Wheels in motion with ‘retro’ business plan for local couple

Husband and wife team Emma and Manus Lappin have set the wheels in motion on a new venture which aims to make Oxford Island a mecca for retro bike enthusiasts.

They’ve been in business at Kinnego Marina for just over a month trading in retro motorcycles and associated apparel and accessories.

Emma and Manus Lappin - the husband and wife team behind Evomotors.

Emma and Manus Lappin - the husband and wife team behind Evomotors.

It comes after the pair gave up full time jobs to set up their own magazine focusing on Irish rugby 12 years ago.

Of their latest venture, Evolution Motor Works, Manus said: “I’ve been interested in motorbikes since I was a nipper. People couldn’t get their head round me starting a rugby magazine, but everyone who knows me knows about my love of bikes.

“I was riding motorbikes before I could ride push bikes. The opportunity presented itself here and we took it.”

Emma said: “There was an old Harley shop here and we wanted to keep the same theme but give it our own twist.

“We wanted to offer something that was a little bit different. There’s plenty of bike shops about but with this one we’ve gone retro.”

To that end they commissioned local street artists DMC (Dermot McConaghy) and JMK (Jonny McKerr) to painted an eyecatching retro artpiece, in keeping with the shop.

“They went for a skull and a fifties pin up. It’s perfect,” said Manus.

“The cafe culture and lifestyle associated with retro, vintage bikes is making a revival all over the world,” added Emma.

Evomotors are an official supplier for Royal Enfield and also stock customised scooters and superbikes.

No bike shop would be complete without a few Harley Davidsons, a ‘steel horse’ ridden by Manus himself.

Of the Royal Enfield coup, Manus said: “Up until 2011 Royal Enfields were all the same model. Since then they’ve made significant developments and while retaining the classic look they’ve vastly improved the reliability meaning it’s more than just a show bike. They’re proving very popular.

“There’s a guy who did the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield when he was 19, who has since come back and bought a new one and done it again. He said the second time round was much easier in spite of his accumulation of years.”

Manus continued: “I’ve owned superbikes and I’ve owned Harleys. When you’re on a superbike you’re sitting at 80mph in second gear. It’s dangerous. These bikes are not meant for regular roads. If you’ve been on a proper track you realise you’re wasting your time on the road.

“You’ll get a much better cruise on a Harley or a Royal Enfield. You can enjoy the day, enjoy the road.

“Harley Davidson is more than a bike. It’s sold as a lifestyle.”

As well as selling bikes, Evomotors also provide full servicing and repairs for all makes and models of bikes. On top of that they stock a wide range of custom made T-shirts, leather accessories, protective gear and clothing.

They undertake a vast array of work including diagnostic, performance and tuning for retro and custom builds plus the standard full parts supply from all leading manufacturers.

Manus added: “At the minute, on one bench inside the workshop there’s a 1977 Yamaha XS500 undergoing a transformation, stripped down to be customised into a ‘cafe racer’. On another bench a Yamaha R1 is getting a service while a Harley Davidson Roadking is getting an overhaul.”

Manus spent years building and restoring bikes, and while running their rugby magazine publishing business he’d held onto the dream of eventually opening a bike shop. Manus caught the rugby bug late, having taken up the game at 28 after falling in with a few rugby lads at Chambers Park. A few weeks later he was playing for Portadown. Less than two years later he’d started his own rugby magazine - Emerald Rugby.

Emma said: “Starting up Evomotors reminded me of the time we gave up our jobs to start the rugby magazine. It was a brave move and I remember being really nervous at the time.

“We’ve been doing Emerald Rugby for coming up on 12 years and looking back it’s been an amazing time for us as Irish rugby has grown and grown. When we started Ireland hadn’t won a Six Nations Grand Slam and none of the Irish teams had won a Heineken Cup, not including Ulster’s European Cup win in 1999.

“We’re not giving up the magazine, we’re just increasing our workload by taking on the shop as well. We’re gluttons for punishment. In saying that we’re very lucky to be working at two things we love - rugby and motorbikes.”