by Donia Moore
Terry Martin and Jesse Scialla have owned Montgomery Motorcycles for less than a year, and they are already giving back to the community. Whether flying their bikes along the pavement or kicking up dust storms in the dirt, they readily admit that their attitude has driven their company’s success.
In 2014, their shop won the OC Best in Motorcycle Shops. They were nominated again for the honor for 2016. Their persistence, hard work, and excellent customer service has made their shop one of the most popular motorcycle repair businesses in Orange County.
Terry Martin credits Hesh Borna of Cycle City in Lake Forest for getting him started down this road. “Hesh was an influential mentor to me as a teenager when I first got into the motorcycle business.”
Home, Sweet Long-time Home
Terry’s family has called San Clemente home since 1919. His grandfather Cliff Russell was San Clemente’s first lifeguard. Max Berg, long-time city employee for whom a popular park is named, was Terry’s uncle. Terry and his mom and dad are San Clemente High School alumni.
Like many other long-time Orange County residents, they were fascinated by Walt Disney’s new ideas and contributed the King Bamboo from the family’s backyard to be planted in Disneyland’s Adventureland.
After high school, wanderlust took Terry to Florida and then up north to Derby, Connecticut. He loved living in the beautiful old town and enjoyed the change of seasons. He worked for three motorcycle shops in Derby, specializing in restoring vintage bikes and building café racers. Much of his more than 17 years experience was spent with super cross-factory racing teams.
Jesse rolled into his life at Derby’s local hang out, Trestles Tavern. An accomplished Roller Derby Player, as well as a talented musician on guitar and bass, she and her rock band cut recordings in different musical genres at a studio in New Haven, Connecticut. Terry and Jesse knew within a month of meeting that they were meant to be together.
When Jesse joined Terry on a family visit, she enjoyed the California sunshine after snowy New England, but they had no inclination to move back to Orange County. It was a year and a half before they migrated west, with the clothes on their back and their old TV. Now they own their own business. Jesse works with Terry at the shop during the day, handling paperwork and accounting, and bartends at El Ranchito at night.
A Sign of the Times
It was a chance meeting with Mark Williams, original owner of the San Clemente motorcycle shop, which brought Terry and Jesse back to California permanently. Mark needed Terry’s expertise and refused to take no for an answer in trying to recruit him.
Terry and Jesse dropped into Mark’s shop in San Clemente one day to see him. Ironically Mark, who didn’t know they were coming, was wearing a T- shirt sporting Terry Martin’s name. Turned out it was the Terry Martin of surfboard shaping fame. Terry and Jesse took this as a good sign, eventually leaving Connecticut to throw their lot in with Mark.
Originally, they planned to concentrate on building, repairing and restoring vintage café racers - stripped down versions of older bikes popular in England where they were used to race from café to café. But Mark and Terry soon realized that there was a serious lack of motorcycle repair shops in Orange County, and turned their focus to building up that side of their business. Their excellent reputation quickly shot them into the forefront of the industry.
In 2015, Mark retired, turning the shop over to Terry and Jesse on July 1. Since then, they have moved and expanded the shop at its current location.
Today, 90% of their work is the repair and maintenance of Harley-Davidson bikes. They are also known for their work on Brat street-bike custom builds and street trackers (like a dirt bike for the street).
As busy as they are, Terry and Jesse make time to contribute their skills to Rotary Club Poker Runs, designing the routes and judging the bikes at the shows afterwards. These road rally style motorcycle rides are popular fund-raising charity events. Riders stop at five checkpoints to draw a playing card. At the end of the rally the rider – often representing a charity- with the best poker hand wins.
Ted Danson’s Oceana Sea Change charity brought them into contact with Kawasaki Motorcycles. Terry’s shop created a one-off custom bike for the charity’s gala, along with the help of his technician Brandon Brio and Paint by Smokey. Kawasaki was so impressed that the company recently contracted with them to build a series of custom bikes, based on their original design.
Keep the Shiny Side Up
When Terry isn’t at the shop, you can probably find him screaming along the Big Slab (interstate) on his Harley Dyna or making the dirt fly on his Honda CBR 600 RR. His and Jesse’s real attitude comes shining through when they discuss their goals for their future.
“We are all about safety”, says Jesse. “We want to make sure our customers are educated about how to protect themselves with proper helmets and body armor. Currently, there is no U.S. Standard for body armor. Only Europe has trusted safety requirements for this, designated “CE” for European Commission. We always suggest full-face helmets. We don’t even carry the lesser quality “brain buckets”, half-helmets that are so popular with newbie bikers. We want our customers to ride safely and keep the shiny side up.” Jesse adds that they plan to create safety videos for their website to educate new riders in technique and proper gear. In the meantime, if you break it, they can fix it.