, tape holding stuff together and it had been to two places before it came to us. That’s the one thing I haven’t started up and it makes me feel bad because we figure things out here. We refunded some of the money and it was a learning experience. How do you keep your shop running smoothly? True: Communication. Everyday towards the end of the day I feel like I have to grab Steph and we go walk the parking lot. “What’s up with this bike? Where’s his parts? Did he pay his bill? Have we been in contact?”. Constant reminders and going over everything is really what we need to stay on top. Organization is huge. Again, communication is huge especially with our customers. Everybody wants to talk about or go see their bike so when a customer rolls in and has a question I’ll stop what I’m doing to go look at their bike and get that one on one with them. Don’t stand behind the counter, don't be distant. We have chains to keep people out of the shop but I’m constantly pulling people in to check stuff out. Even though we’re a tight group, we’re a big family. The door is always open. We wanna see everybody’s stuff. What’s a normal day here like? What’s it like working together? True: Everyday around here is like Christmas. We're constantly opening boxes. We get to see so many great company’s products. Stephine: True comes in around three everyday after a drive back from San Francisco so I’m not with him 100% of the time but in the nine months we’ve been here it’s been crazy. We’ve had to hire another tech on top of the one we have. I’ve had to get assistants because it was just a lot. There were a lot of things going on and lots of people coming in and even though we have six lifts in there and two guys on them I’m dealing with every customer, every order and everything else.  True: She has to locate the parts, see what the turn around is, put a work order together, order the parts, maybe sign up with the company if it’s a new company. Some of the companies that we deal with, there’s a buy in so we have to save our money and allocate it to certain areas of the shop to help us grow. We make sure we get what we need to get the job done right the first time. I come in around three because I work in the city as an elevator repair man and have been doing that years and years before we opened the shop. Stephine: When he gets in it’s nice since we work really well together. We get everything lined up and get the guys prepped and ready to go with what needs to be hammered out next and trying to do things in a timely fashion. I love looking at people's bikes but I don’t want them in here because I want new bikes in here. True: Everyone says when we hop on a bike when we’re done, “We gotta go for a test ride.” That’s the best part of the job. I’ve never gotten to ride so many bikes. We’ve got turbo bikes, supercharged bikes, flat track bikes, choppers, cruisers, and bobbers. We’ve ridden two hundred bikes and one was a bike that someone put a hundred grand into. Does everyone that works at True Performance ride? Do you ever ride together? True: We all ride. We all have bikes. Some of us have multiple bikes. We’ve done some events and we love to give stuff away. We love to have bike shows because who doesn’t wanna look at beautiful bikes? Music and food is always involved, it's always all ages, pets and any bike. We really want to put together some quality rides in some great places in California where we can end up at a sight to see or have food and just talk.  Stephine: There's not a lot of us here but we're all pretty close. Our last ride we just went on, we told two people about it and twenty people showed up. We’re together a lot of the time. Our tech doesn’t work tomorrow but he’s gonna be here all day tomorrow because he’s coming in to work on his bike. So we must be doing something right if people still wanna be around us on their days off. True: Can’t just always be business and there’s nothing like being behind handle bars. No matter what form it is. I grew up racing. I raced ABA for like five years so I was constantly working on my bicycle. As that progressed I got into dirt bikes and that eventually turned into Harleys. I wish I would’ve done it sooner but we’re doing it now.
read more

Raising Kids, Riding Moto and Building Overland Dreams

Walt Wagner's southern drawl is friendly and reassuring. It makes him immediately likeable and easy to trust. It's also a little out of place in New Mexico where he now lives. Raised in Florida and North Carolina, Walt came to New Mexico for a federal law enforcement job with the DOE that involved guarding special weapon systems—that's all we can say about that—and he ended up staying and starting a family. He's since left law enforcement and now owns an Albuquerque-based shop that builds some of the world's most beautiful and capable adventure vehicles. He still looks like a guy who could guard America's most important weapons (his arms are as big as your legs), and he still teaches an occasional weapons class, but most of Walt's time nowadays is spent at his shop where he and his team pump out high-end trucks, side-by-sides, and adventure motorcycles that people use to explore the most remote parts of the world. We called Walt up because a Kali friend recommended him as the best adventure guide for the Albuquerque area. Luckily he was free and we were able to follow him out to the Rio Puerco west of town for a wet afternoon of adventure biking.  Kali: Walt it is great to meet you. Can you give the quick run down how you ended up in New Mexico building Overland vehicles.  Walt:  was born and raised in Florida until my tenth birthday.  We then moved to Wilmington NC where we pretty much put down our roots.  We moved to Guam for about a year and then back to NC.  After graduating high school one of my two younger brothers and I decided to join the Coast Guard.  That is when my career path took me into the search and rescue,  law enforcement field.  After the Coast Guard I moved into the nuclear security world and that is how I ultimately ended up in New Mexico as a Federal Agent with the NNSA. Kali: Sounds like you have lived a pretty colorful life.  Walt: My entire life was spent exploring, surfing, fishing and building our vehicles or boats to take us to the remote places that we loved so much.  My entire professional career also allowed me to continue to pursue my passion for adventure.  I was never really happy with what was available in the offroad industry for building out vehicles with expedition use in mind.  So my wife and I strongly felt like we had something to bring to the table for the industry when it came to building four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles and UTV's for a clients specific needs.  There came a time when we had to decide between my law enforcement career and the new company.  When that day came we went all in on Tactical Application Vehicles and have been running it for about seven years now.  My top priority for doing this was to be there for our daughter.  She was new born when we decided to start the company and if I stayed in law enforcement I would be gone for most of her childhood.  I had a blast as a kid going exploring with my parents and brothers and that is what I wanted for her.  She has now covered almost every state in the country and been to Baja a couple of times and she's only 6-years-old.  Kali: Do you remember your first motorcycle? Walt: I will never forget my first dirt bike. It was a Yamaha enduro 100.  My mom found it at a garage sale and picked it up for $35.  She said the first one of us that gets hurt she would sell it.  About a year later I badly broke my radius and ulna in my left arm.  So my dad fixed that bike and we bought two more.  Mom didn't mind because we could all ride together.  Many years later I've narrowed down what I really look for in my bikes both pedal power and motorized.  Not sure  I ever had that one that was my favorite because they were all special to me.  If I could go out right now and get any bike I wanted it would have to be two different bikes.  Light adventure/ dirt bike would be a 2021 KTM 500 EXCF and larger adventure/ daily driver would be a KTM 1090 adventure R or the KTM 1290 adventure R.  I would be equally stoked for either one. Kali: What does a perfect day look like for you? Walt: The perfect day is tough.  I'd love to be in a cool area to camp with my family and we could all ride from there.  Have a great day riding with them and then hit the harder stuff with my brothers. Kali: What is your dream destination? Walt: The list of places I'd love to ride is pretty big.  But a few places I'd like to get back to would be around the Moab area, over to Colorado and run a bunch of the passes again camping along the way.
read more

Small Moto brings Big Plans

Tommy Bryant rolls up on his motorcycle and he looks like a GIANT. It turns out it’s not because he is abnormally tall, it’s because his motorcycle is causing an optical illusion. He's rolled up on his 2018 Kawasaki Z125 Pro. He assures it’s completely street legal and has plenty of power to get him around. As a matter of fact, he’s had to convince the Bakersfield Police of this on more than one occasion.  “I’ve been pulled over because they see the bike and wonder if I should be on the road with it,” said Bryant. Bryant was born and bred in Bakersfield. His dad was not a fan of “ball” sports, so he and his brother were raised riding bikes, motos, skateboards and surfboards.  “A true SoCal upbringing,” said Bryant. “I stayed on two wheels for most of my life. I have been in the bike industry for 25 years and in the moto industry going on about five.”  He loves his Z125 because he can roll it and his mountain bikes into the back of his Ford Transit Adventure Van and get down the road. His favorite trip so far was riding the closed section of Highway One all the way up the coast to Big Sur. Bryant has a passion for travel and loves finding new places with his Swede wife. If the travel can include his bikes, then it is a total win.  “My favorite sensation from riding is the sense of speed, said Bryant. “We weren’t born with wings, so this is my form of flight.” Bryant got into moto at the ripe old age of three. His dad, who was a rider and novice racer, bought him a motorcycle as a gift. That first moto was a  Italjet 50 with training wheels. If Bryant could ride anywhere, it would be everywhere with his wife.  “I’d love to buy another adventure bike and ride around the world,” said Bryant. “I’d bring my wife on my trip and hope I’d be able to keep up with her. She’d probably buy a faster moto for herself.”
read more

Betesfandiar loves a good nap, her V Star and Asian food

“I’ve been riding for three years," said Michelle Betesfandiar. "My dad taught me how to ride when I was 39-years-old and it was the main way that we bonded. We had twin bikes. He passed away this year and we sold his bike, but I, for damn sure, am keeping my Yamaha V Star Cruiser forever. And will never quit riding. I ride everyday, all-day if I can. Suns out, buns out.” Kali: Can you name two reasons you love riding motorcycles? Betesfandiar: It is an exhilarating feeling. Especially while we’re trapped at home. I get this rush of air and everything about it just feels good. I love the freedom riding gives me and my love for performance and speed makes it feel natural to me. Kali: What is one ride you'd love to add to your line up? Betesfandiar: Yamaha R6. Kali: Where are you from originally? Betesfandiar: The Middle East. Kali: What is your biggest pet peeve? Betesfandiar: Superficial people. Kali: What do you do for work? Betesfandiar: I’m a landscaping Ninja. Kali: Do you have any brothers or sisters? Betesfandiar: I have one younger brother, who’s a genius. We’re very close. Kali: How old are you? Betesfandiar: In my 40s.    Kali: Do you have any pets?  Betesfandiar: I have two female American Bullies, a mommy and daughter. Kali: Who was your hero growing up? Betesfandiar: Wonder Woman Kali: Are you an early bird or a night owl? Betesfandiar: I’m both and I take a lot of naps. Kali: How do your friends describe you in a word? Betesfandiar: Energetic. Kali: Whiskey or beer? Betesfandiar: Whiskey. Kali: Mountains or beaches? Betesfandiar: Beaches. Kali: What kind of music do you like?  Betesfandiar: Island music Kali: What kind of food do you like? Betesfandiar: Every Asian food. Kali: What is your favorite breakfast? Betesfandiar: French toast Kali: How do you de-stress? Betesfandiar: I garden everyday. I water my plants. I like to grow lots of vegetables, it just depends on the time of season.   Kali: Which is your favorite season? Betesfandiar: Summer because I love the sun and the water. Kali: What is your motto for this year? Betesfandiar: Take the bull by the horns. Kali: What is your idea of the start to an ideal day? Betesfandiar: Coffee and a walk around the yard with my dogs Kali: Do you have any tattoos? How many? Do you have a favorite? Betesfandiar: Two. My grandma's name is my favorite. It’s beautiful. Kali: Favorite book. Betesfandiar: The Girl With The Dragon tattoo trilogy. Kali: What is your favorite drink? Betesfandiar: Water with cucumber. Kali:  Do you break traffic rules if you do not see a cop around? Betesfandiar: No. Kali: Do you like roller coasters? Betesfandiar: Love 'em.
read more

Motorcycles and Muscles: the perfect combination for Pappas

 It's noon and my class at Brethren CrossFit in Morgan Hill, is just getting started. Lee Pappas, the instructor, is at the sound system scrolling through music options and breaking into dance moves whenever he finds his jam. I know when he's about to get hyped-up because we have a similar taste in music, he gets that look on his face and he starts to bust a move. He turns the music down, flashes his million dollar smiles and starts to explain the workout we are about to get into. On top of being aggresively enthusiastic, Lee is also freaking shredded. He's a physical specimen and his stomach is like a washboard. I still can't believe he's 45-years-old and he had to tell me several times for me believe it. On top of being painfully goodlooking, I've seen him squat so much weight the bar looks like it is going to snap in half. If you didn't know Lee and you were to see him pull up on one of his badass bikes, or in his blacked-out, lifted beast of a truck, with his bulging biceps you might be a bit intimidated. But you really shouldn't be. Lee has a big heart. Since the very first day I met him he's always been looking out for my best interest. The people who workout at his gym get treated like family. Whenever someone new joins, he makes sure they get introductions all around. I don't just consider him my trainer, I consider Lee my homie.  -Max Waldron   How Long have you been riding? I’ve been riding on the street since 1999-ish.Currently I'm riding a 2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO. I got this one in January 2018. I love the battleship grey color, the sound system and its performance is pretty amazing.   How did you get into riding?  My Dad rode a Harley and I thought it was super cool so I had always known when I got bigger I would ride too.   1st Motorcycle? 1999 Ducati Chromo 900.   What bike are you riding now? 2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide CVO and a 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.   When did you start doing CrossFit? I started doing CrossFit in 2006. I’ve had the gym for 12 years and have been teaching crossfit for a little over 12 years. Does your good health have a noticeable effect on your riding? Yeah I’d definitely say being at least strong and coordinated or having balance and accuracy coming from a fitness background if you’re trying to turn a heavy bike around especially on gravel or some uneven surface if you aren’t strong or flexible you could pull a muscle or worse. Do you stretch before you ride? I like to do a little bit of mobilization, some type of hype stuff, move around a bit and continue to do it at the stoplight or when you’re going just making sure you’re not getting tight or tense. What are 3 things you recommend all people do for their health? Laugh, sleep at least 8 hours and you don't have to workout... But be active. Do things you enjoy doing that make you move.   Where are you from? I was born in Illinois. I grew up in Georgia and I moved to California in 1998.   Do you listen to music while riding? Only at the stop light because I’m hardcore. Going fast or going through turns I don’t like any music. At the stop light I’m usually listening to Hip Hop. I like some Migos, some Drake and for sure Post Malone. If you could ride anywhere in the world with no restrictions right now where are you cruising? What bike are you taking? California bitch!! I’d probably be on my Street Glide and my passenger would be my hot wife.  
read more

Riding into the Future

We had plans. You had plans. So many plans left twisting in the sands of time.  But optimism is starting to seep in and we are dreaming of starting to plan again. We're starting to flip through old photos, stare at google maps and dream of open roads, filled with twisties, far from where we sit.  And we thought, what better way to prime this pump then to share the roads we hope to roll on the other side of this pandemic. We've even thrown in some accommodation recommendations and musical musing.  Where do you dream of taking your two-wheeled wonder when the opportunity presents itself.    San Francisco's Must Ride Route. This is the ride I recommend for when people visit from out of town. This ride is especially scenic. From oceans to mountains, it’s like riding in Scotland without the long flight. It is open year round except when there is the occasional mudslide or fire depending on the season and is all paved but heads up, it can be a rough road and there is limited cell service most of the way. This ride has lots of places to stop and explore with lots of options for side excursions. When preparing for this epic ride make sure to bring cool weather gear, because even in the summer months, the coast can get chilly (60s). I recommend listening to Enya, Dead Can Dance, Lorena McKinnet or Emancipator… you won’t regret it.   SoCal Soujourn. Before you roll out I highly recommend you load your Ennio Morricone for the proper sound mix. This ride has majestic views that cannot really be captured. There are big fast open stretches and is passable most of the year. Be aware, it gets blazing hot in the summer, so it is always a good idea to pack some food and water. It is also very remote with limited to no cell service in places. Some great music choices are: Doors, Cult, America, Daft Punk, and Morrocan Spirit.     The Great Lakes Hot Lap. This route starts and ends in Duluth so riders can get their farkle fix at Aerostitch. A coastal ride through the middle of America and Canada, definitely one to mention… You can ride across the Richard I. Bong “Bong” lift bridge for a scenic start. Rainsuits or gore tex liners are a necessity, visit Aerostitch get your suit measured and farkles loaded up for the trip. Another cool aspect of this trip are the two very cool ferry crossings you can see near The Slash and Ludington. You should consider rocking out to Last of the Mohicans, Styx, The Clash or ELO. Oh and don’t forget your passport.    The Old West Movie Ride. This romp with take you all the way from Ariona to Billings, Montana. The route gets its name due to the fact all those awesome old school westerns were filmed in this valley. I recommend staying one night in Kanab so you can stay in the Jack Palance room or other famous western star rooms at the Parry Lodge. Make sure to pack cold weather gear even in mid summer, because you just might run into hail and snow in July. Yellowstone looks like it is closed due to winter closures, but a hidden gem that you can’t miss is the Beartooth Highway out of the Silver Gate into Billing, it’s the highest highway in the USA reaching fourteen thousand feet in places.There is always packs of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled, especially after dark. The Bison don’t have lights. And don't forget to get your playlist dialed with some on-point music for one of the most epic routes in the world. Think anything from the Bonaza theme to Lord of the Rings soundtrack.  
read more