Russ Shimek is an expert in wind therapy. He believes in it. He’s built his business and family life around it, leaving other jobs and secure paychecks because of it. According to Shimek, it is the best cure for a stressful day. At times with wind therapy, as he calls it, a person can truly experience the sights and sounds and smells of the world unhinged from the barriers most of us are used to, the hurdles that somehow have ways of holding us back from what we truly care about. When used right, the open air of a motorcycle ride can refresh the skin and the mind at the same time. The feeling, he says, can be addictive. That’s why Shimek started his own shop and now pays the bills in part by storing other people’s motorcycle addictions. We toured his shop, Throttle Addiction, to talk bikes and bike culture in the GRAND region with Shimek.
Inside The Shop
Throttle Addiction includes a first floor space of 3,000 square feet for bike lifts, a new dyno testing room and a whole lot of cool. Shimek recently acquired a classic Chevy that has been lowered and it looks worthy of a car show. The truck is a big display piece inside the shop floor.
On the second floor, Shimek has turned 5,000 square feet into bike storage. A freight elevator allows him to store bikes in a climate controlled and secured setting. Cold weather is hardest on bike wiring, he says. The type, style and age of bikes lined up in the storage unit is Sturgis-esque. Squint your eyes just right and pretend you are walking down the street during the bike rally and it feels like you are there (minus the shenanigans that come with Sturgis).
Riders on the Northern Plains are obviously limited to certain months of rideable conditions. However, there are several charity rides, clubs and rallies across the region that Shimek says are growing. Getting the younger generation involved in the trade or joys of riding can be difficult, but when the younger generation (like the older generation) understand how much customization can go into a bike, they get excited, he says.
Customization, the crux of Throttle Addiction’s early business model, depends on the rider. Long-distance riders that tackle rally’s in the hundreds of miles typically opt for custom seats, suspensions or bags. Nearly every bike has a shield to deflect air and bugs. Local riders go for cosmetic changes over comfort. Most changes can be seen in the exhaust system. Cam shafts are also a common change.
“People with bikes also want to have a connection with the person working on their bike,” Shimek says. That is where Throttle Addiction comes in. Since opening, Shimek and his other bike mechanic have amassed six bike lifts and filled their schedule with riders that want to be ready for Spring.
The business of bikes was always one Shimek has been around. His father worked on bikes, and before he started his own venture, he worked at other similar outfits. His wife was the one that pushed him to start the business and today he’s surrounded by bikes.
Riding Benefits To Non-Riders
Shimek laughs when he hears people haven’t ridden before, mainly out of disbelief. He is certainly not pushy on the subject, but he is politely positive and passionate about bikes. “Bikes are a hobby that come with a little bit of investment. When you are done with the bike, you can sell it. You just get a whole different sense of where we live on a bike,” he says. “You learn the smells and sounds and its completely different from anything else in a good way.”
Full Throttle Business
Since Shimek first opened his shop in 2017, he’s experienced steady growth. Early on, he knew how hard it is for small shops to acquire inventory and parts. Large part providers don’t typically ship out the small orders many small shops hope for. Shimek went all in from the beginning. “I knew it was a risk to build up inventory,” he says. An established list of clients that already used him to work on their bikes with an understanding of the broader bike culture in the region helped him justify the inventory buy.
This winter he added a flush mount dyno system to diagnose horsepower and bike systems in real-driving scenarios. “We already have a waiting list of people that want to fire it up,” he says.
He is currently storing a bike from 1982, his birth year. Spend any time around bike enthusiasts around town and you’ll see his company logo on a shirt or hat. He’s trying to talk his brother into joining his crew, and, anytime someone wants to talk wind therapy, Shimek says he’s ready. That’s the business he’s in and the healthy addiction he can’t ignore. G
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PHOTOS BY: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY
From Issue 1, 2019