By Emily Glory Peters
When Luis Luna named his motorcycle repair shop “Lunatic Psycles,” he was just looking for a unique alternative to the standard “Bob’s Cycles/Joe’s Cycles” option. What’s been truly loony is his approach to growing—or self-sabotaging—his business.
“I’m the world’s worst salesperson,” he attests. And perhaps it’s true. Before launching Lunatic Cycles in 2000, Luna went from a chopper-loving teenager to spending a few years as an automotive industry service manager. He loved the machines—and hated everything else.
“Mechanics have a bad rap from the start. It can be a cutthroat business where you have to upsell everything,” he says, adding that the aggressive sales tactics eventually drove him to quit. But he eventually he found his way back on his own terms—and that meant 100 percent honesty with his customers, even when it earns him less.
“I’m not here to take as much money out of your pocket on your first visit. The vibe I want people to have when they come here is that they feel respected and got what they came for instead of getting, for lack of a better term, bent over,” he explains. “I want people to be comfortable with the idea of dropping in instead of it feeling like a chore. Here, you’re welcome—you’re friends.”
Indeed they are. As Luna closes up shop on this particular evening, his mechanic is having a drink and a chat with a client in the back. Most of these clients are repeat customers, but new ones also drop in due to the positive online reviews and the gorgeous custom work Lunatic Psycles is known for.
“About 90 percent of the bikes I see are custom,” he shares, remarking on favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.-themed motorcycle he recently worked on. Though specializing in Harley Davidsons, they do it all at Lunatic Psycles: from oil jobs to repairs to custom paint to a full-service parts department for do-it-yourselfers. Nothing is off the table—although Luna is happy to advise.
“I tell my clients you’re the boss: I work for you,” he says—but notes that he does feel a responsibility to mentor. “I’ll let someone know if their bike isn’t set up for what they’re asking for. It helps me sleep at night.”
Perhaps there’s a drop of bitterness in the business Luna’s lost due to these tactics. Still, Lunatic Psycles hasn’t been around for nearly 20 years for nothing. Motorcycle trends rise and fall as much with the TV tides (Sons of Anarchy, anyone?) as with recessions, and Luna has seen plenty of competitors shutter. Yet his shop remains. So while integrity may not be a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s the motor oil that keeps Lunatic Psycles running.
“About 15 years ago, a guy came in and told me he chose my chop because he hadn’t heard anything bad about it, on social media or otherwise,” Luna reflects. “That’s still my biggest compliment to this day.”
Lunatic Psycles is located at 127 S. Rosemead Blvd. in Pasadena and is open Tuesday–Saturday. To learn more, contact Luis and the Lunatic Psycles team at www.lunaticpsycles.com | 626.577.9600 and follow along on Facebook @lunaticpsycles.