Saturday, December 29, 2007

Carroll Gardens' Moody Motorcycle Repair Shop For "Thick Skinned" Only


There is a small garage located at 316 Carroll Street between Hoyt and Bond that has always intrigued me. Attached to the peeling brick wall are some funny signs: harshly worded warnings about not parking there as well as some neighborly do's and don'ts.
A rusted motorcycle chain spells out "Motorcycle repair" in script and next to it, a globe made of old springs dangles down.
The "Motorcycle Works Limited" has been there for a long time. The garage belongs to a man named Tom, who seems to be a motorcycle repair god who can be a bit temperamental judging from the Citysearch page.
This Tom seems to be quite a character. According to the reviews below, one should not attempt to use his services unless one has a thick skin. A motorcycle repairman with attitude, here in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn? Is anyone surprised?
Read on.


07/27/2007 Posted by nevilleross

I have taken my BMW motorcycle to Tom for over four years. I would not trust anyone else to touch my motorcycle. I have spent thousands of dollars on my classic BMW at Motorcycle Works Limited, and even though it hurt when I had to pay (cash only) I knew that one truly great (albeit moody) mechanic worked on it. Appointments only. A truly unique, New York City experience.

Good mechanic 

08/02/2007 Posted by coldfish

He seems to evoke extreme responses - people either dislike him or revere him as a mechanical god. The truth is in between. He's a good mechanic, I've never had any problem with his work, and I trust him - he doesn't rip you off (certainly he charges less than the exorbitant Manhattan BMW!). It is sometimes hard to get an appointment. In a good mood he's really helpful, but other times it's like trying to deal with an irritable rock star or an exclusive maitre d . If you're thick-skinned or female, you'll probably do fine. If you're a sensitive soul and he makes you feel like you're asking him for a favor in looking at your bike, don't take it personally.

Fantastic Mechanic
10/01/2007 Posted by arzan

I have been going to Tom for over three years now. He has a wealth of knowledge and the first time I was there with my Honda Nighthawk he explained a whole bunch of stuff to me. Technically he is excellent. As other reviewers say he can be a bit moody, but I am sure that everyone going there do so for his professional skills, and not his inter-personal ones. You cannot walk in without an appointment. The guy works alone and has limited storage space so cant keep many bikes there. He does not mind if you hang around his shop and watch him work on your bike. He is the BMW guru, but did excellent work on my Honda Nighthawk and now my Yamaha Vmax. His rates are fair market price and definitely lower than the dealer. To the one reviewer who gave him negative....I think you should elaborate on the problem before you run him down.

Motorcycle Works doesn't work.
06/22/2007 Posted by fabiox

Tom was recommended to me as a great mechanic, and I went there and spent $1800 on my bike. He treated me like I was asking him a favor to fix my bike and after that it still leaks oil and the battery dies all the time.....you figure out if you can trust this guy. When I called him to ask him to check the bike one more time (paid), he told me to go to see the BMW dealer....not very accountable. His mood changes with the weather, so he may be nice to you at first...but beware. He made me feel like I somehow did something wrong, when all I did was want him to fix my bike. What else is he there for? It's like having a waitress who makes $1.80 an hour and works for tips, but gives you terrible service and rolls her eyes when you ask for ketchup. Unfortunately, Tom is the only one there, so I'd STRONGLY recommend passing him by. My motorcycle is at the BMW dealer now, and I will NOT go to Tom again. P.S. He also only takes cash, so you definitely will have no chance of a refund or the ability to stop a payment if he doesn't follow through with fixing your bike.


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12 comments:

Lisanne McT said...

His shop used to be on Bond Street where the white Scarano thing is now, the sidewalk was cobblestone and his garage was in an old carriage house.

Katia said...

He sounds like a real character.
I had no idea he used to be on Bond.
I have only ever noticed the place on Carroll.
The poor guy is across the street from the Scarano's hunchback building.
I wonder what he has to say about the architect from h...l

winden42 said...

I had Tom work on my old BMW a few times, and then he did some shoddy work on it. He denied responsibility although he had just "serviced" the part a week earlier. I could put up with the surly attitude and steep prices but not the poor work.

Katia said...

It sure seems that you either love the guy or hate him. I've never met him myself since I don't own a motorcycle, but he sure sounds like Seinfeld character.

Anonymous said...

His first shop was on Sackett between Henry and Hicks. Then he moved over to Bond. Both sites were bought by developers.

He is an excellent mechanic, albeit moody as hell. My advice to anybody who needs to have their bike fixed is yes, definitely, go to him, but go with beer in hand. (he's german so a good german beer is the best choice) That usually makes him more amenable.

Anonymous said...

It is funny that somebody mentioned he is like a Seinfeld character; I have indeed always likened him to the "soup nazi". Incredibly good at what he does, but he can be mean as hell. I actually have to prep myself psychologically before I deal with him (I am a pretty thin-skinned male, I guess). But like others have said, there is nowhere else I would dream of taking my bike.

Katia said...

You know, after reading all of these comments about him, I almost want to meet him. But since I don't have a bike, I wouldn't have an excuse to wander into the place.

There are so many of these characters here in the city. In Carroll Gardens alone, I can think of a few.

Anonymous said...

I took my first bike, a BMW, to Tom, about 7 years ago. I found his ad in the yellow pages. He was generous and exremely thorough in that first bike inspection and I'm glad I wrote down almost everything he said. After that he was tolerable and did good work for a fair price. He even confided in me a bit ... I wont say what that entailed but, I can say, like all of us, he has his legitimate gripes! He doesn't suffer fools AT ALL, but a simple Human error can relegate you to the rank of fool in an instant.
A friend of mine, upon hearing me vent about him said, "sounds like he enjoys giving his customers a verbal spanking". Another customer I bumped into said he was "a miserable individual"; up until then we weren't sure we were talking about the same "Tom" in Carroll Gardens. I don't know how the other contributers here decided Tom's a GREAT mechanic... he talks a great game, but has also ordered the wrong model of a light-and-turn-signal unit for my bike...not ONCE but TWICE. To be fair, he ate the cost, while making sure I knew that the parts were not returnable, and he was paying the cost... as if he was setting me up for the next time he wanted to be rude to me. I think TOM thinks he's a GREAT mechanic, and feels somewhat cheated when he screws up; neither does he accept any responsibility for meeting his customers halfway ... He'd be a good enough mechanic in some Valhalla, where the bikes could get there without any owners, and would never be ridden by anyone except bona fide mechanics.
The BEST thing I can say about Tom, is that his stubborness CAN pay off !! My bike had a mysterious short that would shut the bike down mid-ride, without warning. Tom did test after test for maybe 3 or 4 days. He finally called me and said he was going to give up but tried one more test. With the bike totally heated up, he found a short that appeared in the rotor windings. He replaced the rotor and it's been sweet, ever since.
But I gave up... Tom may be the reason I get out of biking.... as a first step,I stopped going to mechanics.... AND my bike has never run better! Go figure!

Katia said...

Well thank you for the additional info on this guy.
I chuckled to myself just reading about your experience with this mechanic.

I just recently walked by the shop and when I saw that the garage door was open, I hoped that I would catch a glimpse of him. I think I have never even seen him.

motorcycle mechanic said...

My motorcycle needs a good service, but I can’t get it to the shop. Is there a reputable motorcycle mechanic that can do this service at a good price?

daveworksunion said...

Tom is a great mechanic, and he lives and breathes motorcycles. If you are interested in your bike, and want to understand it and the work it requires better, there isn't a better mechanic out there. I can't know for sure, but my guess is people who don't like Tom aren't interested in learning about their motorcycles and how to care for them.

daveworksunion said...

Tom is a great mechanic, and he lives and breathes motorcycles. If you are interested in your bike, and want to understand it and the work it requires better, there isn't a better mechanic out there. I can't know for sure, but my guess is people who don't like Tom aren't interested in learning about their motorcycles and how to care for them.