The Jay Leno Motorcycle Collection, Circa 1985

Jay Leno with his Vincent Special

| May/June 2010

  • leno vincent special
    Jay Leno and his Vincent Special, circa 1985
    Photo by John Joss

  • leno vincent special

To most of the world he’s a stand-up comedian and late-night host. We know better. Jay Leno is a bone-deep, no-apologies, classic motorcycle collector and enthusiast. He used to make a living fixing bikes in Boston (his “wretched day job”), and he has a huge classic motorcycle collection today. In 1985, I wrote to NBC asking permission to interview him.

Two weeks later the phone rang. “This is Jay. Jay Leno.” I was surprised to hear back: “Well, you wrote, didn’t you” — a statement, not a question. I drove to his Beverly Hills, Calif., home (as my camera case wouldn’t fit on my bike), worried about driving my old Honda Civic, fearing some sort of vehicle-code violation. He looked each way over his driveway gates, mock-furtive: “Bring it in, quick, before they arrest you.”

The interview was a breeze. He greeted me with a video of a space shuttle launch on a huge screen in his living room, with the sound at maximum volume (“Mavis is out”). Then he trotted out his (then) favorite bike: a 1950 HRD-Vincent Rapide Special. He started it first kick.

Leno is as he appears on his show: affable, clever and kind, totally without “side.”  He knows a lot about classic motorcycles and he specified his Vincent, a truly gorgeous piece, with a near-Featherbed frame and Ceriani front fork and brake. He doesn’t go for modern sport bikes with their swoopy fairings: “I don’t trust a motorcycle I can’t see through.”

November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride

Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!