For some, navigating a room full of motorcycles – some from decades ago, some more modern, and each with its own distinctive color and style – would be an unforgettable experience. But for owner Ed Friedman, 46, of Fanwood's Gut Wrenching Cycle, it's just another day in the office.
Friedman, a resident of Garwood, began to set up his shop on South Avenue last October but did not fully open for business until March of this year. As the spring season comes to an end, he reflected that his first few months here have been "fantastic."
"Everyone's been really happy," he said. "Sometimes, you're not very welcomed as a motorcycle shop, but our neighbors accepted us with open arms."
Friedman, who has over thirty years of experience working on motorcycles, owned a similar business in Brooklyn more than 20 years ago. But he left the shop to a partner when he moved to Garwood in 1991. He then spent 18 years working as a mobile repairman, traveling to friends' and acquaintances' homes and servicing their motorcycles. Finally, in 2009, Friedman decided to establish a business of his own.
"Friends kept encouraging me to rebuild a shop," he said. "A lot of people knew about my work through word of mouth, so [I thought] I could at least make some money from paying customers."
Indeed, Gut Wrenching Cycle's location in Fanwood has helped the relatively new business grow. "[A motorcycle service shop] is something that none of the surrounding towns have," said landlord George Church, 85,who owns George Church Auto, Inc., located on South Avenue near Gut Wrenching Cycle. "It is an asset to Fanwood because it brings a lot of people here who haven't been here before."
Pete O'Hara, 26, who works as a mechanic at the shop, further lauded the location. "A lot of people have been saying that we needed a bike shop in the area for awhile."
In addition to its prime location, the wide range of services offered by Gut Wrenching Cycle has proven a key factor in its success. Among other services, Friedman and his five employees build custom motorcycles, manufacture and order parts, restore classic bikes, sell used motorcycles, and do repair and maintenance work.
"We do everything from Harley to Honda, from Suzuki to Ural," Friedman said. "If it has to do with a bike, we do it."
However, Friedman and his employees, customers, and neighbors agree that the success of Gut Wrenching Cycle ultimately comes down to two things: the quality of the work and the friendly atmosphere.
"Ed is very demanding that a quality product goes out the door. I've worked at other places where the owners are not as concerned about the work done. But here, there is no cutting corners or compromising," said Mike Sabarese, 46, a mechanic at Gut Wrenching Cycle.
Customer David Hirschfeld of Scotch Plains agreed. "The quality of the work and the fairness of the pricing keeps me going back," he said. "They make sure you're a happy customer."
In fact, many customers have more than just a business relationship with Friedman and the crew. "A lot of people come here to hang out," Friedman said. "We try to make people feel very comfortable."
"It's definitely unique as a customer. You feel at home there, and they make you feel like you're part of the family," Hirschfeld said.
Vinny Frasco, 52, of Sal Frasco Auto, located next to the motorcycle shop, echoed these sentiments. "They might look like they're going to kill you, but they're actually really friendly guys," he said. "They're very helpful and very handy to have next door."
Friedman praised his neighbors as well. "I would not have been able to make it this far without the help of George, Bob, Steve, and Bonnie of the Church family, Vinny at Frasco Auto, and all the people nearby who have welcomed me into the neighborhood."
Of course, while all of the employees at Gut Wrenching Cycle have professional experience working with motorcycles, they also have plenty of personal experience riding them. Friedman rides a 1973 black and white Harley-Davidson, and Sabarese owns a 1976 Ironhead Sportster. Robert "OJ" Van Schoick, a parts specialist at the shop, rides a 1987 sapphire blue FXST, which has logged more than 275 thousand miles.
"If you take care of a bike," said Van Schoick, "it will last a lifetime."
For the necessary tune-ups and repairs along the way, Gut Wrenching Cycle is located at 189 South Avenue in Fanwood. To learn more, call 908-644-5734 or visit www.gutwrenchingcycle.com.