At Jack’s motorcycle salvage yard in Sanford, hard-to-find parts are there for the taking.
Charles Chambers loves motorcycles, and he knows his spare parts. He’s still riding strong at age 80, and when he’s out on the road he’s constantly losing a spare part that’s very important—his prosthetic left leg. And that’s about the only thing he can’t replace at Jack’s Cycle & Salvage in Sanford.
“Once your leg is off, you can’t do nothin’—can’t even get off the bike,” Chambers says, showing off the latest version of his artificial limb. “This one fell off more times than one.”
Chambers, of Lake Helen, is the kind of character you’ll find hanging out on any given Saturday at Jack’s Cycle, a one-of-its-kind business in Central Florida. It’s a collection of old, open-air warehouses and an outdoor, motorcycles-only junkyard tucked away on three-quarters of an acre in an industrial strip a few blocks south of downtown.
Bikers will ride in from as far as Melbourne or Jacksonville to buy or sell old bikes, strip hard-to-find parts from junked bikes or just to look around and reminisce. Chambers came to find not another left leg but a clutch-lever for his 1980s vintage Honda sport cruiser, and Jack’s place, as always, delivered the goods.
Jack Riggan, the 67-year-old proprietor of the yard, buys old bikes to fix up and resell in street-ready condition. He might have one of his master bike builders restore it to near-pristine, original condition; or maybe customize it into something new and wild.
But Jack’s junkyard is known primarily for its spare parts—parts salvaged from the weathered old bikes that he buys for cheap or even hauls away from people’s backyards for free.
The outdoor lot, which Jack calls “the bone yard,” is a trip through motorcycle history. Lined with the carcasses of hundreds of old bikes, mostly of Japanese make, it’s a mecca for owners of decades-old motorcycles looking for oddball parts no longer available through manufacturers, regular parts stores or even on Internet markets such as e-Bay. Here, customers are free to wander the bone yard with tools in hand, wrenching off whatever parts they desire and paying Riggan a few bucks for the privilege.
The wildest thing on premises is a sculpture—something Ken Sroufe, one of Riggan’s fabricators, made for display at the “Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit a few years back at the Orlando Museum of Art. It depicts a leather-clad motorcycle mama astride a vintage bike parked on a pedestal. The whole thing—even the female form—was fashioned from spare motorcycle parts from Jack’s bone yard.
“Her hair is springs out of some shocks,” Riggan says, pointing proudly to the rider. “Her boobs are two headlight shells. Her butt is a Harley tank split in half.”
Boobs and butts made from junked motorcycles? What’s next? Someday, will Charles Chambers actually be able to find a new left leg out back at Jack’s Cycle & Salvage?