For Josh "Popeye" Clark repairing bikes is labor of love

Monday, July 14, 2014 | 9:19 p.m. CDT; updated 4:06 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Josh "Popeye" Clark has been repairing and building cars and go-karts since he was 10. Over the past five years, Clark has been repairing motorcycles. "I mostly taught myself with trial and error," Clark said.

COLUMBIA — Josh Clark, or "Popeye" as he is known around town, has been repairing bikes out of his one-car garage for a little more than a year. The small garage, littered with tools, bike parts and grease towels is a spot for motorcycle riders to come and get repairs, knowledge and friendship.

"My shop has been open for about a year, and this is my place," Clark said

Clark got his start fixing cars and go-karts with his dad, and he added motorcycles to the list about five years ago.

"It's been almost 19 years of turning wrenches," Clark said. "I started building cars and go-karts when I was 10. I've been building bikes for about five years. I mostly taught myself with trial and error."

For Clark, the important thing is to keep people riding.

Out of his own goodwill, he also teaches his customers what he knows about riding — he enjoys showing people how to repair their motorcycles themselves so they can stay on the road.

"I'd rather teach people how to work on their own stuff so they're never stranded," he said.

This attitude of caring applies to Clark's family-oriented way of doing business with people, which is something he and his customers take great pride in.

"I try to make it as much as a family atmosphere as I can, around here it's everybody takin' care of everybody."

Safety is also a priority.

"If there is something unsafe about someone's bike, I will not let them leave my garage until I know it is safe."

Clark has had many years of practice with machinery and motors and has learned from his mistakes. He said that being self-taught, and using a common-sense approach to repairing things, he is usually able to get the job done.

"For the most part I can figure out just about anything with fixing the bike," Clark said.

Clark wanted to make it clear that he is in the business to help people, rather than making profits off of them.

"I do this to keep people on the road, not really to make money," Clark said.

Clark said the number of customers he has varies daily.

"On a day sometimes it's none and sometimes it's 15 or 20 bikes," Clark said. "If people wanna drop off their bike, they know how to get ahold of me. I'll fix their bike, and teach them how to do it, and I can teach people how to ride."

In order for new riders to be successful, he feels that they should be knowledgeable and confident when they learn to ride.

Clark's unofficial rule when it comes to teaching people to ride is:

"If I can't teach you the basics about riding in 30 minutes, then you don't need to ride."

Clark's garage often has repeat customers, not because they need more repairs but because they already know him. The hospitality and knowledge he gives to them doesn't hurt either.

"A lot of the guys that come over here, if they're not already, they become part of the motorcycle family," Clark said. "I have a lot of barbecues here. We get together and do bonfires in my backyard, too."

On top of all the work he does for people and their bikes, Clark also holds day job at Jiffy Lube. Clark says he doesn't mind all the work — it keeps him occupied.

"I work a 9-to-5 at Jiffy Lube, and then I come home and work on bikes," Clark said. "It's a good thing, the work helps to keep me out of trouble."

Clark said he's passionate about what he does and loves helping people out. What he is doing is much more than just repairing motorcycles.

"Two-wheel love that's what I call it: We love to ride and that's really what it's all about."

Supervising editor is Greg Kendall-Ball.

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